Blaming teachers

Stop blaming teachers for America’s education problems, writes Bob Herbert in the New York Times, citing a speech by American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten.

Ms. Weingarten was raising a cry against the demonizing of teachers and the widespread, uninformed tendency to cast wholesale blame on teachers for the myriad problems with American public schools. It reminded me of the way autoworkers have been vilified and blamed by so many for the problems plaguing the Big Three automakers.

That’s a straw man, responds Eduwonk. Most people sympathize with teachers’ challenges.

. . . saying teachers are the most important within school factor in student learning, and that public policy does not respect that today, is not the same as blaming them for today’s problems.

I don’t think skilled teachers and unskilled auto workers have much in common.  Auto unions pushed up costs, especially for retirees, making U.S. cars uncompetitive.  In education, the problem isn’t excessive pay, it’s the fact that salaries aren’t linked to teacher effectiveness, the difficulty of their jobs or the market demand for their skills.

That may be changing. Weingarten said the AFT is willing to consider changes in tenure, teacher assignments and merit pay, Herbert pointed out.

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Comments

  1. I think we should stop demonizing teacher unions. And I think teachers take on the victim mentality too much… probably due to the fact it’s a female-dominated profession.

  2. Teacher’s union contracts are a large part of the problem, particularly in inner-city schools.

  3. See.. I don’t have the full picture on that because I don’t come from a union state. What I find… having been in the classroom, covering districts, covering state policy … is that teachers are very… cloistered.

    For instance, DISD screwed up its budget and had to fire teachers. They were outraged… but it range a little hollow given the other companies in Dallas that also have faced cutbacks and budget cuts. Even if it’s TOTALLY your superintendent’s fault, you lose sympathy among the media when they are seeing many cut from their ranks.

    fwiw.

  4. It’s not just in the inner cities. In one very affluent, high-performing suburban county, the legal cost of removing a teacher was over $600,000 – a decade ago! I know teachers who not only did not know their (middle-school) subject, but who regularly verbally abused students/whole classes – still teaching, because it took years of documenting problems to begin legal action, especially if the teacher in question was a minority. I also know of at least one certifiably senile teacher, who could not reliably name the children in her elementary classroom at the end of the year. She was within 2-3 years of max retirement and it was too expensive for the county to try to remove her before then.

    I currently live in a small city, and the teachers’ union recently voted down a change in the middle school language program because it would require a 10-minute addition to the school day. That is not the way professionals approach their work; it’s pure union BS. No wonder teachers don’t get the respect they want; they don’t deserve it. Of course, many teachers don’t fall into that category, but as long as it’s union rules, that’s what happens and union rules treat all teachers the same. Good, bad and indifferent are all equal under their rules.

  5. I imagine the lack parental choice, and the tradeoffs that go with choice, only makes the respect problem worse.

  6. Bob Herbert is trying to get sympathy for the UAW by comparing them to underappreciated teachers. As usual from him, it’s poor rhetoric and a worthless appeal to emotion. It does, however, point to a kernel of truth, though surely not what he wanted to say–teachers lose respect when their unions do stupid things in their name. Teachers lose respect when their unions fight tooth and nail for the most incompetent. Teachers lose respect when their unions are seen as shills of the Democratic party. Teachers lose respect when their unions push obvious nonsense as part of their platform. I could go on.

    For teaching to gain respect, teachers need a professional association, not a union. Darren, at Right on the Left Coast, points to the Association of American Educators, which is a good start. He encourages more teachers to abandon their unions and join a true professional association, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Another step towards teachers gaining respect, and improving education in general, is developing a set of empirically-proven practices for teaching. People resent the faddish nature of education, and they take this resentment out on teachers, even though teachers can do little on an individual level to resist. A professional association free of the union mentality could help with this as well.

  7. GoogleMaster says:

    In Houston and other large urban districts, we have a huge problem with student mobility.

    From the Houston Chronicle on 12/15:
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6166752.html

    The mobility rate — which reflects the number of children who spend less than 83 percent of the school year at the same campus — exceeds 20 percent statewide and 25 percent in the Houston Independent School District. Some of the hardest-hit campuses have rates near 40 percent.

