Teacher efforts to teach soft skills run into hard reality of testing

I wrote an entry last week on the state’s push to teach soft skills in high school. Here is a response from a newly retired high school teacher, Pat Pepper, on that topic:

Your column “Teaching punctuality 101″ caused me to smile sadly and shake my head. On May 31, I retired after 30 years in the classroom. For most of those years, I was a public high school English teacher here in Georgia.

After my first two years teaching, I quit the classroom because I could not live on the $5,200 a year salary that beginning teachers made. I got a job as an office supervisor for a large insurance company based in Atlanta.

In that position I quickly learned that my most valuable employees were those with enough intelligence to learn their jobs and were reliable in their attendance. I once had to fire the brightest employee I had ever had because I could not count on her to be at work when needed.

When I returned to teaching, I saw a great need to not only teach the hard skills of good communication but the soft ( or “life” as I called them) skills as well. In the ’70s, it seemed that education administrators and teachers were on the same page concerning the importance of both hard and soft skills. That is not the case today.

Because teachers are on the front lines of education, daily working face to face with students, they know that they can only impart hard skills in a well-disciplined class with students who show up regularly. Discipline and attendance are considered soft skills.

Today, because of high-stakes testing, merit pay, and the scramble for both state and federal funds, administrators find themselves having to resort to Machiavellian (”The end justifies the means.”) tactics. Here are a few examples:

1. Attendance

Schools receive federal dollars based on attendance records. In the Georgia school system I retired from, teachers were told that they could not penalize students’ grades due to non-academic behaviors ( such as sleeping in class), but the administration apparently saw no incongruity when they told teachers they had to add a 10 percent bonus to the final exams of all students who had “perfect” attendance. “Perfect” did not really mean perfect, however. In the school system “perfect” meant no more than two excused absences. I never understood how attendance did not qualify as a non-academic behavior, except when thinking in Machiavellian terms.

Georgia law requires students to be present a certain number of days in order to get academic credit. If a student is not in attendance those required days, he or she will fail the class or will have to appeal. The appeal committee must be made up of teachers and administrators.

Teachers, trying to teach the truant a life lesson, usually do not grant the appeals unless there is hard evidence of medical difficulties. The administrators are worried about failure rates, not life lessons. In my school, for several years, the committee was abolished and one sole administrator made all the appeal decisions. You can guess how many appeals were granted.

2. Money

When it comes to the scramble for money, both hard and soft skills take a beating.

1. Pep-rallies: The football team brings in the most money, so it is perfectly all right to take students out of class in order to rev them up to attend the football game. Georgia State Law has set a maximum amount of time that students can be out of class for non-academic events. Try asking the principal for that time log!

2. Hypocritical Classes: Georgia State Law requires high school students to take a Health class. There they learn the importance of good nutrition, but scattered all around the school are vending machines begging them to buy junk food. The school gets a monetary cut of these machines. No wonder they don’t take what we teach seriously.

3. Fund-raisers: In my high school, the dress code did not allow students to wear hats. The reason given by administrators was that the security cameras could not video faces obscured by hats. However, on “hat days” the students could pay to wear a hat. Was security not important on those days?

Teachers have been trying to hold up the standards of both hard and soft skills because they know, ultimately, that students will need both to be productive employees and citizens; however, they are losing the battle. Soft skill questions don’t show up on CRCT’s, EOCT’s, SAT’s, ACT’s, AP’s, ad nauseum.

Many more teachers in Georgia will be on merit pay this school year (as APS teachers were when the cheating occurred). I hope the pressure to succeed based on flawed criteria will not cause them to abandon their own set of soft skills due to fear.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

62 comments Add your comment

just me

August 23rd, 2011
5:45 am

Then there are the days when teachers are taken out of the classroom for “professional learning” opportunities required by the county. On top of that NO sub is given and the class is split among the other teachers on that grade level. So while the county cracks down on the days a teacher requests “leave” or is “sick”, it is ok to require them to leave their own students in the hands of a now over loaded teacher handling an additional 5-6 students or more.


August 23rd, 2011
6:44 am

Very, very astute observations. Some of us could add even more.

