‘You’re Asking Students to Hate Who They Are’

‘You’re Asking Students to Hate Who They Are’

Photo by Sam Hodgson

San Diego State University professor Alberto Ochoa stands in front of a mural on campus by artist Salvador Torres that depicts "unity, but also the importance of developing culture competence," Ochoa says.

Alberto Ochoa remembers how, as a freshman at a Los Angeles public high school, the vice principal told his class that half of the students wouldn’t graduate.

Turns out, Ochoa said, “that’s exactly what happened.” Many of his classmates dropped out, some “survived public education” and made it out with a diploma, he said. A few, like Ochoa, went on to earn degrees.

But Ochoa, a professor emeritus who retired last spring after 37 years teaching graduate education courses at San Diego State University, didn’t need a doctorate to understand fancy words like “achievement gap” or socioeconomic disadvantage.

He understands them because he lived them. And he’s devoted his life’s work to helping parents and students facing the same elements.

Since Ochoa began teaching at SDSU in 1975, he has worked with more than 60 school districts in California, helping them plan curriculums and boost the language skills of students for whom English is a second language.

He remains active in the Parent Institute for Quality Education, an organization he co-founded to help parents advocate for their children’s education and create a college-going culture.

Ochoa and other educators, community agencies and community leaders meet with San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten on a monthly basis. Each month, they focus on a different education topic ranging from accessing the “A to G” curriculum — high school courses necessary for college — to parental engagement, to biliteracy education.

I sat down with Ochoa at a Starbucks just down the road from SDSU.

Ochoa told me a bit about his childhood in Mexico, and his family’s moved to Los Angeles when he was 7. He grappled to learn English along with class concepts — the same struggle roughly 34,000 English-language learners in San Diego Unified face today.

We also talked about what Ochoa called a modern, but infrequently discussed symptom of racial segregation in schools: “post and bid,” a process by which teachers who have the most seniority have first dibs on jobs at better-performing schools.

At Lincoln High, for example, a school that has faced severe teacher and student out-migration in recent years, the staff averaged about 12 years of service between them in 2011-2012 — lower than the district average of 15.1.

Lincoln’s Academic Performance Index, a composite score that reflects a school’s performance based on statewide assessments, was 617 — the lowest-scoring high school in the district that year.

Compare that to La Jolla High, where the average years of staff service was 19. La Jolla High had an API score of 849 that year, one of the five highest in the district.

Here’s the bulk of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

What’s one important piece of this conversation that you think needs more attention?

Expectations are a critical component of this conversation. And expectations are often calibrated to meet socioeconomic conditions.

I’ll give you this example. Years ago, my wife and I were looking for a school to enroll our son. We went from school to school, asking, “What are your expectations for a student to be successful?”

One school in Barrio Logan said, “Well by the third grade we’d expect students to be reading at the 22nd percentile.” Another school said, “We’d expect your son to read at the 36th percentile” and another, near University City and La Jolla, said they expected students to read at the 86th percentile.

This is the same school district, the same curriculum, but the expectations are drastically different.

And, by the way, I advise parents that if teachers tell you your student is doing well because he’s at the 36th percentile, you’ve got a real problem. You can’t measure success against other students if all students are struggling.

Expectations, then, are something parents and schools shape together. What’s something for principals and teachers to think about?

There’s a book by Richard Valencia about what he calls the “deficit theory,” which basically means we focus on what students are lacking instead of looking at their assets.

The central metaphor of the book is that on their first day of classes, all students come to school with a backpack. In the bag, students carry 25,000 hours of learning — this includes language, lived experiences and cultural lessons. Too often we see the contents of that bag as a deficit, and we ask students to leave it at the door.

This includes the label of “English-language learner,” which creates separation. It tells them they are wrong. When you ask a child to leave his or her background at the door, you humiliate the child. You’re asking students to displace their family culture and language, to hate who they are.

This is especially important in California, where the majority of students are non-white, but the majority of teachers come from a Euro-American background.

So we have a choice. We can respond to students with a deficit perspective, which basically means: “We’re going to fix you. The problem is not the school. The problem is you.” This often means that a school is only concerned with meeting the student’s legal rights to a basic education, but nothing more.

