Sorry for This Rant!
If you haven’t seen the ads (I can’t seem to find one, yet, to be able to allow you to see), they extoll the virtues of Industrialized Nations and their schools’ results on the PISA (Programme of International Student Assessment) (Click on this link to get a better understanding of the PISA) recently administered. The ad begins by listing several of the industrialized countries that scored above the United States in the area of math and reading, and they make sure to highlight the fact the United States score way down on the list. And, they want to make sure that the US Schools move up the list.
Now, I am all about statistics. I look at them every which way to help us make sense of what we are doing to improve our school. We look at attendance rates of our students, discipline referrals to determine “hot spots”, we look at things like our schedule, what time do we start classes, what time do our kids eat lunch and, of course, how our kids score on their assessments.
Ah, yes, the assessments, let’s talk about the assessments.
I am going to ask this question in somewhat of a vacuum because I have never stepped foot in a school in Shanghai, China or Hong Kong, two of the leading countries. I have had a Principal from China spend a week in my school, however, so I can relate to what she has told me about her school.
So, here is the question I asked: How many students who are identified with a disability are enrolled in the schools in Shanghai? The answer, according to my source (the Principal from China) none.
OK, so second question: Do you not have students with learning disabilities? Answer: Not in my school.
Do you have schools for these students with disabilities? Answer: Not that I know.
So what happens to these kids? Answer: forget the answer, I don’t want to know!
So, let’s get back to Exxon Mobil and the millions of dollars the spent on advertising on the Masters yesterday to tell us about how they were going to help our schools that were performing poorly in relation to the rest of the world..
Now that I think about it, I’ll bet they spent more on the ads on the Masters than they gave to the schools last year. I have scoured the financial statements of ExxonMobil to see where they would highlight the fact they they granted billions of dollars to k-12 schools across America. I’m no CPA, but I would expect that the amount would be reasonably available, can’t find it.
What I do find is a whole lot of small grants $500 to $1,000 to schools for different things. It seems like most of these come from local distributors of Exxon products, but I am sure there are corporate dollars in there somewhere. One figure I came across was 1.8 million (that’s correct, million with an “M”), that was donated to schools across the country last year.
American Public Schools do an incredible job of educating all of our kids, period! And, certainly, there is room for improvement. But we take all of this kids in our communities and teach them, regardless of the disabilities, their socio-economic standing, whether they just arrived in this country and are learning a new language and whether, or not, their parents value the education their children need to be successful and, more importantly, keep this country great. Our teachers and all of the myriad of support people who work in our schools deserve better than to have a gluttonous corporate “entity” (I couldn’t find a word that would keep this post at a PG rating) throw into their face results of an assessment that is questionable in its validity because of the sample tested.
I love the Masters Golf Tournament, it is a sign that spring is here, that the snow of the northeast will diminish and that our trees will blossom and our grass will be as green as the fairways at Augusta National. But, I am disgusted that ExxonMobil took this event to highlight what it did. This brings to mind images of Nero as the Rome burned, or Marie Antoinette and her “let them eat cake” comment.
Now, if Augusta National will ever let women join… I am not going there!