Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nightmare in the making: Joplin R-8 to tailor freshman English classes to career paths

The full extent of what Joplin R-8 Administration plans to do with its career pathways will be unveiled tonight when the Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building at 32nd and Duquesne.

The program sounded bad enough when it was first brought to the public's attention because of the idea that students would be steered into career pathways when they are in middle school, a time when hardly anyone is ready to determine a clear path for the future.

When Angie Besendorfer promoted career pathways, she talked about how students would have no problems if they elected to change their pathway and that seemed feasible. After all, college students change majors, many of them several times, but there are basic courses that everyone has to take. That makes it much easier to change majors as long as you have your core classes out of the way.

That concept is nothing like the cafeteria-style plan the Board of Education is expected to approve tonight.

Since I was an English teacher, allow me to use that area of study as an example.

Under the plan being submitted to the board, it is not a case of high school students taking English I, then English II, then perhaps moving into some more specialized classes during their junior and senior years.The curriculum experts (and I use the term loosely) at 32nd and Duquesne have decided to even gear the beginning English classes toward these career pathways.

The idea that there are basic literature and writing  instruction that all high school students should have has been tossed aside. In the past, it has been a basic choice of whether students are placed in an advanced class at the freshman level or basic, now even English will be designed for these career pathways.

One class that will be offered is English 1 HS&B, which is described in this fashion:

Human Services/Business will cover all Missouri Learning Standards for 9th Grade English with literature and writing selections that appeal to students with interests in human services and business-related areas.

And then you have English I STEM:

STEM will cover all Missouri Learning Standards for 9th Grade English with literature and writing selections that appeal to students with interests in science, technology, engineering, and math related areas.

There will also be English classes for arts and communication students and for pre-AP (advanced placement)

Naturally, the same divisions are included in new classes for sophomores.

Also on the list of classes that will be submitted to the board are some fascinating electives in the English area:

Students can enroll in such courses as Fantasy in Literature, Literature of War, Literature Through Film, Mystery Literature, and Mythology and Folklore.

Some non-English classes on the list for tonight include the following:

Sports Math: Probability and Statistics, Repertory Musical Theatre Class, Introduction to Yoga and Pilates, and Reputation Management.

The list of classes is long and can be found at this link.

The most worrisome thing is that no fiscal note was provided for all of these new classes. In other words, taxpayers have no idea how much they will cost. One thing for certain, high school teachers are going to be asked to do far more work than they have ever had to do before. This long, long laundry list of classes has to be taught by someone and odds are you are going to have teachers who have to prepare four or five different lesson plans each day and most of them for classes that have not existed before and do not have any real curriculum guidelines at the moment.

Of course, that is no problem for the highly paid curriculum specialists who came up with the ideas. They are not the ones who have to teach the classes.


Anonymous said...

America has always offered an excellent High School education, the problem is, it takes four years of College to achieve it. Three words Randy, Remedial College Courses.

Randy said...

Perhaps, but consider this. We are sending far too many students to college who would never have even thought of attending a few yaars ago, because we have systematically eliminated nearly all of the high-paying blue collar jobs. Now we are beginning to outsource the white collar jobs and still claiming that the only way to survive is to take more and more college classes. Everyone should have the opportunity to attend college, but we are forcing people to attend who would have had comfortable, decently paid jobs in the past.

Anonymous said...

May not have to worry too hard about the lesson plans. I can't imagine that a good deal of teachers in the classrooms are prepared to teach classes like this. Let's take your example of English. I'm guessing that few education majors with English functionals really cared about learning a lot about science and technology in college. So either they're going to ask the science and tech teachers to teach kids how to be technical writers, or you may see them being big brother even more, buying online tutorials and telling students to use the laptops or ipads to learn how to do what they "need" to through them. Less "teaching" is taking place if they take this route. It's almost as if they're expecting kids to not be ready for college and "preparing" them more for a technical career after high school instead of preparing them for college.

Anonymous said...

Why do they bother to vote? It'll be 7-0. No questions, or at least no serious questions, asked.

Anonymous said...

How are they going to pay all those teachers to cover that many classes? Please tell us they're going to can some of those worthless positions that Bessendorfer came up with at our expense.

Anonymous said...

1:36 is probably right. They'll brag about the offerings and then leave their teachers hanging. If the kids won't pay attention on their computers now they won't with new classes either. That's what drove several of us out. All hype with no hope.

Anonymous said...

Who wants to spend an entire year reading about STEM when they're 14 yrs old? BOOOORRRRRIIIINNNNGGGG!!!

These people don't know kids, do they.

Anonymous said...

They seem to think that middle school & high school are now junior college...Pilates. & yoga...really! I would be throwing a fit as a parent & yanking my kids out of R8 ASAP & sending them to Thomas Jefferson or another district or home schooling ...this is just stupid!

Anonymous said...

Another brilliant cluster brought to the taxpayers by Besendorfer and Co. Of course Huff will feel duty bound to keep going with it so no one will know that he can't even think of bad ideas by himself.

Have to agree with 6:15. Time to get the kids out of there. Doesn't matter what the builidings look like if there's no learning happening inside them. Might as well have tents and save the money.

Anonymous said...

Yoga and other fitness ideas are actually the good ideas they've come up with. These are things people might WANT to do to stay fit and things they can do even when they get old.
I guess the thinking behind only writing in your career area is intended to be something the students are interested in so they will do a better job with it. This leaves out the part where students have some introduction to other things they might have a talent or interest in. It also leaves out the part where they learn how to write for different reasons and read for different reasons.