Another Bobby Jindal FAIL

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

So I'm sitting here watching CNN's reclaiming the dream, and they are talking about education. I'm sure most of you know that education was my #1 issue during the campaign, and I still think it's one of the biggest things that needs to be fixed in this country, it's right up there with health care for me. So as I'm watching they have Steve Perry on to talk about the wonderful things he's doing in his magnet school, and then they mention Bobby Jindal supporting LOWERING standards so kids in Louisiana can "graduate" and get blue collar jobs. I think I blanked out for the rest of the segment. I decided to google and see if I could find something about this because maybe I'd heard it wrong.

Unfortunately, I heard right

Under the new law, students 15 and older could leave the standard curriculum and instead take a "career track" if they have parental approval. They would face easier requirements for graduation and a curriculum less geared toward college preparation. It would also allow eighth graders to advance to ninth grade without passing the state's high-stakes standardized test.

Graduates would get a "career option" diploma, different from the state's standard diploma, designed to get them into a two-year technical school or community college but not four-year schools.

REALLY, Louisiana? Really? The solution to low graduation rates is NOT to lower the standards, that's essentially giving up on the students. That's telling them, we know you aren't good enough to go to college, and your parents know you aren't good enough to go to college (because the parents would have to approve it), so why not take this non-diploma and go get a blue collar job.

Now I don't think there is anything wrong with blue collar jobs. But I don't think kids should be basically FORCED into them. What if the child really wanted to go to college but just needed more academic help?

In my high school, we had kids who could go to career centers which was essentially a "career track" but their graduation requirements weren't relaxed, they still had the same requirements the rest of us had. I am so highly offended by this entire notion.

This is also the exact opposite of how President Obama addresses the issue of education. We don't need to make it EASIER and LOWER the standards to "raise" the graduation rate, we need to push those kids HARDER and give them more SUPPORT. The standards for graduation aren't really all that high all you have to do to graduate from high school is show up and do the work. If you need help, get tutoring there are lots of different ways to get it (at least I know there are in Ohio).

Bobby Jindal DISGUSTS me.

I'm going to update in a few with more of what Steve Perry said, I like his ideas. . .

[Clairification] I'm not talking about kids who have actual special educational needs, I'm talking about the kids who aren't graduating simply because they don't want to and/or they aren't getting the support they need. I understand that there are some kids out there who have real educational special needs, and I think it's right for school districts and states to try to help them along, but for these kids who just lack the will to graduate, lower standards is the LAST thing they need simply so a state can beef up its graduation rate.

[UPDATE] Here's a comment from Larin I think may help clear up exactly what it is I'm taking issue with:

The problem with the lower standards is even in blue collar jobs, you need to read and do math. You need to be able to operate expensive and computerized systems. In the chemical plants in Louisiana they are hiring college grads and very few vocational/tech people.

Louisiana's public school system is suffering cuts and cannot get certified teachers fast enough into the classroom. People move to new school districts so their children can get a good education and even in these districts, students do no qualify for TOPS or make it pass the first year of college, maintaining the 2.7 they need to keep TOPS. And those students, who go the vocational tech route will not get TOPS--close to 20,000 dollars given to you to go to state universities here in Louisiana. That's 5,000 a year. Yep that's right, my son will graduate with NO student debt, because of TOPS. His fall semester fees will be about 800 dollars.

That's because we insisted and assisted him so he did get the course work he needed to make it in high school and college.

The LEAP test is administered in middle school and you must score basic to move on. LEAP study and makeups are administered during the summer. In high school, they take exams in their second and third year and if they don't succeed, they have summer sessions and retesting even into the senior year.

It's been awhile since I have been in the classroom, but as a retired teacher and with family recently retired from the state department of education, this new standard is no standard at all.

Don't get me wrong, I think a vocational program would be good and it would help with retention, but I disagree with the notion that standards need to be lowered for students who choose to go the vocational route.

Thank you all for the great discussion!

[UPDATE]: I removed the statement that came off as condescending. Any of you who have been reading me before today know that I'm just not that type of "I'm better than you" person. But as it clearly offended so many people who knew my intent was not malicious, I'll gladly remove it. I apologize to all who were offended, I suppose I didn't realize it was that offensive as someone who will have to deal with lawyer jokes (that are really not representative of the average lawyer) for the rest of her life.

[UPDATE] okay 2 things: when did DKos start automatically putting the date and time of the updates? I like that I was always to lazy to do it myself. LOL.

Second, I've really appreciated all of the discussions going on in this diary. While I may disagree with a lot of you (and I tried to respond to all those I disagreed with), I respect your opinion. I'm glad to see so many of us here are passionate about education, maybe we can get Congress to do something to fix NCLB after they finish health care. We all bring different perspectives to the issue of education depending on where we are from and how much education we have. Maybe I put more emphasis on the standards because I do have a higher education and I think education is so important, especially as a young Black woman. I'm the first person on my dad's side of the family to go to college and graduate, my younger brother followed me (literally, he came to the same out-of-state school I went to ~lol~). Neither of my parents finished undergrad, but they always told us we had two options when we graduated from high school (not graduating wasn't an option), we were either going to college, or joining the military. So that's the background I grew up with, college wasn't a maybe it was a definite.

I just want to clear up two things before I sign off for the night:

First, I don't think there is anything wrong per se with having a career track. In fact, I believe I've written that I think tying education to real life is the best way to retain students in some of my past education diaries. I simply don't think students need to have any standards lowered even if they do choose to do the career track. The idea of having some vocational education is a good one. I notice most of the comments talking about the vocation programs at their various schools did not involve the kids being unable to meet the state's standards for graduation, and from what the commenters say those programs have been very successful.

Second, the fact that I don't think standards need to be lowered does NOT mean I think every high school student must do a college prep program or something akin to a college prep program. Not every child is destined for college, I get that. That doesn't meant hat every child shouldn't be able to get a high school diploma without the standards being watered down. I DO happen to think that every child could get a high school diploma if they had enough support. If you disagree, that's your right we clearly aren't going to change each other's minds tonight (if ever).

I just wanted to say that before I signed off for the night. I'll try to respond to more comments tomorrow, but I make no promises.

Oh, and here's an interesting op-ed lizard people found that I agree with:

The so-called "career diploma," available for students who fail part of the eighth-grade LEAP, is inherently shameful because it encourages adults to give up on their young students and those students to give up on themselves. It implies that they won't ever be able to learn as much as others, so why go through the pretense of trying to teach them?

The bill is even more shameful because it was signed into law by a governor who got his full quart's worth of education. If you had to make any assumption about a Rhodes Scholar like Jindal, you'd probably guess that such a scholar would place an incredibly high value on education and encourage children to maximize their potential. You wouldn't assume that such a brainiac would dissuade poor students from higher aspirations.

"This looks like social promotion," Orleans Parish School Board Vice President Lourdes Moran said of the career diploma Tuesday. "We're doing a disservice to our children." The Orleans Parish School Board is asking the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to give it a waiver so that the local board isn't forced to create a demeaning career diploma track for its students.

Click for full article

Again, thank you all for the stimulating conversations :o)

Cross-posted at Daily Kos
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