Thursday, May 03, 2007

Kernan Kidz at Kollege

More distractions for the students at Kernan School in Utica -- more money-wasting for the taxpayers of Utica. Now 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are taking all-day field trips to Utica College, to "learn" about college - visiting dorm rooms, the library, talking with college students, etc. What have they learned?
"If we had a swimming pool in our gym, that would be cool," said third-grader Dionicio Colombo, 9.
Cool . . . Maybe swimming pools in all the elementary schools will be part of Utica's profligate capital construction spend fest.

As previously blogged about, Kernan School seems to have a problem with attending to its task of teaching the 3 Rs. Just add this latest adventure to the yoga classes (by a social worker) and the conferences at the Radisson with "community leaders."

While the organizers of the trip may be well intended, it really is just a "fun" event for the instructors and students -- at the expense of time that should have been spent giving the students a thorough grounding in reading, grammar, spelling, computation, etc. etc. . . . the things that they will be assumed to know by the time they reach college. Days on field trips break the continuity and reinforcement of academic lessons. The students are being deprived of a day of school. The taxpayers are being deprived of the day of school that they paid for.

And we also read today how Utica will be getting a federal physical education grant. Physical education lessons that are going to be "blended with core academic subjects." Wonderful! PE is important, but we should not be doing hand springs to blend PE in with, for example, New York State geography. Academic subjects have been watered-down enough.

Hopefully the students got a good look at college, because many will never have the opportunity of actually attending one. Doesn't anyone on the school board connect these distractions with Utica's dismal graduation rate?

* * *
11PM Update: A reader wrote that New Hartford was introducing Spanish at the elementary level and Mandarin in high school and asked what I thought of it. Here's my take: In general, I like languages. Being multi-lingual is common place in Europe and in parts of Canada, and will be increasingly useful in a global economy. There is also a rigor and discipline to learning a foreign language that may even help students understand the structure of English. With all the distractions in schools these days, however, you have to be careful that Spanish does not become another one. Introducing Spanish in the elementary grades may be a good idea as long as it does not hurt "core academic subjects." New Hartford is probably a good place to try this out because its academic house seems in order. Mandarin in High School? Of course, especially with China becoming an economic power house ... Just make sure there are enough students to make it cost effective to hire an instructor. If there are not, teaming up with other districts through BOCES with a distance-learning setup could make it possible.

Oh - Here are more distractions: here (the annual Law Day confabs) and here (the mock crime scene).


Anonymous said...

First of all Strikeslip, do you even have a job? Or is your "blog" as you call it, your job? All you seem to do is rant and rave about all the negatives within our community. The fact that these students have an opportunity to visit a college and even get a glimpse as to what one looks like, could very well be the motivating tool required so that even one student aspires to attend an institution of higher education. Kernan kids and teachers do the best that they can. You have no background with this school to make an informed decision. I teach here on a daily basis and while some of the programs and methods may not be what I would choose, we must expose the children to a variety of experiences. I have personally seen children who have been kicked out of 6 of the other buildings, come here and have a positive experience. They are not perfect and occasionally revert back to the negative behaviors, but have learned to monitor their actions and behaviors. In terms of academics, prior to last year, our scores were right on top with the other so called elite schools of Utica. You seem to think that teachers sit behind a desk all day and that is an unfair perception. While may recall some of your teachers doing so, not all of us do that. I agree that there are teachers who are here to collect a check and try to instill some basics. the vast majority of us work our asses off to make a difference. While test scores may not show huge gains, gains are what we are making. I'm tired of the generalization that teachers don't really have a job. I would love for John Q. Public to enter our building and teach a class of diverse academic abilities, ethnicities, and backsgrounds. Unless you have had this profession or have intimate knowledge of what it takes, please refrain from amking comments that you generally know nothing about.

Lost in Space said...

Perhaps, Utica School Administrators NEED to know how the New Hartford Schools can achieve a graduation rate of 95%?

Utica School Board Members too, are to blame in their appointment(s) of Administrators whose [job] expertise is questionable - at best!

Yes, I do agree these so-called field trips are a distraction and indicative of not paying attention to educating the students vs. playtime.

Utica School Administrators continue to remain a conundrum...

Anonymous said...

Get a life, stop downing the Utica City School District if you don't like it, move.

Strikeslip said...

My, my, my ... I guess I hit a nerve with this post because the responses are a tad personal in nature. Let's avoid that, and stick to the issue. [BTW, for what its worth, I know what its like to be a teacher ... and a school board member ... and a parent ... and a student ... and a taxpayer ... and someone that has had to deal with the education bureaucracy at a multitude of levels ... So don't assume that I don't know what I am talking about.] This isn't about me or about Anonymous. It's about the value of 3rd graders spending a day touring a college.

While Anonymous 1 is ready to sacrifice a day of school "so that even one student aspires to attend an institution of higher education" what about the other children? I can make a similar argument: Maybe one of those kids needs that day to drill his/her multiplication tables before moving on to the next lesson ... and if they don't master multiplication tables, they will be uncomfortable with math ... and be discouraged from taking calculus in college (if they get that far) ... depriving society of a needed engineer or scientist.

The attitide seems to be, "Let's expose the kids to [FILL IN THE BLANK] and maybe we'll produce more [FILL IN THIS BLANK WITH WHAT YOU PUT IN THE FIRST BLANK]." Like it or not, the implication of such an attitude is: "It is more important for kids to be exposed to [FILL IN THE BLANK], than ensuring mastery of math, language and science."

If you believe that it is more important to inspire 3rd graders with a day at the local college, that's fine, you are entitled to your opinion. But don't be surprised to see the same rationale applied to other distractions, and discover some day that there was no sequential cohesive curriculum with time for reinforcement and you have produced functional illiterates at the end of the process.

Mango Man said...

Strikeslip, well said.