Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (High School Hangovers Part 2)

If you caught Friday’s blog, you read about our failing high schools in Jefferson County.  The same situation is happening at schools across the country.  I wanted to shed some light on how this happens and some possible solutions.

By the time a child reaches high school, they have had about 9 years of schooling (including kindergarten).  But each kid does not have the same experiences going through school.  For some, they had excellent teachers and home support.  They may have had some tough moments.  But usually they made it through without too much trouble.  But other kids had a completely different experience.  They may have come into kindergarten behind, had poor teachers, and lacked the support at home.

Perhaps the easiest way I can explain this is to picture a 100 yard dash.  The starting line represents the start of a grade.  The finish line would represent the end of the grade.  All teachers have approximately 9 months to get the kids from start to finish.  The “race” would restart at the beginning of every school year.

The problem is no matter what grade we are talking about; many children never begin on the starting line.  Some kids start ahead of the line because they had a good support system.  Other kids may have to start 10 yards behind the line.  Consequently, they have to run 110 yards to finish the race for that school year.  Depending on how many kids are in this situation, the teacher has a tough job.  How do you catch kids up while not ignoring the kids who are ahead?

When I was a teacher I was encouraged to match the kids who were ahead of the pack with those who were behind.  The problem with this scenario was how to challenge the kids who are ahead.  I never met the parent who was comfortable sending their child to school to be a glorified assistant teacher.

Year in and year out, the same scenario happens and that is why kids are left behind.  Eventually, embarrassing high school scores come out just like last week.  I would be much more critical of high schools if I knew all students were at the same “starting line”  when entering.  The truth is by the time seniors take these tests, they very well can be on a sophomore/junior level.

It has been my experience that the quicker kids catch up, the more likely they will be to do well in later years. Superintendent Sheldon Berman has started academies to assist high school freshman at certain schools in catching up.  While I agree, in principal, tho these academies, I’d like to see a more concerted effort in elementary schools.

One thing we did when I taught at Bates Elementary was track each child’s progress.  Our principal would be highly involved in seeing where a kid was falling behind and charting a course on how to catch the child up.    The only negative to this was we’d still have to move a kid to the next grade even if we weren’t able to accomplish our goals.  I’d like all elementary schools to have the option of holding children back one time (preferably kindergarten or first grade) to see if they can catch up.

Before I go, I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to read my blog and passing it along to other parents.  What I’d like to do is transition free for all Friday’s to a day for you- my readers.  Please send me parenting questions/topics you would like addressed.  They can be real or hypothetical.  I do not use real names or identifying information. You can send these questions in the comments box or through Facebook.

Please catch Wednesday’s behavior blog.  The topic will be consequences.

Take care and have a super day!

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