The latest political idea to fix schools is to grade them. This policy approach ignores the larger issues causing problems outside the schools in favor of a simple set of limited issues inside the classroom. This is a sure fire way to further eviscerate public education in favor of private, profit-driven education which will further degrade our neighborhoods and community.
Before policy makers decide to grade schools, I challenge them to spend one week in an inner city, public school classroom. They can do that as a substitute since the challenges inside the classroom are so great, that inner city schools are always in need of substitutes. The challenges are behavioral, not academic, that burn out full time teachers to the point that they leave the system at some point during the school year or need frequent time off to physically, mentally, and emotionally recharge.
In my opinion, the problems inside the classroom exist because of massive political policy failures that have created economic wastelands in the neighborhoods from where these students come. Neighborhoods that have no jobs, no easy to walk to schools, and no near term hope that that will change. The students and their behavior are a reflection of these neighborhoods.
I have been substituting in the Milwaukee Public Schools system for over 9 months and have spent time in a dozen different schools. I have gotten to know many of the teachers and administrators in many of those schools where I have taught and most are very smart, passionate, and dedicated people. Most importantly, the students I have met are bright and want to learn.
A school is generally considered the pride and joy of a neighborhood. It anchors and provides stability to the neighborhood. It brings neighbors together to discuss problems as well as successes within the community it serves and on an economic level helps to preserve the value of home and property.
We cannot continue to go down a path to dismantle public education as it will eventually dismantle neighborhoods, communities, cities, and the well being of our country. Go work or volunteer for a week in a classroom and you will know there is merit in what I write.