Blaming Teachers Unfairly

Oct 18, 2011 Full story: www.theamericanconservative.com 14

I really don’t understand how Facebook works, and resist learning. I am at every moment on the verge of quitting Facebook because I don’t get it, I don’t like it, and I have privacy concerns. But I do check my account every so often. Last night I saw that one of my FB friends in St. Francisville, my hometown, expressed concern that the local school district, which has long been one of the best in the state, scored a “B” in the state education department’s first-ever “letter-grade” ratings. Only one public school district in the entire state earned an A – and it wasn’t theirs. Local folks have been justifiably proud of the West Feliciana Parish school system for so long that this rating understandably comes as a shock to many of them.

Now, the typical thing when ratings like this come out is to figure out what the teachers in the school or school system are doing wrong, and figure out how to compel them to change. I have long been skeptical of this approach. Of course there are bad teachers, and of course it makes sense that a school system would seek ways to get rid of the bad ones and help the others to improve. I get that. I support it. But what this approach doesn’t take into consideration is the possibility that the problem is not entirely, or even mostly, with substandard teachers or flawed pedagogy. What if the problem is with the students and their dysfunctional family situations?

My late sister Ruthie, as longtime readers know, taught in the West Feliciana parish schools. It’s important to know that West Feliciana is a rural parish with a fair amount of poverty. Half the people are black, half are white. When I was growing up there, a huge number of the black kids with whom I was in school did not have fathers in the home — a social fact that has been strongly correlated with substandard achievement in school. I doubt that this has changed, and in fact I know anecdotally that more white kids there come from homes like this. Only a small number of people with college degrees live in the parish (caveat: the Census data are skewed because the state penitentiary is in the northwestern corner of the parish). Everybody goes to the same schools — I mean, almost everybody goes to the public schools, and there is only one high school, one middle school, and one elementary school for the entire parish. The motto for the local schools is, “Here comes everybody.”

Full Story
Resident

Baton Rouge, LA

#1 Oct 18, 2011
Excellent article! WF should not look at this B grade as a bad thing. With 63% of our students on Free/Reduced lunch, this is a MAJOR accomplishment. Our leadership needs to STOP trying to compare everything to Zachary! This will be the downfall of the school system. We are not selling cars, this is not Chevy vs Ford, these are children. They don't all work the same. We can't order new parts for them to make them work better. The solution to improving our schools does not lie soley in the hands of our teachers. Most of them cannot possibly do more work than they are doing now. Pass by the schools at 6:00 at night, or on a Saturday/Sunday and see how many cars are in the parking lot. Ask these people how much more money is in their paycheck that month for being at work during this time. Now, pass by the school on a Monday morning and find out how many kids are absent without an excuse. See how many show up tardy. See how many show up without their homework done. See how many show up without eating supper the night before. See how many can't tell you where there mom and/or dad was the night before. NOW, go to the school board and ask what is being done about this. Ask the elementary supervisor what FAMILY programs are being installed to get these parents to care. Ask if the truancy officer was sent to any homes to pick up any repetitively tardy/absent students. Oh, and don't put any more money into the system. Just keep on keeping on like we are. That B will be a C in no time. Then people will start second guessing where they make their homes and send their children to school. Now your C drops to a D as your kids who can afford to move out do so. At this point, any good teachers that you have left will head out of the district as well. And that's when you end up with an F. I can only hope and pray that our school board members are paying close attention to what is happening and act together on THE RIGHT solutions.
Ventress

United States

#2 Oct 18, 2011
In many instances by the time a child enters the 1st grade, the "imprint" has made its mark. There's really not a helluva lot a teacher can do to undo the damage already done by the parent(s) or lack thereof. If the child talks like a cotton picker what can a teacher do to undo the first 6 years of "exposure to ignorance"? Not much really. The majority of high school kids, both black and white, can neither speak nor write the English language correctly. But I guess it just bees that way, sometimes. Sad, ain't it?
VALID QUESTION

United States

#3 Oct 18, 2011
I read once that the downfall of every great civilization came about as the result of the breakdown of the family unit. But what if your historical lineage had no civilized history to start with much less established family unit values. What should be expected from their offspring today? You're right, its sad, ain't it?
Concerned2

Saint Francisville, LA

#4 Oct 18, 2011
Parents often want to point fingers at teachers when little Johnny fails even though little Johnny never listened in class, only copied other students' homework, and never studied for tests. Just remember, anytime you point a finger at someone else there are 3 fingers pointing back at you!

Since: Mar 11

Location hidden

#5 Oct 18, 2011
Do you think the problem may be expections demanded of the children as well as environment? Some parent(s) do not expect much of their children and then blame the system when their children fall behind. Teachers have very difficult professions, however, the very people they have helped to educate, public officials, fail to give them the salary they deserve.
Just a voter

Saint Francisville, LA

#7 Oct 19, 2011
1Asterism wrote:
Do you think the problem may be expections demanded of the children as well as environment? Some parent(s) do not expect much of their children and then blame the system when their children fall behind. Teachers have very difficult professions, however, the very people they have helped to educate, public officials, fail to give them the salary they deserve.
Not only do many parents have low expectations, many also make excuses for their children's poor attitudes and performance. The first and greatest teachers in a child's life is his or her parents. The apple rarely falls far from the tree.
yourthoughts

