Teacher’s parting letter strikes a nerve with equally frustrated peers around the country

A letter penned by a retiring Syracuse, N.Y., social studies teacher is getting a lot of reaction since it hit the web this week.

Westhill High School teacher Jerry Conti sent this letter to the Board of Education. (He also posted it on his Facebook page, which is why so many people have read it and sent it around.)

Here it is:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than 27 years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.

I came to teaching 40 years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.”

This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised.

STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle.

Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place.

This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair.

Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children? My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject.

This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of Annual Professional Performance Reviews (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven.

Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.

After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.

For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter.” While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.

Sincerely and with regret,

Gerald J. Conti, Social Studies Department Leader

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

174 comments Add your comment

Mary Elizabeth

April 10th, 2013
1:13 am

“This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.”

“. . .’Words Matter’ and ‘Ideas Matter.’ While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.”

“In their pursuit of federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education.”
====================================================

I cannot add to Gerald J. Conti’s words. They are poignant and true. Perhaps many will reflect upon what is happening to public schools and public school teachers today.

Another comment

April 10th, 2013
1:31 am

It is so sad and true. My 13 year old child is currently out sick with Mono. The doctor has excused her for 6 weeks. Fulton County, has after 3 weeks not provided her with a Homebound tutor. Yet they called me today to see if there was anyway she could come for just 21/2 hours a day to take the CRCT. Of course they only want her their because she can score a 99% on the IOWA test.

I told them you have got to be kidding. Why can’t you just give her the IOWA test when she comes back. They went on and said this is a State Mandated test. She has a legal Doctors excuse. She can not stay awake for more than a few hours a day. All they care about is to get the naturally smart kid to take this moronic test. I told this lady, why don’t you teach them any liteture, my daughter has not read one bit of liteture at your school for middle school.

home-tutoring parent

April 10th, 2013
1:36 am

This is a good argumentative essay.

I see a few things to critique. He “came to teaching 40 years ago, to this month.” A 27-year career at one school district. That calculates to retiring at age 62ish. Waay young to go onto the public retiree-benefits dole. I don’t mean for teachers where retirement at age 60+/- is the norm, but it translates to 20+/- years of retired living on somebody else’s dime.

Mr. Conti denigrates STEM. He didn’t argue that in an open-value economy, public schools should pay $60k to young math and science teachers, to get the best talant to teach children, even though that would have been more than Mr. Conti was paid.

Mr. Conti doesn’t say, “I went to Cornell”, or Columbia, NYU, or Rochester or even SUNY-Buffalo or Stonybrook, and learned how to take lecture notes, make addenda ASAP after class, and write revised notes in the evening, and study them starting in week-one, so that he could master the material his teachers were trying to convey.

Do you know what happens to people who did these thing? They earned PhDs or MDs, and went to higher-ed academia, or took their bachelor’s or master’s degrees to expansive-tuiton private schools, where they got to teach classes with 8-12 students.

What is teaching, actually? It’s conveying knowledge. It’s learning from kids who are your students. It’s about being against procrastinating in studying to night-before-exam cramming. Real teaching is about a continuum.

I don’t know how to explain this. We did “homeschooling” . In Sept-May, but also in June, July and August. I sent my teenagers to summer school at U Chicago, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Washington U St. Louis.

A lot of you people “Don’t Know What’s Happening Here.”

Mike C.

April 10th, 2013
1:48 am

So true. Here in Fayette County, we have been told by our son’s elementary school they are HAVING to follow Common Core teaching methods next year, with more emphasis on data collecion of students progress, and teachers have to follow a standard format of teaching.

I told the teacher that those bright and great teachers who know how to teach, and make worse those teachers who are already not good teachers. The teachers are loosing their individual traits, knowledge, and personal traits which all go into teaching as individuals to individual students.

Google Common Core teaching and you will see how this is a top down Federal Government, liberal agenda…

home-tutoring parent

April 10th, 2013
3:20 am

Have you ever tasted Molinari or Columbus salame, cultured in San Francisco? Good stuff.

