In the last six months, many aspects of my life have gone through ‘change’. My address (a whole new state), my back office for tutoring, my weight. While those items have changed, my very real beliefs and sense of equity have not changed one bit – they just become stronger in conviction.
I know exactly why I left teaching in the classroom and now, 10 years later, when many more teachers have ‘left’ (fled and not replaced), I realize I was just a bit ahead of the curve. It is a challenge to find anyone these days who wishes to become a teacher due to the insanity of getting the credential and the further insanity of making through the first two years- never mind possibly getting through the first five years and making it work for them, when they are seasoned and can be great.
As education went to further extremes of the business model (charter schools, for profit secondary ed, small schools within a school, TFA and so forth, supplementary educational services) approach to education, those in charge continued to intentionally overlook and then ignore the most obvious problems arising from a ridiculous system. It is not that anyone has forgotten or overlooked what we do in schools, it is most often the people in charge selectively choose to ignore, not address or lower the level of the problem until they are called out.
Teachers are not by nature a dumb lot so one would have to guess administration, school boards and other community members seem to have a hand in the manipulations of kids getting an education. And this is why teachers become frustrated. We know. We know administrators and businesses (all the non-profit charter schools are BUSINESSES) intentionally on purpose have to overlook things so they meet the bottom line, present some sort of numbers to the people interested in their concept and hope to goodness no one catches them. A perfect example is how charter schools are able to skirt ADA rules for special ed students. You would be amazed at the stories, pack of lies and so forth surrounding this aspect of education.
When an article such as the one written by Jeff Guo at Storyline hits my reading, it is impossible to put down. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/22/these-kids-were-geniuses-they-were-just-too-poor-for-anyone-to-discover-them/?tid=sm_fb It is the embodiment of all the things I know are going on and have never had the ‘evidence’ to prove as we don’t talk about this stuff in polite company. It is too unseemly to discuss all the ways we betray students in this country.
What Mr. Guo wrote about is the basis of work looked at by Malcolm Gladwell, Shankar Vedantam, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. It is the not so ‘hidden’ mess right in front of our eyes if we would just pay attention. What is shocking is the fact this information is in no way hidden at all and that is the largest disgrace.
The result was an atlas of inequality.
We blame money as the cause for ignoring the gifted and talented students within a school district. It is not money. It is will. We know these students are out there and it is our job to find them. We have to do a better job. Instead, we do the opposite of what is best practices.
We give minority students and/or students of poverty the worst teachers, the new teachers, the teachers we can not figure out how to help. We give these same students Supplementary Education Services (SES), which is polite terminology for whatever half-rate tutors we can find after some ‘business’ takes a percentage off the top for hooking us up (trust me – I know the system and have seen it as a teacher, as a tutor and having been approached to work for these organizations). We created state tests which were so low in caliber, when the common core came out, most notably the standard for the economically advantaged kids, we flipped out to see the low scores. Reality met head on with the games we played to try to fool ourselves.
We put the socioeconomically disadvantaged students in charter schools which do not (the statistics prove it out repeatedly) which do not do anything more or better than a good, well run public school. We do everything in our power to disenfranchise this group of students including evaluating them at the same time, at the same rate for gifted and talented programs.
Is it really any wonder at all education is in a shambles?
What can YOU do?
As a parent, you can use the SES money towards a better tutor for your student. http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/choice/help/ses/description.html
Districts must make available to parents a list of State-approved supplemental educational services providers in the area and must let parents choose the provider that will best meet the educational needs of the child.
The school districts do what is cheapest, NOT best. Find an independent tutor to work with a small group of students. They can be paid by SES funds. Trust me, the threshold to be a tutor for supplemental education services is low. You can find tutors willing to work with students for less than their ‘listed’ costs on a website such as https://www.avidbrain.com/
-Stay away from the sites which promise you tons of tutors as you will find it is a numbers game and the sites with the ‘most’ tutors are not the sites with the BEST tutors. There is a difference. Sites with the most tutors need to prove to investors they have a business model. 20% of the tutors on the site do 98% of the work. The other tutors are window dressing……I’ve been there. I was the 20%.
-Tutors are generally independent contractors.
-If you go with an SES ‘provider’, some business is making money and the tutor is maybe getting $12-20/hr. Since an SES tutor has a low threshold to meet to become a tutor, you are not getting your monies worth, you are getting what is cheapest for your school district.
-If you go with an independent tutor, the tutor makes the money they are worth, stick with the job and know what they are doing.