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Student passes 3 classes in 4 years...


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https://wgxa.tv/news/nation-world/city-student-passes-3-classes-in-four-years-ranks-near-top-half-of-class-with-013-gpa

I have some mixed feelings about this article. The mom knew her kid was failing classes, but assumed that he was doing okay because he kept getting promoted. She TOTALLY blames the school system, and doesn't seem to take any personal responsibility and doesn't seem to think her son is at fault at all. This is what kills my teacher husband -- the teacher is always to blame if the student fails, and my dh does a lot of parental contact (when the contact information is correct!), but he can't actually make the student do the work. Now, I don't think his school would continue to pass someone along like that, so there is a lot of blame to be put on the school for sure, especially since he is in the top half of his (non-graduating) class, I just think she should have been thinking there was a problem about four years ago. She seemed to be of the opinion that he would graduate anyway, which I can kind of understand, but she didn't seem concerned that he was flunking all his classes? I understand that she is busy working three jobs, but I don't think that allows her to check out as a parent.

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I don't know what to think. Top part of the article says only one teacher in the last 3 years contacted her. Article doesn't say if she talked to that teacher though. But then it says a home visit was done due to chronic truancy? So which is it? Did they not say at the home visit he wasn't going to graduate or did they just say, "Send him to school"? I'm confused.

Mom dropped the ball, but the school dropped the ball too. Kid failed Spanish, Algebra, and English, but he was then scheduled for the next level. Um, almost half of the class has a GPA BELOW .13?!? That school needs to be shut down; it's not educating. 

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18 minutes ago, historically accurate said:

I don't know what to think. Top part of the article says only one teacher in the last 3 years contacted her. Article doesn't say if she talked to that teacher though. But then it says a home visit was done due to chronic truancy? So which is it? Did they not say at the home visit he wasn't going to graduate or did they just say, "Send him to school"? I'm confused.

My guess is there is a lot more to the story than is being told...

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There’s clearly ample blame to go around in this case. On one hand, I do not understand a parent not even displaying mild curiosity when report cards come out, nor do I understand if she saw he got Fs but moved on to the class that followed. How could she possibly have thought all was well if he was getting Fs in 22 classes? 
 

However, there’s blame for the school as well. At the end of ninth grade, someone should definitely have said, “your son cannot promote to 10th grade because he did not earn enough credits.” Obviously, she should have been notified well before the end of 9th grade, but at the very least, that much should have been clear. Who thinks a 17yo who has been truant more days than he attended will now go to ninth grade and be a model student? He is legal age to quit school. 
 

It honestly pisses me off that the mom said her son didn’t fail but they failed him. That is utter BS. She failed her son as much. And her son clearly earned the credit he deserved, I.e., almost none. I don’t understand absolving oneself of the responsibility of showing the slightest modicum of interest in how kiddo is doing in school, no matter how busy mom is.

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We could focus on the individual, or we could look at the class ranking given and realize this is not a one-family problem. Something is very clearly wrong in this school, which is obviously in a community that is struggling as a whole if the majority of its kids are going underserved at every turn.

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When I was a junior in high school, my family moved to Arkansas from California. I hated it with a fiery passion. I didn’t want to be there, the move was combined with a messy divorce between my parents, and I did not like the way I was treated by the administrators and teachers. So. Much. Condescension. 

I stopped going to school during the second semester of that year. Even though I had a part-time job that I went to every day, and I drove my brother and sister to school every day, I’d literally drop them off at school and then drive myself back home, get back in the bed, pull the covers over my head and not get up again until it was time to pick them up and go to work. Simultaneously, I applied and got into Bard at Simon's Rock and told no one.

The school never notified my mother. Not once. Every day, I had the same routine and no one ever told her that I wasn’t going to school. Part of me was really hoping that they would, like there would be some acknowledgment of the difficulty I was experiencing, but that never happened. I was taking four AP classes, was an honor roll student, and had more than enough credits to graduate, and they never told her. She didn’t know until my report card was mailed home at the end of the semester and I was away visiting family friends. 

I can’t imagine going four years and not understanding that failures would prevent graduation but I do understand and have experienced the consequences of teachers/administrators who think failure is typical, parents don’t care, and notification is pointless. It happens.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Could part of the problem be too much reliance on online communication?  We know that not everyone accesses it, even if they technically can.

That is just one of many thoughts I have, but I believe there has to be more to the story.  What was the mom really thinking?  Did she believe that 4 years of being on the roll at high school was supposed to lead to a diploma?  That's the only possible way that her comments make sense.  But, to be fair, that has been the situation at some times and places.

As for the 17yo, will they even let him graduate at this point?  He seems likely to age out even if he actually starts trying.  Maybe the GED is a more sensible path for him at this point.

I doubt the 17yo really thought he was on track to graduate in time, but he's a minor, and minors can make bonehead choices at times.  That's why we have various laws to put the responsibility on adults.

Personally, I have no idea what communication / intervention would happen if my kids were failing their classes.  I mean, I look at their grades online every day.  That is the only info I get.  Even report cards are not mailed or given in hard copy.  Registration for next year is also all online.  School work is all online - they don't have a single textbook.  There have been times when my kids' grades temporarily dipped to an F for whatever reason, and I didn't get notified.  I even signed up for notifications should their grades be below xx%, and silly me, I started the year (before cracking the code of the online grade system) thinking my kids must be getting straight As, since I never got the requested notifications.  High school teachers have never ever contacted me about anything.  Often, if I ask teachers a question, their answer is that the kids have that information.  But I can't access it myself.  So, if I were less tech savvy, or my kids were better liars, there could easily be a disaster, and people could argue over who was to blame.

