Writing: PACT - Not So Fictional After All

Sometimes I wonder if the book I'm writing will seem too fictional or far-fetched.

Then I read stuff like this.

19 comments:

Ice said...

The following is my priblem, not yours, but it still makes me laugh at myself:

EVERY TIME you have the title of "Writing: Pact" I miss the colon and wonder who is making this writing pact together, and hoping it's a pact that I can keep up with.

Anyway, I saw the same article through Shakesville, and thought of your WIP as you've talked about it here. Interesting to see how life imitates art, or art imitates life...

Ana Mardoll said...

You're not the only one. Would it help if I capitalized the Pact to PACT? :)

chris the cynic said...

Or you could just consider it a sign and propose a writing pact of some kind.

Ice said...

Lol, I'm not sure, it might. Don't worry though, I'm positive that it is more my inability to parse on the first try than it is how you write it. It's just funny to me that it is now kind of stuck as Writing (no!colon) Pact even though I KNOW what you really mean! :)

leianajade said...

Interesting - I never thought about it being shocking. My high school definitely did the same thing, but it was a private religious high school, so I don't know if that makes it any 'better'.

Majromax said...

Perhaps "Writing of Pact?"

chris the cynic said...

I do think that the capitalization would be enough. The unseen colon makes it seem like "Writing Pact" the capitalization of which can make it seem like one thing. On the other hand, "Writing PACT" is clearly two distinct things so "Writing: PACT" doesn't seem to have the same problem for those of us who miss the colon.

Amaryllis said...

My daughter's private, all-girl, Catholic high school required pregnant students to be home-schooled during their final trimester. I don't recall ever hearing about compulsory pregnancy tests, though.

But what's shocking about this particular school's policy is that it's a public school, and therefore it's funding discrimination with public dollars. Actually, it's a "charter" school, funding all of its private notions of education with public dollars. And why anyone thinks this is a good idea is beyond me.

Lonespark said...

That's shocking and horrible. And more shocking and horrible with public dollars involved. As in, illegally shocking and horrible.

My dad is a guidance counselor and he works with a lot of the girls who are pregnant or have babies. They are kids the same as everybody, some good students, some not very dedicated, and they need help to succeed. Just like all the other students.

Ana Mardoll said...

Charter schools? It's my understanding that there has been a few highly publicized ones that worked really well (probably a perfect storm of staffing, money, and circumstance) and since then they've been seen by some people as a golden bullet to be used in every situation because Capitalism (or something. It's government money, so that strikes me as not Capitalism) rather than, say, learning the lessons that made the really successful ones work.

I have a book around here that claims that charter schools statistically fail - as in, completely go out of business - more often than not, I think, and it questions the morality of playing with child education in that way.

Pregnancy is a federally protected state, but a lot of private schools can and still do try to work around that with (possibly illegal) pre-enrollment agreements. My private Christian college threw kids out for getting pregnant. Very nasty business, that.

Nicholas Kapur said...

Charter schools? It's my understanding that there has been a few highly publicized ones that worked really well (probably a perfect storm of staffing, money, and circumstance) and since then they've been seen by some people as a golden bullet to be used in every situation because Capitalism (or something. It's government money, so that strikes me as not Capitalism) rather than, say, learning the lessons that made the really successful ones work.

I dunno about anywhere else, but in Texas at least they've always been a convenient way for Rich White Christians to make sure their kids get to go to school with other rich white Christians. Plus we have conservatives constantly pushing for a "voucher" system, which means giving everyone subsidies for expensive schools that only Rich White Christians will be able to afford and get accepted into anyway.

But hey, better not elect liberals. They engage in wealth redistribution.

JenL said...

I have a book around here that claims that charter schools statistically fail - as in, completely go out of business - more often than not, I think, and it questions the morality of experimenting with child education in that way. One presumes that the parents who support it have their reasons, though. (Since I don't like to judge parents.)
The plural of anecdote is not data, but... Around here (Central Ohio), not only do a startling number of charter schools fail, but they fail in breathtakingly spectacular, mid-semester ways that leave parents scrambling to get their kids enrolled in other schools at a moment's notice.

One school in particular was in empty stores in the (dying) mall downtown. Students and teachers left one night, with no warning anything was going on. Students went to school, went home, and then heard on the news that they no longer had a school.

