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Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #16 

My opinion did not change.  I believe the American public school system is not failing our students.

In Chapter 1, this book is letting the reader know how America’s schools are allegedly failing our students.  In Chapter 2, it is explained via data why our American public schools are doing better than ever. 

A skewed view:  For example:  On NCLB (No Child Left Behind) –  Until 2014 schools were required to achieve annual increases in proficiency on state assessments.  (So until 2014, one failing student would designate an entire school as “Failing.”)

Data is plentiful that shows our education system is improving:  Record-setting high school graduation rates:  Forty-seven of our fifty states showed gains in high school graduation rates.

NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) according to Diane Ravith (2014):  “NAEP shows data beyond question that test scores in reading and math have improved for almost every group of students over the past two decades.” 

The TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) shows the United States progress.  (However, I noticed that Texas has not participated in the international Math / Science study since 1999 …. .)

The PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) also backs up the United States student progress.  In spite of US poverty rate of some of our American schools.  “The US still ranks first in the world among industrialized countries.  (This is when scores from American schools with up to 10 percent of their students living in poverty are compared to Finland’s scores.  American student achievement far exceeds Finland’s.” pg. 26



Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #17 
Before reading the book, I knew that my school was excellent but I was unsure how well many other schools were doing.  Now it appears that schools are doing better than I thought in general.  I believe there is definite room for improvement but the situation is not as dire as the press would lead one to believe.  I did not know that the high school graduation rate was 80%.  I did know that most parents grade the school their own children attend an A or B.  This fact contradicts how most people rate the public school system.  One would think that parents with students in schools should know.  I was surprised that 51% of students attending public schools qualify for free and reduced lunches.  Poverty is a definite factor in how students achieve in schools but should not be the fact that prevents teachers from teaching these students.  Teachers have an obligation to stay current and to keep learning.  Administration has an obligation to support teachers in ways that really improve student achievement.  

Statistics provided by NAEP about student achievement are seriously flawed due to the method of setting achievement levels.  The media routinely ignores a disclaimer found in the NAEP reports that the NAEP achievement levels should be interpreted with caution.  Very few positive stories can be found in national publications because the reports of the terrible state of public schools sell.  

We owe it to our students to do everything in our power to improve the state of education in our classroom and our schools.  I know the teachers at my school are doing just that.

Posts: 57
Reply with quote  #18 
Before I began reading I did not feel that our public school system was failing. I did agree though that there is room for improvement. I believe that yes, today more than ever teachers are under a lot of pressure to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time and see all students achieve success. Education and methods of teaching are ever changing and teachers must keep up with that and that is no easy task. Depending on what level you teach there is also the bonus of testing and data collecting as if just teaching 30-150 (depending on grade) wasn't enough. I was surprised at how high are statistics were for student satisfaction, AP courses, and graduation rates. What didn't surprise me was the dedication and reasons teachers choose this profession - to make a difference one child at a time. For it is that passion and dedication that has driven many teachers to succeed in reaching many students.  

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #19 
I never have and still do not feel that American schools are failing. I believe the ones making decisions and implementing laws are the ones who are failing American schools by setting unrealistic expectations without providing the necessary tools needed to meet these desired outcomes. I also believe the media likes to daunt on the failures and the negatives instead of the positives. Plus, most only dwell(ed) on the results of the fundamentally flawed laws of the NCLB, instead of considering all the factors educators cannot control and without taking into account each student's overall performances on items a test cannot measure. The only way my opinion has changed is that these two chapters reinforced and supported what I have always known: that education in America is not a failure.
DuFour totally expressed my thoughts on page 21 when he stated that "educators are driven by a sense of moral purpose rather than fame or recognition." This is true as most of us don't go into teaching for the money, but to make a difference in the lives of students. He also added that "public schools have been the target of criticism throughout American history." This backs up my previous paragraph. And the biggest statement I think he took right out of my mind is that "America's educators accomplished so much for so many in the face of so many obstacles only to be subjected to unrelenting attacks and condemnation." That statement alone summarizes my whole belief on public education.

