Monday, March 30

Look, Kid, I'm Sorry To Have To Tell You This, But If You Think Nobody Cares About You Now...

Andy Gammill,"Students Give Lawmakers a Bleak View of IPS". March 28

THIS was front-page Saturday stuff in the Racist Star (meaning, again, that you can read it in the next twelve minutes or watch it disappear into the pay-per-view archives), and it's been smoldering and re-erupting at Casa Riley ever since; let's take it from the top:
Margrette Lowe wants state legislators to understand that they have given her a raw deal when it comes to her education.
She and a dozen other Tech High School students met with eight lawmakers Friday and painted a bleak portrait of their district: Many teachers don't care; the district doesn't offer the challenging classes commonly offered elsewhere; and some students receive such bad guidance that it can affect whether they graduate.

Indianapolis Public Schools students have to fight to get what is considered basic in many communities, said Margrette, 16.

"For the past 11 or 10 or 12 years, through every single class, we've always had to go around asking teachers for extra help or extra work or extra projects or extra mentors," she told them, "just so we can get what is considered as basic education."

In a heartfelt outpouring that surprised lawmakers, the students drew attention to administrative problems in IPS and inequities in teachers, facilities and school environments between their district and suburban ones.
Students told how they weren't allowed to take an Advanced Placement U.S. history course that is standard at most schools. One boy said his brother might not graduate because he didn't know he had to make up geometry credits.

IPS' low test scores and high dropout rate are well known, but Friday's meeting was an urgent plea of raw emotion from college-bound students who said they weren't getting an education equal to that of their suburban peers.

Make no mistake about it; the complainants have our utmost sympathy here, and if we happen to feel that "Students Dislike Teachers" is not exactly news we'll recuse ourselves. The problem here is that we have a loose thread or two to pick, and once we do so the whole thing winds up on the floor and the story's standing there in its boxer shorts.

As I say, the thing kept flaring back up all weekend. My Poor Wife, the one with the expert knowledge, first wanted to know Who booked the meeting? Who chose the students? The story, at least, gives the impression that this was a sort of command performance; are state legislators in the habit of taking children out of class? At the very least one imagines somebody from the Tech administration would have attended, but none comments, or even refuses comments. We do hear from Mary Louise Bewley, who did attend, and who is IPS Superintendent Eugene White's designated mouthpiece for stories he doesn't want his name anywhere around (as well as those times when he's left early for Spring Break):
The students raised real concerns, said district spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley, who attended the session. But the picture isn't as bleak as they made it seem, she added.

"I think a lot of positives came out of today's session," she said. "I think we already have some solutions."

The AP class, for example, shouldn't have been canceled because IPS can offer such courses via computer when classes can't be scheduled, she said.
Most alarming was students' perception that many teachers did not care about them or their education, Bewley said.

"I'm sure there are isolated instances where they have teachers that aren't caring," she said, "but I think the majority of their teachers do care."

Damn loose threads...look, we're glad to hear that Ms Bewley thinks that Teachers Who Care still constitute a majority, however slim. We think her concerns show that she'd make an excellent candidate, should she decide to get into the actual education side of Education, and we hope that she's spending her vacation week examining the resum├ęs of all the cashiered administrators littering the halls of the IPS administration building for other caring individuals with time on their hands. Which reminds us: before we grab a dustpan and broom and start dealing with the cotton fillament...

Why th' hell was the meeting on a Friday? And the Friday before Spring Break?

Oh, do not get ahead of us! We have a tiny inkling about that which'll turn up later.

Ms Bewley was at the meeting; Ms Bewley has the answer about the AP History class. Ms Bewley is therefore presumed to be aware that this is a guidance counseling problem--and therefore an administration fuck-up--regardless of how little a large minority of teachers cares for the little bastards. Same with the brother lacking geometry credits. The grand academic overview of a student's career is the business of the school and the district administrations, not the people known as "teachers", whose job involves , uh, teaching.

Another Riley flare-up here, as this caused me at some point to relay my own guidance counseling stories. There aren't many of them, since there wasn't any guidance or counseling to speak of.

And that's in a middle-class, suburban, mostly white establishment, though long before we as a nation started to get really manic about testing little Connor and Melissa to death lest they wind up at a state school. I went to see a counselor the summer before I changed junior highs; he managed to enroll me in the wrong math course, which I, district neophyte, had no way of knowing until months later, and which resulted in my being a year behind in math studies. I got called in twice to see a high school counselor: the first time as an incoming sophomore, except it wasn't my counselor, it was the new basketball coach who was using his office as an excuse to interview all his new players. The second time was late in my senior year, when whoever it was informed me how sorry he was he'd somehow forgotten to make sure I signed up for the National Merit Scholarship test the previous week.

The guidance office was widely known around the school, among teachers and students, as what became of teachers who couldn't teach, or, in one case, as where they sent the woman who couldn't go an entire class period without a cigarette, whose desk drawer was a notorious spot for glomming free smokes during her regular, King-sized absences.

So, y'know, you kids have my sympathy, but I'm holding onto to my sense of amazement.

