In re: the caffeination experiment. I’m definitely feeling better, stomachwise. Headache and sleepiness, somewhat less than yesterday.
At this point, I would advise anyone who isn’t passionately interested in the more horrifying aspects of American public education with respect to my kid in particular to look elsewhere. Go back — there was a far more entertaining post just before this one. Thanks.
It was back to school night last night. I admit I was not in the best of moods to begin with, but it wasn’t helped by the fact that apparently four of M’s six classes are now amalgamations of 2 classes — half the kids are in “Ac@demic ChoIce” and half are in LUPS International School. This is insane. The school has limited resources, and now (in addition to four other “schools” within the school, a confusion I won’t even go in to) they have to split those resources to meet two different standards — the IB standard and the AP standard. That means that next year in M’s latin class, the teacher will have to teach two different curricula in one class period. One group has to read a lot of Vergil. The other has to read some Vergil and then a bunch of Ovid. There is money for one senior latin class. It’s like the little red school house, I guess, where you just sit there until it’s your turn. In M’s art class, she’s essentially just sitting around while the IB students get ready for the IB exam. No one is bothering about the AP exam, which M should be taking this year. The new chemistry teacher (the old one left because there was no support and the kids were too unruly) has instituted some bizarre point system where you gain and lose points based on whether you’re in your seat when the bell rings and whether you copy the agenda from the board. No discussion at all of the chemistry they’re supposed to be learning. Math used to be fairly safe, but now there’s IB math, too. (Apparently math is done differently internationally. Who knew?) So the whole discussion there was what math the IB kids should take next year.
As K said, it was all about process, and nothing, except in M’s English class, about what they were doing.
It made me really glad that I will never have to go to high school again.
I have really given up. She’s got 1.5 more years there. Latin and English and math will probably be okay. Science is bound to suck — it has every year she’s been there. If they haven’t moved the one good econ/gov’t teacher over to the IB school, that will be good, but there’s no guarantee, and given that he’s a good teacher, they probably will, which will leave her with some moron, of whom there are not a few. Art will be bad. Then she’ll be out of there.
I’m sorry to have such a bad attitude. I got a fairly decent education at my public school. I don’t really understand what has gone so badly wrong at LUPS. They’re very concerned about the achievement gap, and I think we should all be concerned about the achievement gap. What I have questions about are the ways they’ve gone about fixing it. M’s English teacher is going to offer a class on epic novels next year. She said she was really sad that they couldn’t read much in the regular classes, and she remembered reading lots in her high school English classes. “But some of my students really could not keep up if we read Moby Dick.” The idea is to have English and History be for all levels of kids mixed together, and that this will close the achievement gap. I have no idea how it’s working for the non-middle class kids. M’s English class is actually going really well, though. They are not reading very much, but they are writing a ton, and M is learning a lot.
Actually, if I think about what’s wrong with LUPS it would be:
- No reasonable curriculum. No one is really in charge. No one can make the science dept. offer reasonable classes. Good students should take bio, chem and physics, and then an AP science. Iffier students should have something else, but it should be a progression of classes designed to teach scientific literacy. Or maybe you should have honors and nonhonors. I don’t know — I’m not a science educator, but what I can tell you is that what they’ve got now doesn’t work.
- Too many bad teachers.
- Too many teacher allowed to just get by showing movies, or discussing Oprah, or refusing to return homework or grade tests.
- Too many insane parents with nutty ideas. (But not me.)
- A very very diverse population, with some very bright and well directed kids, and some kids who are totally lost. Actually, I think a lot of the problem is the kids in the middle — kids who are just kids, some quite bright, but probably not directed enough to grab an education out of chaos. These are the kids who no one worries about except their parents, who then become insane with worry and demand 46 science AP classes because then at least their kids will be separated from the nogoodniks, and will get, they hope, a decent teacher. The school needs to establish a reasonable curriculum and then tell these parents — your child is okay in regular biology. There is a curriculum and we will teach it. The teacher is not a moron. And it has to be true.
- A significant urban population that is not being educated.
- Maybe this is too much for any school to deal with —
- And now this crazy attempt to make 8 schools in one, when they don’t have the resources to make one school in one.
I don’t think I would repeat this experiment if I had another child, but really, what option is there? Several high pressure private high schools that cost $35,000 per year that my kids would never get in to. A mediocre catholic high school. A very small idiosyncratic, cheaper private school. I don’t know why it should be this way.