As a student I’ve been both underserved and overserved. I was tagged as nearly functionally retarded in first grade until my Mom pointed out that putting me near the window was probably overly distracting (probably didn’t help that my 1st grade teacher was a bona fide bitch and half, even when I encountered her in later years).
Still, considered sub par student until we moved to Texas for half a year in 4th grade. They were generally stricter, but not sure if that was the solution, but in any case, when I moved to Oregon for the second half of my 4th grade year, suddenly I was tested as advanced. When I moved back to New York in my 5th grade, they put me in the Gifted and Talented program.
Since then, have had relative ups and downs academically speaking. Hard to pin down a specific cause or “scapegoat” for either.
In general, I excelled when I was believed in, when I wasn’t treated as inherently different from my teachers, and when I had a natural affinity or talent or enjoyment for the subject or teaching method. I didn’t excel when teachers or administrators pulled rank or pretended to be on some other level than me, or when the teaching was rote and didactic, or they treated me like I was dumb or beneath them.
I don’t see the issue with tenure. If a teacher truly begins to slack off as soon as they get tenure, they can still get fired for cause. And if an administrator fails to fire a truly incompetent educator during the long period leading up to tenure, then they themselves are incompetent.
I was born in 1974 Long Island NY. My gut feeling is to trust teachers on their feelings about standardized tests, and I agree in principle. But my personal experience is that, the teachers didn’t really pay any particular attention to them, let alone teach to them, and they didn’t take up much time in our curriculum. At least with regard to generalized tests.
Of course, things like the Regents (state based subject finals in high school) they did teach to. But in the subjects for which I did fairly well in or enjoyed, I didn’t feel like the Regents were particularly offensive. The multiple choice bits weren’t overly “must know specific date at the expense of real knowledge on the subject” and in cases where multiple choice wasn’t sufficient, there was some attempt at quantifying essays.
I think probably, teachers are fine. What’s needed is not more money or more teacher control per se, but to recognize and organize the system around the fact that students are different, and although it’s convenient to group students geographically, it’s not ideal.
I certainly would have excelled much more in a system where the teachers treat the students like they aren’t lower classed or subordinate, but rather humans with less experience and still under adult care. And which had a more workshop/artistic bent than a didactic ‘memorize random fact’ bent. And which helped me with practical life skills to complement whatever talents and skills I might have had or developed. OTOH I don’t think all students would have benefited thus. One size education does NOT fit all.