Oops, there's another hot ember, as Mr. Riley reacts to something Ms Too-Feminist-To-Be-Called-"Mrs. Riley" says by replying that, again, he learned fairly early that he could read ahead in class textbooks and go to the library study halls, convocations, and after school and read to his heart's content without any guidance from anybody. To which The Expert he married replies--and rightly so--that The System doesn't work that way anymore, that nowadays children need every bit of Official involvement, and every last credit they can get, to compete for schools and scholarships. Which prompts Riley--whose colossal ignorance is largely self-taught--to remark that the complaints themselves, sadly, sounded too much like bright students in urban districts who've been forced to adopt the very attitudes of the people who have been keeping them in underfunded programs since the Klan ran Indiana, and Whoosh! it's a flashover. Somebody call the Student Fire Brigade! Oh, right; they're busy elsewhere:
March 28, 2009

North Central is preparing its pool and natatorium for an April opening


The nearly $14 million project has stirred much debate about taxes in the township


By Gretchen Becker

gretchen.becker@indystar.com

Water filled the new pool at the North Central High School natatorium this week as officials began testing the facility and planning its unveiling next month.

To begin the testing, three garden hoses slowly spilled water in to cover tiles on the bottom of the pool, said Phil Smith, Washington Township Schools director of operations. Then a 2-inch pipe was used to add more. Thursday, the J. Everett Light Career Center firefighting students used fire hoses to fill the pool to its brim.

Damn, and on the very same day. Curse the luck.
Four locker rooms -- two for physical education classes and two for the swim teams -- with plastic lockers instead of metal ones, which can rust from exposure to pool chemicals.

A wet classroom, for students in their swimsuits.

Walls and ceilings designed to endure harsh natatorium conditions.
Measures to ensure high air quality.

25-yard lanes and a diving well, or 50-meter lanes, depending on how it's set up, Smith said.

It's an Olympic-sized pool -- just like Carmel and Fishers high schools have -- and will let North Central host large meets. All NCHS students will use the pool for physical education classes, and the Washington Township Swim Club also will use it....

The $13.8 million natatorium became a symbol of the debate about tax reform in Indiana in 2007, when Washington Township residents fumed about double-digit increases in property tax bills. Homeowners began complaining in May 2005 about the district's decision to proceed with the renovation.

The district is in the midst of renovating its football stadium, a $5.7 million project to repair bleachers, improve the press box and replace 50-year-old locker rooms.

'Cos nothin' says Education like a spacious new pressbox.

I've lived in Indianapolis proper for thirty years, and I was born and raised in its suburbs. If you were to write me some snail mail, or send me a box of origami cranes, you'd send it to Indianapolis. I vote for the mayor of Indianapolis and for representatives on its City/County Council. My US Representative's district includes most of Marion County and all of the IPS district. And my tax dollars went to filling that fucking Olympic-sized pool. I've never bought those Tech students so much as a pencil.

Wow, I didn't realize loose threads burn so fast. The Indiana State Legislature shows up right at the exact moment when they're sure no teacher or school administrator will be available for a week to answer any of this and they bleed all over the fucking floor about the poor students who suffer in an underfunded program mostly because the property taxes from wealthy Indianapolis districts go to their "own" schools, not every school in the city, thanks to the system put in place by--you did get ahead of me, didn't you?--the Indiana State Legislature, the same organization which rubber-stamped Mitch "The Education Governor" Daniels' across-the-board cuts in education in the name of artificially balancing the budget and getting re-elected. Gosh. The same Legislature that approved the consolidation of Marion County while preserving its de facto segregated school systems when these kids' grandparents were in school.

And thanks for orchestrating a front-page effort to blame teachers for the hated Indianapolis Public Schools and its well-known distaste for the skinned and scorned it must try, however futilely, to educate, just as teachers complete another full year of working without a contract and begin making noises about "working the contract" instead of putting in extra effort for a district that doesn't give a shit about them. Save me from Holy Coincidence, St. Teresa!
"To have to beg for rigorous courses and qualified teachers is not something a 17-year-old should have to do," said Sen. Teresa Lubbers, R-Indianapolis, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. "What I heard them saying was the most legitimate thing in the world to ask for"....

Reached a few hours after she left Tech, Lubbers said she hadn't been able to stop thinking about the comments.

And thanks for taking time out of your busy evening of empathy in the face of sudden discovery in the inequities in public education in Central Indiana to take a call from the reporter writing up the story for Saturday's deadline.

And look: Teresa Lubbers, R-Indianapolis, is not just the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, or a seventeen-year-member of that body which her party has controlled all that time. She's also the wife of Mark Lubbers, arguably the most powerful and best-connected Republican insider in the state, a man whose career dates to his work for Governor Bob Orr in the early 80s, and who was Senate campaign manager for Dick "Nixon's Favorite Mayor" Lugar, the man who set up that fabulously successful exercise in pocketing white votes for a generation in the first place.

We have to admit that we sincerely hope this was just an exercise in public hypocrisy; the idea that Teresa Lubbers, et. al., were actually that ignorant of what they and their party has been doing to public education in poor districts for the last forty years is probably more knowledge than anyone should bear.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

whose colossal ignorance is largely self-taught...That is some rotfl self-deprecating humor there Doghouse

Rugosa said...

*sigh* Once again I am forced to notice that the problems of our public schools are caused by those evil, child-hating teachers and their unions. If only there were some way to stop them from demanding exorbitant salaries and implementing draconian work rules!

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