As a parent of a second-grade student in District 25, I have observed some disturbing trends over the last several years in schools citywide and in the school my daughter goes to. Our wonderful, veteran teachers are being forced into early retirement by abusive administrators.
These teachers were such an asset to our schools. With their educational expertise and experience, they were often the teachers you turned to for educational advice. Many of our schools are now filled with inept and inexperienced principals, many from the Leadership Academy, and novice teachers who are not lasting more than a few years. The turnover rate for principals and teachers is alarming and detrimental to our schools.
In addition, there is the widespread use of a balanced literacy reading and writing curriculum known as “Teachers College” and a fuzzy math program known as “Everyday Mathematics.” At best, the programs are lacking in many ways and need to be supplemented with other programs because of their deficiencies. My daughter spends the majority of her day working with a partner, reading on her own or sitting in the meeting area just listening to her teacher.
Little, if any, content is taught. Hallway bulletin boards are loaded with “Published Works” which contain misspellings, incorrect grammar and incorrect punctuation. Phonics and grammar instruction are frowned upon and teachers are even punished by these new principals. It does not get any better in the upper grades and I have learned that proponents of balanced literacy believe that focusing on those things stifles creativity.
But how can you be a successful writer when you have not mastered basic writing skills? Math experts from all over the country have analyzed the Everyday Mathematics program and have said that the program is so lacking that it should never be used in elementary schools because it does not prepare students for higher math. But administrators are prepared to tell parents that it is a “spiraling” program and if your child does not master a skill the first time, they will master it next time. And if your child has any difficulty, they can just reach for a calculator.
Math professors argue that these are poor methods of teaching basic math skills and which leave kids behind. After some careful research, it became clear to me that the city department of Education made the wrong move with these programs. Why did the DOE implement unproven, not research-based, highly controversial programs when there were so many wonderful, research-based programs already in place?
Parents should speak with the principals and demand they remove these terrible programs from their child’s school. Many principals know the harm of these programs but keep them because it is cost-effective to do so. Some parents in the district have been successful having these two programs removed from their schools. It is time they are removed from all schools.