Across Town, Teachers See Students Who 'Are not Whole'
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. — AS President Bush and the governors of 49 states decided here to demand results of the nation's schools, across town at Charlottesville High School, Shirley Marshall drew back one corner of her mouth in a skeptical smirk. After more than 30 years of teaching English, she sums up what many of the other teachers here say about their students:
``These are not whole people coming to us today.''
While Mr. Bush says schools have not achieved much with increasing amounts of money in the past decade, teachers here have watched the student population change markedly.
Students from single-parent homes, some using or living around drugs, many working long hours after school, about two dozen for whom the school administrators here cannot even find permanent home addresses - these are students with scant interest in school and little support from parents.
Although the idea was mentioned only in passing at the summit, several teachers endorsed a suggestion by New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers (R) that the school day be extended for social workers to help students with personal and family problems while the teachers concentrate on academic learning.
``Let the teachers teach,'' says Ms. Marshall, ``and not be expected to cure all of society's ills in 50 minutes a day.''
Charlottesville High is a racially mixed school. The unprecedented education summit inspired some hope, but no great faith among the faculty here that change would reach the classroom.
``The old things just don't work anymore,'' says Spanish teacher Marcia Hutchinson, agreeing with the politicians across town that schools are not seeing enough results, that they need to change. ``I think we're all willing to change things, we just need some direction,'' she says.
The good students today have changed little from decades past, faculty members here say. The difference is the emergence of another, more-troubled group of students.
``It's not that they don't want to learn,'' notes principal Wilbert Lewis. ``They're raising themselves, trying to run an apartment, working. We're not seeing the parental partnership we need.'' Teacher K. Diane Price notes that while parents used to flock to back-to-school nights, they now often don't even share meals with their children.