Confusing Achievement With Aptitude
My wife and I read and reread the words several times, allowing them to sink in. "Being in an academic class would cause him harm," the principal wrote about our son, "as the rigor would be too great." The report continued, "He would be the lowest-ability student in the class and by a large margin." It is a day you don't soon forget when the principal of your son's school tells you—in an email, no less—that your child simply is not capable of managing academic work.
My wife and I used to be sanguine about the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act, the education reform law that everyone loves to hate. And we thought, as a colleague of mine once suggested, that we could "school proof" our child, that the advantage of having two educators as parents would give him a leg up in life. We assumed that a kid who visited museums in the summer, spent hours on end outdoors, traveled widely, slept under a safe and comfortable roof each night, ate well, and had health insurance would surely find a way to be successful in school.
Instead, by the end of 5th grade, our son had already been labeled a "basic" reader. His 3rd grade teacher had suggested that he do his career-day project on becoming a garbage man. She later told us not to get our hopes up. "Let's face it," she told my wife at a conference that year, "he's not going to be the next John Steinbeck." His 4th grade teacher, a veteran of almost 40 years in the classroom, churned out worksheet after worksheet with expiration dates from the Reagan era. In 5th grade, our son was placed in a remedial-reading program with a name that would have made George Orwell proud: Soar to Success. Instead of soaring, his interest in reading hit rock bottom. And now this: Barely through one quarter of 6th grade, the die had been cast. Our son had reached his academic limits, and...
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- Perspectives Charter Schools, Chicago, IL
- Elementary Principal
- Forest Grove School District, Forest Grove, OR
- Princeton Public School District, Princeton, NJ
- Director of School Support
- The Achievement Network, Multiple Locations
- K-12 Teachers
- The International Educator, Multiple Locations