Sunday, November 05, 2006
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.