    The high turnover rates speak to the obstacles that low-income students — and, in turn, their schools — face. Poverty forces families to move for jobs or cheaper rent, sometimes as often as every few months. In other cases, children bounce between relatives and are asked to adjust to new schools along the way.

    One of Boatner’s newest first-graders, for example, is already attending his seventh school.

    Every time children change schools, they’re at risk of falling two to four months behind academically, said Jennifer Key, director of special populations for the Alief school district. Students who change schools frequently are also at greater risk of dropping out, research shows.

    … Like clockwork, Principal Daphane Carter sees new students enroll the last week of the month to take advantage of leasing specials — like a 99 cent move-in special she recently saw advertised at a nearby complex — or in the middle of the month when eviction notices are sent. She expects her school’s mobility rate of 33 percent to increase this year.

  8. Andy Freeman says:

    I’ll remind “GoogleMaster” that if it’s impossible for public education to work in a given circumstance, it’s foolish for us to spend public money in that circumstance.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    One of the thing that the teachers unions and teacher advocates forget is the total number of teachers that a student is exposed to during their 12 years of primary and secondary education.

    Most students will have 40 or more teachers. It is almost a certainity that at least one of those will be a lousy teacher. If a student is unlucky enough to have two bad teachers in a row or two our of three, the damanage can probably not be overcome.

    Everyone has anecdotal stories about having at least one lousy teacher.

  10. Mrs. Davis says:

    I don’t think skilled teachers and unskilled auto workers have much in common.

    They have everything important in common. They have no control over their professional lives and are just cogs in factories because they have sold their souls to unions that seek to take everything they can off the table by creating antagonistic relationships with management with no concern for the product of their member’s work or the effect of their actions on the customer, even to the extent of destroying the industry.

    Teachers had better hope the Wagner Act is repealed before the Indians figure out how to offshore education.

  11. tim-10-ber says:

    I agree with Quincy.

    Also, think the blame goes in several directions — ed schools, unions, administrators, teachers.

    Having two or three bad teachers in a row — how about having two the same year in critical high schools in the supposed top 30 high school in the country?

    I like the idea of abandoning the union and joining a professional organization. There needs to be a quicker way to get bad teachers (and administrators) out of schools and save money doing it.

    Lots of changes needed in how forced schooling er public education is done in this country

  12. I belong to a professional organization. It gives me access to some good resources on teaching. It tries to influence policy with studies about working conditions, but it is ineffectual in that arena (ie. how many students a HS English teacher can effectively work with — they say about 80).

    Since this is a right to work state, the unions are quite weak. I recall posting not long ago that I’d love to be making the $45K the beginning teachers in California make. Our cost of living is lower, but not so low that someone can support a family on $35K/year.

    It could be overcome, although I’m not sure how, but one of the issues is that our employer is a monopoly. We can’t walk down the street to the next district without losing a lot of pay. In addition, districts price fix. You won’t find much difference in the salary scale from one district to another. With the caps off, I also think we’d see football coaches paid far more than star math teachers (fully supported by many communities).

    Again, it isn’t hard to fire a teacher. I’ve seen teachers in my building fired every single year — and not just “counseled out” but let go mid-year. When they’re allowed to stay, it has far more to do with building politics than union rules. Witness the comment above about the teacher close to retirement. Some of the worst teachers I know (let’s watch Nemo!) are coaches.

  13. LS,

    Why the drop in pay for moving districts?

  14. Andy,

    It’s Gladwell’s teacher recommendation applied to students. You don’t know which children are going to be good students so you educate all of them and see which ones can succeed.

  15. The reason the senile teacher close to retirement was not fired had everything to do with the union rules – documentation, appeals etc ….. the whole process amounted to several years, by which time she could be retired.

    Regarding the incompetent/abusive teacher, the headmaster of a very good private school said that he would be watching that teacher at the first report of incompetence and be on the phone looking for a replacement at the first report of abuse. At least in areas with a number of private schools, there is a network among headmasters that helps them find replacement teachers quickly; even if it is hiring a retired/substitute teacher of known quality to finish the year. At least in strong union states, that doesn’t happen in the public schools.

  16. Lightly Seasoned –

    Here in California, where the unions are MUCH stronger, it is damn near impossible to fire a teacher. Unions here will fight tooth and nail to make sure even the most incompetent, even criminal teachers remain employed. I suspect those posting about horror stories of impossible to fire incompetents are from states like CA.

