My Quest To Teach

January 15, 2011

Can’t Wait on Superman for our Schools

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 11:43 pm

I had the opportunity to view the documentary
“Waiting for Superman”, and wanted to view
without all the previous verbiages, good, bad
or indifferent so I can base on my own judgment.

The documentary “Waiting for Superman”
displayed several key points that showed validity
in concerns for public education.
There are challenges; lack of equitable funding,
instructional competency of teachers, limited
technology,
physical infrastructure of schools, educational/
instructional curriculums,
outdated standards, instruction of minorities
and those of multicultural backgrounds.

Geoffery Canada an educator himself proclaimed
that education is failing, but my contention is,
if we as parents first and educators second
(a child’s first teacher is their parents) allow education
to fail then we as parents have failed our children
not just our educational system.
There is more to educating young people than a
dollar amount, but the effort we put into teaching
our own children. If we can fill the stadiums at football
games at Raines, Ribault, Ed White, First Coast,
Andrew Jackson, Sandlewood and other schools then
we should be able to fill our schools with mentors,
tutors and those who will intervene to keep our
children from failing. It is inexcusable for DCPS to
not have support for its children, similar to support
a football stadium receives. 

There are challenges, but despite there is still
the desire by communities to have faith in public
education. The feelings are still strong in our
communities, neighborhoods, and cities for the
success of public education. In mentioning Charter
schools they do influence public education, not as
the movie would have us to believe. This educational
option exists for parents in their choice to seek
the best education for their children. Even though
one in five Charter schools is successful, parents
must participate more in the learning of their
children, where this same energy should
have been applied in the public school before
the Charter school option was even considered.

The movie depicts that public schools are bad,
privately managed charter schools are good.
The proportion of Charters that get awesome
results is smaller than 17 percent nationally,
but this fact is not elaborated in the movie.
In the Charter school environment parents are
expected/required to make positive contributions
by attendance and participation.
This same energy and effort should be channeled
into public education environment during their child’s
learning experiences instead of waiting for someone
else to tell them or even make them do what they
should have already been doing. It seems contradictory
and hypocritical for parents to complain about how
a teacher teaches, or their child never learns, but
that same parent has not been to a teacher/parent
meeting nor monitored their child’s behavior
during the school day, but that same parent
can attend football, basketball, baseball or
other sporting events.

What message does this send to the student about the
importance of taking responsibility for ones education?
Realistically some students and parents cannot adapt
to the rigors of Charter school instructional
methodologies, and the mental discipline to
focus on academic responsibilities. The amount of time
required to study is a serious challenge claimed by
some high school students, but the ironic part is
our children; including mines can play video games
for hours on end, memorize hip hop beats and funky
lyrics with precise annunciation, but claim that they
cannot learn how to read and are below grade level.

In the documentary several parents struggled
financially; in these economically challenged times
how many other parents will struggle
with the financial responsibilities of a Charter
school environment if there are no vouchers,
scholarships or deferments? Waiting for
“Superman” showed five children and their families
who try to win a place in a charter school.
In Duval County alone there have been several
Charter schools in the past that claim academic
successes, but these successes are from watered
down (dumb downed) curriculums, falsifying student
assessments, manipulation of student records and even
imitating successful strategies learned from public
schools. Charter schools do provide a learning
alternative, but in some cases do not give credit
to public school instructional strategies that they
implement for their students. A good indication of
student success is AYP Annual Yearly Progress.
The AYP is based on several criteria for public
schools, but for Charter schools this maybe independent
of each school.

Parents need to see their child’s AYP from the
school to see how their children are growing, not just
based on a report card.These criteria of success range
in reading, math, and writing assessments. Included in
this is FCAT assessment, in the elementary arena there
is also FAIR assessment inclusive to FCAT(http://www.justreadflorida.com/instrreading.asp),
to the retention or promotion of students in public schools.
In the Charter school environment if students do
not/cannot adapt to the academic requirements,
they maybe released from the school,
sending them back to the very environment they are
running from.

It was quite noticeable in “Waiting for Superman” the
families interviewed were supportive and involved in
the process of instruction. The reality in public education
is too many of our students of all colors may lack
parental support, facing homeless situations, living in
foster care, may not have encouragement, love or nurturing
to their physical, emotional and psychological needs.
Parents are the initial ones to model and teach their
children to value education, but that is not always the
case in our public schools. As a public school educator
I cannot pick and choose who I want to teach
as in Charter schools.  I’m required contractually as
well as morally, ethically, and in my spiritual being,
spiritually to teach ALL students.