Example: The requirement to adhere to scripted lessons. Yet we are told to “individualize” and take into account student needs. We are also told to ask more complex questions, yet the questions from the scripted lessons require the most simplistic answers, AND WE MUST FOLLOW THE SCRIPT.

On the needs-based requirement: We must meet the needs of all learners to teach grade-level concepts and skills, yet we must also devote considerable class time to identifying and remediating YEARS of prior-grade skills and knowledge, MUCH OF WHICH IS REQUIRED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE CURRENT GRADE!

Cindy Lutenbacher

August 23rd, 2011
7:03 am

Thanks to Pat, Just Me, and Catlady for giving specific examples of the vast hypocrisy in the so-called “reform” movement in education. The words of those leading this sad charge (Duncan, Rhee, Gates, Broad, etc.) sound wonderful, but the reality is precisely the opposite.

Dr NO aka Mr Sunshine

August 23rd, 2011
7:11 am

The best way to teach soft skills is thru a good ole fashioned firing. Believe me, once you have been fired you wont forget it and most will learn volumes from the experience.


August 23rd, 2011
7:19 am

“The best way to teach soft skills is thru a good ole fashioned firing.”

If this were an option for public school teachers, I think most of them wouldn’t have a problem with merit pay / pay-for-performance.


August 23rd, 2011
7:59 am

Amen to the teachers here. There are really no consequence to tardies, misbehavior, or late work. I always wanted “do-overs” for my power bill. Schools are not even teaching resposible behavior. And, Yes, I know that is a parents job, but! Something will have to give sooner or later. I bet the kids will be the looser.

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Sk8ing Momma

August 23rd, 2011
8:03 am

SMH! I’m ever more thankful that we homeschool.

With regard to teaching soft skills, particularly the importance of punctuality, I have a hard and fast expectation at my house: When my children are late, they write standards. They have to write, “I will not be late” 100 times for the first offense and 100 for each subsequent offense thereafter. Today, is the first day that they’ve overslept and are late for our starting time. I hate it for them; but, I’d rather they learn the consequences of being late now at ages 12yo and 9yo versus when they they are in college or become employees/employers. Parenting/educating is not for wimps!


August 23rd, 2011
8:13 am

An excellent critique with well made points. Ms. Pepper also supports my contention that Christian /moral influence in public schools ended with the Baby Boomers. After that, the Foundations began to make their major push to “globalize” education and prepare students for the 21st century New World Order. Deliberately Dumbed Down! Currently, a parent’s best option is home school, private school, or perhaps some of the charter schools.


August 23rd, 2011
8:18 am

It is clear to me that the over-emphasis on standardized testing is leading to an absurdly stringent learning environment. For instance, are 9-12 year olds “developmentally ready” for all of the academic goals, competition, and technology that have been pushed down the curriculum? We need caring schools that will lead to a caring society, rather than the current system of winners-losers (and faculty-parent hysteria, cheating, etc.) that high stakes testing produces.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

August 23rd, 2011
8:19 am

Honest is the best policy. It is not the easiest policy, however.

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
8:35 am


You’re absolutely right. It is impossible to uphold morals and values without religion. How silly of me to think that reason and logic are incapable of producing morals in young people. Your comment towards me on the previous blog speaks highly of your morals and self respect.

I agree with Dr. NO here. As I’ve said before, we all know who the bad teachers are. If we actually fired people who don’t do their jobs, the quality of teaching would improve immeasurably–and that would be a step in the right direction.


August 23rd, 2011
8:37 am

This foolishness about teaching to the test has been a disaster. That’s all APS has been about and look at the results: kids not receiving badly needed instruction, cheating, lying, stealing and national shame.

Atlanta Media Guy

August 23rd, 2011
8:39 am

Dr. No aka Mr. Sunshine. A firing would be nice. However, in this litigious society we live in, teachers fired will most likely sue the system and end up costing the system a lot more litigating than teaching. DCSS just moves the failing teachers around, most of them into the Palace, instead of firing them. Can’t have any more lawsuits, since DCSS spends millions of dollars on lawyers.