Granted, that's not much different from when I was a kid.  My parents had zero access to anything other than the periodic on-paper report card that provided info after the fact (and, honestly, would have been easy to alter, e.g., changing an F to a B).  (The truant officer did come to our house once though.)  But don't we have a lot more resources to do a better job now?

[ETA I should note that my kids' high school has a way for parents to get some of the info from some of the classes via email, but one has to sign up for this, and one needs a gmail account or it doesn't work.  And even then, only some of the teachers participate in this.]

Edited by SKL
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6 minutes ago, SKL said:

Could part of the problem be too much reliance on online communication?  We know that not everyone accesses it, even if they technically can.

That is just one of many thoughts I have, but I believe there has to be more to the story.  What was the mom really thinking?  Did she believe that 4 years of being on the roll at high school was supposed to lead to a diploma?  That's the only possible way that her comments make sense.  But, to be fair, that has been the situation at some times and places.

As for the 17yo, will they even let him graduate at this point?  He seems likely to age out even if he actually starts trying.  Maybe the GED is a more sensible path for him at this point.

I doubt the 17yo really thought he was on track to graduate in time, but he's a minor, and minors can make bonehead choices at times.  That's why we have various laws to put the responsibility on adults.

Personally, I have no idea what communication / intervention would happen if my kids were failing their classes.  I mean, I look at their grades online every day.  That is the only info I get.  Even report cards are not mailed or given in hard copy.  Registration for next year is also all online.  School work is all online - they don't have a single textbook.  There have been times when my kids' grades temporarily dipped to an F for whatever reason, and I didn't get notified.  I even signed up for notifications should their grades be below xx%, and silly me, I started the year (before cracking the code of the online grade system) thinking my kids must be getting straight As, since I never got the requested notifications.  High school teachers have never ever contacted me about anything.  Often, if I ask teachers a question, their answer is that the kids have that information.  But I can't access it myself.  So, if I were less tech savvy, or my kids were better liars, there could easily be a disaster, and people could argue over who was to blame.

Granted, that's not much different from when I was a kid.  My parents had zero access to anything other than the periodic on-paper report card that provided info after the fact (and, honestly, would have been easy to alter, e.g., changing an F to a B).  (The truant officer did come to our house once though.)  But don't we have a lot more resources to do a better job now?

I get called on two different phone numbers and emailed whenever my son misses even one period of school

(In fact I got called yesterday about him missing "4th period" -- which my son says he was there, in person. So I need to call and let them know so they can figure out if it was just a mistaken mark or what.)

When he has missing assignments, I get emailed from the teacher and I have very occasionally gotten a phone call when things are concerning

 

However, I only get one report card a year mailed now (at the end of the year) -- everything else is accessed online (And they changed systems at Christmas so I've struggled since to figure out how to use the new one)

 

However, it does appear this school has bigger problems if a kid with a GPA of .013 is actually that high up when ranked according to GPA. And working 3 jobs does mean momma has less bandwidth for handling ANYTHING.  I try to stay on top of stuff but I'm completely aware I don't know near everything that is going on when I'm not home.

Edited by vonfirmath
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And I agree that his class rank is concerning.  But is that class rank for the 9th grade or the 12th grade?  I'm guessing 9th grade based on the number of credits he finished?  And if that's the case, it could be partly explained by the fact that a lot of new high school kids are learning the hard way, especially with this past year's Covid disruptions.

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3 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

I get called on two different phone numbers and emailed whenever my son misses even one period of school

(In fact I got called yesterday about him missing "4th period" -- which my son says he was there, in person. So I need to call and let them know so they can figure out if it was just a mistaken mark or what.)

When he has missing assignments, I get emailed from the teacher and I have very occasionally gotten a phone call when things are concerning

 

However, I only get one report card a year mailed now (at the end of the year) -- everything else is accessed online (And they changed systems at Christmas so I've struggled since to figure out how to use the new one)

 

However, it does appear this school has bigger problems if a kid with a GPA of .013 is actually that high up when ranked according to GPA. And working 3 jobs does mean momma has less bandwidth for handling ANYTHING.  I try to stay on top of stuff but I'm completely aware I don't know near everything that is going on when I'm not home.

Is your son in high school or middle school?

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Those schools aren’t even good enough to be daycares. Look at the stats for those schools. I’m telling you right now - schools like that do not want parent involvement. There is a heavy and strong prevailing attitude that those parents are too ignorant to know anything and obviously don’t have any care or brains about their lives or they’d have had the sense to not have kids while poor.  Those schools are not interested in communicating with parents and they for sure don’t want parental involvement demanding they do their jobs.

I get it. Parents just trying to keep the lights on and people fed still need to check school work (that they often do not understand) and ride the teachers to do better. But I also think for many reasons that’s not as simple or realistic as people think. And one supposed aspect of mandatory schooling is exactly because we have known for centuries that this is an unrealistic demand on parents in the lower classes. The main point of the original public schools was exactly because those parents could not assure their children’s expanded education on their own.