Posts: 15
Reply with quote  #20 
We are not failing in teaching curriculum. We are, however, not adapting to our changing populations, particularly those living in poverty (page 26, paragraph 3). While our job is not to solve the poverty issue, we are charged with teaching children where they are, and when children come to us hungry, tired and unable to focus because of whatever is happening outside of school, we must adapt how we teach.
My opinion has not changed. I don't know a single teacher who doesn't work in this profession for the love of children. Our love, however, is now burdened with issues beyond our control that impede our ability to meet standards set by those not in the classroom.

Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #21 
Thank you everyone for all of the thoughtful responses so far! I really enjoy reading all of your views. Feel free to respond to any of your colleagues thoughts on the forum. 
Maggie Susong
ATPE Member Engagement Coordinator

Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #22 

I truly believe that there is much room for improvement if the department of education is lead by educators instead of being in the hands of businessmen/ women who are trying to compartmentalize, downsize staff while still promoting and pushing for an increase of a positive educational gain.  The whole ideology of do more with less does not work.  Why is it that while teaching is a career in which people want to make a difference we find that more are leaving through a revolving door within 3 to 5 years? I believe that people that stay develop “grit” and adapt to the changing waves.  

It is our govt. And corporate America that are failing public schools because they do not realize all of the sub groups we educate and interact with.  If a special education child or an English language learner make it within society and the corporate business world at any  economic level is due to public school education and all of the programs out there to help them succeed.  I find it is appalling that teacher pay should be tied to testing scores or student progress on teacher’s evaluations, then for that matter let's take on the medical field, lets pay the doctor or surgeon based on the patient's positive health prognosis after treating them.  Hmmm. Nope, this would be crazy right.  What if the patient was to die? Same thing happens in education---there are many external factors outside the school setting that affect our students.   I don’t believe that teachers are lazy or just trying to find ways to just get by.  No.  I’d like to know how charter schools or private schools rank?  Do they have the same subgroups as public schools?  Do they have access to the same or equivalent programs Public schools have?  Where does the difference lie?  Does it come down to how much money corporate America and or the govt. Throw at it?  

On page 11 Terry M. Moe blames teacher unions for ruining public education because according to him the students are not number one priority.  Well I do have to say that the children are first and it is a civic right to be informed within one’s own profession as other institutions try to take advantage of educators.  Stripping them of their dignity.

We are living in a time where every method is questioned and applied.  If method does not work we move on to the next.  Teachers today are doing their best we have more at our fingertips than other teachers in the past; yet, even them in their time felt that they had the best methodologies available to them.  Teachers evolve and move with the times.  Govt. needs to stay out to some degree because it's a never ending battle. Is the issue of education a federal matter or a states’ rights matter?  Wherever it may fall the United States needs to focus on Literacy across content areas.  Yes focus on Math and Science, but educate people in American History and their Civic Duties.  I find it embarrassing that that native born citizens know less about their history than the people who want to become naturalized U.S. Citizens and are told to take an exam of our nation’s history.

I reiterate there is room for growth and improvement in our public school system.  As a public school teacher in a PEG school where our English Language Learner population is high, our Sped pop is high and our AT Risk/ Econ Disadvantage is high we are data driven and always putting in long hours in comparison to other campuses in the district.  We go out of our way and go on community walks or showcase our students work and talent...students are more than just a number or a statistic.  After reading the first two chapters I found myself bothered and sickened.  Give Public School educators what they need without strings attached and students will soar.  Thank you.  

Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."

Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #23 
Originally Posted by Hamesk0
We are not failing in teaching curriculum. We are, however, not adapting to our changing populations, particularly those living in poverty (page 26, paragraph 3). While our job is not to solve the poverty issue, we are charged with teaching children where they are, and when children come to us hungry, tired and unable to focus because of whatever is happening outside of school, we must adapt how we teach. My opinion has not changed. I don't know a single teacher who doesn't work in this profession for the love of children. Our love, however, is now burdened with issues beyond our control that impede our ability to meet standards set by those not in the classroom.

Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."

Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #24 
You are absolutely right.  My students knew I had snacks.  As a Diabetic I always made sure to pack some extra snacks because there were students who were hungry or they would come in for tutoring and sit in with my UIL group so that they could have a school snack and then have a slice a pizza.  I would normally spring for pizza for my students based on attendance and progress.  It helped some of my students to just be fed and be in a safe environment. 

