Tuesday, March 23, 2010
What if some kids can't be taught?
There have been lots of stories recently about terrible schools and terrible students. First, we have a school in Missouri that closed HALF of its public schools. Then a story about the so-called "Worst school in the nation," in Central Falls, Rhode Island, that closed because fifty percent of its students failed EVERY CLASS.
Let that sink in a second. All F's. Half the student body got all F's.
OK, now I know Central Falls - it is an economically depressed area in Rhode Island with a very high Hispanic population. High unemployment (10%+), poor public works and terrible public transportation. Obviously, neither the kids nor the school are sitting on mountains of cash.
But still, if half your students are failing, the problem most likely extends beyond the students to the community, the economy, the family, and probably the underpaid and maybe underqualified teachers as well.
But forget about that for a second. If I was a lawmaker and looking at a school where half the students were failing every class, I might think that the kids and the school were both hopeless.
Even if you take into the account of the difficult factors of poverty that impact a child's education - lack of food, occasional homelessness, domestic violence, lack of school supplies, working after-school jobs until midnight on a school night - the fact still remains the students haven't learned much of anything, at least in classic educational sense. The money spent trying to educate them has essentially been wasted - if the goal in educating someone is for them NOT to get F's, and they get all F's, haven't you literally failed to educate them? Or, by the same token, haven't they failed to receive an education?
So what do you do with this population, where higher education is impossible and minimal wage the expected norm? Obviously both poor and rich people have the biological ability to learn, but nature is practically moot in these circumstances.
Yes, everyone deserves an education in this country, but what if some people just can't be taught?