To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Apparently American schools aren't the only ones with issues.

I could have guessed that, of course, but some of the French issues are the sames as ours: how much centralization is appropriate, how much privatization, teacher qualifications, standardized curricula.

“We don’t want to end up with an American system," said Marie-Claude, a middle school history teacher in Paris’ 13th arrondissement. When pressed to elaborate, she explained: “It’s a system without public servants, without national diplomas or even national health care.” For her and many of her colleagues, changes in the education system are a first step down a slippery slope.

We do have public servants. What she means by public servants, of course, isn't what we mean.

As far as not having national diplomas, perhaps France would be better compared to one of our states. The states do have diplomas. Tennessee standardizes what that diploma means by administering "Gateway" tests in English, math, biology, and history. Without passing the Gateways, a student doesn't get the diploma. Before the Gateways were developed, there was a minimum score students had to attain on the TCAP. And there's a state-approved list of textbooks and certain classes the middle and high schools all must offer. But individual school systems set their own curricula. We didn't have a standardized curriculum in Memphis until several years ago a high school valedictorian wasn't able to graduate because he couldn't score high enough on the TCAP. After that there were standards for each class offered in the district. That's pretty ambitious for a system whose individual schools' average test scores run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. But our urban standards aren't applied to rural systems.

As to national health care, may it never happen here.


syarizan said...

hey...i read the monkey's paw. interesting coincident. Kind of creepy isnt it.


change destiny said...

All educational system have issues everywhere . I guess ours is the load of information the kids are obliged to learn . They simply force them to quit arts and sports .

Laura(southernxyl) said...

syarizan, the weird coincidence is that we were just talking about "The Monkey's Paw" at work on Friday, when a bunch of us compared the stories we read in high school.

Change destiny - is that everybody? Are kids put in academic tracks or vocational tracks, and if they are, at what age? Who decides? And what does a kid do if he just can't handle that workload?

There's ongoing debate here about how much time a kid should have available for arts and sports. Some say that they are worthless and that all available time should be spent on academics, especially for those kids who aren't doing well academically. I can understand wanting kids to learn to set priorities and spend their time wisely but I don't see the point in making anybody, of whatever age, give up the things that make life enjoyable.

change destiny said...

I think you misunderstood the word " they " in my last sentence . See , " they " reffered to the workload itself . When you have all that stuff to learn and have all these exams and home assignments , you just dont have the time or effort to do anything else . That if you do it right in the first place . It starts in the age between 4 and 6 and continues till you are done or out .

Laura(southernxyl) said...


My daughter opted out of extracurricular activities after her freshman year of high school because her homework load was so time-consuming. She also chose to take 4 years of Latin, which added to her academic load but it was something she wanted to do (and I encouraged). But she was in a very rigorous program at her high school that the kids had to have high test scores to get into, and they had to maintain their grades to stay in. And the teachers just about worked those kids to death. For the other kids in the school, schoolwork was a lot less demanding. Sports continued to be very important and the athletes got a lot of attention.

I will say that my daughter and those of her friends who were in that program report a fairly easy transition to college. I went to a small high school in Mississippi that was too small to offer any honors classes or anything like that and skated through without too much work; I enjoyed being in the band all four years, and was on the newspaper staff, and so on. I had to learn to dig in when I got to college. But I did adjust.