Or we can treat a child as an asset where we value and recognize the experience each child brings, and then build upon that. We promote bi-cognition, which would support language development in their first and second language while at the same time supporting their conceptual learning.

You talked a little about expectations, and how they vary from school to school. What are some possible reasons for the differences?

I went to one of the first high schools to be desegregated in L.A. I saw many of the tensions play out firsthand. But in many ways, schools are more segregated now than they were in the 1970s.

Segregation takes many forms. It could be a matter of where more experienced teachers are placed.

I’m talking about post and bid — teacher tenure is established after three years, after which point they can bid out and move to other schools.

Generally, the most teacher openings are at the most complex schools. I don’t call them the worst schools. They are the most ethnically and linguistically complex — requiring culturally proficient and experienced teachers.

The idea of using the most complex schools as training grounds for teachers is a recipe for failure.

Post and bid is a collective bargaining issue, and I’m generally supportive of unions. But I’ve never seen value in this.

It doesn’t taste well. It doesn’t smell well. And it’s not beneficial for kids.

I think we should establish an academy for teachers who are going to work in these schools. Where they [train] teachers in culturally relevant pedagogy instead of asking them to parachute in without knowing the background of where the kids in that school are coming from, or what they’re dealing with. This goes for principals, too.

In writing about the achievement gap, I’ve noticed that people are often passionate about what they assume are the roots of the disparities, and what we should do about them.

How can we frame the conversation around the racial disparities in a way that transcends the argument and helps us make progress?  

The first level of awareness is recognizing the problem. In this case, some students are failing, while others are succeeding. We give it a name: the achievement gap, the dropout rate, etc. But most often we do not consider the structure of the school system.

Next, comes blaming. Parents blame the teachers, teachers blame the parents or they blame principals, principals blame the superintendents, superintendents blame Sacramento. It goes on.

To a certain degree, we all do this. I do, too. It’s natural. When I notice myself doing it, I try to recognize it. When we blame somebody else, it means it’s not our problem. We’re not responsible for it.

How do we create a more transformative process that is responsive to all students? This is something that I internalize and wake up at night thinking about. This is what drives me to work with and through school communities to create democratic schooling practices.

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Mario Koran

Mario Koran

Mario reports on hospitals, nonprofits and educational institutions, digging into their impact on the greater San Diego community. Reach him directly at 619.325.0531, or by email: mario@vosd.org.

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43 comments
John H Borja
John H Borja subscriber

The problem remains that certain people want to hang on to the antiquated notion that America and Americans need to be defined by race, ethnicity, language, religion, a governmental structure, and some vague market ideal. It is a fact that communication works better when a common language is provided. It is also a fact that all Americans understand that the lingua franca is English. When you are talking about bringing people into the fold, as it were, you are taking about teaching. It is a fact that many Americans make this a particular and unnecessarily difficult task, in my opinion, for many newly arrived people. It is also a fact that 98% of "Americans" came from somewhere else other than U.S. territories either very recently or long, long ago. There is really only one kind of people that can claim "original" are the "original" people that were already here before Columbus or the Vikings or whomever: and THEY are grouped by different languages, traditions, and place. And while my next comments might seem slated for the "kumbaya" bin, lets just think slightly globally. It is this misplaced ethnocentricity, unqualified xenophobia, and neurotic parochialism that has partially driven "American" foreign policy. The other part is unabated "free market" greed. And, ironically, post WWII America still defines itself with Mohammed Ali's refrain" I'm the greatest" and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s refrain "free at last". These notions are about the here and now. Other empires have risen and fallen and so will we. Not right now, of course. But when our policymakers go pushing people around the globe for whatever reason, because today America does have the military and economic might, we should not be pushing our own people around. Because in the final analysis, it is our diversity that has made us today the strongest nation on earth. And we should in all cases embrace that. How American is Henry Kissinger? How American was Steve Jobs? How American was Cesar Chavez? How American was Einstein? America and being American, to me, has absolutely nothing to do with whether you arrived by way of Ellis Island, Tijuana, the Mayflower, the Santa Maria, or Windsor,Ontario. To me it has everything to do with "what ya got?" It's about accepting other people and exploiting( I know this has unacceptable implications) there boundless strengths to create a successful society. And, there it is, I'm Polyantonio. I'd rather take Tommie Smith's raised fist in the 1968 Olympics as a sign that he wanted to be recognized as a full blooded American; no different than anyone else.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish

