A Subprime Meltdown of our Making

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The Wall Street Journal published an article in June of 2013 that suggested the surge in subprime mortgage defaults of 2008, a large factor in the global recession of that time, might have been caused by a simple inability to do the math necessary to understand the risk those mortgages represented.

I’m afraid I’m about to contribute to the next meltdown. If I don’t change positions, I’ll return to a math position where I will be expected to use a book that my students will find essentially unreadable while teaching lessons that have been previously scripted by committee. They will tell me what to teach. I will have to be teaching what everyone else is teaching or risk reprimands. Unfortunately, if my next class shares the data characteristics of my last class, that book will be 3-4 years above the actual mathematical operating level of my students. When I suggested to a colleague that I planned to scour the internet for appropriate materials, she strongly advised me not to go off the script. Deviations were not going to be tolerated by the new administration.

Eduhonesty: This is part of the reason why I interviewed for another position last week. I don’t want to bail on my district at this late date, but I don’t want to try to teach that book either. I will use the book if I must. I’m a team player. My gut response is that I will be selling my kids down the river, though, if I do what I’m told to do.

I don’t think I have a choice. I expect “informal” visits to be happening throughout the week as the new administration tries to step up our game. Sadly, I doubt my last minute rescue by District X will come through. I will be allowed a small portion of the class for review, but otherwise I am expected to be charging forward.

Damn. Damn. Damn. When I was in school, the administration seemed to understand that a student who finished the fourth grade book should go on to the fifth grade book, not the seventh grade book. They also understood that math classes needed to be tiered or, to use an unfashionable word, tracked. As it stands, I won’t be surprised to get a class whose test scores indicate that are working at anywhere from a second grade to a seventh grade mathematical level of mastery, all in the same room at the same time, with only a small number of students actually able to read the book.

My only chance will be after school tutoring, if I have any chance at all. I hope some of them will decide to stay late with me.