Tuesday, April 21, 2009
What Happend To Student Enrichment? There is None Because Of Tweed's Mindless Emphasis On Test Prep, Test Prep, & More Test Prep
When I was a student in the NYC Public Schools I looked forward to my teachers veering off curriculum occasionally and giving enrichment activities. Be it science fiction (star trek) , recreated historical events, math puzzles, or games. This was during a time when the BOE was run by a Chancellor who was an educator and allowed "teachers to teach" as they saw fit to best enhance the students' academic ability.
Like most students I found test preparation boring and it was the quality teacher that understood that it was important to entertain the students with stories and challenges that kept the student interest. Almost all educators understood the importance of enrichment activities if they are to get the most out of their students' academic ability. Even the successful Charter Schools require student enrichment as a necessary supplement to the curriculum.
Unfortunately, things have changed over the last decade. The BOE is now called the DOE and the Chancellor is now a lawyer and non-educator. In fact, only two people in Chancellor Joel Klein's inner circle are educators. This change at the top has resulted in a "top down management" and no longer allows "teachers to teach ". It is now constant test prep with little or no enrichment. The result is stagnant test scores when compared to the federal baseline test (NAEP) and unmotivated students. Of course Tweed does not blame themselves for the problems in the classroom. Instead the DOE blames the teachers. According to the DOE it is more important to hire inexperience (cheap) "newbie teachers" who have little classroom control and does not fully understand the curriculum rather than the experienced (expensive) quality teacher who can not only handle the classroom and knows the curriculum, but will have the time to teach enrichment activities to make the classroom interesting for the students.
I keep reading the newspapers telling us that the reason the students are not doing better is because of the teacher's union regulations. The reality is quite different. The "one-size-fit-all" approach in the classroom combined with the disrespect of the teaching profession, especially the classroom teacher, by the non-educators at Tweed and the "Leadership Academy" Principal are the reasons that students are not showing the desired academic improvement despite the resources given to the city schools.
Test preparation all day, every day is not the solution but is the problem when it comes to the lack of academic progress. Tweed's "children last" continues.