More victicrat PC nonsense. Learning English doesn't mean you need to hate yourself, it means you need to learn English, just like everyone else.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish subscriber

More victicrat PC nonsense. Learning English doesn't mean you need to hate yourself, it means you need to learn English, just like everyone else.

dana deima
dana deima

Dr Ochoa is a well-respected professor in his field. His mention of guiding a student to a new language by keeping them engaged in their own native language is purported by most second language professionals. Stephen Krashen, the second language guru, has mounds of research on the subject. As for building a student's self-esteem, CA has instituted the CLAD credential as a requirement to teach in this state. The premise of this credential is recognition of the student's primary language and culture to help ensure the self worth and positive development of the child. Sometimes this can be as simple as a multi-cultural assembly or for example, the celebration of Cesar Chavez in March or anytime. It can include things like students writing and sharing autobiographies in English class. However, bilingual education, in all its forms, has probably one of the most influencing affects on the second language learning. Learning a new language while continuing to learn concepts and vocabulary, etc in your native language does the most for brain development. Everybody knows people who are fluent in more than one language, including music, usually do better in school. Dr Ochoa mentions post and bid but there is a provision in the post and bid process which allows some leeway for attracting more experienced teachers to low socio-economic schools. The fact that Lincoln has lower percentage of experienced teachers than the district average, probably has as much to do with the new administration when a lot of teachers left as it does with teacher preference overall.. Some excellent, very experienced teachers and counselors and other staff left. Schools that struggle do so for complex reasons and yet the solutions are actually quite simple: consistent, good leadership, extra resources for struggling families and a desire to improve. As neighborhoods surrounding the school stabilize, so will the schools.

dana deima
dana deima subscriber

Dr Ochoa is a well-respected professor in his field. His mention of guiding a student to a new language by keeping them engaged in their own native language is purported by most second language professionals. Stephen Krashen, the second language guru, has mounds of research on the subject. As for building a student's self-esteem, CA has instituted the CLAD credential as a requirement to teach in this state. The premise of this credential is recognition of the student's primary language and culture to help ensure the self worth and positive development of the child. Sometimes this can be as simple as a multi-cultural assembly or for example, the celebration of Cesar Chavez in March or anytime. It can include things like students writing and sharing autobiographies in English class. However, bilingual education, in all its forms, has probably one of the most influencing affects on the second language learning. Learning a new language while continuing to learn concepts and vocabulary, etc in your native language does the most for brain development. Everybody knows people who are fluent in more than one language, including music, usually do better in school. Dr Ochoa mentions post and bid but there is a provision in the post and bid process which allows some leeway for attracting more experienced teachers to low socio-economic schools. The fact that Lincoln has lower percentage of experienced teachers than the district average, probably has as much to do with the new administration when a lot of teachers left as it does with teacher preference overall.. Some excellent, very experienced teachers and counselors and other staff left. Schools that struggle do so for complex reasons and yet the solutions are actually quite simple: consistent, good leadership, extra resources for struggling families and a desire to improve. As neighborhoods surrounding the school stabilize, so will the schools.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin

Here is a big part of why US teens lag in global education rankings as Asian countries rise to the top
Because they have people like Lincoln HS Principal Esther Omogbehin on board and students like Aguilar are not tolerated. Wonder how many "social Audits" occur in their schools?
They prepare and communicate to their students the importance of an education to compete in a Global economy.
Ochoa is more of the problem than the solution.
http://www.10news.com/news/principal-accused-of-threatening-student-speaks-out
Principal Accused Of Threatening Student Speaks Outhttp://www.10news.com/news/principal-accused-of-threatening-student-speaks-outA principal accused of threatening a student has been cleared of wrongdoing following a San Diego Unified School District probe. " Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts " Like Us On Facebook " Follow Us On Twitter Lincoln High School Principal Esther Omog...