They identified the SF sourdough component, Lactobacillus named sanfransciscensi. We replicated sourdough here, very tasty. Our culture used yogurt with live bacteria. Beating the dough with yeast, you’re on your own.

fjeremey

April 10th, 2013
5:44 am

The greatest tragedy is that those with the power and authority to affect any authentic change will not take the time to read the entire letter, let alone take any of its criticisms to heart. Indeed we are a deeply frustrated profession. We are constantly having more and more self-defeating processes piled on us to the point that it is all we can do to do the actual job of teaching, planning, and grading. We are under supplied and unsupported. The system is scrambling for uniformity while demanding that we differentiate; it is pushing for collaboration while creating an environment of rabid competition; it is advocating for deep authentic “standards-based” learning while holding the End-Of-Course-Test up as the greatest assessment of learning, when in reality it is the basest test of knowledge. We have ideas, great ideas but it seems that only those in small private schools have the courage to implement these ideas. Everyone does not need to be the same.

“Quit your whining and do your job!”, you say? Where would we be then? Heck, where are we now? Such a statement assumes a corporate structure of profit and that the management is doing what is needs to for profit. Also that when enough people leave the company will simply fail. I am not willing to let education completely fail. It is not that simple in the classroom and I think you know that.

Our voice has been muffled, if not silenced, but we will continue to speak. I will stay and continue to complain and spit into the wind if that is what it takes to get even one authentic learning experience through to one student. Who knows? Maybe someday someone will finally listen. Maybe I will be in a position to affect change someday. Either way, those of us who do stick it out, who do continue to run at that brick wall will remain a part of the solution even if that solution is years from systemic realization.

cris

April 10th, 2013
6:21 am

someone get home-tutoring parent his/her meds….and maybe call DFACS while you’re at it….Maureen, will you please delete those comments that have no relation to the post?

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
6:26 am

fjeremy, your comment made me to think of this policy / requirement / activity / duty malaise, it is like a big fat glutton sitting at private table at restaurant, do this! bring me my sauerkraut! where is my mint jelly and lamb? this champagne is too warm! buff my shoes! chocolate rasberry cheesecake for desert! take back this coffee! another plate of oysters! where’s my pearls?!!! Where’s MY PEARLS?!!! Screaming crying now, Where.Are.My.Pearls?!!!!!! for example, I Want a Golden Goose! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRTkCHE1sS4

Yes, the name of this composite policy authority figure is Veruca Salt.

mountain man

April 10th, 2013
6:34 am

I normally support teachers, but this letter of resignation does not mention that TEACHERS had a role in driving us to where we are now. How much they were forced by administrators remains to be seen. Our testing craze is a direct result of grades being given by TEACHERS that have absolutely no relation to the mastery of the material. When a teacher gives a ninth=grader who is reading at a 5th grade level a “D” rather than an “F”, it drives us toward testing. Because testing is the only way we can get a true picture of academic achievement (unless there is cheating). There has been rampant grade inflation. There are high school students receiving diplomas who could not pass the very basic Georgia High School Graduation Test (after MANY tries). That is what is driving the testing craze. Teachers are going along with “socially promoting” students they KNOW are going to fail the next year. Remember, the agreement to “socially promote” has to be UNANIMOUS – so if a teacher voted to retain, the student would HAVE to be retained. Unfortunately, too many teachers have caved in to their Principal’s demands (do you hear me, Georgia Coach). They accepted the “no zeroes” policies. They promoted rather than retained students. They changed grades, or they did not complain when their principal changed grades just to please parents (or to get the student out of their school.

Teachers need to own up to their own culpability in this drive to test.

mark

April 10th, 2013
6:41 am

When asked if by students whether the information disucussed, read, written about will be on the test.

I reply “Life is the Test”. when told that I am the smartest person by a student, I tell them that I am flatterred and “No one of us is as smart as all of us.”

mountain man

April 10th, 2013
6:43 am

“That calculates to retiring at age 62ish. Waay young to go onto the public retiree-benefits dole. I don’t mean for teachers where retirement at age 60+/- is the norm, but it translates to 20+/- years of retired living on somebody else’s dime. ”

I am not saying this is wrong, but for home-tutoring’s information – did you know that teachers can retire after 30 years of service? My sister was a teacher and retired at the age of 53. She fled the teaching world because of what it had become. Yes, the pay is not great (it is not bad either), but teachers get the summer off and get GREAT retirement benefits. THis is one of teachings best-kept secrets.

Dc

April 10th, 2013
6:45 am

Having been in business, I’ve heard a similar story many times from “old-timers” as well. The company isn’t the same, there’s no loyalty…..the list goes on and on. The sad fact is that the world has changed. The folks I work with from other countries are smart, driven, and will work for peanuts. That’s what your students have to compete with

It’s not your daddy’s world…….just how it is. We have to move to a more efficient, data driven model. That’s hard. No doubt. We’d all in the US rather have a lazier, more touchy feelie world, but that’s not todays reality

This guy sounds like an amazing person. He also sounds like the wrong person to teach our kids in the new world

mountain man

April 10th, 2013
6:47 am

“but it translates to 20+/- years of retired living on somebody else’s dime.”

