A Response to Comments on My Rosy Rhetoric
There were a lot of comments on my last post, and I apologize for not responding to them earlier. But I've been very busy lately--it's the beginning of a new school year, so I think that any teachers can probably understand my tardiness. Also, I've learned that when you have people like KDeRosa lurking in the blogging woods, you'd better think before you write. I did want to respond to some of the comments that were made on my last post, and I wanted the original commentators to see that response, but I know how I am--when I make comments, I'll check for responses for a couple of days, and then I move on. I thought the best way to handle this was to make my response on a new post.
First of all to JettyBetty: Your comment was the most positive of the bunch, and I appreciate your appreciation. I really do mean that.
Next, to my great admirer, KDeRosa. You say that I should put a warning label on my posts: "Infested with strawmen." Quite frankly, I would have hoped that labeling the post, "Rosy Rhetoric" might have been enough for you. You are truly a harsh taskmaster!
On a more serious note, you closed your comment by saying that I am making way "too many excuses." I re-read the post, and I can't find the excuses that you're talking about. Saying that I think we're doing a much better job than you do, and giving examples in an attempt to support my point aren't excuses. They are arguments. I am very impressed with your knowledge of research and numbers and teaching methods. You are obviously an intelligent man and a very articulate opponent of public education as it is today. But I will say this again: your portrayal of public schools simply does not square with my thirty two years of experience. When I was taking classes to earn my Masters, and we would have some of those progressive teaching philosophies pushed on us that you disdain, I would would make it clear to my professors that those ideas did not square with my experience. I am making that same statement to you again here.
To both KDeRosa and Rory regarding the students coming out of our high schools that need to take remedial classes, I have this to say. In an earlier comment, I had said to KDeRosa that I was not aware of any of our high school's students who had to take remedial classes when they went to college. I was wrong. I talked to our math people, and they told me that we have had a number of kids who had to take remedial math classes when they went to college. The reason for this was that the kids quit taking math classes at our high school by their junior or senior years. That's partially their fault for their selection of classes, but it is also OUR FAULT for not requiring more math. We have now changed that so that kids can no longer graduate without at least three years of math. KDeRosa, I recognize that this is anecdotal evidence. I have no idea what percentage of the remediation in colleges is the result of this type of problem, but I would guess that we are not the only high school for whom this is the case.
To Steven, I want you to know that I completely disagree with you. But I also want you to know that I respect your honesty. Many supporters of public education complain that critics of public education and supporters of vouchers actually want to destroy public education entirely. You certainly are not guilty of pretending that you don't. You are saying exactly what you think. We all know where you stand, and I look forward to arguing with you in the future.
I do want to point out to you that most critics of public education take the opposite argument of the one that you are making. Prominent critics like E. D. Hirsch argue that we should have a national curriculum. Whatever is being taught in Los Angeles, California, is the same thing that should be taught at the same time in Boston, Massachusetts. They say that local control of schools is the problem. You are arguing that there should be no government control at all.
To Laura and Elementary History Teacher. Your two voices of reason and sanity in the blogosphere are like cool breezes on a hot sunny day. I wish I could be more like you.
And finally to TMAO. When I read your second comment, I literally felt sick to my stomach. I remember saying that someone was either "stupid or ignorant" in one of my comments on somebody's blog, but it was a while back, and I have no recollection what it was about. It is so easy to make statements like that when you have no idea who you are talking about. Obviously, I disagreed with something you said or did, but I wish I would have put it differently. Laura is right. Avoiding the harsh attacks and name-calling is a very good idea. I don't know if you'll accept it, but you have my apology.