January 2015

“Pile-on” or Preparation for Life?–You Decide

Preaparation or Pile On -Cartoon for Blog Post #3

Written by: Holly Haggerty, Executive Director

Three recent real examples of schoolwork from our students:

  • An 8th grade girl who can’t add 6 + 7 without counting on her fingers and can’t do subtraction problems that involve regrouping is working on finding the slope and y-intercept on a graph in school. (If you don’t understand that, don’t worry, neither does she.)
  • A 7th grade boy who hates to write is asked to write a high-level comparison of plot development and plot structure between Emily Dickinson’s poem “I had been hungry all the years” and Teasdale’s “The Lighted Window”.
  • A 3rd grade girl who has not mastered single digit addition has math homework asking her to find the unknown quantity in problems like this:  X-24+7=48.

If you chose “pile-on” then you agree with how each of these students felt with that homework—piled on.

Most people would agree that a good educational system prepares students for life.

Kristen Harper“Pile-on” or Preparation for Life?–You Decide
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Do you know more than a kindergartener is supposed to know?

NeedATutor -Cartoon by Sioux Hart

Written by: Holly Haggerty, Executive Director

Which one of these would you expect a kindergartener to do on their first day of school?

A. Write a Story
B. Learn the names of the letters
C. Write a sentence

If you chose B (learn the names of the letters) you would be wrong. On my daughter Dagny’s first day of kindergarten, she was asked to do C–write a sentence.

When I enrolled Dagny in kindergarten this year, it was not without some amount of trepidation. My older three children had attended private school throughout their elementary years and came out with their basics fully in.

But my husband and I decided to enroll our fourth child in a public charter school which emphasizes the arts. The school is also one of the top schools in the county for students performing at grade level.

We felt that if any child could succeed in public school it was Dagny. After all, I had practically been preparing her for school since she was born.

I was not prepared, however, for the curriculum changes prompted by Florida’s new standards.

Kristen HarperDo you know more than a kindergartener is supposed to know?
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Resolve to help even more in 2015!

Holly Haggerty head shotI am really proud of everything the Community Learning Center has accomplished over the past 16 years—first and foremost, the educational help we have provided to thousands of struggling kids across Florida.

In 2015 however, we want to take our help to the next level. For years, we have been helping parents by providing them with tips and tools they can use to help their own kids. This year we plan to make these tips and tools more easily available by publishing on our blog. Additionally, we will discuss what we observe is being done well in schools along with what is not. Because we help kids from all over the county, we have a pretty good perspective on what is happening or isn’t.

The fact of the matter is this:  in spite of the huge number of wonderful teachers, administrators, caring parents, active community groups and smart kids we have in Pinellas and Florida, something is wrong—very wrong. Nearly 30% of Florida students drop out of school 1 and here in Pinellas 45% third graders read below grade level.2 

Kristen HarperResolve to help even more in 2015!
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