I wonder if our CFO, Marcus Turk, has that line item from the budget, that Jester and other stakeholders have been asking for? The line item that shows exactly how much money DCSS spends per year on lawyers and law firms. Why is it so difficult to get this information? I hope Dr, Atkinson makes the system more open and transparent. I know the BOE will not allow her to do that, but maybe after a year or so Dr Atkinson will tell the BOE what needs to happen to get the public back on the school system’s side. I know that wish will never come true, but one can hope, right?

Teacher Reader

August 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

The more that I look at education in our country, the more that I agree with Charlotte Iserbyt and her theories about American education. Our education system has become a scam. Our children aren’t being educated. They aren’t being challenged and they aren’t even learning information for tests well.

Someone above said our kids will be in trouble if this continues, I disagree our country will be in trouble.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

August 23rd, 2011
9:12 am

That’s an excellent letter. To me, it is also clear that while testing under NCLB is on the wrong path, that regime is not at fault: the administrators and Boards that look to maximize school funds by allowing tardiness and absences are at fault.

another comment

August 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

Since, we moved from Cobb to Fulton this year, after it took 8 months to sell our house in Vinings. Too many gang bangers and Free lunchers in the Smyrna schools. Fulton County does not give out D’s. I told my daughter who is taking AP and Honor’s classes, that she better be first in line to have a retake if she ever gets a 75 or below on a quiz, test or assignment in Fulton. She was like what? I said that is what the policy says. I said don’t brush it off that you can bring it up later you only have two weeks to ask for a retest, to get rid of the low grade ( a mid C). She was shocked.

But then Fulton only gives 7 points on the numeric grade additional for Honors, AP, or IB clases, then Converts them to A, B, C grades. In Cobb they basically dismissed your letter grade, and you were told it didn’t matter if you had a 80 or and 89 it was a B, or a 90 or 97 it was and A. You were given A,B, C’s based on your numberic grade then that was converted to 4, 3, 2, 1,. After that Cobb added the extra points for IB & AP 1 pt. Honors .5 , So you could have a 5 if you got and A in and IB of AP glass, a 4.5 if you got and A in an Honors Class. A 4 if you got a B in IB or AP class, then a 3.5 Class in a Honors class. It doesn’t make any sence that their can be no consitancy district to district.

Then I learn that the 4/4 Schedules are given in the Title I schools to give more changes for the kids to do the classes over. That is ridiculous. They are harder for kids with ADD and ADHD to pay attention. Even top students who have it.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

August 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

To the original article and the like examples, I certainly concur that these are rampant and only some examples of a systemic problem. So if, as Cindy puts it, the “reform” movement is just a vast hypocrisy, how do we fix it?

I would love to hear from teachers at places that we know do work. For example, Pace & Westminster. I would assume that students at those schools are more successful. Why there? My hypothesis is that it’s more than just the amount of money mom & dad have. I think a lot of the success will lie in the fact that they have options. If you aren’t successful at these schools because you aren’t trying, my bet is that you don’t continue to be a student at these schools. Of course, the students there are sorted some before they start and I’m sure that also has an effect.

So, for public schools, is there an answer? We have expulsion procedures now now but they are not often invoked – and certainly not for lack of academic effort. Are the public schools there to educate? Sounds like such a simple question – I’m not so sure of the answer though…

November 6, 2012

August 23rd, 2011
9:39 am

Folks, please remember to circle this date on your calender. It is the single most important election in any of our lifetimes. I just cannot stress enough the importance of voting responsibility.

V for Vendetta

August 23rd, 2011
9:58 am

NW GA Math/Science Teacher,

I think the success of the private schools you mention has to do more with discipline at school and the stability of the home environment outside of school. I think the quality of teaching and instruction, technology, and academic options can all be replicated outside of the private school system. What can’t currently be replicated is the adherence to a higher discipline (and academic) standard and the stability of the home environment. (However, it must be noted that the KIPP schools have had great success bridging the gap by maintaining high discipline and academic standards while working with low SES students. The school essentially become their home environments providing them with the stability they so desperately need.)


