Saturday, February 11, 2012

Off the Grid

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted for so long.  So much has been going on the past few weeks that although I have had time to catch up on others blogs, I didn't have time to sit down and post anything on mine. 
I have so many things going on right now that I would like to have input on, that I don't even know where to start.
I guess I'll start with the Common Core Standards.  Illinois doesn't seem to be doing much in the area of really helping teachers understand the standards and all the changes involved.  I have had to do much web searching to see what other states are doing to find out more information.  I teach in a private school, so we don't have a team of curriculum specialists that are laying out steps to incorporate the core into what we are doing now.  And most of the people I work with think that just reading the standard will tell them exactly what they need to do and what changes to make.  I am finding that it is just not that simple.  Especially with the ELA standards.  Sometimes I wonder why they have to word things so abstractly and make you look for what it is that should be taught.  We only have 2 years before the testing changes to reflect these standards so if we don't get on board now, our results won't look so good!  I am supposed to be changing from a sixth grade self-contained room to teaching the junior high language arts next year and I have to say that planning for this is a daunting job.  There is so much conflicting information out there that I don't even know where to begin. 

Now, if you add to this the fact that our school is in a very depressed area and is lacking in money, that ups the anty even more.  We have to prove ourselves with standards we don't totally understand, no team of curriculum people to help us, and a population of students that are already challenged.  And no real support from home.  We don't have the technology that so many other schools are touting and no money to obtain it. 

I have to say I get pretty angry when I see things like and they won't let teachers from private schools participate.  Do they think WE don't need things too?  Or that our students don't deserve the same as those in the public schools?  The school I teach in is a Catholic preK -8 in a highly hispanic community with an overcrowded public school system that scores poorly on state testing and has numerous safety issues.  The parents that choose our school do so because we can provide a safer environment for their children and an overall better education.  They sacrifice immensely to send their children here.  Many are on reduced tuition or scholarships and free lunch.  We have children with learning disabilities yet the public school system only shares a pittance of its massive special education money with us.  They share only what the state says they absolutely have to share.  To service all the students with special needs in our building, they only give us $3000 a year.  That is total, not per child!  The parents still pay taxes to support the public school system, so why shouldn't they have access to the funds that are allocated for their child????  I don't know if a voucher system is the way to go, but something needs to change.  It isn't fair for the students in our building to receive less just because they are not in the public school system.  Who, as a parent, wouldn't choose a safer environment for their child?  But they are now punished by the govt. because of it???  And why is it that Catholic schools consistently score higher on all standardized tests then the public schools yet we educate with far fewer dollars.  And don't say it's because we don't have all the special ed kids that the public school has.  Percentage wise I could assure you it is comparable.   So why is it that we don't have access to the same things as the public school system?  All of our teachers hold the same certifications that are required in the public school system and are required to accumulate the same hours of professional growth, so what is the big deal?  We are accredited by the state, have to pass the same tests and regulations and follow the same rules, the only difference between us and the public school system is we teach religion and talk about God.  So don't give us any money for that.  But to not realize that our students deserve the same as those who choose public education is a crime.  We are not allowed to even apply for certain grants because we are a private school.  That is ridiculous.  I can already hear people out there saying, "well, the parents choose that so they just have to deal with the fact that they won't have access to the same things" or "you choose to teach in a private school so deal with it."  That is a bunch of horse manure!  ALL children deserve the same opportunities no matter where you send them to school.  If a public school system isn't meeting the needs of its community, then why shouldn't a parent be able to send their child to a private school that is doing a better job AND be afforded the same opportunities there that their tax dollars pay for in the public schools????  

I guess this is a pretty long post so I should save some of my other topics for another time.  If there is anyone out there reading this, maybe you have some ideas you'd like to share. 

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