My parents did not have education past 6th and 8th grade. They presumed that teachers were paid to do their jobs and left it at that. I can only remember 4 times in all of K-12 where my parents had any interaction at all with my schooling. They didn’t even come to my graduation and couldn’t have told you what high school I attended. Partly bc I am a girl (my father would often say the dumbest thing men did was teach women to read and let them vote) but mostly bc they figured it wasn’t their job, that’s why they sent me to school. That’s what they paid taxes for. I’m the only one of the four of their kids who graduated high school. And my parents were not stupid people. They just didn’t think it was their job and they figured they’d done pretty well so it wasn’t a big deal. 

We can say well the students are just lazy or stupid for not doing better bc teachers can not make them do the work.  Teachers can’t make them do the work but they sure as hell can teach and teach in a way that recognizes the needs of their students and makes an effort to engage those students.  By the look of that school’s statistics - there is flagrant educational neglect in that school.

I deserved a basic education regardless of my parents education level or their interest in me or how hard they were working. That basic premise is literally why we have mandatory schooling in this country. The kids in that school district deserve it too. 

Edited by Murphy101
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speaking from experience, - I had teachers tell me everything was fine.  I was contacting them outside of regular parent -teacher contact periods specifically to express my concerns about how the kid was doing - and if they were turning in their work - and being told they were fine.  Except,  they weren't turning in work.   

the district changed how they dispense that information to parents, because I wasn't the only one to whom that was happening.  way too many parents were having that happen.  So, essentially, they gave parents access to the teachers grade book for their student. So, every assignment that's out there and when it is/was due, what's been turned in, and what grade they got.

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5 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

So, essentially, they gave parents access to the teachers grade book for their student. So, every assignment that's out there and when it is/was due, what's been turned in, and what grade they got.

I have this, except that it's up to the teachers to post the assignments, and some of them have a huge lag time (more than a month).  And the kids know this, so they play around and lie to their parents.  (Ask me how I know.)

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18 minutes ago, SKL said:

Is your son in high school or middle school?

8th grade. Middle school. But given my elementary school student has similar things happen, I am expecting the same next year in high school

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4 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

 

We can say well the students are just lazy or stupid for not doing better bc teachers can not make them do the work.  Teachers can’t make them do the work but they sure as hell can teach and teach in a way that recognizes the needs of their students and makes an effort to engage those students.  By the look of that school’s statistics - there is flagrant educational neglect in that school.

I deserved a basic education regardless of my parents education level or their interest in me. That basic premise is literally why we have mandatory schooling in this country. The kids in that school district deserve it too. 

And then there are students like me, even in a good school.  Learning disabled.   I was regularly getting pulled out for extra support (that wasn't actually helpful) in elementary school - zip after that, but I needed it more in jr high.   I also had a mentally ill, single, mother.    (I've long quipped if I'd had me as a mother, I'd have earned a BSN.   But I didn't.  c'est la vie.)

as you said, mandatory public education came in because some parents aren't able to provide their children with a basic education - for a multiplicity of reasons.  some parents are great - and still end up fighting the school system trying to help kids, and not just their own kids.  It wasn't that long ago that a parent who was able to offer support in seattle, wrote about her experience trying to volunteer to help kids one-on-one - and the school admins didn't want her helping students.  they were fixated on their "system" - they'd rather see kids fail than have any variance.   I have a friend who quit teaching in seattle schools for the same reason.  (she changed how she taught, kids were progressing.  admin demanded she use "their methods" - in which kids were NOT learning.)

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13 minutes ago, SKL said:

I have this, except that it's up to the teachers to post the assignments, and some of them have a huge lag time (more than a month).  And the kids know this, so they play around and lie to their parents.  (Ask me how I know.)

Ding, ding, ding, - we have a winner!  (I recall one or two who didn't enter stuff until towards midterms/end of semester.)

there are simply teachers who can't be bothered, and there are teachers who have more classes than others - so more students - but no more hours in a day.  - I have a friend who is a middle school spanish teacher, she had one of the heaviest class loads  (number of students) of any teacher in the school.  Not sure if she's still teaching spanish, as she was originally trained as a math teacher and was going back to math.  - and she had fewer classes.

Edited by gardenmom5
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I don't know enough about the situation to comment fully, but I will tell you that I worked in a school (for 11 years) that used to be considered the largest school in the USA.   We had over 6,000 students.   There were often 40 per classroom, times 5 periods per day and an additional homeroom class.   In addition to that, the school was considered a revolving door, we had aprox. 1800 leave the school during the school year and an additional 1800 arriving.   The area was very transient due to families moving from other countries and staying with relatives until they could get on their feet, job losses, etc....

We were also the lowest performing school in the area with horrific graduation rates.   I am sure those in more stable areas, with parents who were involved in education, thought we were horrible.    But we worked our butts off to try to stay afloat.   But with over 200 students to keep track of per teacher, counselor case loads of 650, where over 100 were coming and going at any given time and recalculations of credits and grades were taking place, some students fell between the cracks.

I gave parent talks just to explain what a credit means, what a GPA is, and what classes were needed to finish high school.   I was the counselor for a while in charge of helping first generation college kids get to college and I simply couldn't help all of them.   And I often didn't have many parents show up.

