Sunday, November 05, 2006

Unbelievable













Hawaii is as beautiful as the pictures, though I've been a bit disappointed by the urban sprawl that is Oahu. Our side of the island (the Western coast) is less congested, but it's still suburbia. I don't know many people, though who can claim a work commute as beautiful as mine and Courtney's. To our left along nearly the entire 10 miles of our drive to work is the Pacific Ocean. The colors through my polarized sunglasses are unbelievable. The 4 varying hues of ocean blue contrast spectacularly with the green of the palm trees. It reminds me of southern France, with the yellows and oranges of the Mediterranean architecture against the azure blue of the Provencal sky.

Teaching isn't quite as rosy as the landscape, though the daily grind is equally as ... shall we say, unbelievable. My kids are awesome - I teach language arts to two classes of 14. They seem to have a perfect combination of maturity and childhood innocence. Their maturity has been formed from the realities of their everyday life - many are adopted, live with relatives or have a dad in prison. As I learn more and more about their life experiences, my disbelief grows.

Even more unbelievable is the gross mismanagement of their education. My school is in constant search of a "quick-fix" that will turn around their failing scores. Thirty percent of my kids scored proficient on last year's standardized test. Seven percent of our school's fifth graders can claim the same. There's bound to be a program out there that can fix it all, though, so we try a new one every couple of months. One storage room on campus looks like a program graveyard, with boxes of materials lining the walls. Hey, at least the publishing and educational services companies are profiting - we're spending $250,000 on programs and consultants this year alone.

Did you know that we spend roughly $115,000 on each public school student in the US, over the course of a K-12 education? I'm by no means qualified to say this, but from my observations at this point it's less a money issue, and more a management issue. Money like that with results like the ones at my school are not sustainable. Something has to be done.

9 comments:

Alice said...

Jacob! You are having an awesome experience! I'm really happy for you... by the way, I liked the reference to Provencal skies. You should publish!! Enjoy your time! aloha- Alice

Marvin Owen said...

Jake, good idea to start a blog. It's a good way to communicate with a group that shares similiar interest. The hard part is keeping it fresh with new content. Good luck and say hello to Courtney.

LSULiv said...

Jake-
I kept a blog when I was in Korea. It was a great way to keep in touch when you didn't have time for individual emails.
Your writing is excellent, to boot! I'm quite proud of the results of the Manship School. I've forwarded your link to a friend of mine who did TFA in Franklin, La. and is now here in Hawaii as well. I'll try to keep up with your updates!
~Olivia

riverjack said...

Great to see you out in the blogosphere, bro! I'm excited about hearing your thoughts and life and you get into posting. I agree that education is a management problem at this point, but I think there's a cultural issue at work here as well. Some of out best and brightest should be coming out of schools attracted to teaching as a career and that just doesn't happen anymore. I think our loss of respect for education and teachers has resulted in a lack of quality teachers...and so the cycle continues. I'm sure you don't need me to lecture on you on problems in the school system, though!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Alice you need to get started and publish some of your writtings. They are most enjoyable and vivid. Give Courtney my love and keep writting when ever you can.

Gwen

Connie said...

Jacob, You are right about it not being about the money- I recently switched over to a private Catholic school- a small, humble school with little extra money for all the "bells and whistles" public schools must have. My first graders are so much further advanced than some of my fifth grade students from my public school classroom. What we need is to bring back small community schools, we need to untie the hands of teachers, stop all the endless piles of paperwork, and let teachers teach! Its not so much about the "quality" of a teacher so much as her ability to do what needs to be done so that the kids learn! I think someone lost sight of that in the school systems... ( sigh, deep breath... sorry for the large run on sentence... hope you have a great time in Hawaii)

Adam Kealoha Causey said...

First, I'm glad you are enjoying the beauty but noticing the sad part about O'ahu, too. That's really hard for me to see, too. I mean, I think Webster Parish is more pristine, sometimes.

Second, thanks for the post on Link222!

Anonymous said...

: ) thanks jacob for being a doer and a writer :)
~ Renee

Klara said...

Hey Jake, remember me? (-;
As far as I remember your emails from France, this new blog will become awesome for sure!
I started one myself, but I haven't really put anything in there besides pictures -anyways, if you want to check it out: klara-in-berlin.blogspot.com !
How I'd love to go to Hawaii sometime, the island and especially the waves must be incroyable! ~~~~~~
Enjoy, I keep my fingers crossed for you and your school kids!
Klara*