Sunday, July 20, 2014

What-What?! Week of July 20th

This week has been pretty long.  I went to work on Sunday, working "security" at a soccer game in Seattle (the Sounders versus the... Timbers, I think?).   It was a pretty easy job, but I'm not sure that the pay is worth the drive to Seattle.  I also worked in the shipping department at a local bread plant, which was... amusing.  It is a very physical job, but the pay is good.  When I worked there, I was the only girl, and easily the shortest person.  I got to work on all the "short person" specials, until we ran out of small stacks of bread.  Then I got to do the big stacks, which are about 7 feet high; the biggest set of stacks I sorted out was around 1800 packages of bread.  Those stacks were huge.  It took some ingenuity to manhandle them around the warehouse.
Hm.  Neighbors.
In other news, local apartment complexes keep having fires.  Two apartment buildings just burnt down in Renton, while the apartment complex up the street from us had a two alarm fire early this morning.  A week and a half ago, an apartment complex in North Everett had a fire.  The entire time I lived in Hollister, none of the apartment buildings had fires.  So what is going on here?

News:  A Middle School Cheating Scandal Raises Questions About the No Child Left Behind via The New Yorker

At ten pages, this is a pretty long read, but well worth the insight into what actually happens at schools, especially schools that deal with low income and ESL students.  The parts where teachers and administrators were bullied especially rings true after seeing how certain admin treated afterschool staff, and certain members of their own staff.

I understand why many of these teachers felt that standardized testing just got in the way of more important things; in my experiences, the issues that children face outside of school are even more important than those faced in school.  Children without a stable home, food to eat, parents that are supportive, or just simply a lack of supervision have a much harder time excelling in school.  I've tutored kids that have these issues.  The most heartbreaking situation I've seen was a little first grader who had been removed from her parent's care, and was living in between her two aunt's houses.  She never knew where she was going home to, or what adult was going to pick her up.  The entire time that I tutored her, she made very little academic progress.  It was pretty obvious that the upheaval in her home life overshadowed everything else, and that the best she could do at that time was just survive the day.  My boss and I did as much as we could for her, but she was falling behind.  She was only in first grade.
Basically, this.
When your job relies on other people passing tests, suddenly there's a lot of pressure to do whatever necessary that entails you keep your job.  My first tutoring job was like this.  The students took a grade-level evaluation at the beginning and the end of the school year, and whether the company maintained its contract with the local school board depended upon these children making academic progress.  The fact that I had children who went from failing to passing grades meant nothing in relation to whether or not I (or anyone at my site) would have a job the next year.  My boss and us staff did everything we could without cheating; we took kids aside in small groups to do the testing, they had as much time as possible, they had help in clarifying anything confusing, and so on.  Even with plenty of time, there were kids that randomly pushed buttons, just to get the test done.  This, of course, negates the entire use of testing at all... but their scores were still measured and counted.  Some of the kids made progress, while others stayed the same.

It is frustrating to work with children everyday, all school year, only to have that effort and investment seemingly amount to so little every time test scores are published.  I don't think what these people did was right, but I'm not going to pretend that I don't understand where they're coming from.

(imgs via myeverettnews.com, mrsfilas.blogspot.com)

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