Three babies and no high school diploma: “I was supposed to help.”

This piece came to me as a letter to the editor from an elementary school administrator in DeKalb County. I thought it was worth sharing:

By Rouzier Dorce Jr.

I recently attended the high school graduation ceremonies of a young man I mentored while he was in middle school.

Robert had moved out of my community to attend high school in another area because he felt  he had a better chance at playing ball. Communications between us dwindled to an occasional email.

When I received Robert’s invitation to his high school graduation, I dropped everything and made the trip. I felt a father’s pride while I helped him fix his tie. When I commented how much like a man he seemed, Robert reminded me that it had been five years since we saw each other.

Robert had trouble reading, and we surmised that his deficiencies might have been responsible for his challenges in middle school.  Our weekly meetings helped with his behavior.

However, every time I would venture into the academic arena, Robert would retreat and end up reassuring me that he was passing his classes and that was what mattered. His graduating from high school had me thinking that perhaps things were finally OK.

At a local restaurant, his mother and the mother of his third baby joined us;  the young woman brought the 3-month-old with her, and we had a wonderful dinner.

I gave Robert a card, a graduation gift and went on to congratulate him: “Now, Mr. Graduate, what’s the plan? Are you going D1 or D2 ?” His silence indicated to me that we needed to have a private conversation.

Robert confessed that though he got a chance to march, he did not graduate. He passed all his classes, but has not been able to pass three out of the five state exit exams. He added that at least one third of his graduating class was in the same boat and that there were even those who had not really passed their classes who marched.

“Mr. D,” he continued, “My reading problems got worse, the books got bigger, and the subjects more complicated. I learned to do like my coach said, keep my mouth shut and not cause any problems. It worked. I stopped being a concern and got a chance to march. My SAT scores are laughable, and I still have the science, the math and the social studies exams to pass before I can get my high school diploma.”

The trip back afforded me ample time to reflect. I remember Robert saying that his coach felt that, “He gave his high school a legitimate chance at a state title.”

I have gone back over the conversations Robert and I had, and regret not pushing harder. I remember telling him about the couple I met at a restaurant years ago.  The young woman, a teacher, was expecting her first child. The husband had just finished his medical residency.

The couple discussed how the wife had been reading to the fetus and had planned to stop working until the baby was in school. I remember Robert commenting, “Wow! What are the chances of this baby becoming a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher?”

His question rang back with a twist.  I thought  “What are Robert’s chances? What are his three babies’ chances?” Furthermore, this is 2011. We committed not to leave any child behind.

Robert was supposed to be anything he wanted to be,  at least all he could be.  He can play ball, but will not even be doing that at any school anymore. Robert marched to get an empty folder.

You can pick your tragedy out of this story because it has several.  I do not blame anyone in particular for many adults failed Robert, including me. I do think that we ought to do better especially now that we know better. Our public schools need to make a commitment to giving each child a real chance without the smoke and mirrors.

We must commit to, at least, eliminating illiteracy.  Children who are not reading at or above grade level should be a grave concern that must be addressed without excuses. Twenty-eight years after “A Nation at Risk” grabbed our collective conscience, some of our children are leaving high school not prepared for much of anything.

God knows, the challenges are numerous. I do feel, however, that eliminating the barriers that we can should be our mandate as a nation. We can start by ensuring that the students who have trouble reading are identified and given the proper attention to make them proficient readers.

Perhaps, we can institute a reading requirement for all new registrations; a short academic diagnosis. Yearly check-ups might even be necessary to assure that no one falls behind. As practitioners, teachers and school administrators should find it unacceptable to have very little knowledge of the students they serve and demand that a full, meaningful academic profile for every student be maintained and used.

Robert is not guiltless. There was plenty that was his responsibility. He could have and should have gotten help for his reading struggles. Lots of people throughout our schools are willing, able and eager to help. He was a child, however, when he started to push back and mask his reading deficiencies.

As painful as it might have been for Robert, retaining him a grade or requiring him to give more time to academics rather than sports would have forced him to face and deal with the problem at an early stage. It would have yielded much better results.

Now, Robert is in life’s automobile race with just a shell of a car.  Reading is the academic engine he needed to compete. His public education was supposed to prepare him. He was supposed to have a real chance, and I was supposed to help.