But also, home-tutoring, teachers, ust like us who pay into Social Security, receive their retirement that they paid into and were promised. This is not “living on someone else’s dime”. I paid into my Social Security – it is my dime.

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
6:51 am

Veruca Salt… shamelessly browbeats… over material things… orders… factory workers to put aside their regular duties… although stopping regular work… cost… business and precious revenue.

catlady

April 10th, 2013
6:57 am

mountain man, I wis I had the power you seem to claim for me!

I am at the point in my life and my career where I can speak up. (Actually, I have been speaking up all along, but now I am accorded more respect.) And I call it as I see it. My principal knows what we are talking about, but she has very little power either. Those with the power have, as their “authority, ” those charlatans like M. Rhee and B. Gates, who think they know everything, but actually spout gibberish.

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
7:03 am

Mountain Man, As your advocate, I am going to ask you, just for the sake of reasoning, to back it down a little and re-think. Our testing craze is a direct result of grades being given by TEACHERS. First off, please lose the caps. It is not good writing to use caps for emphasis. In fact, it depowers what you are saying. Anyway, I think you are falling into a trap of “single source / single reason” reasoning for a complex issue. When you add “enthusiasm” to such conclusions, it is kind of noisy, friend.

You and me think of two different things, scenarios, when prompted with the word “testing.” The first thing I think of is the multiple times it is done during the school year, and then the year-around attention to it that drowns everything around it. This is something other than your festive claims. Take it for what you think, but to me, “testing” is just one part of this colonisation that is being forced up the teaching profession, where teachers are told what to do, how to do it, what to day, what daily sequence to do in their classroom (I have had this happen many times by outside “advisors”). It is domination. Reminds of under communism, things done by decree. One year, “Everyone shall have a wristwatch.” The next year, “Everyone shall have a bicycle.” This type of domination. Point is, Mountain Man, teaching does not work that way. Also, you really do devalue teachers with your view and blaming. I know many master teachers who would be masters of industry, as smart and dynamic as anyone I’ve met / worked with, except that they devote themselves to service. I know teachers who direct family kin are 1) DNA professor 2) CFO for major company 3) doctor, lawyer, military trainer 4) successful designer. So you need to back up some of this habit of talking about teachers like they’re incompetent dogs.

Pride and Joy

April 10th, 2013
7:09 am

If the author was serious about his convictions he would have left teaching long ago. It is too convenient for him to put in enough time to retire and then say he is retiring because of standardized testing and STEM emphasis. It seems that this teacher’s main concern was his money.
And…how many more blogs will there be that beat up standardized testing?
I am a parent. I want standardized testing. I want my children to learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects while at the same time being able to ace a standardized test.
Social studies in kindergarten should be illegal. K-3 should be read to learn and 4 and up should be reading to learn.
We have it all backwards in our schools today and blaming standardized testing is a convenient cop out.

mountain man

April 10th, 2013
7:09 am

“mountain man, I wis I had the power you seem to claim for me!”

Catlady – you confirm what I suspected and cannot get any ADMINISTRATORS to admit. Teachers are FORCED to comply with their bosses’ wishes. That is how you get the APS cheating scandal. Then they blame the teachers for cheating on the test! The “Hitlers” out there are the ones who change or make the teachers change the grades. They make the teachers pormote and not retain students. They make the “no zeroes” policies. I am sure that the Principals on here would like to tell you that it starts above them – with the Superintendents, but they can’t , without losing THEIR jobs. (Right, Georgia Coach?)

So until we wage a World War to get rid of the Hitlers, we might as well accept the Holocaust of education. Extirmination of real grades. (no, before someone starts comparing my comments to 3/5 compromise, I am NOT belittling the real Holocaust and the millions of Jewish people who were extirminated in World War II – my father fought in that war to free us from the real Hitler).

