Current/Recent Reading List

06 March 2007

To The Core

Principal Goldberg attended a public forum last night put on by the state Dept. of Instruction. They are putting these forums on around the state to explain their decisions to require, beginning in '08-'09, every high school student to complete the same "core curriculum" of 17 classes, plus four electives before graduating. These forums were apparently advertised as part informational, part Hillary-style listening tour. But it sounds like they are, in actuality, "here is our information, like it or lump it" sessions.

Frankly, I have not been following this move by the state, but I can quickly explain the opposition to the core curriculum idea. There are kids who simply will never, ever pass certain math or science classes, or certain foreign language classes, or won't have the will to pass English or history classes that have heavy writing requirements. Also, there are those students who are not intrigued by academic classes, but may squeak by in them so they can take the vocational classes they do like. The upshot is that there will almost certainly be more high school drop-outs, unless all academic teachers simultaneously decide to water down their classes.

It also would probably mean that more math, science, and foreign language teachers will need to be hired, and there are two problems here: it is hard as hell to find such teachers as it is, and to find places for them means vocational positions will likely be cut.

So, what is motivating the state DPI, and what do the teachers' union kapos think about this? I'm not completely sure on either score, but will endeavor to find out.


middleagedhousewife said...

This fall's incoming ninth graders will need to do a student project, a 10 page paper and hours of community service or they will not graduate. I do not know if this is just Forsyth county or if it's other places also. I have the info on my desk; I'm simply too angry to read them right now. Some of my fifth grader's classmates are (barely)on a third grade reading level. Most of them will be promoted at the end of the year. Are they expected to write a 10 page paper simply by virtue of remaining in school long enough to be a senior? Where will the resources come from to help these kids? My older sons are taking AP classes. They can take as many as 8 in their Jr/Sr years and the classes count towards college, sometimes allowing students to skip their first year. Every child deserves an education. Every child needs an education. However, every child does not need the same education.

Locomotive Breath said...

I think we could avoid high school dropouts by awarding a high school diploma regardless of whether the student has mastered a high school education. Sorry to be so sarcastic but isn't the point of a high school diploma to differentiate between students who have mastered certain material and those who have not? And yes we can have the discussion about what is included in that "certain material".

School Master P said...

middleaged - the project and paper are statewide, beginning with the current crop of ninth graders. That was another DPI decision. I wasn't aware of the community service, so that may be an add-on from Forsyth. As for resources - for starters, guess who gets to supervise these projects and papers for every single student, help set up oral presentations, etc.? Why teachers, of course, with all of our free time. The thing is, each school has to have at least a couple (and probably many more for big schools) of senior project coordinators, who simply won't have the time to coordinate if they have a normal class load and one planning period. So, is it more important for them to teach kids, or do burdensome paperwork and coordinate their projects?

LB - you are right, of course, and I've never been one to complain about drop out rates, b/c I see too many kids who don't belong in the classroom by the time they are 16 anyway. From an English teacher's perspective, I don't have a philosophical problem with the core curriculum mandate. But, if drop out rates are going to sky-rocket, the rest of society better be prepared for how to accomodate this. And what about the kids who thrive in vocational subjects?

locomotive breath said...

There is no shame in being an electrician. There are many people who write beautiful prose who can't change a lightbulb. You should pardon the comparison, but electricians typically make a lot more money than English majors.

That's not an idle comparison. When I was a prof at NCSU, the first graduate student I supervised was an English degree from UNC-CH, became and electrician to support his family, and eventually became an electrical engineer.

We should simply acknowledge that some students are not necessarily all suited for the same education.

School Master P said...

LB - You're absolutely right, but no one important will ever say this publicly. I can't imagine a contemporary politician, or education bureaucrat, ever making a speech which contained words like the following: "We need to face the facts that a college degree certainly isn't for everyone, and that a traditional high school diploma isn't even for everyone. Our colleges and universities are bloated with a host of students who require remediation in basic skills, and our high schools are expecting more and more academic work from those who can't perform it. More of our resources should be shifted to help those that, after 10th grade, want to specialize only in vocational training. And, we should stop stigmatizing good vocations that don't require college degrees."