No {Wealthy} Child Left Behind



I think I’ve mentioned before that I teach in a pretty diverse school district; it’s one that is most definitely not one of the wealthier districts in the state of Michigan.

I wouldn’t say we under-perform, but we do have our struggles. Our staff has been diligently working on literacy and increasing thinking and problem solving skills in our students. And we are being evaluated on all of it because all those conservative school reform “experts” keep clamoring that America’s REAL problem is that we don’t keep teacher’s accountable. We would be ranking at the TOP in the country if it weren’t for those lazy teachers and their evil unions keeping education in the US in the toilet.

There is never mention of the fact that the US educates ALL kids, not just the top kids. No one talks about the glaring differences between districts in suburban, high socioeconomic areas as opposed to those districts comprised of poverty-stricken families. Conservatives don’t want to bring attention to social problems and poverty since they are interested in cutting the programs for “those people.”

Ignore the poverty, focus on the teachers! It’s the TEACHERS!

So let’s evaluate them and decide if they are “effective” and let’s put a number on their “effectiveness” and let’s demand evidence that they meet goals and jump through hoops.

I’ve talked about the ridiculous evaluations before, but now I have my number. And it’s really quite good. I am proud of it.  However, because last Friday was the final day of school, my evaluation is not technically complete yet.

Let me back up. My final evaluation score, without the 25% that is based on student grades, was released at the beginning of last week. Since this was our first year using this evaluation form, it was remarkably good. Although I know I am a great teacher, it made me super happy to see comments from my administrator about the positive things he noticed going on in my classroom. It made me happy to read that he knew how much work I put in with parents and other staff.

After a sigh of relief, I realized that this great score was not the final. My students still have to take their finals and finalize their grades before my evaluation could be complete.

That week, I spent my spare time correcting exams.  Many were great, and lots of students ended up doing quite well in my classes.  But some?  Well….

2013-05-31 15.04.16

Yeah. This is more of an insult than to just leave it blank.

These particular students? Just stopped trying. I called the parents, I tried to get the kids in for after school tutoring, but many of these kids just didn’t show up. Their parents didn’t call back, or they said, “I don’t know what to do.  He/she says it’s hard.”

Looking back at the kids who failed, not all of them are living in poverty. Not all of them are from a single-parent home or are on free/reduced lunch. Not all of them are attendance issues.

But the majority of those failing my classes do fall into one of these categories.  Somewhere along the line, someone or something failed them before they ever walked into my classroom.  For some of them, I was the only class they came to, even if they did no work all year.  But that is not taken into account on my evaluation, even though it’s definitely measurable progress for some of these kids.

I was allowed to “suggest” that some kids’ grades be eliminated from my evaluation, however right now only students will excessive attendance qualify to be exempt.  The kid who came every day and slept?  His F affects my “effectiveness”.

According to “reformers” I should be able to motivate these kids and largely improve their scores so that they can compete with the rest of the world.

Right.   Who do they think I am?  Batman?


  1. No Superman or Dr. Strange. I am so glad you make it clear that it is not just parents of poor kids. It does begin in preschool and it cannot be fixed at the top. Too many politicians are involved. I love the cartoon. It is very appropriate. Unfortunately, this whole education reform has nothing to do with children and achievement. It has more to do with union busting and private industry making a killing on test making and land/real estate grabbing. A few people are turning the education system into a cesspool. Soon the problem will not just be in public schools. It is systemic and will spread. Our children are pawns.

  2. Bullshit is the only thing that I really can say about it.

  3. Thank you for this. No, there should be no expectation that you can “save” every child. It starts at home. It is MY responsibility to prepare my child for each day, check homework, inquire about her day, her teachers, her peers. I tis MY job to contact you if something seems off. It is MY job to notice when something seems off. I do not say these things to suggest that there is no difficulty in parenting or that raising our children shouldn’t be a more shared experience. You definitely have a place in a child’s life: you are educating this child outside of the things I teach and address and show first. But you are not a magician.

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