Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The public education renewal agenda embraces the values of democracy, fair play, inclusion, equal opportunity, and public school governance structure and operations of the people, by the people, and for the people. The new public school agenda welcomes the participation of philanthropists, business, and industry to do what they are most capable of doing, which is to provide resources and strategies to create opportunities in communities where hope is in short supply, and to fund initiatives that educators, social scientists, and citizens agree will grow healthy communities with well-prepared, engaged citizens who are able and adaptive workers.
Rather than funding segregated corporate charter chain schools, public education renewal solicits the Business Roundtable and the large corporate foundations to engage practical strategies to achieve their ostensible goal of a citizenry prepared to compete in the global marketplace. Continuing research that began with the Coleman Study of the 1960s consistently finds that integrated, diverse, and inclusive schools provide more higher achieving learning environments than segregated classrooms. Most recently, Scott Page and other researchers have found that functional diversity provides advantages to group problem solving that expertise, alone, cannot match. Page suggests that learning environments that focus on “acquisition of new perspectives and heuristics” (Page, 2004, p. 16389) can provide large advantages to organizations seeking to solve thorny problems or to create new products and services.
Public school renewal requires of the federal government new programs and generous grants to states and cities that initiate economic integration programs that increase diversity. Rather than incentivizing the continuing resegregation of American schools with hundreds of millions of dollars for segregative charters, public education renewal calls for substantive support for magnet school programs and other new integrative initiatives, as well as federal legislation and a Presidential priority that makes school integration a national goal once more. That can only be accomplished with a renewed commitment to the Fair Housing Act, an initiative that was signed just after the assassination of Dr. King and that has been left to wither on the vine in the decades since. Diversity in schools can only reach its full potential when the community housing patterns reflect that same diversity.
To compete with other countries in developing an economy that provides full employment, we must have the best-prepared teachers in the world, and that can only be done with the best teacher preparation programs. Rather than demeaning or reducing preparation of teacher candidates in the science and art of teaching with alternative truncated programs focused on raising achievement test scores, public school renewal challenges business leaders to provide resources for chairs of excellence in university teaching programs that will attract the best scholars from neuroscience, sociology, child psychology, systems theory, pediatrics, and other relevant fields to complement the conventional elements of teacher preparation.
If teaching is to be a profession that attracts the ablest and most dedicated candidates, it must offer competitive starting salaries with other degree fields, and it must demand from its members the full dedication to the learning health of children, to the same degree that physicians are dedicated to the health of their patients. If this imperative is to be realized, children’s learning needs must be carefully diagnosed with psychological and sociological knowledge from within the school and the community for which the school remains a reflection.
Rather than imposing a universal curriculum that threatens to stunt diversity of thought and the capacity to adapt and appreciate new perspectives and environments, public school renewal requires multicultural and interdisciplinary learning parameters that remain sensitive to the needs of children, parents, and the well-being of democratic communities. For the vast ecological, cultural, and economic problems of the world to be faced and resolved together so that all may benefit, public school renewal must give children the power to direct and transform the future, rather than to become its victim by having the scope of a humane and democratic educational vision and mission replaced by narrow economic and behavioral catechisms.
Finally, public school renewal depends upon a broader societal commitment to reducing income inequality and eliminating child poverty. The public schools remain a reflection of our commitment to the communities they serve and help to sustain. The false notion that schools, alone, can solve the economic, cultural, and political challenges of our society remains a impermeable barrier to renewing public education in ways that help reunite us so that our differences may be celebrated and turned into assets, rather than serving as corrosive rationales for sorting, dividing, and demanding the most from those with the least to give, while offering nothing in return from those who demand accountability but accept none.
Monday, December 30, 2013
Nine years ago, New Year's Eve 2005, the year I started blogging at SchoolsMatter, I was a graduate student in education and I posted Paul Wellstone's speech from Teacher's College Columbia University in 2000.
At the time, before No Child Left Behind became law, Wellstone was a lone voice in Congress, a lone voice in the wilderness in a sea of corruption and ignorance about education policy. Wellstone was also one of a few senators who voted against the War in Iraq.
Pass his message on to teachers, parents and students. Pass it on to your local, state and national representatives. Pass in along to those who are still out there in the wilderness, watching the shadows on the wall, wondering why the joy of teaching and learning has been sucked out of their classrooms, their careers and their lives.
Think of it as gift.
Here's to Ringing in the New Year, again, with Paul Wellstone.
Happy 2014! The Year of the Education Spring!
The Walton Foundation remains the leader in the support of school voucher programs, which have consistently demonstrated their failure to provide quality education. What they do provide is consistent with Walmart's plan to offer cheap and shoddy products to the poor. If you have any option of buy anywhere else in 2014, exercise your option.
From the Washington Post, a clip:
From the Washington Post, a clip:
The Walton Family Foundation is pumping $6 million into a Washington-based group that promotes private school vouchers in D.C. and around the country — a donation that it hopes will double the number of students using tax dollars to pay private school tuition.