We are like their second parents, therapists, life coaches... we surely are not wealthy, but boy do we represent something special to our students.  They are individuals not just a statistic for the district, state or what have you because we do care.  Once the child is fed, then the learning or retaining process on the content subject can happen.

Ms. D. Palomo

" Share your heritage with a passion."

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #25 
In the beginning, I fervently believed that the school system was failing.  Not necessarily the teachers, but the way things have changed and the lobbyist involved.  I did not and still do not feel that the system as a whole has the welfare of the children in mind when they are making many of the decisions.  As far a the public, individual school systems, I know they are doing the best they can with what they are dealing with.  It was great to see the information backing up my beliefs.  When looking at other countries and their success, there is no way we can honestly say that we can compare the two or three.  With the NCLB, there are many things the schools cannot do that other countries can.  I agree with no child, definition on child 10 and under, left behind, but how can we legally demand that an 18 year old cannot drop out of school.  The rules are setting up schools for them to be in conflict.  As the pressure increases, the security of the job decreases.  Raising the bar, raises the headaches between parents and teachers, yet parents are like customers, they are "always right', until the student cannot pass the state requirements, and then it is the teacher's fault again for not "making' the kid study even when the parent feels like homework is a bullying tactic and should not be allowed.
Special education and ESL students have increased, their standards have increased, and the teachers are working diligently to educate them.  When some pass, it is a celebration, but since the majority did not pass, the schools are penalized.  "Never have America's educators accomplished so much for so many in the face of so many obstacles only to be subjected to unrelenting attacks and condemnation" is such a prophetic statement.  Obstacles arise, standards change quickly, but nothing else is changing. Usually when the government wants to make changes, financial compensation is given. But in the case of education, money is diminishing rapidly.  School are expected to keep up with technology, transportation, security, and competing salary on a budget that is similar to 15 years ago.  It is ludicrous.
As far as the curriculum, there are so many ways we can improve, but it is difficult to practice Bloom's Taxonomy when so many kids come to you without knowledge.  As a high school teacher (inclusion), I am in all four English class as well as teach my own.  Every year, the teachers have to repeat so much information that SHOULD be embedded into the kids such as parts of speech.  My daughter, in the 3rd grade, has received much of this information, but the high school students still are struggling with parts of speech, sentence structures, etc.  The teachers are teaching it, but the students (general ed) do not feel it is necessary and so do not retain it.  At first I thought it may just be special ed and other struggling students, but no; special education, at risk, general education, and honors are all having the same problem.  
In addition to retention, school supplies is another problem. High dollar clothing and phones, but not a pen, pencil, map color in site.  The kids struggle with retention, wanting to be entertained instead of educated, hungry, lack supplies, yet dream of being the next billionaire.  These are the things that we struggle with yet have to turn them into pearls... and want to help them accomplish their dreams...... but public battering, parent complaints, and general exhaustion drags, yet teachers still rise to the occasion. If we were to eliminate sp ed and esl scores from our STAAR results, we would be at 99% in English, Biology, English II, and Algebra.  Sorry.... I can go on and on.  LOL 

Nanceen Hoskins

Posts: 16
Reply with quote  #26 
I never thought public schools were failing and I still do not.  My husband was in the military for 25 years. Following him around from post to post, I taught in a lot of different schools.  Some were very highly ranked, others were not.  However, in each one I saw teachers working hard and students learning. He is retired now and I was able to choose where to work.  I currently teach in what I would call an average school. Great students with a mix of levels. I love teaching and I love the students I teach.  I never thought I would be counting down to retirement, but the negative portrayal of schools in the media has brought me to that point.    There was an emergency meeting called one morning to inform us that sanctions were being imposed on our school by the Texas Education Agency for having too harsh a discipline structure at the high school.  The headline in the local paper that morning, "Lack of Discipline at High School."  Some days you just can't win.
Karen Tymniak
   "On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur."

