Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why We Go To School

We picked up DS#2's report card last night. All A's, except for a B+ in Algebra. It is his best report card. Ever.

A few nights ago, he happened to mention his grades. "My English teacher said that if I got an A+ in English I could move up to the Advanced Class," he announced.

"How close are you to an A+?" I asked.

"Thiiiis close," he said, and held his fingers about a half inch apart.

Now this son has struggled in English all his school career. He cannot spell. He hates to read. He often has trouble articulating his answers coherently. I have yet to see him reading his required novel or writing essays on the computer. His assignments from his tutor are more difficult than what he's getting in class.

If he were really working hard, asking me to help proof his papers or reading his assigned novel, then I would be really happy about the A. But he's not. He's on the computer or watching anime most nights. There is no evidence of "blood, toil, sweat, and tears." So I suspect he's not being challenged.

Today I called the counselor. She reviewed his grades and there is an opening in the Advanced English class that meets at the same period as his current one. Tomorrow he'll move. (He won't be happy about this.)

I called Hubs to tell him.

"I thought we were trying to keep his grades up so we can transfer him out of district?" Hubs asked.

"It won't do him any good if he comes in so unprepared he can't do the work," I pointed out. "Remember, the object of this is his education, not his grades."

"Oh, yeah," Hubs said.

The joke in our district is that the University of California system has made a commitment to accept the top 4% of the graduates from each high school in the state. So, if you go to a high school that is not challenging and you're a smart kid, it's easier to get admitted. Which is true. But then you'll be competing against kids who were in the top 4% of a rigorous school and who are prepared. You won't be. You'll be in Chem 1A trying to figure out how to light a Bunsen burner with a striker and they'll have the set up merrily bubbling away. And they won't be sharing their results. And the professor won't care.

My job is to make sure that doesn't happen. Flunk out because you partied too hard, not because your high school education was lacking.