    It could be overcome, although I’m not sure how, but one of the issues is that our employer is a monopoly.

    In a word, yes. The problem in closed shop states, such as CA, is that the employment situation is a double monopoly–the district monopolizes employment while the union monopolizes employees. I can think of no worse system to encourage quality and dedicated teaching, yet that happens every day. Bless the teachers who make it so.

    Right to work states are a start, but so long as one side of the equation is monopolized it’s still not good. The fact is genuine school choice matters as much for professional teachers to get the respect and compensation they deserve as it does for students to get the education they deserve.

  17. Teachers often complain that the job of educating students is almost impossible in some cases — multiple transfers, special needs, home life, test culture — yet many teachers will still fight any kind of parental choice or voucher system. Their motto: We can’t educate them, but we’re not going to let anyone else have a whack at them.

  18. Miller Smith says:

    My new principal had no problem getting union teachers to leave the district. She did her job and did all the paperwork and observations taht were required by the union contract.

    In other words, my principal *did her job*. What we have is a ton of principal who would rather not be bothered to get a bad teacher removed. That makes that princpal a *bad* principal.

  19. More in-services and micro-management could be the ticket.

  20. momof4: it sounds to me like administration should have started the documentation process a long time ago. One doesn’t get utterly senile overnight. Perhaps your principal is only marginally more competent than the teacher in question. And, BTW, in public schools, we know who is jumping districts and why. Education is a small world, and one doesn’t jump for no reason (see below).

    pm: because they can. Just because my current district recognizes that I’m on step 10 doesn’t mean any other district has to. So, we have no real economic incentive to “talk with our feet.” Good principal/bad principal, we just have to put up with it if we want to continue paying our mortgages and teach.

  21. Mrs. Davis said, “They [teachers and autoworkers] have everything important in common. They have no control over their professional lives and are just cogs in factories because they have sold their souls to unions that seek to take everything they can off the table by creating antagonistic relationships with management with no concern for the product of their member’s work or the effect of their actions on the customer, even to the extent of destroying the industry.

    Well said, Mrs. Davis. And, let’s not forget that teachers have been “mistrained” in schools of education and often poorly educated in other college courses, e.g., humanities and sociology courses, prior to entering the classroom.

  22. I won’t argue the point against the administration. That particular county has an enormous, ossified bureaucracy and school-level administrators who wish to rise won’t rock any boats. In my view, one of the huge advantages of private schools is the autonomy and lack of large bureaucracies.

    Many years ago, I remember reading a comparison between the DC public schools and the Baltimore Archdiocese (Catholic) schools. With almost exactly the same number of students, DCPS had almost 100 times the central office personnel – something like 14 vs. 1250, if I remember correctly. Of course, DC under Mayor Marian Barry had the well-deserved reputation of putting large chunks of the population on the city payroll.

  23. We will continue to misdiagnose our educational needs until we focus on the role of students and their families. If they don’t give a hoot about education, if the students are unwilling to pay attention in class and do their homework after school, if they arrive in school with a closed and empty mind, don’t blame their teachers. –Diane Ravitch

  24. Andy Freeman says:

    > It’s Gladwell’s teacher recommendation applied to students. You don’t know which children are going to be good students so you educate all of them and see which ones can succeed.

    That’s not what Gladwell found. Gladwell found that bad teachers had behaviors that were different than the behaviors of good teachers. Selecting for those behaviors….

    We have teachers claiming that they can’t teach students with certain properties. If they’re correct, we don’t know whether those students are unteachable or just not teachable by standard methods. However, we do know that we’re wasting money on them.

  25. Andy Freeman says:

    > Just because my current district recognizes that I’m on step 10 doesn’t mean any other district has to.

    Welcome to the real world. Note that new employers SHOULD evaluate you on hiring and decide what level you should be. That’s one way that the rest of us get promotions.

  26. Andy Freeman says:

    > It could be overcome, although I’m not sure how, but one of the issues is that our employer is a monopoly. We can’t walk down the street to the next district without losing a lot of pay.

    Since teachers created and support that system ….

    FWIW, the relevant monopoly is the payments that the districts get from “the public”. Break that and districts will have to compete for both students and teachers.

