And a child will lead them

Mark Johnson has his first day at school board:

He had successes and failures, he said, but the story that sticks with him is one about a 16-year-old student he taught in his second year. By that time, Johnson had his class management skills down, he explained, so the students would file into the classroom quietly, collect their assignments and books, and start reading.

One particular student — the aforementioned 16-year-old — was more fond of skipping class and cutting up. But one day, when the student walked in and saw all the other kids behaving properly, he asked Johnson for his textbook and assignment. Johnson said he was thrilled. It was a dream moment for a teacher — getting through to a hard-to-reach student. But Johnson’s enthusiasm was smashed moments later when the student called him over after starting the assignment. “I still remember to this day,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘Mr Johnson, I can’t read the words in this book.’”

I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to do it again: The part of this story that should stand out to everybody reading it, is the fact these kids only had access to their textbook for the 55 minutes they were in class. They should have it with them in study hall, when they go home in the afternoon, right before they go to bed, when they get up in the morning, while they're riding the bus (or car) to school, etc. But when your budget is so tight you've got five or six classes of children sharing the same books, you've got to "ration" their usage. Like a fricking basketball during P.E. That should have been the moral to Mark Johnson's story every time he told it, but it sounds like it didn't even register on him.



I know we've got a few teachers

here at BlueNC, and I'd love to hear their feedback on my opinion. I went to a county public school back in the 1970's here in NC, and I can't imagine how I would have done if I couldn't take my books home with me every day.

Rural high school math teacher

New books have not been bought since at lease 2010 (my first year). I am working with less than a class set (students in each class have to share books). Homework is near impossible since they don't have books, nor will they complete it anyways.

I can't fathom that someone who only taught for 2 years, served on a local school board for a very short period of time, and is a HUGE fan of charter schools and vouchers just got elected to lead the state's schools. I just don't understand....

Thanks for all you do

I wish there was an easy way for schools (or teachers from other schools) to share textbooks with each other. I've heard that textbook publishers give a small discount on new books if you give them all your old ones, which seems (to me) like a self-serving policy.

WHY didn't he find out the

WHY didn't he find out the student was illiterate ON THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS? If you're going to teach in 21st century America, this should always be the first thing you learn about your students.

Proud member of BlueNC for more than 9 years

Damn good question

Apparently one year was not enough time to get his class management skills down...

Seriously, his attempt to make a 2-year teaching "career" sound expansive is just embarrassing. I'm surprised they didn't laugh him right out of the room.

At some point

laughing at their ridiculousness is all that's left to do. Either that or cry.

To be fair, classroom

To be fair, classroom management is a skill that has to be developed and modified over time and differing circumstances. You don't just "get it" and there it is forever.

That said, two years in the classroom in no way scratches the surface. It gives the illusion of experience without really having any depth of understanding.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

I use a classroom set of

I use a classroom set of textbooks. I can't remember how many years ago new books were purchased and each student got their own, but it has probably been close to a decade. Time and use takes a toll. They are in rough shape with pages torn out, backs broken, and some rather graphic artwork in many cases.

I use the textbooks as the scaffolding or base for information when we begin each unit but they are used sparingly after that. However, I've been doing this for thirty years so I've accumulated a large storehouse of materials to draw on. Textbooks are much more important for teachers in the early stages of their careers. Until they have time to build up their resources these books are a lifeline that few can do without.

Of course computers and the internet are heavily emphasised these days. I've drastically changed my teaching style since google chromebooks were purchased for each student a couple of years ago. Every assignment in my classroom is done on the computer using google classroom.

Textbooks to take home aren't nearly as important as they once were. They are still needed but a shift of funding to technology can be justified. The problem is when there is a cut to overall materials funding. We don't have to have a new textbook every 4-5 years like we did when I started teaching. But eventually those decade (or more) old books need to be replaced. That brings us to the technology side of things. We started with a chromebook for every student in the school two years ago. Now we are scrambling. These computers only hold up so well when 13 or 14 year olds use it seven hours a day 184 days a year. Screens crack, keys fall off and hinges break. And you should never underestimate the many ways a mischievous teenager can commit computer sabotage. If not now, soon the problem will be having 21st century teaching strategies without enough working computers to go around. If adequate funding isn't provided, just as there weren't enough textbooks to go around there will not be enough computers to go around. Students will suffer, teachers will pull their hair out and politicians make excuses. Get out the baling wire and duct tape.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

I was hoping you would show up

Technology does change the landscape. A great deal, actually. But whether it's real books or electronic ones, funding is still the key. But you know what would be cool? Teaching (some) kids how to repair those damaged Chromebooks. They keep saying we need to teach/train teenagers in real-world marketable skills, and doing so while keeping the school's resources "stocked" is a perfect formula for that.

Reminds me of a story.

My rural county had a state house member back in the 50s or maybe it was the 60s. He was involved in a debate on the floor regarding the very same topic we are discussing today, textbooks and funding. He proposed that in order to save money the state utilize inmates at Central Prison to transcribe the books for distribution. But another representative saw a flaw in the idea.

Other Representative: What about the copyrights?
My Representative: Copy right hell! We'll stand over em' with blackjacks. They damn better copy it down right!

I'm a moderate Democrat.