I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lowering the Bar for "Some" Students, Keeping it High for "Others"??

I certainly hope the recent bar-lowering in Washington, DC, does not become the new normal.  It actually turns my stomach, and how can we expect less from some and proclaim this will produce higher achievement?  The geniuses that developed this "plan" should be immediately quarantined so their idocy spreads no further, then they should be fired from their positions.  Talk about a GIANT step backwards.....

 from the Washington Post:

"Setting different aspirations for different groups of children represents a sea change in national education policy, which for years has prescribed blanket goals for all students. Some education experts see the new approach as a way to speed achievement for black, Latino and low-income students, but some parents can’t help but feel that less is being expected of their children.
“It’s disgraceful,” said Alicia Rucker, a Ward 7 resident and single mother of six, one of whom graduated from Georgetown University and five of whom are still living at home and enrolled in D.C. public schools. “It’s ridiculous to even believe that if you expect less from someone, you’re going to get more.”

If you can hold your food down while reading this garbage, the article is here

I've spoken out forcefully before about bar lowering, which serves no good purpose other than to make failed policymakers feel better about themselves so they can declare "success".


Alice Sohn said...

Jeff, Perhaps you should address some of that outrage toward our own school system. In this county, we've created two tiers of classes--honors and regular--both, supposedly at grade level. But for the regular classes, we have consistently assigned less experienced and capable teachers,used less effective teaching methods,and denied equal access to textbooks and other materials. At the same time, we evaluate students from both tiers with the same exams. How could we possibly believe that we're not lowering the bar--at least for the predominantly minority and poor students in the "regular" classes.
In high-school English, at least, students are required to "read" the same "great works of literature." But when teachers face a class of students whose mean reading level is 2, the students "listen" to Shakespeare rather than "read" Shakespeare, fill out worksheets, and "pass" with exams that parrot the worksheet questions.
How can you say that we're not "lowering" the bar when there are no materials whatsoever for the "lowest" level ninth-grade students? How can you say we're not lowering the bar when teachers become so frustrated they resort to full-time worksheets or PowerPoint slides as the only mode of instruction.
Until this year, Florida has managed to exempt itself from the provision of the NCLB legislation that requires students to be counted as "dropouts" unless they progress through high school in the "normal" 9 - 12 progression. In Florida, when students have left school, saying they are transferring to a GED or other program, they have not been counted as dropouts. This year, as Florida is required to adhere to the law, it will become public knowledge that almost 70% of our impoverished minority students in this county drop out. At least, the DC schools are doing something. We, on the other hand, devote our time, energy, and money endlessly discussing "should," "would," and "could" or allowing "experts," with no idea whatsoever about what goes on in the classroom today, to set school policy. I am outraged!!!

Jeff Bergosh said...

George Bush called it "the soft bigotry of lowered expectations" and it does still exist. I read your viewpoint piece and I see where you are coming from. I've got two kids in High School, and some of the classes are Honors/AP, and some are regular. What you say about teacher experience I would agree with as well as far as I have seen; I believe this is, once again, a wonderful Union issue. The tenured, "senior" teachers get first crack at such positions. I would prefer it if a principal could pick the assignments based upon the fit of the teacher--this, unfortunately would be grieved by our "wonderful" teachers labor union. Unions and the hand tying their rules and contracts put on administrators HURTS us in our ability to best utilize our human capital--this is a fact and it drives me nuts and I want it fixed! But whenever I suggest bold changes to fix our CBA I get B.S. push back from status quo "lifers" in our district that cannot come off of their scripts and say things like "such a change would be negatively perceived by our teachers". So the status Quo never gets challenged, the path of LEAST resistance gets taken such that nobody gets his feathers ruffled, and everybody gets along; and it is sad to witness... Eventually, Tallahassee or Washington fixes some of these issues via legislation, because locally we lack the fortitude to do it. Then, these same administrators decry the "heavy handed mandates". Laughable! Newsflash--- Mandates come to us when we FAIL to get the job done locally, period! This, also, irritates me. I want BOLD change but I constantly feel like a Salmon swimming upstream.... Also, getting back to your post, Where I would disagree and what I would have a major problem with is if there is indeed not "equal access to textbooks and other [Educational] Material" as you assert. I don't believe this is true systemically--and if it is I will intervene officially, but I will need specific information. Please provide specific instances and locations. Alice A few years back we had education innovator Ron Clark visit the district, and he was amazing! The biggest takeaway from his presentation was to NEVER lower the bar. Never, But we do it everyday locally, statewide, and nationally, and it is wrong, and it will come back to haunt us. And I am aware of the graduation statistic exemption change as well--and it will shine a light on this issue as well, but will it change? that depends on more than just us-that depends a lot on students and families as well....