Rouzier Dorce Jr., is an elementary school administrator in DeKalb County.

199 comments Add your comment

HSTeecher

May 30th, 2011
7:05 am

I feel for Mr. Dorce as several of mine are in jail rather than school – based on choices the students made. Just as his young man made choices. You have 3 children, you are making choices. I would take my students to the computer lab to work on various graduation tests. The ones who succeeded took the tests (repetitively), checked their errors, and did it again. The ones who didn’t pass chose to not take the test at every opportunity, played cards instead of using the computers (you cannot make another human being learn), slept, or cut school. Unfortunately it was a lot of the kids I teach. Nothing I said or did helped. If you find a way to give teachers control over the choices teenagers make, patent it.

really?

May 30th, 2011
7:29 am

What choices did this young man have when he was passed along through elementary school without ever being taught to read?

Dr. Craig Spinks/Augusta

May 30th, 2011
7:39 am

Maureen,

Please keep Mr. Dorce on your radar.

Would not be surprised if educrats in the DCSS retaliated against Mr. Dorce for “trying to embarrass the DCSS” by reporting an anecdote of a nonfeasance which is not unique to the DeKalb County School System but which has been repeated innumerably across our state.

Belinda

May 30th, 2011
7:53 am

The love of learning and the desire to read and achieve academicaly has to be instilled in early elementary education- PreK- 3rd grade. Some kids don’t get any encouragement at home. The school and other people that influence the child have to step in. The “village” failed this child.

cobb teacher

May 30th, 2011
8:24 am

There are processes in place to catch students with reading difficulties and get them extra assistance even if they aren’t in special education. Unfortunately too many teachers don’t take advantage because of the additional paperwork and time required. Recently another teacher at my school had a conversation with the teacher who had taught several of her students the year before, students who were struggling that my friend had placed in the program. The previous teacher told her she knew they had difficulties but did nothing because she assumed their next teacher would do it. These children missed an entire year of intervention services because their second grade teacher was too lazy to do anything about it. Fortunately other teachers have gotten fed up with this attitude and began tracking students with difficulties, when the same teachers kept showing up as previous teachers their principal and area supervisor were notified and actions were taken.

Jordan Kohanim

May 30th, 2011
8:32 am

“Would not be surprised if educrats in the DCSS retaliated against Mr. Dorce for “trying to embarrass the DCSS” ”

Agreed. This took courage and courage is rarely rewarded within school systems. It is often punished, shunned, or mocked. I hope Mr. Dorce is not retaliated against.

HSTeecher

May 30th, 2011
8:35 am

Really?

Had a student this year who said he had trouble reading. That he didn’t learn the way I taught. That he liked PowerPoints (which I hate using as a teaching tool). So I found a bazillion PowerPoints related to the topics I teach, burned them on a cd and gave them to him. He CHOSE to not use them. He CHOSE to talk while I taught. He CHOSE to draw pictures while I was doing coursework. He also CHOSE on the last day of school to write me a note and say that he had wasted his time and not take advantage of what was offered.

The young man who canno9t read is now 17 or 18 years old. While he was failed in elementary school by teachers who passed him along, I am sure he also ran across a teacher or two like me who reminded him he has choices to make. I do not teach reading or English but I help when asked. I remind them often that I have over 100 students (unlike elementary teachers) and will help but sometimes you need to tell me what you need help with. I will not embarrass you in class, but if you are old enough to drive (and make babies) you are old enough to take responsibility for your own education.

ScienceTeacher671

May 30th, 2011
8:46 am

I wonder if this is one of those same elementary school administrators who committee promotes every student who fails the CRCT, because failing them would harm their self-esteem?

The whole point of NCLB was to prevent “Roberts” from graduating without basic skills and instead get them the help they need.

My question is, what is Mr. Dorce going to do next year, and the year after, to make sure his school isn’t producing more Roberts?

The research behind RTI says that you must identify and remediate struggling students in the primary grades before they are too far behind.

This is a tragedy, but the truth is that Georgia has hundreds of “Roberts” and “Robertas” and no one ever seems to notice until they are in high school.

catlady

May 30th, 2011
8:54 am

Sad story. There are lots of Roberts out there. The writer did not say this, but I wonder how much disruption Robert caused to his classmates. So in addition to him being hurt by his poor reading, and his children who will be hurt, I am betting his classmates’ education also suffered.

