Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Books and Movies

Current Obsession: Education Reform

I watched Waiting for Superman, rented it from the Red Box. Wow!
And I thought that here in Utah, we had it bad with schools!
 From my experience with our kids, schools do need help. The question is how to help them and what exactly needs to be done. One of the thing that was horrible in our local schools, is the curriculum choices that local School District made. For several years our School District was pushing a math program that most parents and teachers disagreed with, and which students didn't understand. However they (School District) completely ignored us all, used our tax money on materials, teacher instructions, etc. Till finally after about 7 years of using the program they were faced with the fact that the math test scores across the district were so much lower than any other district and the nation's, that something needed to be changed...yeah. So they promptly changed from the program that stated "no fact memorization" (like multiplication table for example) should be done to a "50 in a minute" program, when all the students have to do was timed test with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. From one extreme to another. Can you imagine confusion of the poor kids. My daughter was in 2nd grade when the changes occurred and she would cry when it was time to do her math homework because she didn't have a clue of what she had to do. Later turned out that her teacher at that time was still teaching the old program in class, but gave them new program pages for homework ?!!!
Anyways, i did some investigation, and turned out that long time ago E.D. Hirsch, Jr. ans John Holder came up with the idea, that it would be nice if all schools across the nation will teach the same kind of basic knowledge to our kids. That if you moved from Utah to North Carolina your kids wouldn't feel like they are aliens at school, program wise.  His book series of "What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know", "What Your First Grader Needs to Know" etc., up to six grade, known as a"Core Knowledge", was adopted as the curriculum guidelines by most of the charter schools.  You can learn more about "Core Knowledge" program here   http://www.coreknowledge.org/     and   download free scope and sequence for this program from here       http://www.coreknowledge.org/mimik/mimik_uploads/documents/480/CKFSequence_Rev.pdf
 Which brings us to charter schools. Charter Schools are public schools with independent curriculum and limited number of students. More information about Utah Charter Schools here http://www.schools.utah.gov/charterschools/  Limited number of students means that not everybody can get in. They have waiting lists and annual lotteries, when names are randomly picked. I submitted my kids names for 3 years to 4 different charter schools till finally last year, 2 of my 3 kids were accepted and my 3rd was put on "sibling's preference list". Am I happy that we got in? Yes. I would be happier though if our local public school would offer the same program. I just don't see a reason why they don't. I also don't understand why kids in Charter Schools and local schools both have electronic grade tracking system, but my son's teacher in local school "prefer" not to use it?! I don't understand why all teachers can get a tenure after 3 years, even if they are "bad" teachers and "great" teachers can't have a pay raise based on their performance. Don't you think they should?
I am very happy that the Charter Schools are available to us. I really liked new on-line charter school, that we used when we had to repeat the grade with my son- http://www.k12.com/. They offered wonderful curriculum and supplied all the materials, including laptop, and it was all free through our public school system. I would like to read your opinion about school system, even if you disagree with me.

1 comment:

Ria's Random Thoughts said...

For last two years I've paid a tutor for my oldest, Zac, who went 2nd-6th grade with investigations math. He's never gotten below a C in math, but he also never did really well until he had a tutor to help him with the holes in his math education. Things have been much better with William and Max since they changed the math program.