As one of the people that “fell through the cracks” in the education system, I can relate to how Jeff Bliss feels about the education he is getting from teachers.
Our Education system is severely broken and needs to be fixed! No longer are students educated to provide them with a means to grow a career, students in public education, are taught everything they need to pass a test. A test upon which an overall grade is given to schools and districts. Better scores mean bigger budget for those schools and districts.
When I was in High School, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) was the test we were trained to pass, and in 2004, a year after I graduated High School the Vancouver School District required passing the test Sophomore year in order to Graduate. From my understanding, that was cut pretty quick after low Graduation numbers.
During the course of my schooling (1990-2003) I can remember taking 3 or 4 WASL tests. I remember taking a test in 4th, 7th and 10th Grades.
I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) my Sophomore year in high school, and was taking a medication through my Senior year. I always had trouble learning in school because I would get bored easily, and when I was in 1st Grade it became clear to me I had issues learning. I can remember being given a math work sheet and just crying because none of it made sense and I couldn’t work out the problems. The teacher never made it back to me (Last name starts with W, we were seated alphabetically) and I was never given a chance to understand the work. This trend continued for as long as I can remember.
I had a few teachers during this time that realized I had fallen through the cracks and did their very best to help me, one teacher at Discovery Middle School when I was in 6th Grade, Mr. Joseph Balin (who now works at Hudson’s Bay) even took his own personal time to come to my house and help me with my homework! THAT is dedication to a student. He obviously couldn’t do this very often but I remember on a couple of occasions, he would help me with my work. The other teacher that really helped me, was Mr. Burpee who now works at Battle Ground High School as a math teacher. I had him for Math my Junior year (unsure if I had sophomore year too) and he really took the time to make sure I understand what was being taught and I actually started “getting” it and being able to pull a B in Pre-Algebra. Sadly because of my hectic Senior year, I was unable to continue taking math my Senior year, He really wanted me in his Algebra class my Senior year, even saying so directly to me.
I’ve certainly had a few teachers who could really care less about the students and are there to simply collect a paycheck and fill a seat. I have really mixed feelings about Mike Goodpastor who taught my U.S. History class Junior year. I have to admit I did learn a lot from his class, but there were many things I learned after High School that I was shocked weren’t taught in his class. For instance, he was (and probably still is) super against unions (even though he’s part of one…). After my graduation, I learned about Bloody Thursday which was between Longshoremen and San Francisco Police. There was one day, our whole class was listening to “In a Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly.. Good song, but NOT something that fills an entire class period.
Education shouldn’t be something that is taught strictly to garner a better budget or at the discretion of the teacher. Anymore, High School is more like an advanced day care! It wasn’t made aware to me during my time in High School that places like the Clark County Skills Center existed, or that my credits even mattered. From 1st Grade through 8th Grade, I was under the impression if you just showed up to school and played along with what the teacher was teaching, you’d just move on to the next year of schooling.
So when I got to High School, I was under the impression that none of it mattered. That is until I got to my Sophomore year and my counselor pulled me aside and explained that if I didn’t start passing classes I wouldn’t graduate. Realizing I was in deep shit, I didn’t take any time off from school, buckled down and made up 2 years while keeping grades up for the last two years of High School. Doing 4 years of work in only 2, including two summers of summer school, night school and taking an online class. I found out I was Graduating just days prior to Graduation, when all the seniors were doing our practice walks into the gym and rehearsing everything. I maintained a B or better Junior and Senior year.
Our whole education system needs to be revamped, there needs to be more interactive education, more hands on, more information openly available to students. Being a low income student, I was always given the impression I couldn’t take part in things because I was one of “those” students. Looking back, there were so many things I would have loved to take part in.
Sorry for the long drawn out post.
Thanks for reading!