The thing is, many schools (Like mine, a Title 1 Distinguised school) have multiple ways kids can and do get help. We are not allowed to retain them, even when failing the (minimal)CRCT year after year. Even after getting RTI help, pull-out help, interventions, small classes, you name it. We make them “succeed” by lowering the bar, instead of setting a reasonable expectation. I firmly believe if parents and kids know that they are NOT going on until they master basic reading and math, they WILL rise to the occasion.

It is more than a one-legged stool, however, and high time we recognized it!

Burroughston Broch

May 30th, 2011
8:58 am

What a sad tale, and what an indictment of our public school system and our society!

You want to play ball and delude yourself that you can do it for a living? We’ll do everything to help you, including shutting our eyes to the train wreck you will become. You want to make three babies before you’re 18 (by how many babymommas the article doesn’t say), putting the lives of as many as seven people in peril? We’ll enable you.

We’ll enable you to do anything except be responsible for yourself and others. And, after you’ve walked to receive an empty folder, you become someone else’s problem.

Echo

May 30th, 2011
8:58 am

You can’t save people from themselves. 3 Kids and not even out of high school? Reading skills weren’t his only problem, apparently logic and simple common sense aren’t big strengths either. Now there are 3 babies who will have a very rough road ahead of them. And the cycle continues…

A Conservative Voice

May 30th, 2011
9:03 am

Sounds like to me this kid was being used by his coach to further his coach’s career. Having said that, it’s probably not the coach’s fault…..it’s a lack of parenting problem.

He gave his high school a legitimate chance at a state title – This is what it’s all about, folks…..football and basketball are a way to succeed; however, none realize what an extremely small percentage actually do succeed…..they’re throwing their lives away for a few cheers on Friday night.

lala

May 30th, 2011
9:08 am

“My reading problems got worse, the books got bigger, and the subjects more complicated. I learned to do like my coach said, keep my mouth shut and not cause any problems. It worked. I stopped being a concern and got a chance to march. My SAT scores are laughable, and I still have the science, the math and the social studies exams to pass before I can get my high school diploma.”

I’m sorry, but there is no way that a kid who can’t read, can’t pass the GA high school graduation test, and has spawned three children before even getting out of high school would speak with this level of eloquence.

Lee

May 30th, 2011
9:09 am

So many things wrong with this story, it is hard to begin….

NCLB was enacted due in a large part to the schools who were passing students from grade to grade that could not do the work and were graduating illiterates. Ten years later, we find that nothing has changed.

1/3 of “Robert’s” class couldn’t pass a simple exam and others did not pass at all, but were still “graduating”.

Houston, I think we’ve found a problem.

All this testing mania was supposed to help identify these students and get them the help they needed. However, the flaw in this system is that politicians assumed the same teachers and administrators who were passing illiterates from grade to grade would suddenly start doing their jobs.

While Mr. Dorce’s actions were commendable, this kid never should have arrived at middle school unable to read. His first and second grade teachers should have identified his problems and gotten him the help he needed.

But no, too much paperwork. And if he did have a teacher who tried to hold him back, they were probably overridden by an incompetent administrator who didn’t want the hassle of dealing with a mouthy, single mom.

Which brings us to another problem, this idiot fathered three children before “graduating” high school?!?!?!?!?!?! Give me a break. So, now we taxpayers are left holding the bag for this big stud ballplayer’s bastard kids. Par for the course.

As for his coach…… When I was in school, if a teacher told the coach that a certain ball player misbehaved, or were not doing their work, not being able to play were the least of your worries. The tide has turned, it seems….

So, “Robert”, the village failed you. Your momma failed you. Your daddy (if you know who he is) failed you. Most of your teachers failed you. Sucks to be you, I know.

But now, the big question is, “Are you going to fail your children”? You know, those three little bundles of joy that your “baby mommas” are hauling around.

Most of us already know the answer…..

