Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Education

Hooper: Schools are burning, with most kids left behind

RECOMMENDED READING


The schoolhouse has begun to burn, slowly but steadily.

The kids wonder what will happen to them.

And then a man steps into the classroom. He points to little Johnny and asks him to stand up.

"Johnny, your parents want the choice to send you to a different school," the man says. "They have filled out the paperwork, so you can leave and go to the private school on the other side of town.

"On your way out, make sure you pick up a check for $5,000."

A look of bewilderment grows over the kids who remain in the class. Little Sally politely raises her hand and asks, "How come Johnny gets to leave but we have to stay?"

The man smiles and says, "Johnny's parents are engaged and truly concerned about his education. They believe in choice, so he gets to leave."

Sally responds: "My mama cares. But she's working two jobs and she doesn't have time to come down to the school.

"My older sister watches me at night because my mama is at work. But she cares. She said the law guarantees me a good education."

Little Mary chimes in: "Instead of letting people leave this school, why don't you put out the fire?"

The man explains to Mary that he and his friends will do everything they can to put out the fire, but in the meantime, some select students will get to leave and go to the private school down the street.

Another student asks a question. Little Jimmy says his teacher told him she could put out the fire if she didn't have to spend so much time worrying about the FCAT and paperwork and new standards.

The man tells Jimmy he shouldn't listen to that teacher's excuses. He insists she can do both. He explains that every teacher must be held accountable.

Jimmy asks, "Do the teachers at the private school have to worry about the FCAT?"

"No they don't," said the man, growing agitated. "But they have tests and they do a better job than your teachers."

"How do you know that if they don't have to teach to the test?" Jimmy asks.

Now little Robert, who had his head on his desk, perks up. He says to the man, "I guess that's why they don't have fires at the private school."

Mary chimes in again. "I think you should just put out the fire. Then you won't have to send kids to the private school."

The man explains again that they're doing all they can to put out the fire. He says they have long meetings in Tallahassee about how to put out the fire. He shares with the students that it takes a lot of money to put out the fire.

Sally asks, "But if you need money to put out the fire, why are you letting Johnny leave with a check for $5,000?"

The man says, "Good question. The more students who leave this school, the more pressure we put on the teachers, principals and administrators to put out the fire."

Sally responds: "That doesn't seem fair. You tell them to put out the fire, but you don't give them the money they need to put it out? Do you give them water?"

"Okay, that's enough from you," says the man.

Mary chimes in again: "You should just put out the fire."

As the kids grow more restless, little Robert — now wide awake — raises his hand.

"I've got a question," he says to the man. "Do you really want to put out the fire? Or do you want the school to burn down?"

The man grimaces and walks out, leaving the kids to wonder if anyone will ever put out the fire.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments

University of Central Florida suspends sorority for hazing

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A University of Central Florida sorority has been suspended after its members were accused of hazing, underage drinking and providing false information to law enforcement.The university placed Alpha Xi Delta on an interim suspens...
Updated: 6 hours ago
10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

Associated PressThe latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African-Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before. The Rhodes Tr...
Published: 11/19/17
Pinellas education news: District honors support employees, Discovery Nights resume, and more

Pinellas education news: District honors support employees, Discovery Nights resume, and more

Pinellas names top support employeesFive finalists have emerged from 120 nominees to be the 2017-18 Support Employee of the Year in the Pinellas County school system. The finalists were chosen in five categories. Debra Canning, 21st Century iClass Li...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Class notes

School Calendar• Nov. 27: School resumes after Thanksgiving break• Dec. 22: End of second grading quarter.• Dec. 23-Jan. 7: Winter Break.• Jan. 8: Teacher planning day. No school for students.Arts/Music/TheaterCenter for the Arts at River Ridge Middl...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Makerspace lab exposes Eastside students to tech skills and fun

Makerspace lab exposes Eastside students to tech skills and fun

BROOKSVILLE — The lab at Eastside Elementary School looks high tech, featuring new flooring, cabinets and furniture. Assistant Principal Michael Lastra calls it cutting edge."It’s not like your typical classroom," Lastra said. "The school wanted it t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pasco school district proposes future changes to west-side elementary and middle school zones

Pasco school district proposes future changes to west-side elementary and middle school zones

Plans to erase the attendance boundaries for Ridgewood High School have grabbed all the attention.But the Pasco County school district also has proposed changes to west-side elementary and middle school zones for consideration this fall.They’re just ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
At St. Petersburg High, alums push to complete private funding for home field improvements

At St. Petersburg High, alums push to complete private funding for home field improvements

ST. PETERSBURG — The athletic facilities at St. Petersburg High are just like Bob Carter remembers from 50 years ago.He recalls it all fondly: The concession stands, ticket booths and bathrooms are still the same. The track is still outdated asphalt,...
Published: 11/15/17
In union push at USF, adjunct professors strive for more respect and a living wage

In union push at USF, adjunct professors strive for more respect and a living wage

TAMPA — Robert Ryan cleaned out his office in May. He knew he was dying.He had kept driving to the University of South Florida even as he lost the use of his left arm. He had kept teaching English, even as tumors ravaged his mouth so that he could ha...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Hillsborough Education Foundation, Yoobi team to surprise students

Hillsborough Education Foundation, Yoobi team to surprise students

The kids at Bing Elementary knew something special was about to happen when a six-foot white dog with a "target" over his right eye walked into the classroom.And they were right.On Tuesday (Nov. 14), volunteers and corporate supporters joined the Hil...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/16/17
New aviation programs at PHSC help propel students toward dreams

New aviation programs at PHSC help propel students toward dreams

DADE CITY — Dustin Snodgrass has a photograph of himself as a child in the pilot’s seat of a kid-size model airplane. Snodgrass, now 28, recently took a big step toward his goal of flying real aircraft with his first solo flight through a new profess...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/16/17