Overnight, they were locked out - the school had gone into bankruptcy and everything the school owned was subject to the bankruptcy, so steps were taken to ensure the operators couldn't essentially loot the place. Except, of course, the operators had been the only ones who knew it was coming. So while computers mysteriously disappeared from the computer room immediately before the lock-out, personal belongings of students and teachers (plus various school supplies and equipment owned by the various teachers) were locked up and unobtainable for MONTHS.

Despite the fact that the school was claiming per-pupil funds for more students than they actually had enrolled in the school, the school owed the state more than $3.3 million in the end. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2008/07/23/hartowes.html

Ana Mardoll said...

they fail in breathtakingly spectacular, mid-semester ways that leave parents scrambling to get their kids enrolled in other schools at a moment's notice.

Ugh, that's awful. I'd heard some stuff like that, but was hoping I'd misremembered. Because, yeah, expecting people to just leap in and homeschool kids without notice (as with kids expelled for being pregnant) is RIDICULOUS. Homeschooling takes a lot of time, money, and prep work -- things that many families simply don't have extra to give.

JenL said...

Yeah, if you work 40 hours a week, commute an hour each way (on the bus, in the car, or whatever), and liked this charter school in part you could drop the kids off on the way... homeschooling probably isn't an option. Finding out that your kids don't have a school to go to *tomorrow* and you have to drop everything to get your kids enrolled in the local public school, figure out their school bus pick-ups and routes, get them whatever specific supplies (or uniforms) the new school requires, it's a mess. And then there's the fun of working with new-to-you teachers to figure out the new routines, and what are the chances the new classes are at the same place as the old classes on pretty much anything?

So not only do the parents have a nightmare transition, it messes up the kids' progress and very possibly makes them feel ... lacking, although most kids would probably phrase it more harshly .. for not being prepared for the demands of this new class.

And all this is usually (at least around here) caused by the fact that the folks with this great new idea for how to run a school had better ideas than administrative abilities. In some cases, they couldn't account for where the money had gone (whether that's incompetence or theft, who knows). In other cases, they didn't understand that at $xx per student, and a fixed overhead cost of $yyy plus an incremental cost of $zzz per student, you need to have a specific number of enrolled students to meet your overhead. And if it takes 130 students to meet your overhead, and you start the school year with 95 students. Well, either you find a way to enroll additional students, you find funding sources to tide you through, or you run out of money. And if you can't calculate the number of students you need to keep the school afloat, you probably shouldn't be running your own school. At least not without some help from someone who can.

Silver Adept said...

Again, plural of anecdote is not data, but... [Content Note for fringe Conservative beliefs]

There's an initiative petition here in Washington State that want(s)(ed) to set up charter schools in the state. From what I can gather, the reasoning for this amounts to something like "the public schools are failing because EVUL TEACHR UNIONS prevent school administrators from firing low-performing teachers (according to the Almighty Standardized Test) and tying their wages to performance 'incentives'. With charter schools, we won't have to deal with any of that union nonsense - and we'll have a better class of teachers because they'll all be so scared witless at the prospect of being fired arbitrarily that they'll do anything and everything to boost test scores."

Which pretty much ignores the data that says, "Um, people? As a property tax-funded institution, if the neighborhood around the school has been turned into a ghetto, the school will suffer accordingly." Not to mention the likely cessation of any opinion not in lockstep with the administration because being at-will means you don't dare say anything about anything.

If we took half the effort and money being poured into promoting charter schools and applied it to the places that need it most, to build the infrastructure and community that results in a solid tax base and to adequately fund the school to have enough teachers for a good class size and enough supply funds so that teachers didn't have to spend their own money for enrichment (or necessities), those "failing" public schools might just surprise you.

Can't have that, though. That's "wealth redistribution" and it's Communist.

As for the actual topic, however, I am not surprised at all that a school did that. I am a bit surprised that a school that accepts public funds does, and further surprised that they are treating pregnancy as if it were a controlled substance that requires randomized testing, suggesting a fundamental misunderstanding even deeper than the fundamental misunderstanding of Title IX. But it's mostly capslock rage about this mistreatment of human beyond and how it's the most obvious facet of the deeper idea that students are prisoners in their schools, rather than schools being the place where students learn and are able to exercise adult rights and responsibilities in controlled environments in practice for reality outside. Different rant for a different topic, though.

cjmr said...