Just Saying It Like It Is

May 30th, 2011
9:22 am

@Science Teacher – NCLB is nothing but a big joke. It was never funded properly and if teachers were allowed to teach, test once a week on what was taught; and have a test at the end of the grading period on what was learned that grading period, our students would be better off and a better handle gotten on where they are needing help. As it is, teachers have to prepare these kids for the “big tests” from the first day of school each school year. I have been blessed with great teachers from the first day of school for my children and grandchildren; I count my blessings you were not one of those teachers because I believe you are too concerned with NCLB which, as I said, is a joke and an insult to our children. Please tell me you don’t teach in the DCSS, it has enough problems already.

As for Mr. Dorce, trust me you will have to look long and hard to find someone who truly cares about our children that is in Admin with DCSS, however, I have met and dealt with about five of them who is just like him.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Augusta

May 30th, 2011
9:34 am

Dr. John Trotter:

Is Mr. Dorce a member of MACE?

Prudence dictates that he possess MACE representation.

William Casey

May 30th, 2011
9:41 am

It seems that education has become a massive “shell game” in the years since I retired. It was sure headed that way. I still can’t believe that people who don’t really graduate are allowed to “march.” That’s not true everywhere but it seems to be only a matter of time. It seems to me that students who have intensive reading difficulties should, early on, be pulled out of the regular classes and put into intensive reading programs. If a student can’t read, nothing else matters.

Tad Jackson

May 30th, 2011
9:47 am

Reading to fetuses is noble and new age, baby … as long as you keep reading to them after they pop out and start growing into little humans with minds and other interests of their own. Then it’s not a smug fad any more …. it’s old school, and a sign of loving and patient parenting.

http://www.adixiediary.com

www.honeyfern.org

May 30th, 2011
9:48 am

There are reading tests to determine if a student can read with any level of comprehension; the question becomes why are teachers ignoring the results? So the student can play football? It is very apparent who can and cannot read well; why are teachers and administrators ignoring illiteracy?

Disgusted

May 30th, 2011
9:58 am

I get that he couldn’t read. But couldn’t he have learned to use a condom?

Lee in Sandy Springs

May 30th, 2011
10:00 am

Screw whining about illertacy – figure out some way to stop black from having multiple kids out of wedlock when they cannonot afford them and shoving the burden for raising and educating them on the white taxpayer.
We have had enough of this crap.

TC

May 30th, 2011
10:01 am

Lets drop the stereotypes, a mouthy single mom. If his grades were not up to par this young man should not have been able to participate in any school sports. My AA single mom raised 3 college graduates UGA, GA State, and UMass. I don’t even blame the schools, parents need to take a real interest in what their children are doing in school. My mother does not have a college degree and she worked two jobs, but she would always ask about our homework despite the fact she was unable to help with it. There was he$$ to pay if we brought home unacceptable grades. The fact is this kid has no future without an education and it looks even bleaker for his three kids.

Tammy Garnes

May 30th, 2011
10:03 am

I had to stop reading for a moment. I couldn’t see thru my tears. I am sitting in a public place, crying….reading this letter. We are failing our children. Yes, many of us are doing a phenomenal job of raising kids…from infant gymboree classes to summers abroad as college students….but the ones left behind….they belong to us as well….and we are failing them in a way that will lead to a society that will be unrecognizable in 20 years. Everytime I think things are getting better (at least in my bubble), I hear a story such as this. Maybe I’ll be able to finish the letter….later…maybe…..but for now, all I can do is cry.

Fantasy

May 30th, 2011
10:07 am

That’s all the system is, smoke and mirrors. We are told not to fail students (self esteem). We are encouraged to let them disrupt the class, because the punishment is usually send them to another class. We are told not to challenge the student to do more work (interrupts with outside activities). We are told not to tell parents their child’s strengths and real weaknesses(district might get sued). We are told to make sure the students pass the test. (Teach the test, forget critical thinking and logic skills-no creativity coming out Georgia, since creativity is being stifled!) We are told not to say anything against the administration (did it, was severly punished) So what’s an educator to do? Find another line of employment.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

May 30th, 2011
10:13 am

NCLB has actually made it HARDER for good teachers to offer the support students need. It used to be, my professional judgment had some meaning. If I felt a child was unready to move to the next grade level, that opinion was seriously considered, along with additional factors. (It really isn’t as simple as keeping back everyone who is struggling academically – you need to consider their physical maturity level, possible learning difficulties, whether they are able to focus well enough to stay on task for more than 20 seconds at a time, ESOL status etc.) Now, even if I feel a child should be held back, if they pass the CRCT, I have pretty much no change of keeping them back. This is not an Administrator level call; it is a system wide SOP. If they are making even the slightest amount of progress on their “interventions”, they will be passed on. I do all the required paperwork to try and get struggling students support – and most of it is totally worthless. It is hours of wasted time. I suspect the whole system is geared to ’save money’ and channel funds away from special services – differentiation in the classroom is the new black!

