Ms. Frizzle is a middle school science teacher in a low-income district. She is an inspiring, aspiring teacher and I believe her children are lucky to have her.
Her students recently participated in a regional science fair, and this post is her reflection on how the science fair went. She also reflects on what reducing spending on schools--just the basics, not "luxuries" like arts and crafts--really cost students.
Children must learn to read and do math. No one will dispute that. Yet it is a terrible tragedy what we are sacrificing to make sure the basics are covered. For example, you probably know the technique for using a ruler to make little marks and draw light pencil lines in order to cut in a straight line when making a poster. Okay. Now think back to the age when you first knew how to do that. If you're like most people I've talked to, you probably developed this skill in 4th or 5th grade. By that point, you had some basic design skills when making a poster, and you were an old pro at cutting smoothly with scissors. Why? Because you had art classes in school, and/or your teachers did arts & crafts programs from time-to-time in the elementary school curriculum, and/or your parents bought you art supplies so that you could do projects at home. My children - sixth and seventh graders - cannot be assumed to know any of these things. Many struggle with scissors. Very, very few know how to mark off a square in order to cut in straight lines. And their general sense of design is poor. A lot of the teachers at the Science Expo had made the boards for their children, especially in the lower grades. I don't do that for my students; they make their display boards themselves, to start to learn those skills. My kids knew their science, but some visitors had an initial negative reaction to their display boards because they were messy compared to the rest of the projects at the Expo. First impressions do matter! Mastering basic arts & presentation skills is not as important as learning to read or add, no, but it matters!
She then goes on to write about an educator being offensive to her kids. Sometimes I am hopeful that local programs such as The Girls' Middle School, The Bridge Program and College Track , and national programs such as A Better Chance will help to build a strong middle and upper class of color.