Promoting Unready Students Does Them A Great Disservice - And Response

Sunday, January 14, 2018
Mr. Exum  I think you make some very good points. Participation trophies don't make you a college
pick. It is a great disservice to students to pass them on to the next poor teacher who now has twice the work to make the central office look good. This only teaches the students that you don't have a responsibility to better your own life.
 
Whitewashed rat droppings are still rat droppings.
this 'rebranding' is just a ruse to avert attention. If you really want to renew, cut the central office in half and put the money into teachers. Reopen the vocational schools and give those whose hands work better than their computer skills a chance to shine. Didn't Claude Ramsey say we needed ditch diggers too?
 
As long as the "business" of school takes precedence our students don't have a chance. Let's 'rebrand" HCDE to 2+2 IS STILL 2.
 
Rusty Chastain

Soddy Daisy

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Before everyone gets too emotional regarding what was once called social promotions, please consider these points:

First, I don’t advocate so-called social promotions. For many years students in elementary school could be promoted if they failed one subject and one subject only. This was due largely to the fact that it was conceivable an elementary school could have sixteen year old students. Tennessee has a compulsory attendance law which requires students to attend until they are eighteen years old.

Of course that doesn’t address why students failed in the first place it only explains one reason why students were or were not retained. Research addressed the fact that students in high school who were nineteen years old or older rarely ever graduated. So add that to reasons for social promotion. It was a fact in the last century that sometimes when students matured they improved in high school and eventually graduated. But that was then, this is now.

Today the body of knowledge has grown significantly over what was required in the 1950s and 60s. More Carnegie units are now needed to graduate. Students must be 5 years old months earlier to begin attending kindergarten than was the law back then. In fact kindergarten wasn’t  even a requirement.

The city of Chattanooga had a wonderful school in the 50s and 60s, Kirkman Technical High School, that addressed many of the educational issues we face today. I know this because my father taught there. Hamilton County began two excellent vocational schools as well later in the 70s and 80s under the superior direction of Dr Andy Holt. The city also had an outstanding night school under the guidance of Mabry Armstrong that provided a true alternative approach for students who matured later and discovered the need and value of an education.

But along in the 80s  a new paradigm emerged in the educational process. It was to discard the antiquated vocational path for American students and the adoption of a single path college prep approach. By the late 1990s the newly combined city and county school system here gleefully adopted that approach shrinking the vocational program and promoting the college prep path for all. The night school had faded away long before being replaced by the GED.

Gradually more and more of the curriculum was being moved further down the grades. Kindergarten today is more like what first grade was in the 1970s. And what is required in elementary school is similar to the old junior high curriculum.

In my opinion, and I was an educator for forty years and an elementary principal for eleven, too much unnecessary “stuff” has been moved into the elementary curriculum diminishing the attention we once gave to reading and math. The once solid base that elementary schools provided has become shaky with so many other requirements. Textbook publishers, who are coincidentally producers of many of the standardized tests, have too much control over curriculum.

And because we are so much of a transit society, schools may get students who have been in multiple schools before reaching the fourth grade. I began experiencing this as a principal before I retired. It’s very difficult to bring students up to your school’s expectations when students have not had the same preparation that your teachers or your system provides before you get them.

Some schools are succeeding in bridging the gaps with diverse populations but the teachers are working very hard and very smart to do this. Apison School is one of these diverse schools that is accomplishing much. It can be done but it isn’t easy and not everyone is going to want to do what is necessary to accomplish the task.

But just decrying social promotion is not the answer.

Ralph Miller


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