August 23rd, 2011
10:04 am

Its all about the dollar….I found that out when I was in high-school. As a freshman and sophomore my homeroom was at the start of the school day, but by the time I was a junior first period was at the start of the day and homeroom came after. The reasoning was, a lot of kids would show up late to homeroom after attendance was taken. Moving it after first period assured the school system that the student would show up, since roll-call was only taken in homeroom. Like I said it was all about the dollar amount for each student, of course if you did’nt show up at all you got a big fat “0″. This all happen in the early 70’s. Schools today are so dysfunctional @another comment…I’m sure D’s and F’s were in no short supply. We didn’t get extra credit for showing up either. 90-100(A- A A+) 80-89(B- B B+) 70-79(C- C C+) 69-65(D) 64 and below a big fat red “F”. This was the grade scale in every school system, or as some would say…the good ol’ days. Oh and by the way what is a do over?

William Casey

August 23rd, 2011
10:15 am

I agree that some “good old firings” would have a beneficial effect on public education… IF, and only IF they were firings done for the right reasons. Hard lessons learned the hard way are always the best learned. Playing sports and later athletic coaching taught me that. However, it seldom hapens that way. I was fired as Dean of Students at Chattahoochee HS in North Fulton in ‘97, returned to the classroom. Proud of it. Why? Responding to faculty requests to “do something” about the widespread academic cheating among the students, I put together an Honor Code with real teeth in it and pushed hard for its adoption. Too hard. You see, even acknowledging the fact that we had a cheating problem would have “looked bad” for our”Blue Ribbon” school and hindered our principal’s ambition to acquire a cushy central office job. Actually implementing a hard-nosed anti-cheating program might have ignited a political firestorm among parents. Had I simply stood around monitoring the cafeteria and bus loading area, smiling mindlessly at everyone, I would have had a long administrative career. Believe me, the same sort of thing would happen if schools started firing teachers for “incomptence” as several people advocate. Real learning is a HARD human activity. Push too hard for it at your own peril.

William Casey

August 23rd, 2011
10:19 am

@Ashley: a “do over” in Fulton County was called “Recovery.” If a student failed a test, the teacher was required to give a student a “second chance” to pull the grade up to a 70.


August 23rd, 2011
10:25 am

To November 6, 2012 – Until teachers are treated with respect, are given a voice without consequences, and are part of the educational process, education will only get worse. While there are some bad teachers, just as there are bad employees in every profession, MOST teachers really do care and work hard to educate children. But our hands are tied by administration and central office policies. Teachers do not have any control over tardiness, absences, sleepers, disrupters, and those students who choose not to work at school. We talk to parents/guardians/grandparents and there are ALWAYS excuses. There is no one to support the teachers’ efforts to “teach” students soft skills. We are not allowed to “punish” children. The administration and central office only care about the numbers. Most of the students and parents in my school don’t even know who the principal is. She stays hidden in her office. We only communicate with her through email. If change is to come to education, in a positive way, parents must speak up with solutions, not just whining and complaining, and demand positive change and give teachers the power to teach. Tardiness, absences, retaking tests, extra credit should not be tolerated. Real life doesn’t work that way. Teachers at my school are documented for being late and absent. Teachers don’t get extra credit or extra pay for working late or coming in early or working at all the ball games and dances. Why is there such a double standard?


August 23rd, 2011
10:27 am

I taught for a number of years and then spent almost a decade in the business world specializing in large corporate sales of technical equipment. When I decided to return to the classroom, I had an entirely different viewpoint than when I left. I realized just how important those “soft” skills were. Punctuality, getting along with others, leadership, attention to detail, good manners, self control, follow through, being a self starter, etc. All of these attributes were necessary in addition to the in depth technical knowledge I needed to be successful in my job. It was easier for me because I had 4th graders in a basically self contained classroom so I could teach these skills as well as the 3 R’s. I question how a high school teacher with 175 students a day can possibly help students learn these basic skills that are so terribly critical to job success.


August 23rd, 2011
10:51 am

@William Casey….Is this “recovery” recognized as a good thing? Its been 35 years since I was in high-school, I don’t recall do-over unless you became ill or fall into a coma(just kidding). Is this really fair to student who didn’t fail but want a higher grade?

