Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Year, New Cheerleaders, Same Old Songs

My second day of in-service leaves me tired, panicky and disillusioned. Once again we hear the praises sung of the same folks-largely folks who get a great deal of attention and support from all concerned. Once again we hear new mandates including programs that seem likely to make kids who aren't G/T or 504 or SpEd even more invisible than they are now. If you're a teacher you've probably seen this illustration of equality vs. equity.
Now in this scenario what is desired is for the participants to say that by taking the box from the tallest student and given a second box to the smallest one, it's providing "fairness for all." But as one of the faculty members pointed out, our data shows that we have almost equal numbers of G/T students and Special Needs students while 73% of our students aren't involved in any way at all with additional support or contact. Anyone who has had special education students parachuted into an already large class knows what happens next. The needs of the SpEd kid come first in every circumstance. Then ESL, 504 and G/T. Pity the average kid who isn't on the top or the bottom of anyone's list. If they get time at all it's usually for goofing off or acting up because that is just about the only way they get face time.

What advocates want us to say is that taking from the tallest ( or most gifted) kid is fair because then everyone is level. But in reality taking away advantages from the G/T kid actually is the same as taking away hearing aids from a hearing impaired student. Why should G/T kids get less in terms of funding, attention and time than Special Needs students who already get the lion's share of education budgets? I am shocked the parents of G/T kids aren't screaming. And they should be. This type of false parity not only limits the improvements of our best kids, but gives false appearance of achievement to the lowest achieving group.

In reality what happens is that in order to give the lowest group the appearance of "success" the supports and encouragement that could elevate the average and above average learners into bigger and better things are removed. In short, we are on a path to limit the best and brightest in order to appease the parents of those kids who will never work outside a shelter environment, indeed, if at all.
Idiocracy is real.

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