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Friday, August 24, 2007

Article in P-I

Hello

This article was in the P-I this morning. I just have to say that this is a huge problem. I am a member of the Transition Math Project ans we are working very had to align what we teach in high school to what the colleges need to students to know when they enter as Freshman. I found the statement from Ms. Whitney to be very telling.

From the article: Whitney, 19, had a hard time in high school, attending three different public schools in Seattle before graduating last year.
When she enrolled at Seattle Central last fall, she was placed in a beginning math course. She admits that she didn't take her studies very seriously in high school, but now she is trying to learn something at the community college.

There are too many students who share the same attitude that Ms. Whintey had in high school. I don't know why this is, but too many students get to high school and for whatever reason don't have the desire or work ethic or understand why education is important. It is one of the biggest battles I face.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/328864_math24.html

5 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael, I share your concern. I don't get it either. I don't get how, in 2007, that kids don't understand there is no real future for them without a high school diploma and, if they do want to go onto college, that they can make it there if they skated by in high school.

Is it parents? Are they too busy to make sure homework is getting done? Too tired to argue one more time about turning off the computer/tv/video games and getting down to work? Is the math too confusing for them to help their student with?

Is it the bling-bling lifestyle of movie stars, recording artists and athletes? (On the one hand, you do have to work really hard at those jobs to be successful - kids just don't realize it - but on the other hand a lot of these people make it look smart to be dumb.)

I certainly don't blame teachers. I can only say that maybe kids need to be taught in grade school how math/science have real relevance in their everyday lives. Maybe that would show them how necessary it is to have math skills as adults. Look at the current worry over failing mortgages; is it a function of our failure to teach basic math so that people understand what they are signing when they make the biggest purchase of their lives?

Anonymous said...

It is parents fault. Parents that do not value education or care enough to teach their kids to value education.

Most of us that post on this blog surround ourselves with people just like us. People who care about and value education. People who insist that their kids graduate from high school and move on to higher education. Most of us MAKE the time to help with homework, get tutors, whatever it takes.

There is another whole world out there though. One where parents could care less. One where parents think it better for there 17 year old to work than to attend school. One where the parents are so strung out on their drug of choice that they don't know where or what their kids are doing. One where kids think selling dope is the fast road to financial bliss and don't have mentors or parents to teach them any different.

Seattle is sooooo PC that we sometimes can't bring ourselves to face the facts, and make so many excuses as to how, why??? Where did we go wrong?? What can the district do better??? All great questions to ask, but you have to recognize that some things are just the way they are.

Jet City mom said...

About nine years ago, I was a college advisor at a Seattle Community college for several years. I regularly advised students, who were planning to receive an AA certificate in order to transfer to a 4 year university. This was a great way for many of them to save money & it was before the UW had said that it didn't have space for many of these students.

CCs unlike some schools, have their own placement tests. It doesn't matter that you took pre-calc at Franklin and got an A or took AP Statistics at West Seattle and got a 3 on the AP exam. You have to take the Seattle community college systems placement test for English and for mathematics.

I can't tell you how many students I had to console when they placed into below college level math, despite having a 3.50 GPA & even though they had taken high school math for four years.

For the most part these were bright students- and I had the impression they worked hard in high school and from their transcripts had taken appropriate college prep classes, however, there wasn't anything I could do except advise them to retake the test- or take the individualized math class that allows you to work at your own pace & perhaps they could go through the material faster than if they had to take the courses at the pace of a regular class.

Anonymous said...

In response to Classof75,

As a new teacher, I get in a LOT of trouble with other math teachers when I say that there should be uniform tests to get out of 1st year math, and 2nd year math ... because the rich and affluent kids have a test, it is called the SAT.

When you get teachers to be candid, like when the doors are closed, they resist these tests because they so completely distrust administrators to use any measurements to figure out realistic solutions - measurements are typically used to assign blame, and the blame is on the underlings who are trying to do the best they can with not much in support, other than platitudes.

If we do not change this dynamic, our country is going to end up like Nigeria or Brazil.

Bob Murphy
(speaking as a taxpayer, citizen and voter. NOT as a representative of any school, union, district, department ... ANYONE!)

Jet City mom said...

As a new teacher, I get in a LOT of trouble with other math teachers when I say that there should be uniform tests to get out of 1st year math, and 2nd year math ... because the rich and affluent kids have a test, it is called the SAT.

Rich and affluent kids also often have parents that run tutoring sessions on the weekends to make up the gaps from what the kids aren't learning in class or hire tutors to do so.

Other kids don't have the preparation- they have curriculum that pushes fractions and long division things that used to be learned in grammar school, into middle school & every thing is a story problem.

The tests at the community college- from what I remember, aren't "new- new" math, they are pretty old school. No story problems.
No getting extra credit if you feel good about what you know.


I would agree that all the weight shouldn't be on the teachers to find a curriculum that works- but every day students can read the paper about a sports figure who cheated and is making big dough, or even a local principal or teacher, who cheated/hurt the school or students, and was paid to leave the district, or still has their job with few repercussions.

So when we ask" where do kids learn that they don't have to work hard?"
We should look in the mirror.