Harper-Archer mother

August 23rd, 2011
11:07 am

APS teachers can only teach to the test. Everything has to match with what’s on the test. They get in trouble if they are caught teaching anything else. Teachers get fired if the students don’t make high scores. The teachers and principal are very afraid.

Cathy D. Wright

August 23rd, 2011
11:11 am

I teach soft skills as an expert trainer and professionalism director at work and it is about behavior and getting associates to optimize their skill sets to maximize there morale. I strategize and inspire with them and show inspirational films and other initiatives. I could turn those students into real leaders!!!

Good Mother

August 23rd, 2011
11:12 am

This is such a well-written, succinct commentary and I thank you, Pat Pepper, for the evidence you provided to support your thoughts.

Here is something you might not know; however, parents are held accountable for unexcused absences. I had to sign an agreement at my children’s school regarding unexcused absences. The law says more than five unexcused absences will cost you $100 and or jail time.

Whether the law is upheld or not, I wouldn’t know because I always bring my children on time and they never have unexcused absences.

I agree whole-heartedly about the pep rally you mentioned. The whole shool was out one hour early every Friday for the football pep rally and the soda and snack machines were ubiquitous. The schools weren’t upholding their own standard.

There are fundraisers at my children’s school as well and they have a pep rally for the fundraiser. More duplicity.

Meanwhile, the cheating and lying teachers involved in the CRCT erasures are out on administrative leave costing APS ONE MILLION dollars a month just for their salaries alone. We wouldn’t need a fundraiser if those teachers were honest.

To Dekalbite

August 23rd, 2011
11:17 am

Dekalbite, you say “I question how a high school teacher with 175 students a day can possibly help students learn these basic skills that are so terribly critical to job success.”

Gving a student a prorated grade when their work is late is a viable option and not giving “extra credit” for non-academic things is a good start.

Being a good role model is another. A teacher should be prepared and not use class time to catch up on his or her paperwork. I’ve had many teachers say to us “read silenty to yourselves” while he or she left the room the entire period to do other things or use class time to grade papers instead of teaching during that class time.


Dr NO aka Mr Sunshine

August 23rd, 2011
11:18 am

“Teachers don’t get extra credit or extra pay for working late or coming in early or working at all the ball games and dances.”

Nor do exempt employees. So whats your point?

Cathy D. Wright

August 23rd, 2011
11:11 am

Wow! SuperGonzoTerrific and very inspirational. Would you just so happen to work in the Human Resources dept?

Dr NO aka Mr Sunshine

August 23rd, 2011
11:22 am

A “do over” or “second chance” is rubbish. What about those that studied and did the right thing. What is their reward.

Just silly BS.


August 23rd, 2011
11:24 am

I’m not a K-12 teacher, but very interested in education. What do you educators here think will happen now that President Obama has suspended the NCLB Act? Will your classroom situation of Teach-To- the-Test change? Will this help the alleviate the many problems in the classroom that have been noted here?


August 23rd, 2011
11:24 am

Cathy D. Wright, Motivize is NOT a word. Ther and their are not interchangeable. Part of professionalism should be spelling and grammar check. Which gets back to the government schools. They need to focus on actual skills, such as spelling, literacy, math and science. Inspirational talk is useless and for those who do not know how to actually teach actual job skills.


August 23rd, 2011
11:48 am

@DrNo aka Mr Sunshine….I agree 100%, this is just one more way for the student and not the teacher to manipulate the situation. Schools today place to much emphasis on the students who openly defy and not enough on the ones that comply and apply themselves. Once the race is won and the placings are posted, there is no do-over.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

August 23rd, 2011
12:06 pm

Atlanta Media Guy,

Don’t think that the educ-rats in the APS are the only ones who don’t want to fess up about how much taxpayers’ money they spend on school board attorneys. Try to find that out in Augusta/Richmond County. “General Administrative Expenses” is one of the several multi-million-dollar categories under which the educ-rats over here hide how much the RCBOE pays the firm of Fletcher, Harley and Fletcher each year for legal representation et al. By the way, until the accession of Dr. Dana Bedden to the RCSS superintendency, the Fletcher firm was charging the board for phone calls from board members. And how much do you think this firm obtained in fees for the several hundred million dollars worth of bonds the RCBOE issued in recent years to fund modernization of the systems’ physical facilities? Who says there ain’t no money in edutainment?

