Three Outta Fifty

This is about the No Child Left Behind act which no one ever seemed to like. It's being replaced now but the Core Curriculum addresses entirely different issues. But we're not quite there yet.

I have an unusual situation. I went to the same school district from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. From ages five to eighteen I was part of the same flubbed administration. In that time I have had I believe around 50 different instructors. Possibly more but I counted up and by my sophomore year of high school I was around 45ish then had to figure out who I had twice. In that time there's three instructors who I objectively feel were bad teachers. One was miserable, one was miserable and couldn't be bothered to assign us work let alone teach and the other is an enigma which I still fail to wrap my head around. However, three out of 50 is 6%. That is exceptionally low for a district as big as mine. I can not get an accurate figure for the number of instructors over every grade level, but with five elementary schools, three middle schools but only one big high school... there's a lot. Probably over 1,000 not including faculty who don't teach. So if my cast is typical, that's 60 in 1,000 instructors are honestly bad teachers.

I bring this up because the original intent of No Child Left Behind was to weed out the truly bad instructors. Something which I feel was not truly necessary as it's the minority of instructors which are truly terrible and detrimental to student's education. It was about holding instructors accountable... but it had some major flaws. These are concerns I remember my instructors saying while I was in high school. They may not be remembered clearly but they raise very good points.

All that said, then, this legislation was well-meaning but missed the mark. So, what are the issues with education I encountered? I'm glad I'm assuming you're asking.

Many students do not or can not attend class regularly. I know some people just don't show up because huffing paint behind the 7-11 or smoking pot in your brother's pickup that's rusting in the driveway is a more meaningful experience. I know other students who were in difficult situations. One had to cut school as he was the sole income for his family. He is the most extreme case. Many other students had to work and couldn't afford not to... and had to take what hours were given to them. "It's illegal to force students to work during school hours!" I hear you shot at me from a passing bus... and while it is, a part-time worker can be let go for really any reason. "Because we just don't need you anymore" is good enough. "Because we no longer need people hours you're available". Even that said, students who work after school often are forced into long hours to help make their household's ends meet. This leaves little time for homework (which is up to 7+ hours a night!) or study. Once upon a time these students would simply drop out... but that is no longer an option. In a world increasingly focused on having people with 4-year degrees stock shelves not graduating high school is economic suicide.

Let's also touch on seven &@#%ing hours of homework a night. That is insane. And then you're intended to study, write papers and do projects on top of that. And, no, college is not like that. College assigns things usually at least a week in advance and, even though the individual courses are structured like that students only have four or so at a time. Not eight, which they gave us. That is literally double the local community college's requirement for being full time. The argument was that it's because we don't use semesters... but not using semesters makes for a treadmill of assignments where you're constantly playing catchup.

The notion everyone should be able to get an 'A' is also insane. Grade on a curve if you want, grade in percentiles. C's should be the most common grade. They even start with the same letter, as if by some linguistic magic. One of my friends-- her parents required her to get full marks on all assignments. Her freshman year her French teacher gave extra credit on every test. Her parents demanded she get a 105%. Even if the reporting system would not allow for anything over an A+ so even be recorded in any meaningful way. Anyway, her sophomore year she had a different instructor who did not give extra credit. My friend's parents organized a meeting with the teacher to find out why their daughter was only getting a 100%. From that point on the instructor refused to give her less than 100% on any assignment. It was easier for everyone.

Now, my actual in fact point: Neither Common Curriculum, Core Curriculum or No Child Left Behind actually do anything to solve the issues with schools. They do nothing to improve the students situations or quality of life. Students are doing poorly because school can not and is not the only obligation they have. Students are doing poorly because teachers are encouraged by either easily gameable systems or insane parents. These are social issues which need to be addressed first and foremost. The school system is horribly out of date and needs to reflect our current world. I feel other things, such as poor administration or school boards made up of zero teachers and people who have no idea how schools work will fix themselves in time, but if the students are our future, no wonder we're stressed, in debt and struggling to make ends meet while balancing all out obligations.