Thursday, March 3, 2011

Money Wasted on PSSA Pep Rally Could Have Been Spent on Kindergarten

According to The Morning Call:

"Teachers did not seem happy Tuesday as they filed in and out of Trexler. Most had stern faces while waving off media. Those who spoke expressed anger and frustration at Zahorchak. They accused him of spending wildly on new administrators and gimmicks like Monday's virtual PSSA pep rally, which cost at least $20,000 in equipment and man-hours but did not work properly because computer equipment could not continuously stream the rally from Raub Middle School to all other district schools."

This is unbelievable. That money could have been used to hire 2 paraprofessionals (grossly underpaid teacher's aides) for an entire year, to help in overcrowded Kindergarten classrooms. Now that would really improve learning. High stakes testing and test prep is not teaching, and does not improve learning.

ASD must focus on meeting the needs of Kindergarten students. It is crucial to reach these children at a young age so they stay in school, graduate, and become productive citizens. Many ASD children are unprepared for school, lacking proper nutrition, social skills, basic cognitive skills, and listening skills. They are extremely needy. I have seen 5 year olds curse, punch and bother other students, run around classrooms throwing dangerous objects, even jumping on tables. This is reality. Some parents are not doing their part. Teachers need help so they can teach the majority, remove extremely disruptive students, and keep kids safe.

Costly gimmicks and rewards to bribe students will not work to improve schools. Learning is the reward. Even if test scores improve, AYP (Annual yearly progress measured by PSSA test) is not a true indicator of overall student progress. Don't be fooled by appearances, or the latest jargon from the corporate ed. reform movement. These are not evidence based approaches to improving learning. I have been in several classrooms across the district and believe it is important that citizens know what is really going on. I challenge school board members, city councilors, and business leaders to spend a day as a "guest teacher" in a Kindergarten class of 25-28. Maybe then they will understand the daily challenges teachers face while being forced to meet unrealistic goals, to comply with a "standards aligned system" mandated by politicians who demand "accountability"' (code word used when clueless people outside the classroom want to tell professional educators what to do inside their classrooms). It's putting politics before the needs of students. It's a scary Orwellian "one size fits all" approach that is not working. It's harming our kids. Parents can fight it.

Support ASD teachers. Demand recess for all elementary students, and NO cuts in arts programs and MORE electives for high school students. Let the teachers teach what they are trained to teach, and how they are trained to teach.


Mrs. Dottie said...

Columnist Paul Carpenter, who knows nothing about education but gets to spew his misinformed opinions regularly in our only "newspaper" has crapped out this gem today:
• "Proclaim that the basics — math, science, English, social studies — are what matter most and throw out incompetent educators when the standardized tests prove they are not doing their jobs."

This is the most moronic idea I have ever heard. Blame the teachers, and stick with the so called "basics." Dumbass obviously has not read any educational research on how the arts improve test scores and motivate kids to learn the "basics." But readers, that's what we got around here,
dumbasses controlling the dialogue.

Gloria said...

This kind of nonsense makes me crazy, Mrs. Dottie.
I am soooooo glad that my children attend cyber school now and do not have to partake in such ridiculousness.

Mrs. Dottie said...

According to Carpenter's logic, it's the teacher's fault that a child is frequently absent, does not get proper rest or nutrition, does not complete homework because parents don't check folder, Also the teacher's fault that mom works three jobs, dad is in prison, the child is late to school because she has to tend to younger siblings. And that's just a partial list of reasons why a child may not perform well on the test. All the teacher's fault.

Also, where has Paul been for the last 10 years? Since NCLB became law, the curriculum has been narrowed to only the basics. Very little time is spent on social studies and science in elementary school. What an idiot.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Hi Gloria,

I am really fed up with the nonsense, and although I want to support the school, I know this standardized curriculum, high stakes testing, and Dr.Z's vision does not benefit my son. And there is no end in sight, because Z is pushing for even more testing, and even evaluating teachers using test scores.

I have noticed that my child is losing his desire to learn because of the endless drilling in prep. for the test. He robotically completes the sample test question worksheets just to get them done, his handwriting is sloppy and he isn't learning anything. It's scary, and luckily he has parents who supplement his "education" with art, music, history, current events and things he misses in school. They are stifling creativity and critical thinking skills.

I don't want my child to be part of the experiment anymore. The school tries to sell this nonsense as being so important to my child. Where is the evidence of that? His pre-test scores don't make any sense, and don't equate with his report card grades.
His scores in reading go up and down, not showing any consistent improvement over time. On multiple choice tests, he sometimes chooses the answer that makes sense to him, sometimes it's a silly answer,not the best choice, but he is still demonstrating some knowledge of the subject area, but that cannot be measured, and is counted as wrong. It's a scam. He has excellent grades, at the top of his class. This is all about politics, not learning.

I don't think cyber school would work for us since I have to work, and G likes the social aspect of school.
Also, he is not too self motivated. I want to see our public school improved!! But it does not look like that will happen any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Angie, you are right, early childhood education is crucial especially since the childhood poverty rate is so high in this country. I really believe that this reform movement is all about political control. The super wealthy ruling class does NOT want poor children to develop critical thinking skills because then they would question authority. It really is Orwellian and very scary!

Mrs. Dottie said...

Anon 12:13, the child poverty rate is up to 25% in America! This is what ed reformers and politicians need to focus on, not more testing or blaming teachers. Things are headed in a bad direction, and unfortunately our President is supporting these harmful corporate ed reform policies, while at the same time praising our hard working teachers. He doesn't get it.

Mrs. Dottie said...

PA Gov.Corbett is proposing drastic cuts in early childhood education. This is wrong and immoral, and will have disastrous results. The goal of the GOP is to privatize public ed.