And fed up!
I can’t believe the status of our southern school systems. Maybe it’s just Florida. Or maybe it’s just northeast Florida. I don’t know, but I scratch my head at some of the decisions being made in the districts I live near. Overflowing classes, excessive testing, and underfunded budgets leave even the most experienced teachers wondering if they want to continue in this profession and students floundering to become prepared for the future.
First off, I need someone to tell me how high school students can learn in classrooms that have sixty to ninety students enrolled. Yes, Florida voted a decade ago to cap the number of students in classrooms, but that only affected core academic classes like English or certain math classes. Elective classes, such as art or Spanish, don’t fall under the class size amendment cap. And school systems are taking advantage of that loophole. They’re packing the kids in like toilet paper in a training bra.
Students aren’t learning in that type of environment. Or rather, they’re not learning art, or Spanish, or Information Technology. They may be learning how to play the system, for surely if the school district has created this mess then it’s not the students’ fault that they can’t learn the value of shading in drawing, or hablar Espanol, or how to create a document in Publisher. They may be learning how to slide by and blame the system for an inadequate education.
And who would blame them? They’re living it.
Then there’s the never-ending testing that promises data to help improve teaching, except it’s interrupting the teaching it’s supposed to be reporting on! A student can’t learn to love a subject when the majority of the exposure to that subject is an assessment to see if he’s mastering any of the subject matter he hasn’t been taught due to excessive class size.
Forget the fact that many state and district tests are given on computer (which schools don’t have enough of), or that because of baseline testing in the first weeks of school students and teachers lost precious learning time needed to cover the first quarter standards that are going to be assessed on the next round of testing just six weeks away. Students and teachers alike are test-weary! They’re tired of standardized tests that pigeonhole children and stress out teachers.
And if overcrowding and over-assessing doesn’t destroy the morale of a school, then the lack of funds needed to hire teachers and to supply basic needs will. Some nearby schools saw an attendance jump of 400 students, but though it’s already eight weeks into the school year, those schools are just now hiring teachers to alleviate the overcrowding. A whole quarter of the school year meant for learning may have been lost; time that students and teachers will never get back again.
Promises made to streamline and limit testing, to cut unnecessary spending to return funds to the classrooms, and to return autonomy to the teachers have been broken along with the spirits of the school systems’ stakeholders and the trust in public education.