   "One only sees well with the heart."
        Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Posts: 89
Reply with quote  #27 

After reading the first two chapters, no, I don’t feel like American public schools are failing.  In fact, it put a smile on my face! My opinion did change regarding the American public school system.  Like DuFour points out, we are bombarded by negative issues surrounding our public schools – poor test scores, test anxiety and cheating, lack of funding, inappropriate teacher/student relationships, etc. Basically, anything the media can use to draw your attention to their story.  Rarely is there any positive news anyway.  I should have known better.  I loved the last school I worked at and love the school my elementary age children attend.  The teachers and administrators work incredibly hard under extremely demanding and stressful conditions we as educators know all too well.  My perception of the public school system as a whole was influenced by the struggles associated with large, urban, inner city, low income schools, as well as state mandated testing.  There are many positive and many negative issues surrounding using standardized tests as an accountability system for students, teachers and schools.  My opinion regarding testing hasn’t changed, just my perception of schools.  The author points out the amazing improvements these schools have made over the last several years, “at a time when they are educating a larger number of students who traditionally have had little success in school: minority students, English learners, students living in poverty, and students with disabilities.”  My frustration with American public schools, isn’t with the actual schools or educators, it’s with policy makers.  DuFour writes that A Nation at Risk called for “more challenging courses that required more homework, higher graduation requirements, longer school days, longer school years, more frequent testing, and higher expectations for and demands on students.” How alarming that statement is to me! At what point did we forget that the education of a child occurs not only at school, but at home around the family dinner table, at church and youth group, at extra-curricular activities, volunteer projects, and, of course, at an actual job! It seems we’ve also forgotten that education is more than the core subjects, which are easily incorporated into other subjects, like art, music, character education, technology, theater, nutrition classes, etc.  In our well-intentioned effort to leave no child behind, we are stressing out, burning out, and leaving out children, educators and parents in the ownership of their education.  I’m looking forward to delving into this book and using the information I learn to be a positive role model for our public education system, and be “more effective in educating children of poverty.”


Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #28 
After reading the first two chapters, I do not feel like American public schools are failing.  Chapter two's research and evidence outweighs the personal opinions and political agendas of chapter one.  However, my opinion did change.  When I at first read chapter one, the numerous media reports were convincing.  Having one collective source presented publicly was influential, I did not discover the bias against teachers until I read chapter two.  The evidence of the United State's disproportionate poverty rate revealed an underlying factor not mentioned in the media reports, which dispelled most of the rationale against teachers.

Posts: 70
Reply with quote  #29 
After reading the first two chapters, do you feel like American public schools are failing?Did your opinion change one way or the other about the American public school system? Please explain.

I agree with several of the other responses.  American public schools are not failing, but many of them are struggling.  Public schools reflect the communities in which they are located, so depending on the community, a school may be failing or be successful.  Politicians and the news media love to assign blame for struggling schools.  A school may be struggling for many reasons, including a high percentage of low-income students or english language learners, or the problems of the community which will find their way into the schools.  However, it's easy to say, "It's the teachers!" or "It's the Teachers Union!" and blame the teachers and/or unions for a failing school.  

I know many hard-working teachers who work in low-income schools (I live in Chicago but am currently not teaching) and are dedicated to their schools and students.  Most teachers are doing the best they can with what they have (large class sizes, political battles, etc.).  It is a bit depressing here, though, that a lot of the public schools are just "okay."  Parents who send their children to one of the neighborhood schools here are not overwhelmingly pleased with the school, but they feel it is better than many of the other schools in the city.  I'm sure that some schools are bad, some great, and some just okay.  There are many variables that would affect this, including teachers, students and parents.  

Chapter 2 provides a more positive view on American public schools.  Page 16 has evidence of "improving achievement" in several areas.  After reading the first chapter, which I felt was an attack on public education, it was nice to have a more positive read in Chapter 2!  I'm looking forward to reading how schools can become "more effective in educating children in poverty" (page 27).

Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #30 
After finally getting the textbook and reading through the first two chapters I'm still torn between a simple yes or no as my answer. However if I had to select one then - Yes. Why? Because, American public schools use standardized assessments to measure students academic success but is this how other countries operate? Does standardized testing create productive, creative, critical thinkers that will go out into society and help drive the nation forward. After all were schools not initially created in order to mold students into becoming productive citizens of society? Schools that continuously operate at an unsatisfactory level eventually receives less government money which continues to hurt the schools which results in a lack of resources, etc. Some counties have found a way to successfully integrate advanced technology, math and science into their curriculum thus creating higher level thinking graduates ready to join the workforce fully knowledgeable and capable.
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