My First Experience with NCLB and Why I am Fearful of CC

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 27, 2013 4 Comments

Guest Post by Mila Wood

The first time I remember having to come to the realization that public school could be
dangerous to society as a whole was when my now Junior in high school was in fourth
grade. I had always been an active parent, volunteering lots of time for the classes my
kids were in. I went on every field trip, and brought extra supplies when they needed,
and signed up with excitement for every class project that involved frosting or glitter.
But, one day I happened to be in my sons fourth grade class correcting spelling tests .
Literally half of the papers I graded only had 10 words, while the other half had the
usual 25. After I finished grading, I asked the teacher why that was. She explained that
it was NCLB, and that they just altered ( I call it dumbing down) the requirements for
the kids that couldn’t do the whole, long list. She then handed me the sliding scale
used to put the actual letter grade on top of the paper. You can imagine my surprise
when I realized that the kids who only had 10 words were still able to get the same
letter grade of “A”, if they got all 10 correct. There was absolutely nothing taken off the
grade to account for doing less than half the words!!!! When I asked the teacher about
that, she said that it worked out great for the teachers, because they were not “dinged”
on their performance or pay due to holding anyone back. wow.
That was my first real experience with NCLB, and when I am asked why I was NOT
more vocal in 2001 when it was implemented, I simply say; I had a four year old, and a
two year old at home, I did not go back to work, and I spent my days coloring, digging
in the dirt, threading beads, collecting bugs, reading to my kids and making sure they
were safe, napped with regularity, and had lots of opportunity to play with friends and
family. Basically, I was at home, doing my best as a mom. Looking back, I wish I would
have made more of an effort to fight back, but, also in retrospect, I had NO internet, and
lived in a very rural setting. PLUS, I trusted my teachers and administrators would
never stay silent on such a seemingly asinine program. Where were those
professionals? Why were they not raising a stink? job security?
One of the things I DID do, is when my kids were even in kindergarten, I did notice the
social justice, not equal justice creeping into schools, along with I considered an
attempt to effeminate the boys ( no gun play, even with fingers, no rough housing,
even outside, no real playground ball for dodgeball), and an interesting creep of an
invasive nature into the private family lives of the children through things like
surveys…yes, surveys…not only was I a little irked at how many of them they took, but
how much time it actually took away from actual classwork and learning things like the
alphabet. My kids were instructed early on, that those types of questions are
inappropriate, invasive and quite frankly, non of the schools darn business. Before you
think I am off my rocker, those friendly surveys contained questions like;
How much money does you mom and dad make? ( which, really? like a kidergartner
would really know this)
How much time do you spend at home alone?
Do your parents do drugs, like drinking or smoking? ( my husband is a beer drinker,
and you can imagine his response when my son came home and accused him of
being a druggie)
Do your parents own guns?
Do you feel safe in your home? ( which was unclear about boogie monsters, the dark,
etc., so you can imagine the stuff the kids talked about)
Anyway, you get my point, they were more intrusive than what I felt the school needed
to know in order to provide my sons a good education. My boys have always been
instructed to NEVER fill one of these out, if they are required to do so by the teacher,
then it was the one time it was OK to lie, lie , lie, i.e.; my parents make one dollar. but
whatever you do do NOT put your name on it, but you are free to be anyone you want
like “an astronaut.”
Back to the fourth grade issue on spelling words. My conversation with the teacher
was nice and cordial, but you can imagine my little man’s ears were tuned in sharp! As
soon as we got in the car to ride home, he asked, “what were you talking about?” I told
him the conversation, and he said, “ya, me and my friend were talking about that, WHY
do we have sooooo many words? when we could get the same grade doing less!”
These guys are smart, right!? I had to give him credit for having that much figured
out….I then explained that WE, in our family will always do the 25 words, because we
can, and because we will be better for it. Even though he said, “that sucks” he knew it
was the right thing.
I was really fearful that day for the first time about education, I was sure, knowing most
of those kids and parents from soccer and football, that they were perfectly capable of
achieving the 25 words. So, why and how? Did the teachers make that call? did
parents call in and lobby for it? was it the students decision? I never really did get the