I don't know what is missing from this op ed piece but I am guessing it is a lot.   This child fell through the cracks and that is a horrible place to fall.   The school absolutely didn't do what they needed to do.   The mom didn't do what she needed to do.   Maybe she didn't even know what it was she needed to do in the first place, maybe the school did reach out multiple times and got no response.   Maybe teachers tried to talk to the student and he didn't care.  But he should not have gone to the next class if he failed the first one.   That is a huge oversight.

BUT, We just don't know the whole story.

It looks like he is now getting what he needs and hopefully he can propel forward from here on out.   

 

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1 hour ago, Sneezyone said:

When I was a junior in high school, my family moved to Arkansas from California. I hated it with a fiery passion. I didn’t want to be there, the move was combined with a messy divorce between my parents, and I did not like the way I was treated by the administrators and teachers. So. Much. Condescension. 

I stopped going to school during the second semester of that year. Even though I had a part-time job that I went to every day, and I drove my brother and sister to school every day, I’d literally drop them off at school and then drive myself back home, get back in the bed, pull the covers over my head and not get up again until it was time to pick them up and go to work. Simultaneously, I applied and got into Bard and told no one.

The school never notified my mother. Not once. Every day, I had the same routine, and no one ever told her that I wasn’t going to school. Part of me was really hoping that they would, like there would be some acknowledgment of the difficulty I was experiencing, but that never happened. I was taking four AP classes, was an honor roll student, and had more than enough credits to graduate, and they never told her. She didn’t know until my report card was mailed home at the end of the semester and I was away visiting family friends. 

In contrast, I stopped engaging in school my senior year.  I went into the building, but I really didn't do much of anything, or hand much of anything in.  Some of it was that my Dad had been diagnosed with cancer, but some of it was that I knew I had college acceptances in hand. 

My counselor called my parents.  When he learned that they were traveling for my Dad's cancer treatment, he lept into action.  He had me in his office multiple times a week to check in and it was always clear that he had talked to my teachers.  He arranged for me to be able to take naps in the nurse's office and still be marked present.  He asked for extensions and exceptions for me, and offered to find me tutors.  

The difference was almost certainly the color of our skin.  

Quote

I can’t imagine going four years and not understanding that failures would prevent graduation

Except that urban schools that serve predominantly low income kids of color have a history of lack of transparency or logic about how people are moving towards graduation. I tutored a student once who was in kinship foster care.  He started first grade in a new family and a new school.  His foster mom, who planned to adopt him, went to every meeting the school asked for, where she was consistently told that he was near the top of the class.  She did every homework assignment with him, and made sure they were turned in.  His spelling tests and other assessments came back with A's.  On the last day of school, he came home with a report card that made the recommendation that he repeat first grade.  When Mom called the school, she was told that even though he was one of the top students in his class, his school had sorted out the rising first graders and put the kids they "knew" would need two years into one section, so while he had done all the work and learned everything they taught, since the section hadn't taught everything, he didn't know what he needed for second grade.  

I had another student who came to me with some confusion about whether he was a third or fourth grader.  Hi mom said he had been in third grade the previous year, but his report card said he had been in second grade.  Eventually we figured out that the school had retained him, and maybe told the mom verbally at pick up one day, in English without a translator, when she only spoke Spanish.  

I had another student who got their first special education evaluation as an 8th grader, after family connected with a lawyer.  At that point, the kid had been passed from Headstart to Middle School, in the same neighborhood, without learning to recognize the letters of her own name.  

So, it's easy for me to believe that this family received very few messages about how their son was doing, and that the messages they did receive were confusing.  If one of the messages they received was that he was scheduled to attend English III, or Algebra 2, it's easy to see how they might interpret that to mean that English II and Algebra 1 had been finished.  

Quote

but I do understand and have experienced the consequences of teachers/administrators who think failure is typical, parents don’t care, and notification is pointless. It happens.

This is the underlying problem.  

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I think the question is, who is responsible for a kid's education?  As homeschoolers, we tend to think it's the parents, even if we end up putting our kids in school.  This parent, and many parents, tend to think it's the school.  And by the time high school rolls around, schools seem to think it's the kid themselves.

I think that high school, or at least 11th and 12th grade, should be optional.

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2 minutes ago, EKS said:

I think that high school, or at least 11th and 12th grade, should be optional.

My dh is definitely on the bandwagon of letting students go toward vocational training in high school. 

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1 hour ago, Sneezyone said:

When I was a junior in high school, my family moved to Arkansas from California. I hated it with a fiery passion. I didn’t want to be there, the move was combined with a messy divorce between my parents, and I did not like the way I was treated by the administrators and teachers. So. Much. Condescension. 

I stopped going to school during the second semester of that year. Even though I had a part-time job that I went to every day, and I drove my brother and sister to school every day, I’d literally drop them off at school and then drive myself back home, get back in the bed, pull the covers over my head and not get up again until it was time to pick them up and go to work. Simultaneously, I applied and got into Bard at Simon's Rock and told no one.

The school never notified my mother. Not once. Every day, I had the same routine and no one ever told her that I wasn’t going to school. Part of me was really hoping that they would, like there would be some acknowledgment of the difficulty I was experiencing, but that never happened. I was taking four AP classes, was an honor roll student, and had more than enough credits to graduate, and they never told her. She didn’t know until my report card was mailed home at the end of the semester and I was away visiting family friends. 

