Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Give the Children what they Need
Needs should trump Wants

The following is written by Charles R. Hoff former school director in Federal Way.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend my 50th year high school reunion. About half of our class was in attendance, and there were still some who I could recognize without a name tag!

Also in attendance was my high school Latin teacher who began teaching in 1947 and quit in 1970 “when discipline became an issue!” One has to wonder if she thought “discipline” was an issue in 1970 what she would think of today’s students!

There were several other members of my class who had been in educational systems, mostly in the East, who also echoed my Latin teacher’s observations.

While back East I also had the opportunity to visit with a former teacher colleague who spent his entire career teaching mathematics at one of Newsweek’s best rated high schools. He retired in 1994 and his comments on his students, AP Calculus, were very similar to my high school Latin teacher’s! Based upon these observations we are looking at a decline in classroom decorum from 1947 to 1994, or 47 years!

How much worse can it get? From 1994 to the present we have seen countless examples of what used to be considered inappropriate conduct by our youth and, in some cases, parents.. In the Federal Way district one student, caught in an illegal act was disciplined for this, this student’s parent’s promptly appealed the case to the School Board who upheld the punishment. The parents immediately took the student to Hawaii to serve out the suspension and took time to write the school a postcard extolling the life on the beach!

My friend, the Calculus teacher, suggests that all of this as came about due to “parents’ infatuation with their children.” Perhaps he has something there. In the 50’s, for sure, any discipline meted out by the school would be “refreshed” when the child came home. In fact many kids dreaded arriving at home far more than being at school.

Today’s parents are almost always defending their children, even when they have to know that their child’s behavior was inappropriate.

We have come to the age of “accommodation” in education where the preferences of the child, immature as they may be, take precedence over the wisdom and common sense of adults. In the past year a national poll found that parents’ top priority in a school was that their children be “satisfied.’

It would be much easier to “satisfy” kids in school with a mixture of Disney and action movies, than with Trigonometry and Algebra.

In one of our local papers there was an article about increasing achievement in some of our minorities. In this article it was suggested that “some minorities learn differently.” The facts may dispute this and certainly “Brown vs Topeka Board of Education” established that “separate but equal” was not the law of the land. However, educators are supposed to “accommodate” different styles of learning?

Just how many “styles of learning” are there to be accommodated to? Or could this be a very convenient excuse for simply not applying oneself? Could this be that the adults in this child’s life have not told the child the “secret” that learning is hard work, and they need to buckle down to this or the consequences will be very significant?

Are there a group of parents who would not want to destroy their children’s happiness with such a harsh discussion? I think so. How often have you seen a child who comes from a well educated family not follow this path? How often has this been attributed to an unstructured childhood where consequences were never an issue?

In most of the countries which have overtaken us in education, this infatuation with children has not overtaken common sense about youth and the regulation of their choices. In those countries the idea of children being “satisfied” with their schools probably isn’t a topic for discussion.

Will we ever wake up to the damage this is causing our children and our

The Washington League of Educational Voters has posted the following facts:

“We’re behind as a state and our kids are paying the price:

* Only 41% of high school graduates meet college entrance requirements in Washington.
* More than 40% of students need to take remedial classes in college.
* More than half of firms surveyed reported difficulty finding qualified job applicants in Washington.

Could this be because children got ....
the education that they “wanted”
rather than the education that they “needed?”

by C.R. Hoff


Anonymous said...

Ignores curriculum and pins the blame on students and parents. My lofty friend, the AP calculas teacher, a horse's asse would be more suitable a target. How awful that he should get a child infected by a pestilence like parent infatuation. Argumentum ad baculum.

Written like some fool ostrich named Plucky.

Anonymous said...

Defend dishonesty by attacking parents and children. Makes sense to me. Go get 'em Tomas de la Tigris.

Anonymous said...

Made such a point of kissing his point, he got his head stuck up inside it. Must have been a former social studies teacher, before he turned pro.

Anonymous said...

Federal Way School District restricted the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's documentary on global warming, requiring that if it is shown it must be accompanied by an opposing viewpoint.

School board members invoked a district policy which requires teaching of 'controversial' materials to present both sides on an argument.

Why am I not surprised?
Its got to be the parents, it can't be us - that's why you're a former board member. Jeesh.

Miseret ista indignatus sum qu!

Anonymous said...

Laurie David, a co-producer of the movie, said that this is the first incident of its kind relating to the film.

"I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision," David said in a prepared statement. "There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now."

Leave it to Federal Way to find controversy where there is none. District really missed the boat on that one. Proves lawyers are not all that clever (or bright).

If you want to believe the Earth is 14,000 years old - go right ahead - just stay home, cuz nobody misses you.

Anonymous said...

Federal way says UW proves didactic calculas is really a cereal lovers breakfast. Lots of tender flakiness.

Anonymous said...

This gets even more exciting-

Can you imagine a ban on powerpoint presentations!

Board not getting enough email?

Because, you see, they’re idiots enough to wade into the crocodile-infested bloggers by “putting a moratorium” on An Inconvenient Truth.

Yeah, this will end well. Real well. I give them 48 hours before the backtracking is in full force.

The money quote, though, comes from the parent pitching the anti-Gore hissy fit, young earther Frosty Hardison. (Who, incidentally, is the reason the Fed Way City Council has a ban on Powerpoint presentations.)

“The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. … The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.“

Um, the movie’s all about GLOBAL WARMING. That not hot enough for you?

Anonymous said...

When the issue is about idiots, its very easy to have a balanced approach and look at all possible points of view. Even an idiot begins to sound rational. Case in point - reform math.

On the count of three, we all tap our pencils together (that's how we do math, isn't that a hoot - lets give UW Applied Math department a banana for their insight into what works for math textbooks, maybe they want to teach their students addition facts.)

