The fall term comes to an end soon and we are all busy giving midterms. Many of the kids have buckled down, started working in class and going for extra help. To build their confidence, we have been giving lots of practice problems similar to the ones on the exam.
Lydia is in my algebra class. The poor girl has the attention span of a 2-year-old and gets distracted easily. Lydia knows she has this problem and readily hands over her cell phone, iPod or anything else in her possession that might keep her from concentrating. Lydia, unfortunately, is in a class of 34 students and at least 15 of them have the same problem. Lydia might be really trying to focus but Tim is starting to talk. Of course Tim's actions now get Lydia and the rest of the class going. It is almost impossible to keep them all concentrating at the same time.
One of the things that make Lydia so special is her love of school and her desire, in spite of her actions, to do well. In fact, Lydia loves school so much she showed up on the snow day, ready and willing to work. Attendance was low and most of the troublesome students stayed home, so Lydia was able to spend the entire period working in peace. It was wonderful seeing how much she knew and seeing the joy in her face as she solved every problem correctly. When she left, she told me she was looking forward to taking the midterm the following day so she could show off her knowledge.
Well, the midterm came, the streets got plowed and everyone in the class returned. The people that set her off, once again, surrounded Lydia. She tried but the force was too great. The examples she knew how to solve on Wednesday were a distant memory on Thursday.
I know I am writing the same thing I, and others like me have written time and time again. These kids need small classes and individual attention. Reorganizing schools and closing them down do nothing to help them. Using added value data to fire teachers or award merit pay won't help them either. Dollar after dollar is being thrown in the trash in the name of education yet no dollars are being used to improve it. I do not think anyone wants or cares to improve the education today's children are being given. I believe the people in charge, the politicians like Bloomberg and the Obama, and the billionaires Eli Broad and Bill Gates want to keep these children uneducated and unable to think on their own so they will have a labor force fit only to serve them.