USG Professional

April 10th, 2013
7:18 am

to “home tutoring parent:” Please check out this article: http://chronicle.com/article/Employers-Want-Broadly/138453/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The bottom line? EMPLOYERS WANT COLLEGE GRADUATES WHO ARE EDUCATED IN THE LIBERAL ARTS!

jd

April 10th, 2013
7:32 am

It is ironic that those who are quickest to denigrate the thoughts expressed in the retirement letter have little knowledge of how important individual liberties are to the effectiveness of the teacher and to the lifelong effectiveness of an individual’s education. But, Proverbs warns us about arguing with mockers — so we must focus on those who wish to acquire knowledge, and in the process, wisdom.

Rick L in ATL

April 10th, 2013
7:34 am

This teacher is the canary in a mine shaft that is now so full of canaries it sounds like an aviary.

Time to wake up, parents, and hear the cacophony.

Wrest control of your local schools using the charter option (let’s break here for a round of applause for the Druid cluster parents, who are the first–but not the last–to understand this) and fill your new, parent-led schools full of teachers who yearn to actually teach instead of test-prep.

I’m looking at you, intown parents. Enough of test-obsessed, pretty-but-dumb SPARK and gang-plagued Inman. Enough of Bring Your Pistol to School day at Grady.

Get off your butts and do what has to be done. This teacher is telling you why, but you already knew why. Every day you delay is a disservice to your children, who deserve more motivated parents.

Centrist

April 10th, 2013
7:57 am

Nothing to see here folks, just more liberal drivel being endorsed by this blog.

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
8:01 am

Centrist, trollin?

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:02 am

“EMPLOYERS WANT COLLEGE GRADUATES WHO ARE EDUCATED IN THE LIBERAL ARTS!”

I’ll tell you something else – EMPLOYERS WANT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES WHO CAN READ, WRITE, AND DO SIMPLE ARITHMETIC! And they are not getting them. So they now insist on college degrees for even their lowere management positions. And at our company, if you are a drop-out (unless you have a GED), don’t even bother to apply.

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:07 am

“have little knowledge of how important individual liberties are to the effectiveness of the teacher and to the lifelong effectiveness of an individual’s education.”

So, enlighten us, JD, since we are so dumb, EXACTLY how are “individual liberties” important to the effectiveness of the teacher? Can he/she not teach unless he/she is allowed to do it THEIR WAY? How is “individual liberties” important to the students “lifelong effectiveness of their education”? If they are not allowed to act up in class, will they be scarred for life and never be able to learn? This is total BS. Teachers taught in the sixties without “individual liberties” and were QUITE effective. Of course, they had ADMINISTRATORS and policies that backed them up and allowed then to do their job: teach, and not have to be the surrogate parent and have their hands tied at the same time.

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:11 am

Teaching to the test? Most of the tests are very basic tests that EVERYONE in the class should pass with ease. There should be no fear of these tests; they should just be a matter of course, a formality to get through. Of course, if you have students that are four grades behind in reading because they have been socially promoted, THEN you sweat THE TEST.

Mother of 2

April 10th, 2013
8:15 am

Sadly, the move away from critical thinking in k-12 is happening all over the country. Our kids don’t develop critical thinking skills until they head off to college, and many college professors are complaining that their students lack depth of learning. The students’ ability to memorize and succeed on a multiple choice test is no longer relevant in college

I understand and appreciate the fact that we have schools in this country that desperately need to be changed because of high dropout rates and poor performance. Simplifying the curriculum with testable data probably looked like a good idea. Perhaps a better approach would have been to improve scholastic engagement in the lower grades. Hook a child on engaged learning in the early years and watch him/her blossom in high school.

I honestly think that the issues students face in our failing schools are far greater than a stifling learning environment. Pervasive poverty and violence cannot be overcome with testing in the schools. We need a cultural change that must start in the home and be carried into the community.

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
8:16 am

Got a good chuckle out of “40-year history teacher objects to “STEM” takeover.” I am in 1000% agreement with what is expressed in the letter. Basically, I do not trust “STEM” to deliver the goods. It all has to be “delivered” through the tight reins of U.S. corporate method. I had lunch with my very talented “STEM” master teacher friend. This person seemed downtrodden and the only topic of less than animated conversation was worker review rituals, that and continued “do it yourself” methods due to lack of coordinated resources. I do not think folks realise this, but most of these “STEM” directors will be the same old crowd that was directing the last initiative. Hey Mountain Man, you should stop with the “I normally support teachers.” You don’t. You seem them as little different from the “required high school graduates” you want as employees.