The foundation, created by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, is giving the money to the Alliance for School Choice, a nonprofit that has been promoting and lobbying for school voucher programs in D.C., Ohio, Indiana, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
Proponents of vouchers say they give low-income children the opportunity to escape troubled public schools. Critics say that tax dollars are better spent improving public schools.
The $6 million infusion will basically double the budget of the Alliance for School Choice, which reported total revenue of $6,380,488 in 2011, according to federal tax filings. The chairwoman of the organization is Betsy DeVos, a high-profile Michigan Republican leader who is married to Dick DeVos, heir to the Amway fortune.
The alliance shares staff, facilities and other resources with the American Federation for Children, a nonprofit also founded by Betsy DeVos and its political arm, the American Federation for Children Action Fund.
Together, these three organizations have lobbied state legislatures to create programs that allow low- and middle-income students to use public tax dollars to attend private schools, including parochial schools. The groups have also helped create donation tax credits, which are state tax credits given to individuals or businesses who donate to private school scholarships. . . .
Common Corers talk of the need for internationally-benchmarked standards and curriculum. By this they pretend to mean relinquishing the wafer-thin, NCLB-inspired drive-by curriculums that demand that students ingest an endless stream of subject matter infobits that are later excreted or regurgitated on command, whereupon the remains are probed and dissected for signs of meaning among the digitized acres of psychometric scat.
Common Corers talk of learning that is deep rather than broad, thick rather than thin, learning that calls for less picking and more chewing. Unfortunately, that’s all it is—talk. The Common Core offers none of that, for it was rushed into production so quickly by so few to serve a single purpose as the replacement mechanism for the NCLB public school destruction machine of the Bush Era.
The Common Core exists as a control mechanism and high stakes testing delivery system that are to measure the failure of public schools in order that the corporatization and privatization by charters and vouchers may continue where NCLB left off.
Susan Ohanian has a must-read piece at her website, with clear evidence that nothing has changed with regards to the scripted, fill-in-the-blank nonsense that the AFT TURNcoats are collecting on "Share My Lessons" and distributing for David Coleman and Bill Gates. Here is a small sample from Susan:
. . . . I studied a lot of the lessons linked to the intro material offered in the AFT resources below. I am struck by how teacher-directed it all is. The teacher asks all the questions. Most of the lower grade Albuquerque project videos seem to explain what they're going to do--not what they actually did, but in one middle grade lesson we get the full monty. A teacher explains that they just about finished a lesson plan for "Gift of the Magi" but when Diane August,a managing director at AIR and a consultant on the Albuquerque work, came in, the issue of Lexiles came up and the teacher explanation begins, "When we Lexiled the text. . . ." They found its number was too low for the 8th grade formula and so they substituted Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour."
Never mind that Prentice Hall puts the Chopin story in its 11th grade text. And Unit 1 of Prentice Hall Literature Common Core Edition Grade 9 includes "Gift of the Magi" in a unit on irony.
But there are rules to be followed and the AFT-funded team in Albuquerque seems wedded to Lexile scores--following the Common Core rule of "grade level" text.
I found some handouts for the Albuquerque treatment of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." The students are instructed to "Follow
along as the teacher reads this text out loud. Then work with a partner to answer the questions."
The very short text for which the students are to "follow along" has 8 declarative sentences. Here is the worksheet students are to fill out:
1. When was Kate Chopin born?
Kate Chopin was born in _____/
2. Why was Chopin depressed?
Chopin was depressed because her ____ and her ____were dead.
3. What did Chopin do to feel better?
Chopin started ____ to feel better.
4. When did Chopin start writing?
Chopin started writing in the ____.
*Bonus: How old was Chopin when she started writing?
Chopin was ___________years old when she started writing.
5. What does "feminist themes' mean?
Feminist themes means main ____that are in favor of ___ rights for ____.
6. Think about the role of women in the 19th century. Why was it important that Chopin's writing had feminist themes?
It was important that Chopin's writing had feminist themes because __________.
7. Chopin was the first American to write about what topic?
Chopin was one of the first American authors to write about the ____lives of __________________.
8. What is Kate Chopin best known for?
Kate Chopin is best known for being one of the first ______ to write ____depictions of women's ________and __________.
Next, students are given sheets with individual sentences from the story, each followed by a question. The teacher reads each sentence,and the students answer the question about that sentence. Here's a sample:
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestions as trivial.
Question: She was feeling two opposite things. What were they?
She was feeling _____________ and _____________.
And on and on--through the whole story.
This leaves me gasping for air.
It also leaves me very very angry. . . .
The momentum is building against the Common Core testing delivery system, VAM, teacher evaluation based on test scores, and years of traitorous misleadership by Weingarten and Van Roekel.
It has been a big year for books that tell the truth about corporate ed reform schooling, with Diane Ravitch’s book at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, Reign of Error does not include a critique of the ruinous reign by either Weingarten or Van Roekel.
Having celebrated her well-earned accolades as The Nation’s “Most Important Progressive Book for 2013" and having picked out her placing in the museum between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, perhaps Ravitch will do what is desperately needed and finally deliver the hammer blow required to break the lock on the teacher union misleadership under Weingarten and Van Roekel. When is enough, enough?