  27. Andy,

    I don’t think that teachers are complaining that they can’t teach any child in a difficult situation. At least hat’s how I read GoogleMaster’s comment. So they teach them all and see which ones can succeed.

  28. Andy: I don’t think teachers created “the system” — a basic political history of American public education will bear that out.

    In the real world, if an employer wants you, they offer MORE money, not less. At least that’s my experience (and I’ve had a couple of very good offers lately — it turns out in the real world, my skills are actually pretty valuable). There are no promotions in teaching. Unless you jump to administration, your job responsiblities are the same on your first day as on your last (although one hopes you’re a whole lot better at carrying them out on your last).

  29. BadaBing – It’s one thing to not blame the teachers for things outside their control. It’s another thing to throw our hands up in the air and say “oh schools can’t do anything!” Different schools have far different results with similar students. There are schools and curriculae that have shown themselves to be effective with those student groups that traditionally do poorly in schools. See http://www.projectpro.com/ICR/Research/DI/Summary.htm

    And we can certainly blame schools (not teachers) for failing to adopt those programmes. And to the extent that schools fail to adopt those programmes, we can then blame them somewhat for kids who arrive at school with closed and empty minds, not giving a hoot about education.

  30. Andy Freeman says:

    > Andy: I don’t think teachers created “the system” — a basic political history of American public education will bear that out.

    Try again. I watch school board elections. I watch contract negotiations.

    Teachers demand and protect the current system.

    > There are no promotions in teaching.

    Just like production line workers at GM.

  31. Tracy W:

    One thing schools can do is kick out recalcitrant trouble-makers that habitually run interference on the learning of the majority of kids in class. It’s not fair to the majority of students that teachers must deal with the same disruptive kids over and over in a never-ending cycle of disruption, warnings, documentation, referral, suspension and return to the classroom. Of course, if you’re not reaching such students, then you’re doing something wrong. Hence, schools spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to turn around bad kids at the expense of not educating the good ones as well as they could be educated. Saving bad kids seems to be the primary focus in my district these days. I do not believe that every student will be successful if only we institute such-and-such program, or if only the teacher would blah blah blah. School is not a baby-sitting service although many kids and their parents regard it as such.

  32. Roger Sweeny says:

    “Why the drop in pay for moving districts?”

    Teacher pay depends on two things: how many educational credits you have and how long you have been in a particular district (seniority).

    If you switch to a different district, you may well lose all your seniority. That can amount to a significant chunk of change.

  33. Just because my job responsiblities don’t change doesn’t mean my skill sets don’t either. Teaching is also a lot of fun. I had one of my classes do Poetry Out Loud before the break. Lot of work to put together, but the whole process (not to mention the product) was tremendously enjoyable (and now they have mastered the concept of tone and tone shifts).

  34. BadaBing – schools with similar students incoming can achieve very different results. Look at the link I sent you.

    Also, if you have a “never-ending cycle of disruption, warnings, documentation, referral, suspension and return to the classroom”, then obviously what is happening is not working. The school needs to try something else (again, this is a school wide issue, it’s not about teachers).
    See this series of posts:
    http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-effectively-manage-classroom.html
    http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-effectively-manage-classroom-ii.html
    http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-effectively-manage-classroom-iii.html
    http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-effectively-manage-classroom-iv.html

    I do not believe that every student will be successful if only we institute such-and-such program, or if only the teacher would blah blah blah.

    Badabing, what’s going on here? I post a link about a curriculum that has had amazing results at educating low-income students, and you don’t seem to care at all. You don’t say “Wow, this is great! Why hasn’t my school implemented this?” You don’t say “Hmmm, this sounds interesting, but I have some questions…” You don’t say “This is complete nonsense, for the following reasons…” Instead, you go off on some random comment about not believing that every student will be successful. Well so what if not every student will be successful? We can drastically improve the performance of most students, without needing to change their backgrounds. How can someone interested in education not show any interest in these results?