I can’t imagine going four years and not understanding that failures would prevent graduation but I do understand and have experienced the consequences of teachers/administrators who think failure is typical, parents don’t care, and notification is pointless. It happens.

I think that looking at the school profile (found on the school's website on the link for Data Profile about halfway down the page) says that this is a definite problem. 

Around 5% proficiency in standardized testing (the whole district ranks at a 9% (math) and 16% (LA))

48% 4-year graduation rate

61% attendance

On a scale of 1-10, students rate their safety from bullying at a 2, although parents rate safety at 88%. 

https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/schools/430

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13 minutes ago, Martha in GA said:

My dh is definitely on the bandwagon of letting students go toward vocational training in high school. 

Me too--vocational training, apprenticeships, service.

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9 minutes ago, EKS said:

I think the question is, who is responsible for a kid's education?  As homeschoolers, we tend to think it's the parents, even if we end up putting our kids in school.  This parent, and many parents, tend to think it's the school.  And by the time high school rolls around, schools seem to think it's the kid themselves.

And I think all of those opinions are correct to a point.  We're talking about nearly adult individuals who control nearly all the information about their daily activities.  Even my 14yo girls are difficult to control, and I don't see it getting easier as they get older.

It does sound like the schools are terrible in this case, but how much can they change if teens aren't showing up?

As an available parent, I can learn and do my best to monitor whatever information is available.  As a literate, educated parent, I can even offer to help with some academic struggles.  But I must also admit that a lot of parents don't have the tools to do one or both of these.  And most parents in that Baltimore school district probably attended those same low-achievement schools, or similar ones.  Another legacy problem that none of the parties can fix now.

But maybe there's a fourth party that needs to get involved in cases like this.  Maybe a body outside the school district needs to take over some things.  For example, what about funding and managing a large group of mentors to directly work with each at-risk student/family on a long-term basis?  It would be a huge expense though.

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8 minutes ago, SKL said:

And I think all of those opinions are correct to a point.  We're talking about nearly adult individuals who control nearly all the information about their daily activities.  Even my 14yo girls are difficult to control, and I don't see it getting easier as they get older.

It does sound like the schools are terrible in this case, but how much can they change if teens aren't showing up?

As an available parent, I can learn and do my best to monitor whatever information is available.  As a literate, educated parent, I can even offer to help with some academic struggles.  But I must also admit that a lot of parents don't have the tools to do one or both of these.  And most parents in that Baltimore school district probably attended those same low-achievement schools, or similar ones.  Another legacy problem that none of the parties can fix now.

 

And honestly--when the numbers become that low, it becomes a self-fulfilling thing. Any parent that cares about education and sees a school failing that badly is going to do one of two things:

1) NOT buy a house in the feeding pattern  (We certainly looked at schools before purchasing. They weren't fantastic. But they were workable)

or

2) Arrange for their kids to be educated other than in the public school system.


And then the teachers in the system, who don't get to choose their students, will see more and more of only the kids who don't care. And the kids who might have cared if surrounded by peers that also cared would instead be surrounded by those who don't... 

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30 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

 

My counselor called my parents.  When he learned that they were traveling for my Dad's cancer treatment, he lept into action.  He had me in his office multiple times a week to check in and it was always clear that he had talked to my teachers.  He arranged for me to be able to take naps in the nurse's office and still be marked present.  He asked for extensions and exceptions for me, and offered to find me tutors.  

The difference was almost certainly the color of our skin.  

 

I am thinking that was a different time and a different place.   I don't have the authority to allow any of that at my school.   And all accommodations for academics require a team meeting with parent, all teachers, admin, and a counselor and the team decides, not just one person.   That said, our teachers are quite accommodating for special circumstances overall.

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5 hours ago, SKL said:

It does sound like the schools are terrible in this case, but how much can they change if teens aren't showing up?

What makes a school terrible?

The schools are terrible because the students don't care.  The students don't care because the schools are terrible and the parents aren't involved.  The parents aren't involved because they think that's the schools' job.  The schools don't take on that job because they think that the students don't care and the parents aren't involved.  

And on and on.  It's a complicated issue with many interlinked causes.

Edited by EKS
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Just now, DawnM said:

I am thinking that was a different time and a different place.   I don't have the authority to allow any of that at my school.   And all accommodations for academics require a team meeting with parent, all teachers, admin, and a counselor and the team decides, not just one person.   That said, our teachers are quite accommodating for special circumstances overall.

I was assuming that @Sneezyone and I were the same age, or in the same ballpark which is why I compared the experiences.  Yes, as a teacher I would not make the same exact decisions the counselor made, and frankly allowing me to sleep away the day in the nurse’s office wasn’t a great solution.  

My point is simply that my teachers saw me and assumed that my behavior was a sign a needed help.  Sneezy’s teachers assumed something different which led them to do nothing.

I teach in a high poverty majority minority school.  I certainly don’t think all teachers in those settings are like the ones in this article.  But there are enough, and the ones there are tend to congregate in schools where the teachers are not well supervised so that situations like this can occur.

 

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ITA - there’s plenty of blame to go around. 
 

I’ll ask an honest question - if Mom had been deeply concerned - what then?

