Thursday, December 02, 2010

Survivor: Kindergarten

I had almost forgotten about the World's Worst Teacher. Back in 2008, kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo at Morningside Elementary in Port St. Lucie, Fla., let her students cruelly vote an autistic child out of the class. Who lets kindergartners vote on anything? But as you might expect, the boy, Alex Barton, then 5 years old, was traumatized by the mockery and exclusion.

His mother sued St. Lucie County, and recently reached a $350,000 settlement. No doubt that money will help Alex in his care and education, but I always cringe a little when schools operating on tight budgets have to pay out large sums in lawsuits like these. It ends up hurting everybody except the person who should be hurting...

Portillo was suspended for a mere year, and has now returned to teaching in the same county with her tenure reinstated. This lack of accountability is what really hurts students.

Last night Stephen Colbert interviewed Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C Public Schools. She believes that the problem with America's schools is that there is no organized interest group that represents children:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michelle Rhee
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

When were we ever number one? Well, it wasn't in my lifetime. Rhee points out that in the 1950's, the U.S. was number one in high school graduation rates, rates of going to college, and general proficiency rates. Of course, at that time, most of Europe was still recovering from WWII and rebuilding infrastructure... but it sure made us look good, didn't it?

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