Saturday, November 6, 2021

A Destination District High School

Here’s a glimpse into what is happening in American high schools, especially those that are dedicated to improving the education of minority children. Educator Shane Trotter was not prepared to discover how bad things were when he started teaching at one of these schools. (via Maggie’s Farm)

One can see that the children attending his school were lost beyond repair. You can mutter on all you want about more training; it is not going to happen.

One will not, in this post, recall the work being done in charter schools like New York’s Success Academies, but clearly, the work being done there so far exceeds the work in destination district schools that it is absurd even to compare the two. 

Trotter begins:

Ten years ago, I showed up for my first day as a high school teacher. I had landed a job in the best school of what is often called a “destination district.”

What did he find? 

Still, I couldn’t have predicted how unprepared my students would be. They had never taken notes. They were shocked that my test reviews weren’t a list of the questions on the test. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t allow 20 minutes of review before the test, or why a history exam would have sections requiring written responses. In fact, many would just skip the entire short answer and essay sections, despite being given these topics in advance. Those who did respond often wrote single words or incoherent run-ons.

How bad was it?

After their years of schooling in which writing never extended beyond filling in a blank, my expectations were analogous to asking high schoolers to solve algebraic equations when they had not yet learned to multiply and divide. They were capable, but it was going to take a lot of effort to fill in the gaps. Which raises the question, why would a student be willing to put in that much work?

Of course, no one is capable of facing the reality of the situation. So, teachers are required to pass children who can barely read, write or count. Grade inflation is corruption; these schools are wallowing in it:

I compromised more times than I would have ever thought possible. I eliminated homework, allowed test retakes, gave fill-in-the-blank notes, graded essays at a 5th grade level, gave test reviews that were basically the test, and intentionally made tests easy. When there were still too many students failing at the end of a grading period, I went above and beyond to manufacture easy routes to a passing grade so that only a handful of incomprehensibly effort-averse students failed.

One of the biggest challenges for teachers in their quest to give good grades is that test grades tend to be very low. To offset this, teachers give assignments that will raise everyone’s grade (presuming students do them). This usually takes the form of elementary task work where teachers award full credit to everyone who turns the assignment in. Such grades are known as “warranty work.” Like the warranty on your car, they guarantee anything broken is fixed for you. They mitigate bombed tests and ensure that in most on-level classes, any student can get a B without the inconvenience of learning anything.

This is the same educational system that was roundly rejected by voters in Virginia and across America last Tuesday.


IamDevo said...

I searched in vain for a clue to the ethnic composition of this so-called magnet school. Anybody know? I'm going out on a limb here, and postulate it does not have a preponderance of asian students. Or Jewish students or whi....... Oooopsies! Can't go there. Sorry.

Sam L. said...

It was many years ago when I was graduated from high school, so I have to count on my fingers...DANG! It was '61!

So now the stupid are being passed on from year to year...

Sam L. said...

I am reminded of a science fiction book by Cyril Kornbluth, entitled "The Marching Morons", which I read many years ago, and more recently. You could look it up.