 

If she was well educated, she wouldn’t be scrambling at three jobs. She’d  likely have one job that could support her. I presume she doesn’t feel capable and is not equipped to teach her child at the high school level - a failure of the school system twenty years ago. 
 

What could that mom have done? Obviously made sure kiddo is going. But send him to a private school? Drive him to a better district? Hire a tutor? Homeschool? Teach him herself? None of those are real options for her. 
 

Truly we desperately need to address the elephant - 20% of kids have at least one learning disability. We are not diagnosing these kids. We are not helping these kids. We are not remotely equipping teachers to address their needs. 
 

Until five year olds are accurately assessed for learning disabilities and teachers are prepared at the college level to meet their needs, this is a pointless discussion of fault. Those of us with kids with dyslexia know the school system cannot even RECOGNIZE dyslexia accurately, let alone address those needs. Likely kiddo inherited dyslexia from mom, I’d venture to guess. Let’s talk about percentage of dyslexics in general population and percentage in prison populations for an interesting conversation....

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16 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

And honestly--when the numbers become that low, it becomes a self-fulfilling thing. Any parent that cares about education and sees a school failing that badly is going to do one of two things:

1) NOT buy a house in the feeding pattern  (We certainly looked at schools before purchasing. They weren't fantastic. But they were workable)

or

2) Arrange for their kids to be educated other than in the public school system.


And then the teachers in the system, who don't get to choose their students, will see more and more of only the kids who don't care. And the kids who might have cared if surrounded by peers that also cared would instead be surrounded by those who don't... 

Yeah, those parents living there TOTALLY do so by choice and couldn’t care less about education. 😒

Are we REALLY this out of touch with what’s going on in impoverished urban areas?!?!
Let’s please stop pretending this is a country of middle class suburbanites with privileged upbringings.

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10 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

What could that mom have done? Obviously made sure kiddo is going. But send him to a private school? Drive him to a better district? Hire a tutor? Homeschool? Teach him herself? None of those are real options for her. 

I think there has to be communication from the parent to the child that education is important. I do recognize, however, that the child has to buy into that philosophy as well. 

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16 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

Yeah, those parents living there TOTALLY do so by choice and couldn’t care less about education. 😒

Are we REALLY this out of touch with what’s going on in impoverished urban areas?!?!
Let’s please stop pretending this is a country of middle class suburbanites with privileged upbringings.

WOw. Way to take what I said and cast it in the worst possible light.

 

AS I said, we had to make compromises and not get the school that would have been the absolute best. But we still took school rankings into count in choosing where to live.  Some of those middle class suburbanites who could have helped improve the schools ARE NOT THERE because they would do exactly what we did and look elsewhere. Our school suffers compared to the school across town for not having stay at home parents who can volunteer in the school and spend more time with the kids (which I'm sure matters even in the case of a pandemic where the parents can't physically go inside the school).  I see the difference that makes and figure in a case where a mother is working 3 jobs its going to be even harder.

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What hope is there for a student who is at a "school" where having a 0.137 GPA puts him at 62 of 120 in his class?

This "school" is a complete failure. It should be shut down, taken over, and reconstituted. What a shame!

Could the most conscientious parent in the world expect their child to have an enabling and enriching experience at such a "school?"

Chaps my hide.

Bill

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Martha in GA said:

I think there has to be communication from the parent to the child that education is important. I do recognize, however, that the child has to buy into that philosophy as well. 

A parent working 3 jobs in the inner city didn't get a good education from the public school she attended in the inner city.  Why would she come to the conclusion that an inner city public education is important for child? These are not people buying into platitudes and idealism, these are people living in cold hard realities that resemble nothing the idealists say about public education.

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25 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

A parent working 3 jobs in the inner city didn't get a good education from the public school she attended in the inner city.  Why would she come to the conclusion that an inner city public education is important for child? These are not people buying into platitudes and idealism, these are people living in cold hard realities that resemble nothing the idealists say about public education.

Some, at least, do come to that conclusion. They want better for their kids than they have themselves.  And they believe education is the path there.  That's the idea behind charities in other countries I support that work to keep kids in schools and you hear the stories even in America of the success stories. The first kid in their family to go to college. The illiterate mother who made sure her kids read anyway. The parents who moved far away (And stayed in a park all day until dad found a new job and they could find a place to live) to get their oldest away from bad influences to a new school in a new area.  Or sent their kid to live with relatives in a better area. 

 

Is the whole district there this bad -- it seems a school this bad should have someone looking into how to improve things as well. I didn't use to be for testing until I learned there were schools like this -- and how do you even recognize they exist without some form of testing since none of the people involved recognize anything is wrong? So even though I think testing has some significant disadvantages, I do acknowledge it has a use in identifying schools that are failing the students they serve and the community they exist in.

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1 hour ago, EKS said:

What makes a school terrible?

The schools are terrible because the students don't care.  The students don't care because the schools are terrible and the parents aren't involved.  The parents aren't involved because they think that's the schools' job.  The schools don't take on that job because they think that the students don't care and the parents aren't involved.  

Nonsense.  True but incomplete, and hence implying an untruth.  If you replace your last sentence with the following one, then it would be more true:

The schools are also terrible because many of the teachers do not teach well and are not backed up by the administration in refusing to pass forward kids who are not prepared to tackle the next class.

