Life is hard. Making your way in the world takes time and effort. Getting what you want takes work. These are fairly simple concepts, yet there are those who would make things easy because it isn't fair to those who don't have the same life advantages. This is the problem with many schools. They make the tests and classes easier for those who they feel are underprivileged and should be given a break because of that. My older daughter calls it "dumbing down the classes" or tests and she hates it because it messes everyone up and no one learns the necessary information and skills to pass...at life.
We all have to learn to deal with "the big bad world" around us and by making things easier, the children who are given a break are actually given the shaft because they will not have the skills to deal with life's challenges. Many of the children who actually want to excel are held back because the courses and testing have changed to supposedly aid those struggling or less advantaged. These children are not stupid, do not treat them as if they are. Contrary to politically correct thinking, showing children that hard work is the way to succeed is not going to damage their psyche, it will strengthen them.
You cannot survive in society believing that you are going to get a break because your life has been hard or you are poor or your parents are addicts or alcoholics. Your boss doesn't care if you had a bad day. The boss doesn't care if you were late because you had to take public transportation, he only cares that you were late. None of that matters to the boss's bottom line. These are the harsh lessons that our children have to learn. Life is tough and it is not fair.
The best way to help children cope with the their world and society is to stop pandering to them. Make them learn the required curriculum. Even if that means teaching to a graduation test. If the graduation test teaches the lessons that the children need to learn in order to cope with life and society, there is nothing wrong with teaching to it. At least the children will leave school with the skills they need to survive. Ohio has instigated the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). My oldest daughter was the first class to be required to take it. The test is given in tenth grade and if they pass, they are able to graduate once they have their required credits. Those who do not pass still have two years to learn the necessary lessons and skills in order to graduate.
When children are pandered to, passed without the grades and given a diploma without earning it, we are not only hurting that child, we are hurting society because that child will not have the skills to be a productive member of society. This is how so many end up on welfare. When they are not taught critical thinking skills, reading and math and they are not challenged, these children become discouraged and give up and give in. They end up on welfare and become, instead of a productive member of society, they become a drag upon society.
Some will say that I have no right to say anything of this as I am a white female living the middle class life, but guess what, I am a member of this society and because I am, I have a right to my opinion and I have ideas and possible solutions that may be able to help alleviate some of the problems.
My oldest daughter is very intelligent and she is an excellent student. She has also tutored not only at the request of her teachers, but she and her friends have worked together to help each other. Most children will help themselves if given the encouragement and a little bit of time by a caring adult. They will also help each other if given incentive. My youngest daughter would much rather socialize than learn, but given incentive, she will buckle down and do the work. Her incentive is cheerleading. The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) states that she must have a grade point average of 1.5 to play sports (which is an abysmally low expectation). In our house, that grade point average is a minimum of 2.5 and she knows she will not have the privilege of cheering if she doesn't have the grades.
For those children without parents who seem to care, who are not there for them or cannot be there for them (because of divorce et cetera), there are mentoring programs. If your school district doesn't have a mentoring program, get one set up. A mentor can make all the difference in the life of a child. That mentor, by just showing interest and caring, can help a child not only pass in school, but to excel in life.
If we, as adults, do not force our schools to teach our children the skills they need to survive, if we do not take the initiative to push for excellence, if we simply do not care, our society will fall apart. So stop pandering, stop making life easy for students (life is hard!) and stop treating children differently because of their economic or ethnic background. It is detrimental not only to the children, it is detrimental to our society as a whole!
Anything worth having is worth working for.
(cross-posted at A Rose By Any Other Name)