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
8:23 am

Mountain Man, Let’s keep it real for a moment. Let’s role play. I’m going to come into your company and 3-4 times a year, block out your calendar you 2 weeks at a time and test you. Every single day of the year, several times a day I will be in your company telling you of the coming test, what I expect, and what are the results of the last test? Every single day I want you to review 5 spreadsheets on your computer of my results of testing you and any time I talk to you, I expect you to know this information well and I will make your work review based on this. By the way, my test only covers maybe 25% of the activities vital to the operation of your company. For giving me access to block out these weeks, for you reviewing spreadsheets every day, and for me having access to broadcast this information every single day via tv and speakers in your workplace, I will compensate your company $100. week and I will call this an award. I will even contact the local paper and tell them you have received an award. So how does this make you feel, Mountain Man? Maybe like the walls are closing in on you? By the way, I support you.

crankee-yankee

April 10th, 2013
8:29 am

Mountain Man
April 10th, 2013
8:11 am

“Most of the tests are very basic tests that EVERYONE in the class should pass with ease.”

If that be true, what value is there in the test?

Spedteacher

April 10th, 2013
8:30 am

to “Home tutoring Parent” – I am planning my retirement for June 2014, the month I turn 60. I will get my retirement benefits from the state, which I have paid into. I will not be able to get my Social Security until I am 65 so I have a gap of 5 years that my savings and financial planning will have to cover. So please do not tell me I will be living on someone’s else’s dime.
As for the retirement letter, all I have to say is Amen!

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
8:32 am

Dc, The folks I work with from other countries are smart, driven, and will work for peanuts.

I think that will change over time, as long term working for peanuts tends to burn out a sense of good will.

Pride and Joy

April 10th, 2013
8:38 am

Crankee-Yankee asked a very good question ““Most of the tests are very basic tests that EVERYONE in the class should pass with ease.”
If that be true, what value is there in the test?
When the test is ridiculoulsy easy to pass and teachers teach to the test and teh students still fail, the value in the test is that is exposes the true value of the school and its teachers…
Which is to say, if teachers and schools are teaching to the easy test and the kids still fail the test…something is wrong with the school and teachers.
To begin with social studies (a.k.a. propaganda) should not be taught until third grade. Neither should history.
Children should be taught to read in k-3 using phonics, not ridiculous “sight word” nonsense.
Then 3rd and up should be read to learn, meaning, AFTER kids can read well and comprehend what they’re reading, THEN they should study social studies and history — without the propaganda.

crankee-yankee

April 10th, 2013
8:40 am

Private Citizen
April 10th, 2013
8:16 am

“Basically, I do not trust “STEM” to deliver the goods.”

As well you should not…The problem with “STEM” is, it is viewed by most administration merely as a vehicle to raise Math test scores. Very quickly (within a year), the Technology & the Engineering components are dismissed and the Science component is devalued. The concept is sound, the implementation is faulty.

Funny

April 10th, 2013
8:42 am

Wonderful!!! I just wish I had the years to retire with the author. Will I make it 5 more years?

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:42 am

““Most of the tests are very basic tests that EVERYONE in the class should pass with ease.”
If that be true, what value is there in the test?”

Uh, to see if the students can pass them! I said everyone SHOULD be able to pass them with ease, but that does not count social promotion, when you are trying to teach a high school student basic fractions (or how to count change back at a grocery store).

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:45 am

“I am planning my retirement for June 2014, the month I turn 60. I will get my retirement benefits from the state, which I have paid into. I will not be able to get my Social Security until I am 65 so I have a gap of 5 years that my savings and financial planning will have to cover.”

Will you have insurance coverage from the time you retire until Medicare kicks in at 65? I won’t. I cannot retire at 60 because I won’t be able to afford to insure myself and my wife on the private market without my employer insurance paln – which ends when I retire. Count yourself lucky!

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
8:46 am

Mountain Man, The Russians defeated the Germans in WW2. Everybody in Europe knows that, and I mean everybody. The Americans showed up afterwards, took photos, and made propaganda films. This is not to reduce the U. S. activity in WW2, Normandy, Okinawa, etc, but taking credit for “defeating the Germans” does not go to the U. S. This is exactly why humanities is important, otherwise you repeat what you are told either in the classroom with your cleverly written U. S. textbooks, or told by the tv set. PS I think you owe an apology to about 10 million Russian soldiers who lost their lives “getting the job done.” Yes, you read that correctly, 10 million. Have some respect, you ignorant… maschine.

indigo

April 10th, 2013
8:48 am

This is just one of many sad examples of what happens when social experiments designed to bring minority test scores up to the white student level continue to be the norm.