To be fair, some school districts have 'home and hospital study' which is distinct from home schooling. The district provides all the curriculum materials (which are the same as what the student has been using at school) and a teacher for a few hours a week. The student is expected to complete the work on their own at home. It is intended for students with temporary but relatively long term medical conditions that make it difficult or impossible for students to attend at their normal school building.

Amaryllis said...

Yeah, when I talked about pregnant students at my daughter's school being "home-schooled," that's the kind of thing I meant-- studying at home under the guidance of teachers from the school, not their parents.

As for charter schools, from what I hear, a few of them succeed in ways that aren't easily replicable across a large public school system, some of them fail spectacularly, and a lot of them get more or less the same results as conventional public schools in the same area-- so what's the point?

Except, of course, to turn education into yet another area where a public good is diverted into public funding of private profits.

Somebody mentioned a book: I don't know if it was this one, but Ravitch is a good source for understanding why charter schools and the current models of "educational reform" are Not Helping. As the saying goes, read it and weep.

Sherry Hintze said...

I... don't think a public school is allowed to do that. Which, of course, only means that they will do it anyway until someone takes them to court, at which point lots of money will be spent on both sides (money that COULD have gone to salaries and resources at the school, or even toward providing these young women help with completing their educations), and eventually the court will rule against the school, which will then try to find another way to duck the law.

Is it going to help these girls to throw roadblocks in the way of their education? Wouldn't it be more productive to help them with academic and job skills, so they can support themselves and their babies? And, hey - are boys being required to take paternity tests and being kicked out for several months if they're proven to have fathered someone's baby? I'm betting not.

It makes me so mad. SO mad.

My experience with a charter school was a very positive one. They had originally been a private school, but when North Carolina offered a limited number of charters, they decided to become a charter school so that they could accept more students, and students at different economic levels, because they would no longer have to charge private tuition.

Classes were limited to fifteen students. Parents were expected to contribute their time throughout the school year - supervising during lunch, helping with the open house every spring, one dad drove the school's little bus on field trips - which helped everyone get to know everyone and gave everyone an investment in the school community. Students were expected to act responsibly, and teachers and administrators worked to give them the social tools to do so and to work out disagreements.

They minimized teaching to the end-of-grade tests and concentrated on teaching problem-solving and critical thinking skills. And every year, they knocked the EOGs out of the ballpark.

So, that particular charter school worked. Very well, in fact.

Silver Adept writes:

"But it's mostly capslock rage about this mistreatment of human beyond and how it's the most obvious facet of the deeper idea that students are prisoners in their schools, rather than schools being the place where students learn and are able to exercise adult rights and responsibilities in controlled environments in practice for reality outside."

This. This is the reason, I think, that we were never able to adapt to a public school after our kids aged out of the charter school. Punitive, illogical, zero-tolerence for a learning curve or different ways of thinking, busy work with artificial rewards and no space for critical thinking... The kids had no interest in learning to keep their heads down and toe the line, and I had no interest in making them. (Ha! That makes it sound like they were raging a-holes. They were not disruptive, insolent, uncooperative. They wanted to work with the system. The system wanted them to fall into line and be quiet little drones. Instantly, with no time to adapt or to practice.)

Why do we inflict this on our kids? Sorry. That's really a rant for another time.

Silver Adept said...

I forgot to mention in my original comment about the presence of a school, perhaps unique in the curry, whose enrollment consists entirely of pregnant students. And who consistently graduates the entirety of their classes, places them in universities, and more often than not, had found them scholarship monies to defray the costs of said university. I only learned about this school after the (male) emergency manager of the school system slated the school for closure, and the students and teachers staged a protest that brought the police in to arrest them. The school has since been reconstituted as a private charter and is continuing its unique work.

If you want to know more about it, you can start with the Wikipedia page for the Catherine Ferguson Academy.

@Sherry Hintze - I doubt that the children were anything but different, but difference produces a very strong conformity reaction in most public schools, and I'm sure that after having been in a school that encouraged them, a school that choose to punish got all the WTF it deserved. But I think we agree - that rant is for a different topic.

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