Why "early release" by Good Mother?

August 23rd, 2011
12:26 pm

Why are children being “released early” on some school days? My children have at least two days they are “early released” from school at 11:30? What is the point of this policy? Why not go the “full” day until 2:30?

To Grammarian from Good Mother

August 23rd, 2011
12:30 pm

Thank you for your comments regarding “Cathy D. Wright, Motivize is NOT a word. Ther and their are not interchangeable. Part of professionalism should be spelling and grammar check. Which gets back to the government schools. They need to focus on actual skills, such as spelling, literacy, math and science. Inspirational talk is useless and for those who do not know how to actually teach actual job skills.”

I agree!
It’s pathetic that Cathy D. Wright does not know that “motivize” is not a word. Cathy, the word you were grasping for is “motivate” and it is “their morale” not “there morale.”

Cathy, you teach professionalism?


Please, Cathy D. Wright, get out of the public school system. You are definitley part of the problem.

From Good Mother

August 23rd, 2011
12:31 pm

Make that DEFINITELY part of the problem.

Tonya C.

August 23rd, 2011
12:48 pm

Good Mother:

Early release is for teacher training and meetings. It also usually coincides with the interim reports and report cards going out.

More public school teacher blunders

August 23rd, 2011
12:51 pm

Regarding Cathy D. Wright’s terrible examples of her so-called “professionalism”:

Cathy D. Wright says “I strategize and inspire with them and show inspirational films and other initiatives.”

One does not inspire “with” anyone, Cathy. One inspires. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King inspired people to use peaceful demonstrations to address civil grievances. He motivated thousands of people to make positive changes in our society.

I motivate my children to perform well in school. My children are motivated. They are not and have never been “motivized” as you wrote in a previous blog.

As a facilitator it is very unlikely, Cathy D. Wright, that you strategize ‘with” your students. I doubt they have any input into your strategy. So, you cannot strategize “with” them. You have a goal and you create your own strategy to meet your goal.

Your pathetic self-advertisement and claim that you can help students is a prime example of the host of very ignorant people being paid by the public school system.

Quit now, Cathy, D. Wright, before you do any more harm to a child’s education.

Beatings will continue until morale improves

August 23rd, 2011
12:54 pm

Retakes on Any test in DeKalb is allowed. 3 Attempts for any class from regular to AP.

Soft Skills are tragically a thing of the past. Yes Ma’am and Yes Sir have become HUH? WHAT? What chu lookin’ at me fo?

This generation is lazy.

Mom of Three

August 23rd, 2011
1:00 pm

I agree, that soft skills are definitely not emphasized — but those hard skills are. Those citizenship grades — remember those? — basically are soft skills. But the emphasis is clearly on academics. There’s got to be a bridge between school and real-life. I’ve been out of college for 15 years and I can only recall a few times on an online application where I was asked my college G.P.A.; I’ve never been asked my GPA during any interview or meeting (and I’m a business owner). Yet, soft skills are much more important to my success — punctuality, attendance, doing what you say you will do, getting along well with others. There is something def wrong with the Georgia public school system when hard skills, such as test scores, are overemphasized. My children were educated in Michigan schools for a few years (higher test scores thn Georgia, mind you) and when we came to live in GA 5 years ago, I was shocked by how much the CRCT played a role in the education of a state that as a whole ranks in the bottom percentile in terms of test scores. As the mom of two junior high and one elementary student, the CRCT is a game, and I personally feel sorry for teachers who stress out having to teach it and the students who get stressed out about taking it. One test score does not, and should not, determine whether a child fails or passes a grade. One thing’s for sure, no matter which school your child attends, virtually no one will ask your child about their CRCT score after college.

To Beatings from Good Mother

August 23rd, 2011
1:17 pm

Hi Beatings you say “This generation is lazy.”

