Last week we began the part of the curriculum that deals with factoring. After a quick review of Math A factoring, we began the more difficult ones, factoring with variable exponents and factoring trigonometric expressions. I expected the kids to have trouble with some of these. I knew that many would be weak when it came to any kind of factoring. What I never expected was kids to react as if they had never seen or heard of factoring before. After all, my school is a good school. We teach, we have standards. Then, it hit me, we taught them all the Math A they needed to pass the regents. We teach so that ECLB.
My AP did not think we should teach factoring with lead coefficients greater than one. It was much too hard for the kids and since it wasn't on the regents, why bother? He also encouraged us to teach them to work backwards from the choices so they could find the answer with their calculators without understanding the process. Us old timers rebelled and taught the kids to factor. The young ones, not knowing any better, followed the directions of their fearless leader. One of my Math B kids told me he failed math 3/4, the term where factoring is taught. But, since he passed the regents, he was given credit for the course and moved ahead.
So now, where are we? We are teaching kids who do not have the foundations needed to move ahead. When George Jefferson moved on up to the East Side, he was prepared. He worked hard and had all the facilities he needed to meet the challenges he would face in his new life. Our Math B kids are kids that have been moved up only they are not as fortunate as George. They did not receive the same preparation to move ahead and while he thrived in his new environment, many of ours are failing. We're moving them on up, but only because Suit needs that bonus money he gets when more kids are taking Math B, that the kids are being moved along. Success while in motion has nothing to do with anything. ECLB is thriving.
I know I've said that I am in a good school, with good, bright kids. But, the bright kids are in the same classes as the kids that are not as bright, not as ready to move ahead and these kids are holding the others back. My AP would say differentiate the lesson, but with 34 in a class, that is not possible. Suit would say, go to talk to other teachers and see what they are doing. With five classes and a C-6 assignment, we barely have time to use the bathroom, let alone talk to other teachers. Right now I am losing the weak kids and failing the bright ones. Test grades last week ranged from 100 all the way down to 8. Something has got to change if education is going to work. Something has got to change if we are going to prepare our kids to face the future.