Monday, October 3, 2011

Tailoring an Education Plan to Fit the Student Population

When Chicago's Education Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to add 90 minutes onto the Chicago Public Schools day next year, he was greeted with a lot of skepticism from the Chicago Teachers Union.   Long the impediment of serious reform, the teachers union fired back with a ridiculous proposal to have all Chicago Public Schools have a school day that resembled the school day that the mayor had chosen for his own children at the exclusive private University of Chicago Lab School.

Now, growing up I was fortunate to go to an exclusive private school myself and I can tell you that things like a class size of 15 and a well-stocked school library were very important to us and I believe those sorts of things are very important to children from upper class families.  During their school day they need to develop the critical thinking skills that they need to be future leaders.  Their school day shouldn't extend too far into the afternoon because a long school day would interfere with their myriad after school activities.

However, not all students are from well to do, mostly white families, like the ones at the school I attended.  Many students in Chicago are poor minority students suffering through low teacher expectations in old overcrowded classrooms without libraries.  These students are behind and if we are ever to close the achievement gap, they need to work hard to drill and drill so that through rote memorization they can catch up.

The same type of education does not work for all students and it is a mistake by the Chicago Teachers Union to act like it does.   Fortunately, the people of Chicago can see right through this sort of dodge.

As I read through the letter columns of the article I linked earlier I was glad to see people like Illinoisrez who said:

Reasons NOT to use the CTU model.
1) More art classes.
2) More music classes
4) More lunch and recess.
4) More physical education.
5) Second Language.

The classes suggested by the CTU are worthless to the average CPS student who is falling further and further behind the achievements of private school children.

And best of all he wasn't alone.   Toughlove said, "Please don't confuse cause and effect when talking about "good schools". The Lab School is NOT a good model for CPS "reform." The Lab School's rigorous academic curriculum, while great for high-IQ students, is not appropriate appropriate for the typical low-IQ CPS student and would only aggravate the already high drop-out rate."

Many other Chicagoans came forth to say, "The arts?  You can't handle the arts."   Now in uncharacteristic Chicago newspaper fashion The Sun-Times has followed up on the students who have been lucky enough to have their school day extended this year.  Antonio Smith, a student at Fiske who lengthened their day by the requisite 90 minutes said, "“I think it sucks.  It was more time, but was the same stuff.”

The same stuff?  I know it may be boring, but that my friend is exactly what your brain needs to develop into the type of adult brain that can perform simple tasks and not question superiors--exactly the type of brain that will make you successful.

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