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Here is a big part of why US teens lag in global education rankings as Asian countries rise to the top
Because they have people like Lincoln HS Principal Esther Omogbehin on board and students like Aguilar are not tolerated. Wonder how many "social Audits" occur in their schools?
They prepare and communicate to their students the importance of an education to compete in a Global economy.
Ochoa is more of the problem than the solution.
http://www.10news.com/news/principal-accused-of-threatening-student-speaks-out
Principal Accused Of Threatening Student Speaks Outhttp://www.10news.com/news/principal-accused-of-threatening-student-speaks-outA principal accused of threatening a student has been cleared of wrongdoing following a San Diego Unified School District probe. " Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts " Like Us On Facebook " Follow Us On Twitter Lincoln High School Principal Esther Omog...

Bit-watcher
Bit-watcher

"When you ask a child to leave his or her background at the door, you humiliate the child. You’re asking students to displace their family culture and language, to hate who they are."

This is such baloney, and arrogant baloney at that. Failing to learn the language of the country you're living in is what cripples you (demonstrated in this country), and also shows disdain towards the country you are in. If I were living in France, our kids would learn French, and I would learn French. If we were in Mexico, it would be Spanish.

This idea/attitude that Prof. Ochoa advances is the reason why, in general, Spanish-speakers are the least assimilated group in the U.S. In comparison, when Asians come here, do they learn the language, and how do they do? Instead of this silly ethnocentric blame game, get real. If someone comes to this country, they should the language and the culture. In some circles, it would merely be the polite and respectful thing to do, but this discussion shows we're past being graceful about talking about this subject.

Bit-watcher
Bit-watcher subscriber

"When you ask a child to leave his or her background at the door, you humiliate the child. You’re asking students to displace their family culture and language, to hate who they are."

This is such baloney, and arrogant baloney at that. Failing to learn the language of the country you're living in is what cripples you (demonstrated in this country), and also shows disdain towards the country you are in. If I were living in France, our kids would learn French, and I would learn French. If we were in Mexico, it would be Spanish.

This idea/attitude that Prof. Ochoa advances is the reason why, in general, Spanish-speakers are the least assimilated group in the U.S. In comparison, when Asians come here, do they learn the language, and how do they do? Instead of this silly ethnocentric blame game, get real. If someone comes to this country, they should the language and the culture. In some circles, it would merely be the polite and respectful thing to do, but this discussion shows we're past being graceful about talking about this subject.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold

Truth to power. Post and Bid is one of the most pernicious aspects of the bargaining agreement. Mario - you should check back in the archives and Find Emily Alpert's very good series about it. I wish Cindy Martins had to defend it....and BTW - the district she cut her teeth in (Poway) does NOT have post-and-bid and has some of its most experienced (and best) teachers at what could be consider the more complex schools in our district.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

Truth to power. Post and Bid is one of the most pernicious aspects of the bargaining agreement. Mario - you should check back in the archives and Find Emily Alpert's very good series about it. I wish Cindy Martins had to defend it....and BTW - the district she cut her teeth in (Poway) does NOT have post-and-bid and has some of its most experienced (and best) teachers at what could be consider the more complex schools in our district.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

What fascinates me is the mention of bi-cognitive learning for content. What is it and how does a teacher incorporate that into the lesson plan with classes of English learning students who may five different first languages along with English proficient students? That would be a valuable skill for teachers in San Diego to have since not all of our English learners are from Mexico. Does UCSD or SDSU offer classes in that? Do LaJolla schools provide bi-cognitive learning opportunities in content for all its English learners?

Also, what is demeaning about requiring children in public schools to learn the primary language of the country in which they reside? Would studies show it is demeaning for any child to have to learn another language in order to attend school? Or, does Professor Ochoa hold that it is just children who come to San Diego from anywhere feel demeaned by having to learn English? We have huge numbers of Laotians, Chinese, Vietnamese and Iranians along with immigrants from Mexico, Paraguay, Guatemala, Argentina and Peru. Would studies show it is demeaning for any child to have to learn another language in order to attend school. Is it exclusive to children from Mexico or from Spanish speaking country? What does Professor Ochoa believe is the cause? Have studies been done?

Perhaps VOSD could invite Professor Ochoa to elaborate for us on both topics. How did he develop these ideas?