  35. Badabing, what’s going on here? I post a link about a curriculae that had a strong influence on student outcomes, and you don’t appear to care at all. Your response is not “Oh, that’s great, why hasn’t my school implemented Direct Instruction?” It’s not “Hmm, that’s interesting, but I have some more questions…”, It’s not “That’s totally wrong, for the following reasons …”. Instead, you just ignore it, and say some random comment about not every student be successful. No interest at all. I don’t get it, how could anyone interested in education just ignore the link I provided with some comment about not every student being successful? Even if we can’t reach every student, schools can reach a vast number more without any changes in the kids’ backgrounds. I am struggling to believe you don’t care about that.

    As for difficult students, yes, it is not fair that teachers must face a a never-ending cycle of disruption, warnings, documentation, referral, suspension and return to the classroom. It’s also stupid. If you’re in a never-ending cycle try something else. Start with this link on how to manage classrooms and difficult behaviour:
    http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-effectively-manage-classroom.html

  36. Apologies for doublepost. I thought my first one had vanished somewhere into the Internet.

  37. Andy Freeman says:

    > Teacher pay depends on two things: how many educational credits you have and how long you have been in a particular district (seniority).

    > If you switch to a different district, you may well lose all your seniority. That can amount to a significant chunk of change.

    That’s not written in stone, it’s the system that teachers demand. (Just like autoworkers.)

    Teachers don’t get to complain about the consequences of a system that they demand and support.

  38. Ouch! Tracy, you not only excoriated me, you double-posted. I guess I got served:-)

    Anyway, I did go to the link you gave me and spent some time there. I looked at the books available and checked out some of the reviews on them at Amazon. Some of them are prohibitive in price, but I plan to go back and order one or, at least, put it on my wish list to order at a later date.

    Thank you for the other links, which I mostly agree with but would have to change because I teach high school sophomores and juniors. I use a lot of humor in the classroom and have a pretty good rapport with my students, so I don’t have serious classroom management problems, just problems with the same miscreants day in and day out. I’m talking about two or three students per class that have few or no credits and are marking time until they can go to our continuation school, which some kids seem to prefer.

    I have a knee-jerk reaction against the term “direct instruction” because I associate it with Madeline Hunter and her 7-step lesson plan, which teachers here were supposed to follow for administrative evaluations. In fact, we were supposed to be doing the 7-steps every day we taught. Other fads moved in and Hunter got left in the dust. Thankfully. By the time she left, I had learned to hate her guts due to management’s misappropriation of her methodology.

    I am also very aware of the benefits of positive reinforcement, but I am not going to print paper money and appoint a banker to keep track of it all. That wouldn’t work with my students, but there are other ways that do. One of the blog links mentioned how new teachers are thrown to the wolves and that is too true. So we have a huge turnover of teachers every year, and a principal who tends to blame teachers for student failure rather than the system, cultural attitudes toward learning, family background, etc.

    Now I will say that I believe IQ plays a huge roll in how much students can achieve and how far they can go, and that I still do not believe that any student can master calculus or become a good writer if only we used a different method. There are limits, and as a realist, I’m sure you agree with me on that.

    Thanks for the tongue-lashing. I needed it.

  39. Badabing:

    Congratulations on your openness (upon tongue-lashing) to Tracy W’s suggestions, which I thought were worthy.

    I would also suggest googling Postive Behavior Support and Sugai–one of the foremost researchers. It is true that PBS has probably been picked up more in Elementary Schools than in Middle and High Schools–but there has also been some more recent work on ways in which to apply the tenets to the upper grades. A piece of it has to do with including students (a la Bronfenbrenner) in self-governance–setting the rules and working out solutions.

    A piece of what is required, in my opinion and experience, is to widen the lens. It is not just a matter of “classroom” management–it is a matter of school-wide “discipline” (for lack of a better word–and I am not referring to a system of punishments, but rather normed behavior)–which requires that teachers and administration work collaboratively to determine problem areas (or even students–although this tends not to be as much of a problem as is frequently suggested). Are there areas of the building, or times of day, or particularly defined students (ie: those who read four grades below grade level) that appear to be associated with difficulties? Frequently once a clear problem definition has been arrived at, the solution becomes obvious.

    Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties that you have to face at the upper secondary level is that solvable problems (ie reading problems underlying discipline symptoms) may have been overlooked for many years by a system that has been programmed to get rid of students with problems in order to focus on the “students who really want to learn.”

