Thursday, June 16, 2005

Guilty of teaching

Ron Isaac, writing in, tells of strange happenings in NYC schools where the B&K regime is strictly enforcing "progressive" education. Teachers get reprimanded for teaching punctuation, spelling is not in the curriculum, dictionaries fly into the garbage and longtime, experienced teachers get unsatisfactory ratings.

At a public junior high school in District 26, which has consistently scored within the top 5% of New York City schools, a teacher was lately formally reprimanded because she taught punctuation. A letter was placed in her personnel file memorializing her mistake. Her error was not that she didn’t go about teaching it correctly but that she covered the topic at all.

At that same school another teacher was lately scolded because she told her class that spelling counts. The supervisor was upheld in her ruling that because spelling is not in the curriculum, it has no place in the classroom among the criteria for evaluation, called “rubrics,” as posted by mandate in every classroom.

Multiply this sort of nonsense by hundreds of thousands of pieces of anecdotal evidence from fourteen hundred schools daily and the public may begin to appreciate the bleakness of the educational landscape.

At a similar school in neighboring District 25, which has had since the 1970s an unbroken rank within the highest-performing five of the thirty-two school districts, a teacher asked his “intellectually gifted” ninth grade students what they knew about Stalin, Darwin, Freud, Churchill, Marx, and Einstein. A few students knew that Einstein had something to do with science. Not a single student had ever heard the name of any of the others. Again, let the public extrapolate and despair.
Knowledge is out.

The reading of novels is banned in some middle schools in prestigious Region 3, which is one of the less oppressive environments generally. No child will hear an authorized mention of Dickens, Hemingway, or Joyce while on DOE property. Throughout New York, elementary schools are tossing brand-new dictionaries out with the trash for garbage collectors or scavengers. Dictionaries are associated with the tyranny of tradition.

Asking students to memorize multiplication tables, find nations on a globe, or identify New York’s tunnels and bridges and the places they connect, have all been treated as serious offenses by school administrators executing the new cult of “progressivism.” Teachers have been drawn up on charges for extending a dramatic recitation one minute beyond the mandated six- hundred second daily “Read Aloud.” All of these invidious vignettes combined are like one grain of sand relative to all the sand of the world’s collective beaches.

In record numbers teachers are being rated “unsatisfactory” on their annual performance review. Often this has career-threatening implications. Many of the victims have thirty years of continuous unblemished service. During these decades they were incessantly observed and not a fault uncovered. The sky fell in on them only because they resisted the Stalinist “progressivism” of Chancellor Klein and his axis.


NYC Educator said...

Banning novels. That's really unbelievable, even for Klein.

I wonder what these folks are thinking. I can't think of a more worthy goal than helping kids to be literate, including spelling and grammar, and appreciate, even love literature.

Thses people belong in jail, right next to the folks who record Beethoven over a a disco beat.

Anonymous said...

It really is a horror, and meanwhile the scores are up, up, up. (Social studies scores, of course, have disappeared.)

We have the worst of all possible worlds here.

Teachers being forced to teach to a bad set of tests, and an administration that has decreed a method of teaching instead of a content to be learned.

Parents can't trust standardized state tests.

We have to use our own tests.

I don't know if you've already posted Diane Ravitch's address to the UFT, but if not, here it is:

Anonymous said...

This is truly sad!