Dennis
Dennis

Meanwhile:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/opinion/china-education-jiang-xueqin/

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-04/want-to-look-great-on-global-education-surveys-only-test-the-top-students

Opinion: The costs of Shanghai's education success storyhttp://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/opinion/china-education-jiang-xueqin/Students attend class at the Jing'an Education College Affiliated School in Shanghai. The Chinese city of 23 million people topped PISA's 2012 study, performing at a level at least one year more advanced than the average 15-year-old in math, science ...

Dennis
Dennis subscriber

Meanwhile:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/opinion/china-education-jiang-xueqin/

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-04/want-to-look-great-on-global-education-surveys-only-test-the-top-students

Opinion: The costs of Shanghai's education success storyhttp://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/opinion/china-education-jiang-xueqin/Students attend class at the Jing'an Education College Affiliated School in Shanghai. The Chinese city of 23 million people topped PISA's 2012 study, performing at a level at least one year more advanced than the average 15-year-old in math, science ...

Kristen Aliotti
Kristen Aliotti

I respect the viewpoint and career of Professor Ochoa. But did you mention if he is a volunteer or a paid consultant for the superintendent? If not, you should include that. And how much he is paid. I don't read about many volunteers these days...though I do read about a lot of consulting, often paid with taxpayer funds. This is an important part of the story.

Kristen Aliotti
Kristen Aliotti subscriber

I respect the viewpoint and career of Professor Ochoa. But did you mention if he is a volunteer or a paid consultant for the superintendent? If not, you should include that. And how much he is paid. I don't read about many volunteers these days...though I do read about a lot of consulting, often paid with taxpayer funds. This is an important part of the story.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin

Meanwhile

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/03/21733705-us-teens-lag-in-global-education-rankings-as-asian-countries-rise-to-the-top?lite
US teens lag in global education rankings as Asian countries rise to the tophttp://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/03/21733705-us-teens-lag-in-global-education-rankings-as-asian-countries-rise-to-the-top?liteStudents in the United States made scant headway on recent global achievement exams and slipped deeper in the international rankings amid fast-growing competition abroad, according to test results released Tuesday. American teens scored below the int...

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Meanwhile

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/03/21733705-us-teens-lag-in-global-education-rankings-as-asian-countries-rise-to-the-top?lite
US teens lag in global education rankings as Asian countries rise to the tophttp://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/03/21733705-us-teens-lag-in-global-education-rankings-as-asian-countries-rise-to-the-top?liteStudents in the United States made scant headway on recent global achievement exams and slipped deeper in the international rankings amid fast-growing competition abroad, according to test results released Tuesday. American teens scored below the int...

JLDodd
JLDodd

Mr. Ochoa did not mention that the job of the teachers' union is to protect the worst teachers…

jim dodd

Oscar Ramos
Oscar Ramos

There certainly is something to the notion that teaching a Euro-centric curriculum to non-European children can communicate a subtle message that European history and culture is worth studying because it is superior to students' own cultures.

That said, I think focusing on the remedies for the achievement gap in high school misses the mark by too many years. The focus should be on early childhood, when the achievement gap has yet to develop, and on working with parents to implement good language development habits at home with their newborns.

Oscar Ramos
Oscar Ramos subscribermember

There certainly is something to the notion that teaching a Euro-centric curriculum to non-European children can communicate a subtle message that European history and culture is worth studying because it is superior to students' own cultures.

That said, I think focusing on the remedies for the achievement gap in high school misses the mark by too many years. The focus should be on early childhood, when the achievement gap has yet to develop, and on working with parents to implement good language development habits at home with their newborns.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones

Well, I feel better. The Chargers aren't a bad football team: they're just "complex."

The solution: send Mike McCoy and the other coaches to an "academy" where they learn "culturally relevant pedagogy."

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Albert Ochoa, Progressive Stereotype of the Month.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones subscriber

Well, I feel better. The Chargers aren't a bad football team: they're just "complex."

The solution: send Mike McCoy and the other coaches to an "academy" where they learn "culturally relevant pedagogy."

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Albert Ochoa, Progressive Stereotype of the Month.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

If the culture they (or presumably their parents) ran away from is that important, it's probably not all that difficult to return to it. I wonder why so many do come here if their culture in their home country is so lovable?