Philadelphia, PA

#8 Oct 19, 2011
Ventress wrote:
In many instances by the time a child enters the 1st grade, the "imprint" has made its mark. There's really not a helluva lot a teacher can do to undo the damage already done by the parent(s) or lack thereof. If the child talks like a cotton picker what can a teacher do to undo the first 6 years of "exposure to ignorance"? Not much really. The majority of high school kids, both black and white, can neither speak nor write the English language correctly. But I guess it just bees that way, sometimes. Sad, ain't it?
You are correct. Children learn language from birth. If you speak ignorance they will too. Talking baby talk to them does not help either.
Resident

Baton Rouge, LA

#9 Oct 19, 2011
yourthoughts wrote:
<quoted text>
You are correct. Children learn language from birth. If you speak ignorance they will too. Talking baby talk to them does not help either.
All you politicians need to pay attention to these comments. I am so sick and tired of every one of them claiming "I'm going to better our education system". After the election is over, POOF they disappear and think that they can make a difference sitting in some office somewhere. Too much "research" and "studies" and "data analysis" and too little action! Pass a law that says you go to jail for every day your child is absent above the alloted days. See how many get their lazy butts out of bed and make sure their child catches the bus then! You can implement all the programs in the world at the school, but if the child is not there they cannot learn. Pretty simple. All the child is learning is how to cheat the system, get free meals, free healthcare, and NOT be a parent.
I remember

Baton Rouge, LA

#10 Oct 20, 2011
That the parents thru Paula Payne under the bus because she refused to change grades for the school system. Parents were raising their hands saying she is too hard...she is picking on my kid...lol. She was a great teacher that got screwed by WFHS
Spurvey

Columbia, LA

#11 Oct 21, 2011
A lot of backs up and finger pointing here. All points expressed here are also valid. Problem is opinions will not cause change. Facts will cause change. For students their barometer is testing and resulting grades. I understand the home environment and history of the student makes a difference. There are people that overcome these problems because they are self-motivated. Not all are. So with a measure in place for the students, what is the measure in place for the teachers? I am not a part of the school system so, I ask the question. How are teachers measure? Their performance should directly relate to the performance of the kids in their classes.Is there any analysis of percentage of students with A,B,C,D&F by subject,taught by a specific teacher. A good teacher will have a higher percentage of A & B and a lower percentage of C,D and F because they engage the students and get through to many of them. If the teacher just throws the material out their with no care as to whether the student learns it or not, that is not a good teacher. They can say they a preparing the students for College and my response to that is BS. If you don't want to go to the trouble to teach all of the students,then don't be a teacher.I realize that some students are what you might call hopeless but, there are many students that just need to be unlocked. Find the key and they will succeed.Understand the long hours and low pay, welcome to the 21st century.
Another thing to consider is how the letter grades are derived.Being graded by a completely different set of rules can drastically alter outcome.
Good luck to the new superintendent. He has many challenges ahead. 2011 was his first full year on the job. Anything before that,not him.
If the methodology that I put forth is flawed, I apologize for my ignorance and look forward to an educated answer.
myself72

Saint Francisville, LA

#12 Oct 22, 2011
students can overcome bad home situations "if" they chose to. not many do. i have worked in the medical field in this parish long enough to see it first hand. it's become all about being pregnant and having "such and such's baby". no one thinks beyond that. that child won't stay and baby and that man probably won't stay with the mother. i see children that grow older without a mother that cares for them beyond getting a child support check, welfare, or food stamps. they don't spend time trying to teach these children. they don't teach them right from wrong. they just learn from their parents that life should be given to them. welfare is somehow "owed" to them. therefore, they enter school with no ambition. their goal often is to see how young they too can become pregnant. i see the trend growly very rapidly. i think teachers can only do so much with these children. i agree that parents should be held more responsible for children. tardies, absence, etc. they should be held liable. until we make these parents take part in their childrens lives, things will never change and our schools will fail. another thing i disagree with is the school summer feeding program. most of these children are already on welfare/food stamps. why do we need to bus them to the school for more free food during the summer? i don't understand this. our schools need to conserve as much money as we can at this time. is this a necessary program?
Peter Paul

Paulina, LA

#13 Oct 23, 2011
It is more important to be black than to be educated. Look at the defense of SU in New Orleans, which graduates only 5% of its students. I'd be upset if my kid was enrolled there and I found out they have failed so many kids. But not the "black leaders". They defend the indefensible in the name of protecting a "black university".
anonymous

Paulina, LA

#14 Oct 23, 2011
Maybe the students are having a hard time learning because they are so tired from doing thier 5 or 6 hour homework everynight after school?
Resident

Baton Rouge, LA

#15 Oct 24, 2011
anonymous wrote:
Maybe the students are having a hard time learning because they are so tired from doing thier 5 or 6 hour homework everynight after school?
Maybe the student should pay more attention in class to grasp the concepts being taught so that it doesn't take them 5 or 6 hrs.(Not saying your's doesn't, just trying to point out this is another way of pointing the finger at the teacher like the article states) I've got 2 doing homework every night and it does not take us that long. Taking 6 hrs to do homework should alert a parent to say "Hey, this can't be normal. Maybe I should schedule a conference and try to work WITH my child's teacher to see what I can do to help my child." There are programs out there that will teach a child better study skills to help them learn the material quicker, thus taking less time on homework. I personally would rather my child have a little extra work to do than to come home with 1 sheet of paper to fill out each day. That way I know they are being challenged and pushed to be better.

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