All people are not created with equal abilities. We are all good in different things. We all can't be doctors or lawyers or car mechanics. The only thing we can hope for is that we find something that we can be good at, enjoy doing that thing and find a way to make a living doing it. Everyone has different abilites and we all peak at different level, depending upon what that activity is. Unfortunately, this view is not shared by the people writing school curriculums now. Somewhere along the way someone decided that everyone should go to college. Kids, regardless of their abilities are being pushed into courses that they have no interest in and have no ability to understand. Because of this, they often act out and cause disturbances in class. Cutting class is the norm. They would rather fail because they don't want to pass than fail because they cannnot master the material.
While I am not happy about these kids, I am more concerned with the ones that come to class every day. They don't disrupt. They do all homework and participate in discussions. They still cannot pass because the work is way above their comprehension. I have been working on polynomial in my M&C class since the beginning of the school year. We've been factoring for over two weeks. I gave an exam today. I only looked at a few papers so far and while many were quite good, some of the answers I saw were quite disturbing. In fact, the answers were so off beat that I wonder if I am really teaching anything at all. Maybe I am speaking Russian and some of the kids are learning in Chinese?
I wish the powers that be would wake up and go back to the old diplomas, like when I went to school--Academic, Commercial and Gerneral. Kids took classes relevant to their interests and no matter what the statistics say (they can be made to say anything) I think most kids did better. My own mother got a general diploma years ago. She could never get a degree with today's standards, or, if she did get one, she would have a meaningless one. She would have had no training to go on and get a job to support herself and her family.
A friend of mine, an administrator in a different school told me that it was racist to track kids as to many minorities end up in the lower end of things. I find that hard to believe. I teach in a middle class Queens high school. The five lowest achievers in my class are Jewish, Irish, Chinese, Italian and Pakistani. I don't see how putting these kids in track classes is racist.
If we really care about children and really believe that no child should be left behind, we must change the curriculum. Teach kids things that are meaningful in their lives. If any of them decide that at a later time, they want to go to college, they can always make up the work they missed and attend.