STILL TALKING ABOUT STANDARDS
Responding to opening of
schools throughout most of the
The students we are
training today will have to compete in a world where they will be producing
ideas and information and selling these commodities in a highly competitive
market. We don’t make too many
things anymore. More and more we are
about information and know-how. Will
we continue to know how, or, as the Times
and others fear, will we who led the world into the technology and information
age peter out and be overtaken by those who understand the modern economic
challenge and who respond to it with first rate schools that equip their
students to win?
There is a tendency for
teachers to think that the answers to such questions is beyond their powers,
leaving it to educationist and political policymakers to grapple with them.
However, what might we accomplish in a community like Plainview-Old
Bethpage if each teacher spoke what most know, that our standards, like those in
most other districts have declined, that as educators we have been increasingly
asked to be more concerned with what our students feel than what they think or
know? What might we accomplish if
each of us bravely determined to resist the pressures toward mediocrity and
raise the academic standards in our classroom – expect more of our students,
stop rewarding inferior work, work with colleagues to cope with the anger such a
stand will provoke.
On the opening day of
school, I had a conversation with a young teacher that deeply disturbed me.
In the course of seeking my advice about how to deal with a particular
student, he made it clear that it was his understanding that he was expected to
pass this student regardless of what the child accomplished.
No one every said that to him directly.
He simply had absorbed the message almost osmotically from a school
environment saturated with such cues. He
didn’t appear angry about this sorry state of affairs, seeming to simply take
it as just the way things are.
We really have to stop doing that. In my next column, I will make some specific proposals about the part I think teacher unions have to play in the struggle to save our schools.
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