It is not in anyone’s best interests to have students underachieve.

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2008 at 11:15 am

I would love to know to what you are referring. I am a town resident and a teacher in our school system. While it isn’t perfect (what school system/university/company is?)I really do believe (and have seen evidence of- both in my “work” persona and as a parent of a child who does not “excel at academics”)wonderful support opportunities available for struggling students.

It is not in anyone’s best interests to have students underachieve. I believe that my colleagues and I truly do try to get each child to perform to the top of their particular ability, wherever that may lie.

As for the other aspects of a student (other than academic) that’s what our million extra-curricular activities are about! We have a plethora of clubs, sports and other activities to nurture those aspects.

I am curious to know what you could suggest that would improve things. If there is anything that I would think could use improving quite honestly it is how the average student gets educated, challenged and followed up on. I, personally, think that we do quite well at the top levels and at the lower levels. I am enthusiastically awaiting your reply as to what pro-active ideas and suggestions that you may have.

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.

  1. Some get upset because it seems that the most popular topic on this blog is our schools.

    With the lions share of our taxes going to the Ridgewood School District, is it any wonder.

    We spend a hell of a lot of money, over 80 million dollars, in this village to educate some 5200 students.

    There has to be some check and balance to this expenditure. Goodness knows the BOE doesn’t provide it, The Ridgewood News won’t touch it and the Village Council ignores it.

    That leaves the citizens of this village and those who pay attention and post on this blog.

  2. 7:16- I understand and appreciate your comment, but that is not what the original poster was talking about. He/she claims that children who are not academically-inclined (I think those were the exact words, but I may not be remembering correctly) are being under-served. I am simply asking for specifics. As a teacher who cares, I am very curious about this.

  3. 7:44, before you conclude your “I just can’t see what all the fuss is all about” world tour, how about addressing the question as to why (particularly in light of recent events on the national level and clearly adverse results in controlled studies) the reform/constructivist math obsession of Asst. Super. Botsford continues to ravage the grade schools, is rapidly swallowing up the middle schools, and is now poised to contaminate the high school? Tell me truly, in your opinion, does this square with your “we’re doing a good job, really!” belief?

  4. As 9:07 said, the primary issue is the distortion of the curricula to suit a political perspective. The fuzzy math is an attempt to make math more “verbal” so that gender differences can be minimized. Who is served by this? Both genders get a dumbed down notion of mathematics.

    I would concede that verbal concepts can aid in teaching math concepts, but from what I understand the math curriculum has gone well beyond teaching tools to the point where math tests are really test of verbal ability.

    Mathematics is the language of the universe. It hasn’t changed all that much from the time of Newton….until the BOE got its hands on it.

  5. Regina Botsford aka THE RB should be fired!!!!! That would be a huge leap in the right direction.

  6. Why will none of you respond directly to this teacher’s question? Other than firing administrators, what specific suggestions do you have for individual teachers for improving the learning of their students within the system?

  7. Some recent research leads to the apparent conclusion that young boys learn math and reading better from men teachers in the elementary school grades. (For a brief overview of the research, see this link: http://educationalissues.suite101.com/article.cfm/female_vs_male_teachers)

    If we accept this view, we would need to hire 50% male teachers for our elementary schools. This would mean raising salaries by a huge percentage to attract more men – and keep them from moving quickly into administrative positions, where they can earn more. Any opinions?

  8. There are no “specific suggestions… for individual teachers” other than getting rid of the dead wood.

    And there are plenty of teachers who are dead wood. Trust me, I know. I have been told as much by more than one administrator.

    The curriculum is the key to our success and you know it.

    Reform math is a failure and the dumbing down of other core subjects, across the board, is the problem.

  9. Sorry! The full link for 10:29 was cut off. It is:

  10. So then, 10:36, do you suggest that all of the good teachers in Ridgewood start to search for jobs in other districts where the curriculum is stronger? You seem to imply that there is nothing that a good teacher can do in Ridgewood to give his or her students a fine education. No good teacher can work for long in such conditions.

  11. I am not the original poster of the “I’m have a major problem with how Ridgewood treats it’s bottom 20% of it’s students.” comment, but the way I read it was that Ridgewood is not addressing the “vocational needs” of students who are not academically inclined.

    The commenter made statements like… (emphasis is mine)
    “…The school system is always pandering to the top students while at the same time ignoring or trying to ship out the bottom 20% of students who show no academic inclinations…”

    “…What is our school system doing for these otherwise normal kids who just do not excel at academics?”

    “…The demographics of this town represent all walks of life, not just the image that the school system likes to project as being an ivy league prep school town…”.

    “…what are we doing to help our children excel at their God given talents

    I read all this as saying, what do you do for the NON-CLASSIFIED kid who just is not academically inclined?
    How are we educating and preparing the future master mechanics, landscape architects, plumbers, painters, police officers, etc. who may not go on to a traditional college or university?

    For example, are we taking the kid who is not academically inclined but works well with his hands and teaching him the math of how to balance the books and run a business (calculating how to determine how much raw materials to buy and estimate for sales growth or seasonal differences?)
    Are we taking the kid who is good with plants and showing him how to look broader and understand the interrelationships of landscape design?

    I may be WAAAYY of base here, but that is what I read into the original commenter’s question.

    The problem is that we don’t support leveled learning. It is detrimental to the kids but feels good to keep everyone together and kid ourselves that we are grooming them all to be future CEOs.

    I’d love to get some more color on this from the original poster.

  12. I understand what you are saying, 11:53, but juxtapose that with the original, original topic of this thread, which was posters who think the only way to measure our schools is by how many kids take AP tests. So now you’ve got these conflicting arguments — we need to get more kids to take AP classes/tests, yet we need to accommodate “non academically-inclined” students (who clearly don’t want to take AP classes). How do we reconcile these mixed messages?