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1 hour ago, DawnM said:

I am thinking that was a different time and a different place.   I don't have the authority to allow any of that at my school.   And all accommodations for academics require a team meeting with parent, all teachers, admin, and a counselor and the team decides, not just one person.   That said, our teachers are quite accommodating for special circumstances overall.

When I was in HS, 90s, and in the area we lived, all of that would have been possible without a team meeting. We even had a smoking quad and kids used chewing tobacco in class.

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I once was tangentially involved in a case that had some similarities to this one.  Both parents were reasonably intelligent but not particularly academic.

A young girl was gotten drunk and date raped early in high school.  She was so embarrassed to face her rapist every day that she switched to the local school at home option.  (Not homeschooling but doing her coursework from home for high school.). She didn’t tell anyone why she switched until years later.  

Then she started dropping classes here and there.

Every time she had a conversation with her counselor, they would talk tightly about the one issue she brought in.  So, for instance, she would call him and say, I’ve gotten behind in math; I need to drop it and try again next semester.  He would OK that.  She did not realize the aggregate effect of these actions.  Maybe he told her, but she either didn’t absorb that or lied about it.  Neither of her parents checked on it—they were busy and thought she had everything under control.  Plus they were divorced and living 150 miles apart.  

At one point the dad mentioned to me that he was surprised that kids are not required to take as much math as they were when he was in high school.  I started asking him about it, and got very concerned about what I was hearing.  Finally I told him that I didn’t think this kid was on track to graduate at all, that if she did her diploma without any science labs or foreign language it would not prepare her for admission to good colleges, that I was pretty sure that the math requirements had gotten more stringent rather than less so since he was in high school, and that he probably should suggest that she ask the counselor what it would take to graduate on schedule.

So she did.  The counselor literally laughed at her and said that it was impossible.  She was reportedly completely surprised by this.  She had assumed that since he let her drop the classes over the years that that was basically OK and would be recoverable.  He laid out all the classes she needed to pass to graduate, and it was overwhelming.  She switched to a continuation high school where they do more hand holding and where the rapist was not present, and continued for a while.  I’m not sure whether she actually ever finished or not.  She reportedly says that she did.  

Now, maybe the counselor had told her every time she dropped a class that this would impede her ability to graduate on time, but she just didn’t absorb that, and maybe he didn’t.  The parents were not ever separately contacted, at least according to the dad.  Everyone pretty much simultaneously dropped the ball—the school, the student, the parents.  Not good at all, but sort of understandable, in a very sad way.  It happens.  

But the example in the OP?  Crazy unacceptable.  

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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I have nothing to add except that the "Project Baltimore" that reported on the original story is an arm of Sinclaire Broadcasting, which has a very specific ideological viewpoint. The story, on its face, sounds terrible, but there is likely lots of information that we do not know. Take it with a grain of salt.

Edited by Noreen Claire
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This narrative that kids don't care, or that parents don't care, or that they aren't "motivated" is one of the most damaging racist narratives out there.  

Here's how I see it. 

I like money.  I would like to have a lot more money than I currently have, and I think that if I did, I could do lots of things that would benefit my kids.  Since I also like my kids, I would really like more money.

Every few years, there is a job that comes available in my city that pays a lot more than my current job as a special educator.  The person who currently has that job makes about 225 times as much money as I do. No, that wasn't a typo.  He makes two hundred twenty five times as much as I do.  

Rumor has it, that he might not have his job next year, so you'd think I'd apply for it.  I mean after all I CLAIM that I'm interested in money, and I'm motivated for money. 

But here's the thing.  I don't have a clue how to do the job.  It's not just that I don't know the rules, or how to do the things that are required, I don't even know the things I would need to do to get the point where I could do that job.  I wouldn't know how to start.  For example, this job involves throwing a football, and if you put one in my hand and told me to go out and practice, I can guarantee I'd throw it so badly that I'd just be practicing the wrong things. 

If, somehow, the staff our local football team lost their minds and gave me the job anyway, I can tell you exactly what I'd do.  I wouldn't practice, because I wouldn't know how.  Instead, I'd be spending my time faking injuries, and begging the coach to put in the back up quarterback.  If those things failed, and they put me out there, I'd throw the ball in the wrong direction before the defensive linesmen could sack me, and curl up in a ball on the field.  Because even though I really do like money, and I really am motivated by money, I'm also motivated to avoid being hurt, and while I don't know how to play football, I do have some pretty good ideas about how to do the latter.

In my experience with parents living in multigenerational poverty in distressed communities, they do want something different for their kids.  They want the same exact things for their kids that I want for mine.  A job that lets them choose where to live, and that leaves them feeling proud and not beaten down at the end of the day, and enough money to be able to buy that house in a safe neighborhood, and to work hours that let them come home at a decent hour and to put good food on the table.  They want their kids to go to college, and to have the academic skills to be what they want to be, and to able to understand how to help their own kids with homework. 

But they don't have a clue how to get there.  They can't just buy a new house in a new neighborhood.  They can't do what their parents did, because what their parents did didn't work.  They can't work the system using the strategies that worked for them in school, because they attended, but didn't successfully graduate from, broken schools that didn't teach any strategies.  They can't partner with the school, if the school isn't interested in partnering with them back.  They can't do things like "make sure their kid goes to school", if the school isn't letting them know that the kid isn't going.  They can't homeschool, or even help with homework because they don't have the skills.  And meanwhile, while they're trying to figure this out, the defensive line is breaking through and bearing down hard, not on them, but on their precious beloved sons.  Only instead of football players threatening to sack them, it's gang members threatening his life, or police officers threatening to carry him off to jail, or drug dealers trying to get him addicted.  And,  they're terrified of those things, so they put their head down, and direct all their energy into protecting their child and themselves from hurt, because at least they have some ideas how to do that. 

