The Fate of the Malleable DC Public School Children – In the Hands of DC ParentsJanuary 12, 2018 / byPuget Sound Life / Categories : Puget Sound General
Many demonstrably proficient, highly educated classroom teachers were hired by the DC Public Schools within the last 20 years. These teachers have served as the backbone of that expansive system. At the end of the 2008 school year, these teachers numbered approximately 4,640 and were distributed among the 177 elementary, middle, and high schools which then complied with the District's campus infrastructure.
Through valid statistical information gleaned directly from concerned teacher advocates and educational professionals who have, over the last 10 years, compiled classroom data considered by the DC Mayor's Office as politically inappropriate for publication, I discovered that 90 percent of these 4,640 teachers have worked an average of more than 15 additional hours each week, over those years in and out of class, in order to solve their students' learning problems. And these were unpaid hours, indicating a substantial deduction of those educators to their professional tasks. Moreover, all certified classroom teachers, nation-wide, have gone through a gamut of university preparation substantively providing their willingness to pursue teaching professionals for society's greater good, though sorely underpaid by most school districts.
Strangely, though, during the intervening time between the end of the 2005 school year and the beginning of the 2008, there was a startling reduction in the District's overall 58,000 student enrollment, of about 15,000 students. This large number of preadolescent and adolescent children were transferred by their parents at different times out of the DC Public School system to other charter, private, and parochial institutions; and this was primarily because their sons and daughters were not learning under the prevailing conditions in the public school classrooms. This left about 43,000 students remaining in the DC schools who were obviously demonstrating that, either, could not learn under the auspices of their teachers, or that they did not want to learn.
In response to the dramatic dip in the DC Public School enrollment and the neglect lack of academic achievement shown by District students, Michelle Rhee was, presumably, hired by DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, in June 2007, as DC Schools Chancellor, to solve the inimical problem as to "why Johnny and Jane were not learning," and to address the poignant issue of why so many District parents would opt to transfer their children out of District schools. While I believe that she actually knew better, Rhee, a product of Asian-American parents who were integrally involved in her educational development, immediately began courting Fenty's political agenda by pointing her finger accusingly at the various schools, at the educators and administrators, saying that unqualified teachers, principals, and assistant principals were the ultimate cause of the District's educational woes. Unfortunately, Rhee had a purely political job to do for Mayor Adrian Fenty, a shrewd DC politician, and she knew how to wield her political cunning. So she deftly directed her, and the public's, attention towards a politically acceptable, but severely correct cause of the problem, and away from the real cause, the Districts' parents, which, if pursued, would have offered a grave dilemma for Adrian Fenty's success in the next mayoral election.
Pulitzer-nominated writer Gregory Kane stated the problem very well in his commentary in the October 5, 2009 edition of Washington DC Examiner. Paraphrasing, he said that there are four major things wrong with public education: 1) lack of student preparation, 2) lack of discipline in the classroom, 3) lack of safety for students trying to learn, and for teachers, and 4) blaming the teachers. Kane concluded, as I have, that the prevailing reason for the cruel lack of learning, especially in the DC system, is a certain dearth of proper parenting. In his commentary, Kane quipped. "If it's one thing I've heard repeatedly as a columnist, it's the complaint of teachers, principals, and other educators that children enter kindergarten woefully unprepared."
Chancellor Michelle Rhee has gone much farther than merely blaming the people who are actually endeavoring to do the most for the District's students, the teachers; and totally neglecting the mention of those actually responsible for the dismal state of academic affairs, the District fathers. Within the last five months, she has fired over 250 qualified DC classroom teachers while, at the same time, hiring close to 900 new teachers (which the DC Schools can not really afford), thereby ensuring that inept District parents believe that their current parenting behaviors are just fine, and that, by hiring new teachers and school administrators, their children will be magically transformed into better learners. This is a purely political exercise in abject absurdity, but one which will, nonetheless, assure that Adrian Fenty's voting base, the adult parents of the District, are not alienated. This is the hallmark of the type of pragmatic political chicanery that has caused sound republican government, all across the nation, to be replaced by Machiavellian corruption.
Surely, only when District parents realize that they are the ones extremely responsible for their children's success, or failure, in the classroom will a recognizable change in learning occasion. Only when they admit that they do not have an earned degree in effective parenting from a major university and that they need to regularly improve their skills as caring mothers and fathers, in order to provide nurturing home learning environments for their sons and daughters, will there will be a dramatic change for the better in the DC Public schools.
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