An overall dumbing down of America’s 1st thru 12th grade educational level is one more step towards our inevitable third world status.

I wonder why our lawmakers don’t seem to care at all about this?

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:50 am

Private Citizen – Why do we need to test the students at the beginning of the year? Oh, that’s right, because the previous teacher CHEATED on the test at the end of last year, or didn’t cheat and promoted the student anyway although the student was not ready for that level. Then you only need one test (per subject) at the end of the year to measure if the student acquired the BASIC amount of education during that year. This test should be scheduled on the LAST day of class (not two weeks before end of school and then do nothing in those two weeks.

crankee-yankee

April 10th, 2013
8:51 am

Mountain Man
April 10th, 2013
8:42 am

So we spend boatloads of money & class-time on preparation and administration of these very basic tests. Where is the value in that?

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
8:57 am

“The Russians defeated the Germans in WW2. Everybody in Europe knows that, and I mean everybody. The Americans showed up afterwards, took photos, and made propaganda films.”

EXCUSE ME, PC, I am sorry, I actually thought that the U.S. participated in WWII. Those 418,000 war dead of the United States mean absolutely nothing. My dad taking a shrapnel wound to the arm was during his making of propaganda films. I am sure you don’t believe the Holocaust happened, either.

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
9:00 am

“So we spend boatloads of money & class-time on preparation and administration of these very basic tests. Where is the value in that?”

Uh, to see if the students learned anything or if they need to be RETAINED!!!!

If you are spending class time in preparation for the tests, then students are LEARNING (hopefully what is on the test is of value to learn). If the test is testing basic math and you are preparing for the test, the students will be learning basic math ( I am assuming when people talk about “teaching to the test”, they are not talking about CHEATING METHODS).

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
9:05 am

“The Russians defeated the Germans in WW2. Everybody in Europe knows that, and I mean everybody.”

Especially the French, I am sure. We should have just stayed out of WWII, since we did not contribute. Especially all those who stormed the beach at Normandy – you say they did NOTHING! If my dad were alive, I am sure he would have a few choice words to say to you.

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
9:06 am

By the way, Private Citizen, were you one of the people who were spitting on returning draftees from Vietnam? One of them could have been my brother.

Mountain Man

April 10th, 2013
9:10 am

“So we spend boatloads of money & class-time on preparation and administration of these very basic tests. Where is the value in that?”

Before we had testing, teachers would just give their students passing grades, then the high school would just give diplomas away like so much toilet paper, and that is what diplomas became worth – toilet paper. Why do you think the legislature instituted the Georgia High School Graduation Test (which my kids said were a joke, anyone should be able to pass that)? I just can’t figure out WHY THEY DECIDED TO DO AWAY WITH IT!!!

AlreadySheared

April 10th, 2013
9:27 am

Breathtakingly inane:
“Waay young to go onto the public retiree-benefits dole. I don’t mean for teachers where retirement at age 60+/- is the norm, but it translates to 20+/- years of retired living on somebody else’s dime”

Retirement benefits are a form of deferred compensation which are earned through years of work. The author is retiring on his own dime, not someone else’s.

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
9:30 am

MM, You’re a nitwit nationalist and think everything is about you, not unlike Georgians with their “civil war” family. So you think you’re the only person who has veterans in your family? You left out the Korean War, and those soldiers came back with frostbit toes and such and no parade for them. Where do you make the leap telling me how I treat veterans, etc? You really… are being an egotistical cretin, a veritable cartoon of U. S. brainwashing. I dare say you have absolutely no idea of the level to which you have been programmed to express “your” views. Btw, I was pointing out your specific claim and I think it is in service to you. Note word: specific. That’s what people who study the humanities do, MM. they must be specific. They are not allowed to jump from “big topic” to “big topic” in some juvenile catharsis, sticking them all together while blaming other people hara-kari based on presumptions and projections. Hey, Mountain Man, find some little teeny tiny detail and Get Schooled! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12Ald7bXRL0

Private Citizen

April 10th, 2013
9:40 am

Mountain Man, With you being a company man and all, I’m surprised you do not a greater interest in Russian industry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr8N0Z4Cl0U#t=28m15s PS You would probably not want to be sitting in your fishing boat when this thing comes down the bend.

indigo

April 10th, 2013
9:41 am

Private Citizen

You must be one of those fundamentalist home schoolers.

That is the only explanation I can think of that could cause such profound ignorance of Americans fighting and dying in Europe during WWII.