And when they choose strategies that prioritize safety, they get judged as not being "motivated" or as not "caring about educatoin ", and add that to the list of reasons why somehow it's their fault that the school is failing their child. 

For example, a mother might decide that due to issues in her neighborhood, her child is safest inside the house, and since she needs to go to work, or to whatever class they're making her attend to keep her AFDC payments, her kid is home alone watching TV instead of attending the Boys and Girls club, where there's homework help, and also gang members recruiting outside.  But when she makes that choice, people judge her for turning down free help and decides she doesn't care about education.

She might decide that her child is safer if he meets certain standards of dress. That his hair should look a certain way, and his clothes should be neat and clean and pressed.  She knows, from experience, that interactions with the police will go better if her son looks well cared for.  She knows, from experience, that he won't be targeted by drug dealers looking to hire someone if he doesn't look poor.  But when she sends the kid to school, she's judged as caring more about appearances than about academics.  

She might decide that her child is safer if he's under the eye of someone she trusts.   So, she might let him get a job with someone from her church, or play on a sports team where her neighbor is the coach, even if those things aren't perfectly scheduled.  But when he kids comes to school and talks about the game he played in, she gets judged for letting him play when his grades are poor. 

And each time she's judged for those things, that judgment becomes excuse for teachers to make fewer phone calls, or for high schools to make fewer policies, or for legislatures to fund fewer programs to help her. 

The reality is that living in the circumstances these parents are in is hard.  Many of them are trying the best that they can.  Knowing how to help them, as educators, or neighbors, or concerned citizens, is hard too, and we may not do it perfectly or have 100% success.  But we need to keep trying, and that trying starts with understanding her experiences, and partnering with her and all the other mothers and fathers like her to help these precious, beloved children. 

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58 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

Some, at least, do come to that conclusion.

You missed my point completely.  Yes, there are parents, even those living in poverty, who come to the conclusion that a good public education can raise their children out of poverty, but if they're living in places where they have no access to a good public school that provides a quality education and can screen for and effectively accommodate learning disabilities the point is moot.  The mother in the article clearly doesn't have a good public school to send her child to.  Like most people who are poor and middle class, she's stuck with her local ps which is not good.  So no, it's not their attitude that's the problem. Those in most need of a good public school education are the least likely to have access to one in the US.

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Nonsense.  True but incomplete, and hence implying an untruth.

Of course it's incomplete!  But it certainly isn't nonsense, and it certainly isn't untrue.   My point was that people tend to focus on schools being "terrible" as causal, when it is far more complicated than that.

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29 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

This narrative that kids don't care, or that parents don't care, or that they aren't "motivated" is one of the most damaging racist narratives out there.  

Why does it have to be "racist"?  

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17 minutes ago, EKS said:

Of course it's incomplete!  But it certainly isn't nonsense, and it certainly isn't untrue.   My point was that people tend to focus on schools being "terrible" as causal, when it is far more complicated than that.

It’s a small part of the truth that implies that it is in itself complete, which makes it nonsense and untrue.

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46 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

If, somehow, the staff our local football team lost their minds and gave me the job anyway, I can tell you exactly what I'd do. 

I'm not sure the football analogy works. If I understand your analogy correctly, the football coach represents the parents who don't know how to help their kids educationally. Only in this case, the parents presumably went to school as children. It seems like a better analogy would be you played football growing up from age 5-16+ and then were hired later on as a coach. You might be a terrible coach, but you'd have at least some idea of the rules, how to throw, etc.

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22 minutes ago, EKS said:

Why does it have to be "racist"?  

Because it’s a dog whistle that recalls the idea that the descendants of our peculiar institution, like their forebears, are stupid and lazy. Not only that but that those inherent characteristics are the primary reason for their current condition/fate.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Just now, Excelsior! Academy said:

I haven't read the entire thread so this may have been answered, but how did he rank at the top half of the class!?  Does this mean he wasn't the only one?  Or many, many more are failing?

It means that more than half of the students who had been at his school less than 4 years had passed less than 3 classes during that time. 

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36 minutes ago, EKS said:

Why does it have to be "racist"?  

Whether or not it has to be racist it is something that is applied in a manner that reinforces patterns of racism in our society.

Fire isn't inherently racist.  It doesn't "have to be racist".  But when people use fire as a tool to oppress black people, by burning their homes or churches, or by intimidate them through burning crosses, it becomes a racist tool.

The idea that there are parents who don't care, and that therefore we don't need to continue to search for the causes of things like this, and address them, is used in a racist manner in our country.  It is used by people who want to divert resources away from solving problems faced by people of color.  And when we amplify that voice, by repeating that explanation, even if our intention is different, we're contributing to the racism that allows things like this to happen. 

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26 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

It’s a small part of the truth that implies that it is in itself complete, which makes it nonsense and untrue.

Well, I certainly didn't mean to imply that it was complete.  It was just an example of how complicated a problem it it is.

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