Who raised the current generation? If the current generation is lazy, it is the fault of the older generation (us) who raised them.

I don’t raise my children to be lazy and disrespectful. I never allow a “whut” or a “huh” to go unaddressed. I demand they say “I’m listening” or “pardon me.”

Cathy D. Wright

August 23rd, 2011
1:27 pm

I begs to differ. I DO strategize with the associates. They get inspired by my use of Naplean Hill, John C. Maxwell, My Orange Duffle Bag and pictures like Rudy and The Pursuit of Happyness. If I can make them believe then they are halfway there! My initiatives optimize my strategy of uplifting all into something bigger.

In the Know

August 23rd, 2011
1:46 pm

GA schools need a re-vamp. Kids should be allowed to play on the playground – not just participate in PE – they learn social skills etc. that way. Students should be clustered on what their skills are so that teachers can TEACH the kids who need more assistance. The CRCT should not be a make it or break it test. It should show where the kids need more help and assistance with different subjects. Also, it would be great to know if the kids simply don’t test well and if not begin taking steps with those kids to improve their performance. In our current set-up, teachers just try to get students to pass the exam. Major fail.

Teachers who are in the classroom because they love to teach and do so effectively and well should be rewarded and CLE classes for teachers who need improvement would be great to see. Instead of punishing perhaps giving assistance would be better. Teachers who have students who don’t improve their skills in 3 subject areas – for instance their kids largely failing reading comprehension, math, etc. – then they should be under probation and if improvement does not occur after taking CLE courses and teaching by their third year they should be removed from the classrooms. I want us to have teachers who TEACH, not just push kids through which is what the CRCT testing program and the NCLB program basically forced teachers and administrators to do. Kids who only know how to pass test do not create (inventions/arts) they simply serve – this is not a good position for our kids to be in at all.

These forced class schedules/ learning schedule everyone follows the same game plan/ teaching plan is ridiculous and keeps the teacher from working with the kids to improve areas where they do note there is a learning deficiency. The trouble they get in if the deviate is crazy! If parents had any idea how much what teachers do in the class are regulated even when the teachers note that there is an issue … the job (and it is a JOB now, not a career – not anymore which is why the kids are really missing out/suffering too) is very administrative now when it used to be that teachers made every effort to make sure the kids learn, know, have new exerpiences and expand their creative abilities. It is a shame.

Beatings will continue until morale improves

August 23rd, 2011
2:03 pm

Laziness and Mediocrity is a plague upon this generation…

Since when do we give out honorable mention honor roll? That like saying its ok you got a C in math. Heres your little award so you dont feel left out.

Good Mother: I am glad someone still teaches it. Keep up the good fight. I dont have kids yet, but I work with students where the attempt to negogiate grades are common place. this “Its not Fair” BS.

I was never given a handout in my education and I never will give a handout. Its like feeding the bears in Yellowstone. You feed them and feed them until they become dependent on food and then when one of them doesn’t get what they want they attack. .

To Cathy D. Wright

August 23rd, 2011
2:17 pm

Cathy, you keep digging your hole deeper every time you blog.

The expression is “I beg to differ.”

The correct usage of the word is. “I beg to differ” or “they beg to differ” or “he begs to differ.”

Your grammar is atrocious and your “writing” skills are an embarrassment to your profession.

Good Mother

To Beatings from Good Mother

August 23rd, 2011
2:28 pm

Right back at ya, Beatings. I will keep up the good fight and I admire you for doing the same. Students quickly learn which teachers are pushovers and which ones aren’t. I have never attempted to negotiate a grade and wouldn’t allow my children to do it either.

What do you mean by “handout”?

Are you referring to a photocopied paper or “work sheet?”

William Casey

August 23rd, 2011
3:04 pm

@Ashley: Fulton’s “Recovery” policy had its good and bad points. It prevented many students from “mentally dropping out” of my class because they had dug themselves a hole that they couldn’t climb out of. Aided diligent but not great students. The bad side was that it was often so lax that it simply became a hidden way to “socially promote” a student. The program’s value depended upon how the individual teacher applied it.