Moving In Opposite Directions
While I wander, the POY and vice-POY are holding grade level parent meetings and A. shows up because her brother is starting sixth grade this year. I taught A. my second year, which actually feels like my first year, because my actual first year is shrouded in a haze of non-recall, (I can remember the double fight day, spending way too much time teaching homophones and Ancient China, having 43 kids in 6th period, getting a subpoena to testify against a student, and that's pretty much it). A. is starting her sophomore year in the International Baccalaureate Programme, a redesignated English Language Learner who's not just surviving, she's excelling. She's talking about her summer essay, a 1,500 word affair that she's struggling with because she's already at 1,200 words and has so much more to say. It's about the interplay of historical reality and the presentation of autobiography in Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Kite Runner, and In The Time of The Butterflies, and I want to explode with pride and joy because she's really doing it. This girl's already earned more As in a year of IB than I did in four. She's also the starting first baseman on the softball team, and uses words like procrastination, hindrance, and parallel analysis structure. She's really doing it.
Then I pull up my CRUNCHER class profiles and it's carnage. Kids who score Far Below Basic (1) on the CST are coded red, and my classes look like one of those drivers ed videos from the '80s.
25 Below Basic
35 Far Below Basic
Not that this is all that surprising. Throughout most of this district, there is no coherent plan for ELD instruction, effective use of intervention minutes, appropriate training and retention of quality leaders, or a willingness to face the dirty secret that (ssshhh!) Open Court may not be the answer.
This is the really sick part:
Eighty-three percent of these students saw their performance drop last year. They went lower, learned less, fell further behind.
You gotta take your time with this one. Swirl it in widening circles, holding the stem of the glass between index finger and thumb. Inhale, and swirl again. Sip. Roll it on your tongue, and swish it around with only slightly less force than you give to the mouthwash at home. Let the quality of the grapes seep into your back-throat and settle there: under-prepared, under-taught, a denial of civil rights proportions, victims of the kind of educators who teach to the perception of family quality and not the needs of the kid, fatalities of those implicit bargains between teacher and student where the terms of the deal are a calculated ignoring in return for non-disruption, a failing some will call unrectifiable. Swish once more, taking full stock of the flavor.
Now spit it out.