Anonymous said...

How does CH propose we identify the best high schools in WA?

"Sadly none of them are in FW, but five are in Bellevue [of course]"

1. Use Newsweek
2. Use the UW (scale 2-4)

And why would we want to know? Ans: So we can be just like them.

You really have a point there Mr. Hoff - I'll be sure to let Trigger know you've been made resident troll.

Anonymous said...

How about naming a middle school?

Isn't there more than one Native American living in Washington?

Even SPU likes FWSD? Here's a childish report published by WSRC showing the characteristics of a district that supports reform.

Typical District Office -vs-
Re-Cultured District Office

Less understanding of school reform vs.
Greater understanding of school reform

Less commitment to school reform vs,
Greater commitment to school reform

Lack of support for WASL vs.
More support for WASL

Inadequate performance is school problem vs.
Inadequate performance is our problem

Top down decision-making model vs, Collaborative decision-making model

Directive leadership model vs. Distributed leadership

Adversarial relationship with union vs.
Collaborative relationship with union

“We / Them” orientation vs, “All of us together” orientation

Close supervision/ lack of trust vs, Empowered supervision/ trust

Limited communication vs,
Open/ collaborative communication

And I could also list for you the 14 characteristics of a fascist organization and OSPI and its thick-headed revisionists would meet the requirements for all of them.

Like watching children that can't grasp how the world functions.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anon of 10 posts -

In my first year of teaching I was a teacher at Thomas Jefferson High in Federal Way, and I had 3 periods of Algebra II in their International Baccalaureate program. I hadn't been in high school in 25+ years.

I was hung out to dry by a few dozen whiny parents 'supporting' students without the skills to be in that class and without the work ethic to do the work needed to compete.

As I learned over the course of the year, all sections of the Glencoe text needed a lot of scaffolding because the 'students' had been passed from grade to grade with fabulous grades, or the teachers got in trouble!

These 'students' rarely took notes, spent a great deal of class NOT doing math, and rarely did homework on time, all of which was MY fault!!

Fortuneately for their efforts at failure, they have advocates like you and spineless administrators in the Federal Way School District supporting their bad work habits.

Unfortuneately for those adolescents making bad decisions as adolescents, there are the standardized tests like the SAT, ACT and AP Calculus, and after those tests those 'students' are not going to be able to compete against students in other schools, districts, states or countries for seats at the best schools.

In a VERY competitive job market that is VERY unforgiving, they are NOT going to have a clue about what it takes to stay even, never mind excel.

Mr. Hoff has put his comments in public with his name, and Mr. Dempsey puts his name on this blog.

WHO ARE YOU? Other than some cheap shot wannabe 'artist' hiding behind anonymous?

My name is Bob Murphy.

Anonymous said...

So is the point that parents and students are not satisfied with their education or that you are not satisfied with your students?

Anonymous said...

What else would the FWSB like to ban?

Flip flops from the dress code and Balzac and the Little Seamstress.

I'll be sure to cover my ankles...

Anonymous said...

If you were going to be competitive, why would you be using Glencoe in an IB program. Why not use something that works or better yet, something that IB recommends.

If SB's want to be a cut above the rest, why not adopt Singapore, instead of listening to a Bellevue goat herder selling snake perfume, like Core Plus.

So answer me this- Is banning flip flops an effective way to run a district?

Anonymous said...

I thought IB teachers were supposed to get training first?

Don't schools in Washington do that or do they just make up rules as they go and hope no one notices how backward their school systems really are...

I thought WASL was a Norwegian drink. But now I learn its a drunkard's test. Textbooks get measured by what proof they are. OSPI claims the higher the proof the higher your test score.

Anonymous said...

Does FW really have an IB program or do they just call it one?

Anonymous said...

Who was Attorney General? Gregoire

Give the children what they need?
A grant that proposes how we should communicate with God?

Fascinating story of Washington State Educational Reform

first grant I read in its entirety was titled “Possibilities Schools: Linking Educational
Reform with Educational Technology.” The OSPI was awarded 2.7 million dollars by
the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Bergeson is listed as the Project Director and Dr.
Shirley McCune is listed as the Project Manager."

Anonymous said...

I counted four grants for slightly over $13 million dollars that went to fund Project Unity and .... So how many schools actually got funded, how many teachers participated, and what was left over? Where did all that money go?
Why hasn't it been publicly disclosed?

Anonymous said...

Just to design an educational model using his ideas - OSPI paid Carkhuff over $1 million or about 8% of what they received in grant money.

I think Nancy Vernon has done an exceptional job researching this work - this was not an easy task.

His ideas about minorities and children with disabilities are unique and controversial - so applying this model to a grant that aims to raise the achievement level of minorities is a bit facetious.

“One is a retarding culture [African American] and ultimately produces socially and
intellectually retarded people. The other [White] is a facilitative culture and
continuously generates socially and intellectually facilitative people” (Freedom
Doctrine, Carkhuff et. al., 2003, p.235)

Anonymous said...

Give children what they Need....

RE: "Possibilities" school grant OSPI noted on the cover sheet that the student population benefiting from the project was 2 million, and the teacher population was 100,000

Assuming Project Unity was the outcome of this grant. I can't see any other possibility. 4 years and 100 "possibilities" schools with $8000 per year maximum applied for makes $3.2 million spent on schools.

Schools were even asked to match the state and federal funding with 30% local funds.

So I suppose that leaves about $10 million in administrative overhead from 1997-2001. Did 2 million children and 100,000 teachers benefit?

This was spent on a unproven model used in psychiatric research, not professional staff development (LINKS - ongoing and separate funding) and definitely not for community outreach (Possibilities Schools 1997-2001)