Too many indifferent teachers, too many classrooms with glossy posters instead of the kids’ work. And when the kids’ stuff was hung up, it was way too uniform.
And the biggest strike? teachers mixing interpretive narrative (midrash) with the biblical text, and making no distinction. Never mind that while I was in the classroom, boys were called on twice as often as girls. Never mind that ‘wiggly kid’ to the principal means ‘ADHD/ADD,’ or that when asked what their goals are, the administration showed nothing beyong ‘Keeping Up With the Kerrys.’ Their communication skills lag, yes, but above all this is a school that is purporting to teach Orthodox Judaism, and they are being sloppy about it. Phaugh.
Our son is going to Kitah Aleph next year, and we just came back from a meeting as well. When I was younger, I used to ask the staff what happened with kids who were bored in class. I stopped because they always said the learning was individualistic and it never was, unless the teacher was exceptional. Now I ask for examples of how they handle behavior problems. Among other things, tonight the principal mentioned that they might ask a child to copy a relevant section of the Shulchan Aruch as a punishment for some infraction. One of my own children once had to do this. Do they really think that a child talks back to a teacher because he doesn’t know the halacha?
I’ll tell you how we are going to choose the school for our son. Forget about bored kids, lack of creativity, sex discrimination (although we don’t have the option of coeducational classes, which is fine with me), and sloppy religious teaching. We will examine our options, see what combination of hashkafic (ideological), sociological, economic, and pedagogical garbage we are best able to stomach, and choose the one that allows us to sleep best at night. It won’t be an easy choice.