  40. My district uses PBS at the Middle and HS level. It does work — but it shifts most of the discipline back onto the shoulders of the teachers and away from administration. So our workload (parent phone calls, esp.) has increased while theirs has dropped precipitiously.

  41. LS:

    I think you are bsolutely right bout moving the load from admin to teachers with concurrent incresed success rte. Wht would be helpful to you?

  42. Not much of my job is outsourceable. Fewer students, more time is really the only answer, but it is expensive. Four hours of face time, two hours of plan time would be a vast improvement over the current five hours of face time and one hour of plan time.

    It would also be kinda nice if I had my own classroom (I share) so that I don’t have to hunt all over the building to find a private phone to make those phone calls, which must be confidential. It’s quite time consuming to hit all the lounges and offices to find one not occupied by subs or students!

    I’m lucky that I seldom have significant discipline problems, so when I do the principal follows up on them. I still think it is odd that they’re seeing thousands fewer referrals, yet we added another ass. principal position. Perhaps budget cuts will take care of that.

  43. BadaBing: I think my kids would have a convulsive fit of hilarity if I printed up paper money, but high school is a different game than middle school. Since we’ve started PBS I have made a bigger effort to “catch them being good” (and not in a sarcastic way). I can’t say that it has improved grades for the bottom-feeders, but it does build enough of a relationship that they will let me do my job. They’re even good for the subs. OK, I do have one remedial class with kids who are low IQ enough that they are probably more like middle schoolers — I do reward them with a noisy game of Apples to Apples on Fridays after their vocab.

    We did Hunter Lesson Plans in my ed classes. I still structure units that way. I’m a BLESSED to work in a building that does not require us to file plans, so I haven’t done anything like that in a long, long time.

  44. Badabing, thanks for your very open reply. I was just puzzled, the first time I came across the results of Project Followthrough they struck me as immensely exciting if true, so your failing to mention them really one way or another was quite puzzling. (And I’ve met with similar absences from other commentators on other threads, so my puzzlement has been building for a while).

    I agree with you that Direct Instruction is a rather bad name for a specific curriculum, that label causes all sorts of confusion.

    Now I will say that I believe IQ plays a huge roll in how much students can achieve and how far they can go, and that I still do not believe that any student can master calculus or become a good writer if only we used a different method. There are limits, and as a realist, I’m sure you agree with me on that.

    Actually, no, I don’t. There have been too many people who have gotten burned in the past by predicting that there are certain limits on human achievement (see http://wilk4.com/humor/humore10.htm). I’m not going to be one of them. Just because we don’t know how to achieve something now, doesn’t mean we will always not know how to achieve it. Based on the past history of humanity, I think my position is more realist than yours. 🙂

    Unless of course you define being a good writer as a relative achievement (like winning a medal at the Olympics), in which case by that definition I agree with you that not everyone can be a good writer. But that doesn’t mean giving up teaching writing to some kids, any more than the fact that we can’t all win a gold medal at the Olympics means it’s a waste of time exercising.

    And, even if we can’t teach the most disabled kids to master calculus or to become a good writer, the focus should be on teaching as many kids as possible these skills as well as possible. The research done in Project Followthrough shows that it is possible to massively improve the success rates of younger kids by careful design of the curriculae and the way it is presented, while this research was focussed on reading and basic arithemtic, the same principles should be investigated for teaching more advanced writing skills and mathematics. The creators of Direct Instruction have created a rubric for identifying authentic DI programmes (see http://zigsite.com/PDFs/rubric.pdf), all of the criteria in here look valid for teaching low-IQ students calculus or writing (and yes I know the problems with IQ tests, but within a population it does tend to be the low-IQ kids who have more trouble learning academic work). Schools should be trying to reach as many kids as possible, and it’s likely that further improvements in teaching methods will produce further successes beyond what Project Followthrough has already shown to be possible. This result I think deserves at least equal time with warnings that we can’t reach every single kid.

    (I favour everyone learning writing because the vast majority of us will need to write at some point in our lives, from letters to the tax department to love letters to condolence letters, and I favour teaching calculus to as many kids as possible because kids tend to change their mind about what to do as adults, and not knowing enough maths really limits their options later on, of course not every skill needs to be taught to as many students as possible, reading, writing and maths are exceptional).

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