Education!! Help! — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Education!! Help!

I'm writing a paper regarding elementary school education, and I would like your input!! What is your biggest concern, frustration, gripe, etc. with current elementary education standards? I'm aware that common core seems to be a huge issue, but I'm looking for more... Does your child bring home too much homework? Is the work too easy or too hard? Do you feel that your child is being pushed to their full potential? Please help me out.


Re: Education!! Help!

  • My son is 6 and is in first grade. He gets a packet of homework every Friday. I personally don't think its too much. But my son loves homework. I have heard many parents complain that it's too much homework, same with last year. But I think it also has to do with their child. My son finishes everything in one night and sometimes asks for more work. Common core is definitely something I don't approve of. I think my son could be pushed more because I know his full potential. At his age I don't really have too much concern.
  • My 1st grader receives "baggy books" and a spelling list every Monday. He has a spelling test every Friday and is expected to read the books 10 min. every day. After the first day he's bored with the books and reads them quickly and upside down so I have him read books at home or from the library to keep him interested. Practicing the spelling list however had been the challenge. That is hard to do on the go and when he's in daycare after school and involved in activities it becomes hard to fit it all in sometimes.
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  • Oh boy, you might be sorry you got me started on this subject!  I teach middle and high school English in a private K-12 school. My own kids attend public schools.  They don't go to the school where I teach because it's a Jewish school, but we aren't Jewish. 

    The county where we live is a large suburban county in the mid-Atlantic region that is widely regarded as having one of the best school systems in the country.  Both my kids attend very selective magnet for GT students. 

    I think our public school system does a pretty good job, but there is one thing that causes me to go bonkers.  And that's the lack of professionalism and preparation I see in some teachers.

    Specifically, I have seen many emails come home containing incorrect usage of your/you're as well as their/they're.  I have seen emails referring to "busses" instead of "buses."  I have seen many communications that use the words "more then" instead of "more than." I have seen apostrophes before the letter S in a verb, as in "he run's on the playground."  I have even seen my least favorite:  the phrase "could of."   And finally -- fortunately on an education blog shared on Facebook and not by my own kid's teacher -- the following sentence:  "I walked passed the child at lunch."  I actually lost sleep over that one.  How on earth can you profess to teach my child about the usage of the English language if you don't have command of the basics yourself? 

    I don't hold the individual teachers responsible for this.  They don't know the difference, and some of them have been really nice people who are competent when it comes to curriculum and instruction in the classroom.  I lay the blame firmly on the university system of teacher training, and on the general anti-intellectual bent in American culture. 

    The university system of teacher training should be far more selective in admitting students.  For too long, mediocre and poorly prepared students have been able to slide through state teacher colleges without becoming truly educated themselves.  A weak system of supervision and evaluation during the internship phase greases the pipes, and these poorly prepared teachers graduate and become certified.  Teacher trainees have been hoodwinked into believing that warmth and sensitivity are more important than academic preparation.  Now, I'm not saying that elementary school teachers should be rigid grammar police.  But teachers should be able to set an example that's correct, and they should be prepared to answer correctly if a student asks a question like "does buses have one S or two?"

    The Praxis exam is a joke compared to the test other professionals have to take to attain certification.  It's nowhere near as rigorous as the bar exam lawyers take or the exam to become a C.P.A.  The current Praxis subject area tests should be the ENTRANCE exam for a teacher training program, not the culmination!

    I know common core gets a bad rap, and there are things about it that are a little wonky, especially in math.  My kids' school system has done an abysmal job educating and informing parents about the methodology of common core.  The instruction in humanities with common core isn't that much of a change.  Most of the push back boils down to math -- always a sore spot in American public school education. 

    My son's grade is the first grade in our county that was taught with the new curriculum from K on up.  He's in 5th grade now.  I am basically happy with the way he's learning math.  A big problem with the old way was that kids would do okay with lower grade/arithmetic stuff (the four number operations: adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing.)  The curriculum spent a TON of time on those ideas, which aren't actually that hard for kids to understand in a deep and meaningful way, because they're fairly concrete.  Where things fell apart was in the intermediate grades, when kids start learning part to whole comparisons (fractions, decimals, percentages.)  No lie, I have tutored kids who are taking Algebra II, who don't realize that 50% is the same as 1/2.  They can work a problem to calculate what 50% is.  Or if you ask them in a different context -- say, Best Buy is having a 50% off sale, so how much is that game that normally costs $35? -- they can tell you.  Common core is MUCH more oriented on a deep understanding of number concepts and connections.

    Anecdotally, both of my kids are in math classes that are 2 years above grade level, and both their standardized test scores tend to be about the same on math stuff.  My son's ability to perform mental math is MUCH better than my daughter's.  With common core instruction, it takes him longer to feel that he really "gets" things, but once he has it, he has a much better grasp on the concept.

    Whew -- that was a tome! 
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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