There is no flexibility as in Charter schools to admit
based on color, sex, ethnic background and the use of
profiling of students and families in some cases. In some
cases if money is coming from the state and going to
a Charter school, if the child does not meet
the expectations and they do leave the money may stay
right there and not go where it is needed to support that
child in another academic environment.

The realization is that teachers are an important PART
of a student’s success, but not the only part. Our educators
have to contend with students’ backgrounds, families,
and other factors beyond control.
Teachers can have a great effect on students, but it would
be unwise to believe that teachers alone can undo the
damage caused by poverty, broken families and its
associated burdens.

The Supermen and Superwomen in our schools are the
teachers, staff, custodians, cafeteria workers and office
staff that truly care.
They are the Supermen and Superwomen who do not
give up even when exposed to the Kryptonite of
inadequate resources, disrespectful children, threats
of budget cuts, parents who do not value education,
and blame teachers for their own parental shortcomings.

Teachers are exposed to the Lex Luthor’s who seek to
undermine a teacher’s role to teach, that try to blame
teachers for student violence and unethical
behavior, try to make teachers go beyond their training
and roles as educators.

A teacher should not meet a student’s parental needs,
what should have been taught at home. There are
REAL Supermen and Superwomen
that are seen everyday in our schools, we should not
have to wait on someone else just support those in our
schools as they work to be the best they can be
as educators.

Speeches about the educational responsibilities of students
and parents should be learned when presented from our
President, but the truth of the matter is more parents need
to repeat what President Obama has said
in his speech of valuing education by our young people.

The President’s”Back to School Speech” of
September 14 2010 telling students they need to
take responsibility for their future and the value
of a good education.

As stated; “Your life is what you make of it. And nothing,
absolutely nothing is beyond your reach, so long as you’re
willing to dream big, so long as you’re willing to work hard. 
So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education,
there is not a single thing that any of you cannot accomplish,
not a single thing.” 

The key is education, not sports, dance, hip hop music,
drugs, sex or other distractions as I tell my children
and young people I mentor.
Even in these economic times, “an education has never
been more important than it is today.”
Parents need to understand that they are not alone, have
resources at their disposal. If they would visit their
children’s schools and not wait for Superman, that in
the case of THEIR children THEY need to be the
Superman or Superwoman they are waiting for.

Taking responsibility for their child and working with
them. Parents do not have to have all the
answers, but in some cases need good questions to
help their children make it though. The quality of an
education, “An education is about more than getting
into a good college” as some must learn in the
educational community. Not all of our students are
going to college, more and more want to work with
their God given talents. We must not feel that we are
competing with the neighboring county, state, or
country for the most students going to college when
most of them may drop out before they are done. 

Parents must prepare their children to survive with
skills that allow for critical real world thinking, be able
to adapt to the situations and circumstances that life
will throw at them. 

In conclusion;
Not to far in the past, Georgia, South Carolina and
other states passed laws not to educate slaves. This
put slaves Black, White, and Indian at deplorable
conditions. Slaves understood that education offered
an opportunity to be free and risked death to learn to
read and write.
The mentally was that Indians, Negros, Mulatto children
and poor Whites were heathens and incapable of learning.
This thinking today is not totally gone, but the actions and
attitudes of many youth unfortunately display their
attitudes devaluing of education.
The power of learning can overcame fears and the use
of education used to develop self respect,
self support and usefulness in ones community.

Frederick Douglas’s view of education, stated in the
book;
The Education of the Negro, “to make the education
of Negroes so articulate with their needs as to improve
their economic condition.”
These words ring true today, in order for people to
improve their economic conditions is only through
education, including vocational
education. The 21st century is waiting for NO ONE, no
one should bewaiting for Superman, Superwoman,
Batman, Wolverine, or other fictional characters.
2011 is upon us and will be a time of transition,
who will be left behind during graduations in June
of 2011 or walking across the stage reaching for
their diploma?

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2 Comments

  1. I like your blog Mr. Jackson on elections and super man

    Like

    Comment by A.Mackey — February 11, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  2. I liked your blog MR. Jacksonville

    Like

    Comment by A.Mackey — February 11, 2011 @ 10:14 am


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