I recommended a child for services and assistance last year, and was told she would be tested to see if she qualified. I kept detailed records. However, she apparently did too well on the CRCT and was stuck on the back burner again. For another year, she languished, getting support from our Title teacher, but not everything she likely needs. Then one day, low and behold, one of the “gatekeepers” happened to observe her in a classroom setting and declared, “Oh my word! This child needs to be tested!” All the feedback and reams of paperwork provided by the Title teacher and myself (and I assume from her teacher this year) was ignored in favor of the “data” – but one 15 minute observation from a “gatekeeper” and suddenly it was obvious the child needed additional help.

Perhaps some of you can begin to understand WHY teachers might be reluctant to spend their time filling out all the paperwork necessary to get children services when none of it seems to matter.

irisheyes

May 30th, 2011
10:17 am

I feel for Robert, and my heart breaks for those three babies he now has. I would guess that the babies’ mamas don’t have their high school diplomas either (and probably can’t read much past a third grade reading level). In 15 to 18 years, Maureen can write about these three kids who were also “failed” by the schools. I’m curious about Robert’s mom. Is she a high school graduate? Can she read? Did she have the education to help her son in middle school and high school to help her son when he was struggling?

I don’t know what the solutions are. Can schools do more? Probably. But we have kids stuck in a cycle of poverty, and I don’t know what the answer is to break that cycle. Smaller classes? Charter schools? Vouchers? Less emphasis on high stakes testing? I don’t know. The sad thing is that there are thousands of Roberts out there this graduation season. What’s going to happen to him now? He’s not going to find a job without a high school diploma (or at least not one that will allow him to support three kids). So he and his kids will also be going on welfare. Which means they’ll live in a place overrun by drugs and gangs where books are hard to find and education isn’t valued.

And the cycle continues.

A Conservative Voice

May 30th, 2011
10:17 am

How many of you are still proponents of the USDOE being in charge of Georgia’s children’s education? If there was ever a time to do away with a governmental agency, it’s now.

Ashley

May 30th, 2011
10:18 am

NCLB…you should be proud of yourself, once again a young man life is in chaos, the simple fact is they kept promoting him to the next grade. Is anybody out there listening? One cannot pass any course if one does not have proficient reading skills. Receiving a empty diploma what the use of that?….To save him from being embarrassed, well sad to say they should have taken his feelings in to account when he was in middle school. In this day in age illiterate kids make illiterate parents. The only real victims are the three children he has, they did not ask for this or any of the hardship that is bound to come their way. Do school not require SRA anymore? It measure how a childs reading comprehension is moving along. This kid was letdown on so many levels, now my question is where is this coach who told him to keep his mouth shut? Good one coach.

Old School

May 30th, 2011
10:20 am

“My reading problems got worse, the books got bigger, and the subjects more complicated. I learned to do like my coach said, keep my mouth shut and not cause any problems. It worked. I stopped being a concern and got a chance to march.”

Very telling statements. Once a kid gets to high school, he is with an individual teacher for maybe 50 minutes each day. The desire to play football or other sports is strong and many students will listen to anything a coach tells them to do so they can continue playing. By learning to “keep my mouth shut and not cause any problems” those students become pretty good at flying under the teacher’s radar, especially in a class of 30 or so. Toss in a few discipline problems and other interruptions and that kid who could really use some help in spite of the coach’s directive becomes invisible.

Yeah, they ought to find it within themselves while they have the chance but they don’t. One can only hope they believe their own words of regret and break the cycle with their own offspring.

Astrid G.

May 30th, 2011
10:23 am

I’m not a teacher, just the mother of a teacher who started his career with all the attributes we remember our own favorite teachers used to have: heart, optimism and willingness to help. His solid education in his subjects, his encouraging, yet also patient way of sharing information seemed another plus.

