Fast Track to Nowhere
by María A. Almanzo
I have seen my three children (21, 15, 6) respond differently to an educational system whose principles have evolved from historical reactions over 'curriculum first' or 'child first' debates in addition to neglecting the intellectual and cognitive needs of culturally and linguistically diverse children, (the NRP report and the launching the "LNCB" campaign), into a series of very shallow experiences for the sake of maintaining those measures that recreate ideas that progress and the welfare of society is shouldered by knowing all this stuff and that it would need to be tested in a laboratory simulated environment to mimic reliable and replicable research conditions.
On a daily basis, I know that my children have enjoyed their teachers and in general had good experiences. But my daughter left high school with extremely low confidence in math which she still needs to address before applying to state college, she is a late bloomer, and I am encouraged with her latest efforts. My son, on the other hand was brought up for resource in jr high, he is now thinking of taking the GED and going straight to junior college, he is the type of person who is not attached to the socially segregated school events, he sees his friends so infrequently in a high school of 3000+ students.
My 6 year old is being trained to collect stars and for every ten he gets for not turning over a series of behavior modification color cards on the wall, he can trade for a reward candy or toy ....yet he loves his kindergarten experiences, although i think it is a little overboard in systematic and sequentially prescribed activities
As a parent, I have tried to managed their survival of bad educational experiences (iep meeting with resource teacher recommending more phonics instruction for my son because his subcategory word attack component of the Woodcock Johnson was at second grade even though his overall reading comprehension was one level below his current grade level) and tried to be reactive to internalize judgements about themselves in regards to the grades they got or didn't through encouragement and discussions for better understandings, (my daughter once did not report a teacher calculated error on her test to obtain more points because then it would have led to a decrease in points with the student whom she check papers with) because grades have become a vortex pool for many statistical uses which intersect issues of bias; multiple factors, race, gender, etc..........it has been because we value being holistic.
Both my sister and my husband were considered failing students in elementary school and high school. Both are now attorneys. I was discouraged by my counselor to apply to UCB [University of California at Berkeley) because of his "if they don't accept blond hair, blue eyed, apple pie girls, what makes you think that they would accept you"response. My high school was so segregated, for all intents and purposes I was directed as white, because I didn't fit the linguistic profile of an ESL student even though I was a second language learner.
I was lucky that my mother spoke only primary Spanish while my father English; although fluent bilingual. I was in the mainstream Spanish club, but it wasn't until I looked at my yearbook did I realize that there was a whole other club with more than 20 Latino students, an ESL club. I had graduated with a 3.4 GPA and with the most credits earned among all of those who were in my graduating class. I enrolled into the 'six yr' plan and went to junior college with half the graduating student population. To say the least I met my husband as a UCB undergrad student.
My husband and I have endured extreme hardship to walk with our conscious, as our past families and future, in order to gain entry to a professional world that is judged by by a hierarchical order, sort and rank visible and invisible system.
My husband and I continue to believe it can be done differently, more responsive to the human potential and hope that it may...I am idealistic, I do not want my children to be competitive on demand but to understand their passions and follow where this energy leads them. We value socio-family relationships, culture, language, and our children's potential for learning over grades.
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