What is a "democratic schooling process"? Kids vote for their grades instead of earning them by learning the information presented?

Schools that fail kids aren't bad schools, they are just complex?

This just sounds like more liberal babble, making excuses and giving people permision to cry and fail instead of actually admitting success takes effort and working to improve peoples lives.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

If the culture they (or presumably their parents) ran away from is that important, it's probably not all that difficult to return to it. I wonder why so many do come here if their culture in their home country is so lovable?

What is a "democratic schooling process"? Kids vote for their grades instead of earning them by learning the information presented?

Schools that fail kids aren't bad schools, they are just complex?

This just sounds like more liberal babble, making excuses and giving people permision to cry and fail instead of actually admitting success takes effort and working to improve peoples lives.

Patrick Flynn
Patrick Flynn

I would like to see this article have more discussion of the "deficit theory" and Mr. Ochoa's description of the "English-Language Learner" label. It seems to me to be a bit of a stretch to connect the "English-Language Learner" label to humiliating students and asking them to hate who they are. This seems far-fetched to me, but I am willing to learn more.

Patrick Flynn
Patrick Flynn subscriber

I would like to see this article have more discussion of the "deficit theory" and Mr. Ochoa's description of the "English-Language Learner" label. It seems to me to be a bit of a stretch to connect the "English-Language Learner" label to humiliating students and asking them to hate who they are. This seems far-fetched to me, but I am willing to learn more.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann

Paying teachers according to how much their students improve would encourage teachers to focus their efforts on students with the most potential to improve, meaning those in the lower percentiles. It would also encourage less-effective teachers to pursue other careers, so of course the teacher's unions are against it.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Paying teachers according to how much their students improve would encourage teachers to focus their efforts on students with the most potential to improve, meaning those in the lower percentiles. It would also encourage less-effective teachers to pursue other careers, so of course the teacher's unions are against it.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

"Finish" doesn't appear to be a real last name, at least according to Internet searches. In fact, the Social Security Death Index doesn't list anyone with this last name.

Is it yours?

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

"Finish" doesn't appear to be a real last name, at least according to Internet searches. In fact, the Social Security Death Index doesn't list anyone with this last name.

Is it yours?

dana deima
dana deima subscriber

'purported by' or 'presented by'

Bit-watcher
Bit-watcher subscriber

What is meant by "purported by most second language professionals"?

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold

Actually Jim, teaching is really really HARD. I used to be where you were, and then, through the grace of God, I married a teacher. I cam to appreciate just how difficult it so to be good at it. Now we can quibble about compensation and debate about summer vacations but we have to start from the perspective that it is difficult.

It is also pretty clear to me that it is a profession that benefits from on the job training. Keeping 28 kids (or more) on task takes skill, experience and the kind of knowledge that is obtained by "doing". I think the best analogy I ever heard was it was akin to making the jump from quarterbacking in College to quarterbacking in the NFL - you just can never know who was going to make the leap successfully.

That is why I hate post and bid. The kids whose life has dealt the hardest hand need the BEST teachers - the ones that have proven their ability and skill and have learned the most by doing. Post-and-Bid cuts directly against that.

David Wojtkowski
David Wojtkowski

Jim Jones - teaching is a not a difficult profession? Such a clear statement is surely backed up by personal experience I'm sure? When and where did you teach and for how long? Please, please, please list your "simple, fundamental fixes" to help our schools - sounds like you've got a much better idea than the policy wonks and decades of attempts. Of course the schooling is all because of unions - what an easy target. Can't wait for your reply.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

I don't like post and bid, but the real culprit as I see it is social advancement. Once you are put into a grade level that you don't have the core for you will never recover, never catch up, and you will drag the rest of the class down with you if the instructor tries to cater to your lack of knowledge.

Teaching is not a difficult profession. Even the wet behind the ears teachers can teach, assuming that if they are teaching grade x, the kids come in at grade x-1. If they come in at grade x-2 it's over for that kid other than keeping them in the seat long as possible to get as much money as possible.