He didn’t last six months in the (public) high school he was assigned. He told me there were two girls who took their studies seriously, two girls who even considered going to college. Two girls he felt would be able to make a success of their lives. The rest of them, he said, were just “sitting out” time in class.

Many posters above write about wrong choices. The wrong choices are made by the poor students, true, but who is responsible for teachinhg them about choices at all?

Parents!

Carol

May 30th, 2011
10:28 am

I think Georgia has too many test. I also think that every state elected offical or school board member should be required to take a test and that if they cannot pass they should give up the position. I pray that someday some stops this great injustice to our children in Georgia.

realitybytes11

May 30th, 2011
10:29 am

My heart hurts for this young man and his small children. Why was this not caught earlier? Why was he allowed to “march” when he had not been successful in completing ALLof the pre-requisites for such an honor? This is why so many people are fleeing public education for private education. I am not a teacher, and they have my utmost respect for what they have to deal with on a daily basis. But, when are we going to make sure that we don’t “graduate” people who are virtual illiterates?!? We should be preparing our children for a limitless future, not a continued cycle of poverty and remaining on the public dole. We MUST focus on all children early on and get them reading, participating in class and being excited about learning!

Vandy C.Simmons

May 30th, 2011
10:32 am

This unfortunately is an all to familiar story. We have to do better,we must do better.

Ashley

May 30th, 2011
10:38 am

Do we really need anymore “Jethro Bodine” students. Reading is fundamental for anything you have to do in life. Flying under the radar just doesn’t cut it in the 21st century. One word this kid and baby’s mama should learn to read is condom or birth-control! The state now has to take care of them, while our hard-working seniors who deserve benefits are being imposed upon. Stop the madness!

Mom of a dyslexic son

May 30th, 2011
10:45 am

As a mother of a dyslexic son, this letter really resonated with me. While there is no way to know from a newspaper article whether Robert is dyslexic, I know that from his description, he should absolutely be evaluated for it.

Dyslexia impacts 10-20 percent of the population. If you teach a student to read using appropriate, specific techniques when they are ages 6-9, it will change his/her brain structures and improve fluency for the rest of his/her life. Many dyslexics are very smart and most are recognized for thinking “outside the box”. Google “famous dyslexic” and you will see names like Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Magic Johnson, Pablo Picasso, Agatha Christie, John Chambers, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Charles Schwab, Robert Woodruff, Henry Ford, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte and Carol Grieder (winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine).

From experience, a dyslexic student can spend hours and hours and hours looking at the material in the same way it is taught to others with no results at all whatsoever. It takes a DIFFERENT technique and style to teach them. By the time a student is in the 3rd or 4th grade without being identified, they are usually very tired of trying and have frequently given up and started to believe the people who tell them and their parents that they are “just not trying hard enough” or are “stupid” (yes, I’ve seen and heard both…).

The State of Georgia Department of Education does not support identifying this learning difference in students until they are totally failing. If you have a gifted-dyslexic student, this might be never. Can you imagine being the school that decided to fail Albert Einstein because you didn’t recognize the disability? We have that situation every single day here in Georgia. Can you imagine telling a gifted child that they can’t be in gifted classes because they don’t score well enough on their reading test but they can’t have proper instruction for reading because they are passing? It happens all the time here in Georgia.

The fact that this teacher/administrator was never trained to recognize this possibility is one of the real shames in this story. The fact that even our brand new teachers are not being trained properly is an even bigger shame.

Mr Dorce, if you are reading these comments – Please suggest to Robert that he be evaluated for dyslexia and reading fluency. If he is dyslexic, he qualifies and deserves additional time on tests in order to finish them properly. (There are scientific studies that show that additional time does not help ordinary students, only those that have a disability.) If he is dyslexic, he should learn more about other dyslexics and know that he is not just stupid because he couldn’t read well – he is in good company and has a lot of potential for his life. It is not too late to get help.

ScienceTeacher671

May 30th, 2011
10:49 am

@Just Saying It Like It Is: I count my blessings you were not one of those teachers because I believe you are too concerned with NCLB which, as I said, is a joke and an insult to our children.

