An astute reader asked me how I can draw a line of congruence between how a student is treated in public school and child abuse. The reader maintained this needed to be explained and clearly spelled out. Hence, this is the explanation as to how and why K-12 is abusing children by lowering standards, while not teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Most American children, without Head Start programs, will be in school from age 6 to age 18. Twelve years to master the basics of society, the history of their country and state, understand a social order exists outside the home, learn to read, write, speak, think, and perform to an academic standard. Each child has but a single chance at K-12 education, and when a public school spends valuable time on topics of less value in place of reading, writing, and arithmetic, that student’s time is wasted and their potential is hindered, hampered, and harmed.
I was talking to some Albuquerque Public School (APS) parents and senior and junior level high school students about the quality of education they are either receiving or witnessing in APS classrooms. Here are some examples and how these examples are child abuse:
- I heard stories about verbal assignments where the student memorized a standard response in the APS classroom, and this standard response was acceptable for participating in the classroom discussions.
- Classroom participation is where a teacher gains evidence that the material presented not only makes sense but that the student can then apply the material in a variety of ways and means. Verbal memorization is a useful skill, but memorization does not equate to participation, nor does memorization reflect critical thinking skills where materials are applied.
- I still remember the work I put into memorizing a poem for a school assignment a poem recitation contest. The classroom assignment, memorize a multi-stanza poem, and the classroom grade was not dependent upon the performance in the poetic competition. Memorizing a multi-stanza poem took me weeks, lots of heavy mental lifting, and tons of effort. I took fourth in the contest for sixth-grade students, out four participating. I spent too much time memorizing and not enough time speaking the poem to improve delivery. These are “other” lessons learned in a school environment.
- Memorizing a set classroom response for “participation” points is the epitome of mental abuse and a waste of a student’s time. Wasting valuable classroom time is an indirect method of abusing the student. Consider a student is in a classroom for 50-minutes, with a 10-minute break to move to the next class. If that teacher does not maximize the learning time, all those attending that class are harmed, because their time was wasted.
- I saw my first R-rated movie in school, not about an educational topic, but the teacher thought it was a good movie and obtained permission for us to view the film in multiple consecutive classes, and then we “discussed” the film to complete the assignment. I don’t remember the name of the movie, but I remember being bored out of my skull during these three weeks and still wonder why we had to participate in this lesson.
- I heard about verbal book reports because the APS teacher does not have the time to grade written book reports.
- Verbal book reports do not require critical thinking to produce, nor does an oral report reflect a deep understanding of the material, or be scored upon an objective non-biased scoring system. From experience, I know how to bluff a verbal book report; you read the back flap and pull a couple of cool quotes, and an improv speech is easily assembled. I learned how to do this in school for oral book reports, five-minutes before the report was due.
- Remember time is critical; 12- years which include summer vacations, plus all the Federal Holidays, winter/spring break, Teacher Conferences, Parent-Teacher week off, etc. all reduce the number of days a student is physically in the classroom. Thus, every minute counts, every assignment counts, not capitalizing upon the time the student is in class is abusing the child.
- Common core classrooms are focused upon the materials presented, dreamed up by a group of disconnected bureaucrats, and does not capitalize upon the “other” lessons learned in school. For example, how can a student be expected to form good habits about reading, or a love of reading, while not reading, not learning through phonetics, and not being exposed to the vast array of books? Reading remains a key metric in measuring learning, but reading is not being focused upon in the classroom. Reading develops imagination, critical thinking, evaluation, and so much more; yet, common core continues to refuse to acknowledge these “other” lessons a student learns when they read and write a report, focusing only upon teaching to a test, the SAT.
- I heard about APS classrooms who have churned through 5 or more teachers in a single year.
- Classroom continuity builds confidence, relationships, and cohesion in the learning process. Teacher churn, specifically in the Albuquerque Public School District, is very high. But APS refuses to address the why behind teacher churn, insane policies, dumb procedures, and a horribly political environment where teacher innovation is all but punished. The teacher creativity that does not strictly adhere to APS rules, guidelines, and mandates means the teacher is not in charge of the classroom, but the bureaucrats on the school board. The stress teachers, educational assistants, and other teaching staff, are experiencing are ruining teachers, and this stress is witnessed by the students who are harmed by teacher churn, teacher frustration, and the byzantine quagmire APS has produced in which teachers exist.
- Teacher churn is wasting student time, destroying student relationships, and wasting considerable student time; thus, by abusing the teachers and teaching staff, APS is indirectly and directly abusing children.
- An educational assistant (teacher’s aide) told me stories about a verbally abusive APS teacher who constantly bad-mouthed the students, to the student’s faces; but, because that teacher has been around forever, the words used and disparaging tone, and teacher attitude are not illegal, the district refuses to remove the teacher from the classroom due to the teacher shortage, and allow the teacher to retire shortly.
- Another example of child abuse, only this time that damage is directly observable by students and parents, and requires immediate remediation. Yet, APS has told the principal to not initiate removal of the teacher, has hampered all attempts to move the teacher to another non-teaching role, and the verbal haranguing of the students by the teacher has only gotten worse over time. Thus, we see another example of how APS is abusing children both directly and indirectly.
Parents, how many times are these stories being repeated in your child’s school district? How many times are race and poverty being blamed for poor classroom educational attainment; but, the reality is that the teachers are suffering because of the abuse they receive from the school district and the teacher abuse is being passed onto the students. If a teacher was sexually molesting your child, would this anger and excite you to action? If so, why doesn’t the abuse inflicted upon your child by indirect, and direct means that wastes their time, and denies their innate potential? Your child gets a single opportunity for education, and if the foundational blocks are not correctly set in K-12 classrooms, your child will be hindered for life.
I asked these questions of parents in drafting this article and remain astounded that the parents cannot make the connection between lost opportunity, poorly taught lessons, and life-altering education. Want to pay less for food stamps and other government subsidy programs; improve education in K-12 classrooms. Want to improve the potential in your student; help them read using phonetics and develop a love of literature, help the student to write with critical thinking, and do the math per formulaic logic. Want your tax dollars spent on education to return a more significant dividend for your investment; hold the school district accountable for every poor decision, bad policy, and ridiculous practice forced upon a teacher in the classroom.
The school boards across America have abused our students enough, and the perpetrators need to be held accountable, and the system desperately requires change. The totalitarian education system in America from the Department of Education to the local school board must adapt or disappear. The abuses of the school district are creating a bloated welfare state and hostile dependency upon government subsidies. If America is to remain the land of the free, home of the brave, and a source of educated free-people, we must improve K-12 education in America today!
© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.