answer to that, but needless to say, I have never been a fan of NCLB. I am so thankfull
for that experience, but I can’t help but think how alone I was in my observance of
NCLB. I did express my concern with other parents and teachers, and was pretty
astonished when most parents replied with, ” really? that can’t be right? that makes no
sense, you must just have a bad teacher.” Teachers mainly response with, ” well.
elections have consequences and there is nothing I can do ( and shoot, it works for me
as a teacher, with no real accountability).
Now, jump ahead to my youngest being in eighth grade. He is a straight A student, that
hates to miss school, even if he is barfing, because he likes to be caught up on his
daily work. His projects are always finished early and they are p-e-r-f-e-c-t. So, in math
I was really surprised as the year rolled on how odd it was that he struggled, and how
when I went to lend a hand, the work made no sense, there was no book, no
instructions, and NO example problem. This of course, made no sense, so I accused
my son of NOT bringing his book home, NOT writing the example problem down and
NOT paying attention. It was my BELIEF and TRUST in my teacher that made me
ASSume my son had been neglegent. ( this response was so off base, and I can’t tell
you how disappointed in the public school system I was at that point) But, as I looked
into it further, and finally met with the teacher, the truth came out.
The truth was Common Core math. The teacher was a ticking bomb of frustration, with
the curriculum, the requirements, how it was implemented, and the real kicker…wait
for it……..the Principle had decided to go ahead and Skip the pre-algebra workbook
and move the whole eight grade class into algebra. Um, what? or better yet, WT* was
my response. I told the teacher that I was really disappointed in her lack of
communication on the subject, that I expected HER to fill in the gaps for my son, so that
he was capable of doing algebra. Her most irritating, and unbelievable response was,
” your sons problem is that he wants to understand the math he is doing, if he would
just learn to memorize and regurgitate the problem day to day he would be fine.” This
is so infuriating, and in retrospect, I only wish I had had a tape recorder. lesson
learned. next step Principle.
The Principle admitted that yes, it was her implementation that she was shocked at
how badly the over all classes had down grasping the material…..again, what the heck
is wrong with these adults in charge of my kids education? When I told her how
disappointed I was that she had not given any notice to parents of her intent, and that
maybe a couple weeks at least of pre-algebra may have saved a bunch of heartache.
She responded with, well, ” lesson learned, I probably would have adjusted that if I
had known.” Oh boy, wasn’t it obvious a poor foundation doesn’t make for sturdy
house? She then sort of giggled and said, she really wouldn’t have to worry about it
next year as she was leaving to teach abroad in a marxist/communist country. Well, I
said, “That explains your lack of alarm at the Common Cores basic foundation of
government overreach, poorly implemented, UNTESTED standards and creepy data
mining, that goes against our former FERPA laws and the States right issue of
Education. And if you read the CCSS you would realize that you were severely limited
on what you can add, and you may NOT subtract or take extra time to explain if there is
an issue” She really did looked shocked, and she did admit that the tight schedule did
not leave any extra room for going over things not understood. I am guessing she has
never read, or has any appreciation for the Bill of Rights. The good news, In the end,
after two weeks, my son was right back to a comfortable A, saying, ” geez mom, I don’t
know why she didn’t just tell me those things to begin with.” Well son, because she
was handcuffed to a standard that was written by folks who have never written
curriculum, approved by folks who have never taught in classrooms. This is NCLB on
steroids!

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Comments (4)

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  1. Vikki Prince Rosich says:

    Exactly how I feel and think!

  2. Barrie Judge says:

    Wow, thanks for the information!

  3. Richard Winegar says:

    The Common Core is not a curriculum! It is a set of standards! The Common Core does prescribe that all 8th grade students should be learning Algebra 1. Please don’t blame the Common Core Standards for your local district’s lack of understanding and preparation to transition students to a more rigorous set of standards. The whole rational behind the Common Core is to help prevent incompetent schools and districts from making the mistakes that unfortunately you have had to experience.

  4. carol morgan says:

    wow! look deeper and see if you still feel that way! and check constantly the work they bring home and what they say happens in school! a rude awakening is in

    store!

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