My point, which I obviously didn’t state clearly enough, is that NCLB has been totally corrupted by the GaDOE. My students now believe that it means that no child can be failed, no matter how little s/he does or has learned. Some get a wake-up call when they receive their final grade in my class.

The CRCT is a sub-minimal competency test, and those students who only barely passed are way below grade level. Only those who “exceed” are truly anywhere near competent. Teachers should not need to spend all year preparing students for those tests; if teachers were truly teaching, the students should either be able to pass, were putting forth zero effort, or should be tested for exceptionalities.

There is no way a student who can’t pass the CRCT should be promoted, except perhaps in the case of students with such severe intellectual disabilities that they will never learn the material anyway. Students who fail the CRCT are already way too far behind, and need intense and targeted remediation.

No, I do not and would not teach in DCSS, nor would I have allowed my now-grown children to attend school in that hell-hole.

And if Mr. Dorce is allowing students who fail the CRCT to be committee promoted, rather than giving them remediation, he is part of the problem, no matter how much he claims to “care”.

ScienceTeacher671

May 30th, 2011
10:53 am

@Mom of a Dyslexic Son – you are entirely correct, and I’d like to point out two key statements:

If you teach a student to read using appropriate, specific techniques when they are ages 6-9, it will change his/her brain structures and improve fluency for the rest of his/her life.

By the time a student is in the 3rd or 4th grade without being identified, they are usually very tired of trying and have frequently given up and started to believe the people who tell them and their parents that they are “just not trying hard enough” or are “stupid”

This is exactly what the research on which RTI is based says. Unfortunately, the state of Georgia has completely misinterpreted and misapplied the research while claiming to implement it.

The net result is that no one is receiving the help they need, and even middle and high school teachers are being forced to make “RTI interventions” long past the age at which they could be effective.

HS English Teacher

May 30th, 2011
10:54 am

Robert is not blameless, but neither are his teachers. Why was he passing classes when he could not pass the minimal skills state exit exams?? This is basic common sense for educators! AND why is he allowed to march when he is not even close to graduating? After 25 years of teaching seniors, I have seen plenty of them who never get serious about their classes and their exit exams until they realize that the school is serious about not allowing students to march unless they’ve earned that diploma.

Kanarstead

May 30th, 2011
10:57 am

Why not just clear out the bloated central office staff and put them in the schools where they are needed? Well maybe not, they would be useless there too.

I’ve become a little bit jealous of those in Mike Jacobs’ district, at least he is aware of the many problems facing DeKalb schools. He is not shying away from them. He has not been intimidated by the constant race baiting. Its time for my own Rep, Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, and all the other Reps that refuse to get involved to step up their game.

Maureen, thanks for posting this, the media has been mia too long. Its going to take REAL leadership from different fronts to battle the problems facing DeKalb schools.

John

May 30th, 2011
11:00 am

Enter your comments here

what a moron

May 30th, 2011
11:02 am

can’t read and fathered THREE kids before he graduated high school. i would bet everything i own and the salary i get for the rest of my life that this “Robert” is black. this type of thing is an epidemic in the black community, and i would bet that his three kids (and the future bastard children that he will undoubtedly father) will end up just like him.

i don’t blame the school system for this, i blame his parents. he probably does not know his father, and his mom probably has 10 kids and doesn’t help any of them with their schoolwork, and i’m sure she didn’t read to him as a child. how can a school be expected to educated a kid like this when he goes home after school every day and NO ONE asks about his homework? or if he needs help? or stays on top of him to make sure he gets everything done?

my mom read to me every day of my life when i was little, and i learned how to read before i even started school. we weren’t rich, but my parents simply CARED.

it’s all on the parents here, and the cycle has just been continued with Robert and his three kids.

Mimi

May 30th, 2011
11:04 am

And as long as the illiterate, irresponsible people continue to reproduce themselves many times over, continuing the cycle and bringing 4, 5, 6 more babies into the world, while the responsible, educated parents only have 1 or 2 children, this will continue to get worse. Pretty soon, the responsible ones will be outnumbered and our society will be run entirely by people who don’t value school or education one bit.

Idiocracy, anyone?

Dekalb Oldtimer

May 30th, 2011
11:08 am

A child is a child is a child !