Schools can be fixed with simple, fundamental fixes, but there is no incentive to do so. Teachers don't get paid for performance and most parents are too poor to afford a school that does stick to fundamentals, they are stuck with the public school disaster that unionized teachers created.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

Actually Jim, teaching is really really HARD. I used to be where you were, and then, through the grace of God, I married a teacher. I cam to appreciate just how difficult it so to be good at it. Now we can quibble about compensation and debate about summer vacations but we have to start from the perspective that it is difficult.

It is also pretty clear to me that it is a profession that benefits from on the job training. Keeping 28 kids (or more) on task takes skill, experience and the kind of knowledge that is obtained by "doing". I think the best analogy I ever heard was it was akin to making the jump from quarterbacking in College to quarterbacking in the NFL - you just can never know who was going to make the leap successfully.

That is why I hate post and bid. The kids whose life has dealt the hardest hand need the BEST teachers - the ones that have proven their ability and skill and have learned the most by doing. Post-and-Bid cuts directly against that.

David Wojtkowski
David Wojtkowski subscribermember

Jim Jones - teaching is a not a difficult profession? Such a clear statement is surely backed up by personal experience I'm sure? When and where did you teach and for how long? Please, please, please list your "simple, fundamental fixes" to help our schools - sounds like you've got a much better idea than the policy wonks and decades of attempts. Of course the schooling is all because of unions - what an easy target. Can't wait for your reply.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

I don't like post and bid, but the real culprit as I see it is social advancement. Once you are put into a grade level that you don't have the core for you will never recover, never catch up, and you will drag the rest of the class down with you if the instructor tries to cater to your lack of knowledge.

Teaching is not a difficult profession. Even the wet behind the ears teachers can teach, assuming that if they are teaching grade x, the kids come in at grade x-1. If they come in at grade x-2 it's over for that kid other than keeping them in the seat long as possible to get as much money as possible.

Schools can be fixed with simple, fundamental fixes, but there is no incentive to do so. Teachers don't get paid for performance and most parents are too poor to afford a school that does stick to fundamentals, they are stuck with the public school disaster that unionized teachers created.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin

Definitely not black and white Dennis. Interesting take from Arne Duncan on the results U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the U.S. scores encouraging, but described older students' performance as "unacceptable." "These new international comparisons underscore the urgency of accelerating achievement in secondary school and the need to close large and persistent achievement gaps," Duncan said. "Learning gains in fourth grade are not being sustained in eighth grade, where mathematics and science achievement failed to measurably improve." He said he was particularly troubled by the stagnation in eighth grade science.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Definitely not black and white Dennis. Interesting take from Arne Duncan on the results U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the U.S. scores encouraging, but described older students' performance as "unacceptable." "These new international comparisons underscore the urgency of accelerating achievement in secondary school and the need to close large and persistent achievement gaps," Duncan said. "Learning gains in fourth grade are not being sustained in eighth grade, where mathematics and science achievement failed to measurably improve." He said he was particularly troubled by the stagnation in eighth grade science.

Bit-watcher
Bit-watcher subscriber

Learning a new language and culture will certainly expose a student to different ideas. Isn't that an important part of being in a country and learning about it? Even if these Spanish-speaking students were to move to another Spanish-speaking country, they would face challenges about the "X-centric" nature of the new country. This is nothing to apologize for by a host country, unless it has a clear history of sanitizing its history or culture, as Marxists and other oppressive regimes tend to.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

I have taught several classes, certifying engineers on technical equipment. It's a heck of lot easier than being in the field fixing the equipment, although the real sense of accomplishment is better with field work.

As far as public school, I don't need to be a teacher to know about it, I survived it personally despite the best effort of a lot of teachers to welcome me to the monkey house. A vast blur of mediocre teachers locked in their rituals and routines, putting no effort into their profession knowing the smart kids don't need them and can be ignored and the kids that could do need their effort can just be socially advanced instead.

K-12, how many teachers did I have? 100? More? I can only remember three for the teaching they did, and one wasn't even an American. The rest were treading water and practicing unexceptional-ism with great skill.

Is teaching hard? No, not really. Not for most, as the dismal results of US and particularly California's public schools show.


Of course, if you are a teacher, the fiction that that your job is hard is a good public line to relate, keep up the ivory tower shtick.