    It’s interesting…

  13. 9:07 and others-
    This is “the teacher” again. I am not going to comment on the fuzzy math because that didn’t seem to be what the original poster was talking about, nor is it what I am looking to discuss with my questions to him/her. I wanted to know specifically what he/she meant my the comments that he/she made.
    Teachers are always taught to reflect; reflect on this or that lesson, reflect on the past quarter or semester, reflect on the past year…. it all goes to personal and professional growth.
    With this “reflective” bent to my own personality, I would love to hear more about how this town doesn’t serve kids who are not “academically inclined.” One of my own children is interested in the arts, not (GASP!) sports or academics per se. I don’t feel that she has been left behind at all.
    Still awaiting a reply

  14. It is a truism that good teachers don’t allow themselves to be “hemmed in” by a curriculum with obvious shortcomings, but rather naturally begin working to patch up or otherwise supplement deficient curricula to ensure that the needs of each individual student is met.

    That said, consider oxygen-sucking effect of reform/constructivist math programs in schools like Travell in which the teachers, though plenty smart, do not necessarily have sufficient courage to defy Ms. Botsford and Principal Leninger, known devotees of this nonsense?

    Savvy parents are aware that such timid teachers (typically young) are far more likely to “drop the ball” in this regard than more experienced teachers possessing more gravitas or “oomph”. Some of these parents decide that the best reaction to this situation is to do whatever they imagine will help them influence class assignment process in their child’s or childrens’ favor. So it is not uncommon to see parents become extremely deferential to the principal, as well as unflinchingly, unquestioningly supportive of the stated (and unstated) goals of the district.

    In the meantime, individuals like Ms. Botsford and Ms. Leninger, who know all too well the hobbling effect that reform/constructivist math programs is having on our children in terms of preparing them for STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) professions are as committed as ever to the continued, even expanded, use of inferior curricula in our schools.

    Based on the results of the recent BOE election, many parents are sanguine about the current situation, in which annual strokes of the principal’s pen, combined with the particular Ridgewood neighborhood in which you bought your house, can place real limitations on the educational and professional options your child will hold in the future.

    What about grade school or middle school parents who have already gone public with their dissatisfaction with the math curriculum? Do these individuals deserve any sympathy or support? According to some, the answer is no–we should all continue to whistle past the graveyard.

    I’m so tired of people hiding behind requests for “pro-active” ideas and suggestions, when what they are really trying to do is intimidate people into not speaking out.

    The Ridgewood district’s problems with subject matter curricula are bad, and are getting worse quickly. The arguments in favor of change are now quite mature, well-developed, unrefuted by district administrators keen to keep a lid on this debate, and well-supported by recent studies that employ traditional, time-tested scientific methods. Travell is facing another year of TERC/Investigations purgatory at a minimum. What right-thinking parent or taxpayer would consider this an acceptable situation?

  15. Suggestions for improvement…

    Pullout specialists for math, not just reading.
    Changing classrooms for math in 4th and 5th grades wiht tracking.
    Place grammar back into the curriculum.
    Institute a writing program that teaches grammar and report writing, not just creative writing.
    Remove all unnecessary social programs – such as Open Circle – they waste classroom time.

    Is that enought suggestions?

  16. 11:53 AM
    …. WELL SAID !!!!!

    Whats needed are work-study programs to nurish and meet the needs for those who may not go on to a traditional college or university!

  17. 4:15- those are good suggestions, and I actually believe in homogenous grouping contrary to what is done right now…. but I doubt you are the original poster. Those don’t sound like suggestions for someone whose child is not “academically inclined.”

  18. Get rid of 45 minutes of homeroom “Academic Skills” (aka watching TV, playing bingo, Advisory, etc) or actually teach academic skills in that 45 minutes.

  19. It is interesting that someone thinks that the way to improve education is to raise salaries and attract more men.

    Why can’t male teachers work for the same pay as women? This blog rips apart the teachers and schools and then wonders why no one wants to teach.

    Half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years, primarily due to low pay. Maybe if they could afford to teach many would stay.

    A lot of contributers to this blog talk about how education has declined since the good old days when they went to school. Well, in the good old days, ALL of my teachers were women. I had my first male teacher in High School.

    The original poster on this thread asked for constructive input. I think that respect is needed. Parents don’t respect the teachers and the kids sense this. And I don’t want to hear the simple response,”You have to earn it.” When a teacher steps in front of the class, that person should be given the respect that the position deserves.

  20. My third grader does not need “report writing” (status report?) education. If a child learns the basics, the report writing should follow.

  21. 602 its not the money its the awfull unprofessional union that keeps away qualified people

  22. 6:02 AM said “Parents don’t respect the teachers and the kids sense this. And I don’t want to hear the simple response,”You have to earn it.”

    It’s hard to respect a worker who uses a union to set their pay and protect them in that job whether deserved or not. You just can’t have it both ways. That is why they are not considered “professionals.” They are not exposed as individuals to standards and the kind of accountability to which other professionals must adhere.

  23. Person above me has it right. The terms of teachers’ unions are preposterous in terms of the protection they have. Firing a tenured teacher can be impossible at times unless they have truly committed a disgraceful act. They should be subject to the same firing that others are in the job market.

    In addition, as a Ridgewood High School student i can personally say that some of the teachers are absolute jokes. Yes, there are many good teachers, but there are some TENURED “professionals” who don’t deserve a penny for the work they do in the classroom.

    There should be higher standards set for the teachers in our school system, and the principals shouldn’t lie to the people, like when Mr. Lorenz writes a letter home informing everyone that the new exam schedule will be continued for finals since everyone liked it, while NO ONE liked the new schedule. In fact, most of the population, students and teachers alike, despised the new schedule.

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