RE: “The love of learning and the desire to read and achieve academicaly has to be instilled in early elementary education-”

This just isn’t going to happen for all children ….ever! Even some of the brightest do not express a love of reading , nor do they get great satisfaction from achievement in school.

However, any child with an IQ above of 80 [ which is about 90% of the population ] can be REQUIRED to learn to read to the level considered LITERATE [not a very advanced level ] , to express him/herself clearly in simple writing, and to perform the 4 basic math operations in public school.

Wasn’t that the original purpose of having “public” schools in America?

Shall we assign blame now???? THere is plenty to go around. However, a school system [ and those who operate it ] that breeds and advances this travesty is totally unacceptable.
The citizens who allow it to happen ??? What about them?

6 strong

May 30th, 2011
11:11 am

This story is very sad but there are so many kids out here that can not read. I feel that most of the blame goes to the teachers and the school. He might have made a mistake by not taking advantage of what some of his teacher offered, but you can not tell me that from elementary through highschool no teachers saw that this young man could not read.

For all the ppl that’s saying that this is his fault should be ashame of themselves. It is hard for any child to go to school and not be able to read. Just picture urself in highschool and not being able to read because your elementary teacher did not teach you. It would be embarrassing for a student in middle or schoolhigh to admit they can not read to anyone.

Plus his parents are at fault also. Parents should always take the time to read to their kids and have their kids read to them to make sure they are learning.

John

May 30th, 2011
11:13 am

This young man obviously needed mentoring in lots of areas besides reading, since he couldn’t pass science or math along with social studies. The sad thing to me is not this man’s story, but rather the fact that there’s nothing unique to this story. Parents and teachers (and, yes, coaches) share part of the blame, but the students themselves are I feel just as responsible.

George

May 30th, 2011
11:16 am

This person brought three more dead beats into this world who will do exactly as he has done, live off the tax payers and have child after child after child out of wed lock AND not even support them. This teacher is doing himself wrong, he tried to help this guy. The problem was as in all high schools–football is king and the head coach doesn’t care about his players or their future, he only cares about winning. Until people make people responaible for their decisions (impregnanting three different kids made this person a really tough dude)our nation is on the way out. I am sick and tired of my tax dollars going to educate kids like this. BTY where was his boys mother and father during all this. I imagine this dude was not the only child beared out of wedlock for his mama. our DAMN government is raising people with thought we will take care of you from the cradle to the grave, you just go and have a good time.

6 strong

May 30th, 2011
11:19 am

@Mimi ur statement is way off. I have 6 kids. I have my Masters in Finance and work for the I.R.S. I have a 18 yr that was promote up a grade for being able to read, write and do 2 digit math problems in kindergarten. As for the rest of my kids this year they all exceeded the CRCT scores in all the the subjects.

So before you state something make sure it not a ignorant statement based on stupidity!!!!

Kanarstead

May 30th, 2011
11:29 am

The AJC uses its most of its resources covering high school sports.

If they used a fraction of those resources reporting on what is going on in the front office and in the schools some of these problems might be addressed in a constructive manner.

Until then they are part of the problem.

MilitaryGirl

May 30th, 2011
11:31 am

@ Really…unless his parent signed agreeing to the committees recommendation to retain, that child was going on to be placed. You would be amazed what promises are made when the conferences are held to discuss a child’s retention based on grades and test scores. Kids cry, parents promise everything including the kitchen sink. If the committee says the child isn’t ready and they he needs to be retained and the parent doesn’t agree, then the child is placed into the next grade level. The child is then put in remedial classes, remediation, etc. Some even get vouchers for free tutorial sessions with Huntington and Sylvan, and folks won’t even take the child after school. Free transportation and snacks for remediation at school and yet the child gets on the bus. A school is a reflection of the community it serves. When the community demands a quality education and works along side the other stakeholders, that is exactly what they get. Teachers can do everything they know and exhaust themselves and the resources and if the child doesn’t want to learn and the parents don’t have any expectations, then little progress will be made. Sad sight, but 10 years in, my eyes are wide open.

gtfanfrom1951

May 30th, 2011
11:41 am

Until we start putting more on education and less on playiing ball things will not change. Teachers can not be mother, father , and moral leaders to all students all the time. Its time that parents did their jobs and raise their children right.