"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Join Education for Human Greatness

From Philip Kovacs:
Education for Human Greatness
February 08, 2009

Our Letter Writing Campaign

We encourage you to use one of the templates below and send a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you have an extra ten minutes, we’d love for you to send letters to five different papers...

Template 1:

There are several concepts our legislature can use to dramatically improve public education. We mention only five that could have an immediate impact:

1. Redirect the huge expenditure for mass testing to lower class sizes, attract and retain great teachers and make first-class library/media centers in each school.
2. Stop requiring high school students to take courses in which they have no interest. Teachers now spend an inordinate amount of time controlling students who do not want to be in their classes. Required learning is of little value compared to student inquiry into self-chosen courses.
3. Expect teachers in primary grades to help students learn to read in ways that do not destroy the desire to read. Redirect the money spent on commercial reading programs to buy high quality reading material for school libraries.
4. Change the main goal and purpose of public education from “student achievement in curriculum” to this higher purpose: “develop students to be contributors to society.” This goal results in children being empowered with the talents, skills, knowledge and desire to make positive contributions to school, home and community.
5. Make provision for teachers to be more than test givers, but to perform as professionals who involve parents and make decisions about guiding each child to develop a full range of their unique talents, gifts, abilities and interests. Use more art, music and science as avenues to individual development. Stop trying to standardize students.

Some of these concepts are being utilized in a few of the best private schools in America. Isn’t it time for all children to have a first-rate education? You can help make it happen by sharing these concepts with legislators, teachers, friends and neighbors.

_________________, (Your name)

For the Educating for Human Greatness Alliance --

A Growing Group of Researchers, Professors, Parents and Teachers

Working to Modernize Public Education
____________________ ( Your address and phone number)

Template 2:

Five simple concepts could significantly improve public education while lowering costs.

1. Eliminate billions of dollars spent annually for unnecessary testing.

2. Allow students to have more choice in courses at school so that they might pursue their talents and interests.

3. Redirect money spent on commercial reading programs, which have proven ineffective, to bolster school libraries.

4. Make a primary goal of education to "Develop students to be contributors to society."

5. Encourage teachers and parents to work together to help each child develop to his or her full potential.

These concepts are being utilized in a few of the best private schools in America. Isn't it time for all children to have a first-rate education? You can help make it happen by sharing these concepts with legislators, teachers, friends, and neighbors.

_________________, (Your name)

For the Educating for Human Greatness Alliance --
A Growing Group of Researchers, Professors, Parents and Teachers
Working to Modernize Public Education
_________________________( Your address and phone number)

Template 3:

Child Abuse in Kindergarten

If you destroy a child’s curiosity and eagerness to learn, is it child abuse? Most people in our state are not aware of the terrible thing that is happening under the guise of teaching kindergartners and first graders how to read. Many years ago the eminent English philosopher, John Locke, said some words that still apply today: “This much for learning to read, which let him never be driven to. Cheat him into it if you can, but make it not a business for him. ‘Tis better it be a year later before he can read than that he should this way get an aversion to learning.”

In our great state and all over the country we have made learning to read a business for children. Commercially developed reading programs have infiltrated many of our public schools and fooled people into believing they can be used to help students learn how to read sooner and better. These programs, and similar ones in math, have crowded out curious exploration of the environment, the very activity that makes reading (and math) meaningful. Now studies are showing no difference in reading ability between those who are taught in a programmed way and those who have not been subjected to the standardization approach. There is some evidence beginning to appear, however, after three years, that those who learned to read in the natural, curious way are more prone to read for fun and personal enlightenment than those whose curiosity was destroyed.

Why have we allowed the teaching profession to deteriorate to the point that many teachers feel they can’t teach reading without a scripted program? Just think of the many interesting books we could put in school libraries, if we didn’t waste money on commercial programs and unnecessary testing. As veteran teachers and administrators, we know many teachers who use children’s natural curiosity as the main avenue to reading. They are mindful of the great range of children’s readiness to read. Some come to school already reading and others are not ready until much later. We are also painfully aware of many who have withdrawn their children from public school because programmed learning that ignored individual needs was giving them an “aversion to learning.”

If we want to attract and retain good teachers, should we not make provision for them to use their knowledge, skills and creativity to rise to a higher level of teaching that shuns programmed materials? Should we not expect teachers to help each child learn to read as a way to satisfy and enlarge curiosity? If we destroy this most precious gift, is it not child abuse? Surely we should not be in the business of damaging the tender emotions of children. Isn’t it time to rise above obsolete practices and make public school teaching a true profession?

__________________ (Your Name)

On Behalf of the Educating for Human Greatness Alliance

__________________ Your address and phone number

The Forum for Education and Democracy

If you are not familiar with this organization, please take 5 minutes to learn more about them. They are doing important work in D.C. to democratize public education. One of their founding members, Linda Darling-Hammond, worked with President Obama’s transition team and is under consideration for a senior post in the Department of Education.

Here are their guiding principles:

1. Public education is foremost about enabling all young people to develop their strengths, use their minds well, and become connected to their communities.

2. Student work in schools should be intellectually challenging, connected to the skills needed for real world success, and personalized so that children are known well by those who teach them.

3. Public education is fundamental to a democratic, civil, prosperous society.

4. Public schools are critical institutions for breaking the cycle of poverty and redressing social inequities.

5. Public engagement, community support, and adequate, equitably distributed resources are essential to the success of public education.

6. Parents and communities should be involved in all attempts to improve public schools.

7. The work of education for democratic citizenship is not only the responsibility of the public schools; other cultural and civic institutions must share the responsibility of meeting the needs of our youngest citizens.

8. Public policy choices affecting public education should always be assessed on the basis of their contribution to equitable educational resources, their impact on local control, and whether or not they support the public education's most central mission - the development of free and responsible democratic citizens.

9. Our children can only learn when their basic needs - from nutrition to health care and housing - are met. Our commitment to children, and to a public education system, is demonstrated by our commitment to provide these fundamental needs.

If these principles appeal to you, we ask that you “join a national web-based campaign to make the needs of young people and public schools a top priority of President-elect Barack Obama's first 100 days in office -- and beyond.” We also ask that you take a moment to encourage President Obama to appoint Linda Darling-Hammond to a senior position in the Department of Education:


Todd Alan Price

We’d like to call your attention to the state of Wisconsin, where Todd Alan Price is running for State Superintendent of Schools as an independent. One of his primary goals is ending NCLB.

Please consider visiting his site, and if you know anyone in Wisconsin, asking them to help Todd out.

The Petition

Finally, many of you signed the Educator Roundtable's Petition to End NCLB. We recently converted it to a .pdf file that is over 1,000 pages long. That is two reams of paper. If you'd like to see it for yourself, and some of the stories and comments are quite moving, you may download it here. When NCLB comes up for reauthorization, we'll be sending printed copies of this petition to as many elected officials as possible. We hope you will consider helping us out.

This project is made possible by two hundred educators working together via the Internet. We want you to participate in and shape our conversation.

Thank you for your consideration, your support, and your action!
The Human Greatness Group

Copyright 2009

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:49 PM

    Todd Price's website is www.toddprice.org. Thanks for the plug!