Jennifer in Michigan
From: ricki fromkin <fromkinr>
To: Lisa Skeen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: artsednet.edu <artsednet.edu>
Date: Monday, October 25, 1999 9:17 PM
Subject: Re: Dumbing down is driving me NUTS!
>Lisa Skeen wrote:
>> Y'all, I confess I'm just about ready to quit this job. I have never
>> been so frustrated over anything in my life as I am about having to
>> dumb down (it seems like) everything I do because the kids in my
>> school aren't up to grade level. Is this my fault (or that of any
>> other teacher in my school)? No; we are a brand new school, and
>> dealing with the product of the local public school system. Is any
>> kid going to do better unless you push him to do better? No.
>> I'm not allowed to give a student a zero (even if he's earned it), I
>> have to give him a grade of sixty nine (the high end of the F grade
>> range) instead, because a zero is not an F and is too hard to recover
>> from. (Go figure on that one.)
>> I'm not allowed to give a 2 page paper assignment to 3rd grade
>> because "that's too much for them." This, in a school where there's
>> supposed to be 30 minutes of homework per day per subject. Last time
>> I looked, Art was a subject.
>> Now I'm not going to be allowed to give real grades to any of the
>> classes. We had agreed that K-2 would get E,S,or N grades, and 3 - 5
>> and eventually - 8 would get letter grades. Now, 3 days before report
>> card day, my principal is taking a poll of the other 2 specialists,
>> and asking other school principals what THEY're doing, and I'm going
>> to end up having to give ESN grades to all levels. What this says to
>> me is, "Art is not important enough to warrant a grade".
>> Supposedly there is a law that says I have to do all this dumbing
>> down. Joe Kid can have a conference with his parent and the special
>> ed teacher and they decide that every grade has to be curved for Joe,
>> to whatever degree such that, for example, if he makes an 80 I have to
>> call it an A. This is not fair to the other kids, much less to Joe,
>> who could do the work if somebody would insist that he do it instead
>> of playing around all the time.
>> I am just about ready to explode. Or maybe implode. I'm sure it'll
>> be whichever does the least damage to anyone else, or the least good
>> either. :(
>I really feel for you. I myself wonder in amazement about our education
>system. Why is it such a problem to ask our students to work hard in
>order to achieve success? I'm teaching Art Foundations in an urban HS
>where the students are totally catered to without doing anything to earn
>this reward? I know my school is trying to build many student's self
>esteem, since a good number of them have grown up without a stable home
>environment. This is good, but I believe self esteem is built around
>personal achievement in doing a job or task well, getting a good grade,
>etc. By excusing students from learning or making things too easy for
>them, schools are actually hurting these kids in the long run. They're
>going to have a hell of a time in the real world coping with all life
>has to offer. It really is disheartening working in this environment.
>Sometimes I think I'd rather not teach than to become a part of a system
>that doesn't promote constructive learning, or simply that I don't
>believe in. Do you think most schools are like this?