"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, December 1, 2008

Time Bashes...

I remember arguing with my father about Time magazine. "A right-wing, fascist rag" I said (this was back in the day of my anti-Viet Nam War radicalism). "An editorial magazine with definite corporate opinions and a 'business' focus" he said.

Of course, he was right...and they have done it again. The latest issue of Time Magazine features the Chancellor of the DC Public Schools on the cover and contains a diatribe against 1) American education, 2) American schools and 3) American teachers. It seems that all that's wrong with public schools today is bad teachers. Our schools are failing...students not learning...teachers' unions sabatoging the future of our children...and the rest of the world is passing us by.

The 'business focus' of Time Magazine has come through loud and clear. They have joined the ranks of the "Business Roundtable," Bill Gates, and the Chamber of Commerce in their level of public school bashing.

"The U.S. spends more per pupil on elementary and high school education than most developed nations. Yet it is behind most of them in the math and science abilities of its children. Young Americans today are less likely than their parents were to finish high school. This is an issue that is warping the nation's economy and security, and the causes are not as mysterious as they seem. The biggest problem with U.S. public schools is ineffective teaching, according to decades of research. And Washington, which spends more money per pupil than the vast majority of large districts, is the problem writ extreme, a laboratory that failure made."

This is pretty clear is it not? It's the teachers' faults...period. Unfortunately they are missing the point.

It turns out that we're not so bad after all...it all depends on how you look at "the decades of research."

The truth is when compared to our white middle class and wealthier students, the rest of the world does not have that much of an edge.

If you read the research by Erling E. Boe and Sujie Shin from the University of Pennsylvania (published in Kappan, October 2005) you'll see that white American students are doing pretty well compared to the average scores from the G5 nations. It is only when you add in the test scores of America's poor, both brown and black, that you get the sorts of results that the anti-public school crowd can use to perpetuate their myth of failing schools in the United States.

The fact is that the 'problem' with the public schools in the US is the same problem that has been affecting the rest of the nation economically and socially for the last 8 years...the growth of poverty. Poverty in the US was not eliminated, but at least reduced during the Clinton years, but in the last 8 years the number of children living in poverty in the US has skyrocketed.

The rich are getting richer...and their children are getting a pretty good education. The poor are getting poorer thanks to Bush, Cheney, Rove & Co. The bottom line is poverty, and urban schools are neglected. Time Magazine is still too blinded by their corporate connections to see the truth.
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5 comments:

Meg said...

You need to send some of this stuff to the newspaper and be a guest columnist...you are good!

Ellen said...

very true. . . I'm also interested in hearing more from the radical 1970s Stu!

Stu said...

It was actually 1960s Stu that was the radical. By the 70s I was a tamed, domesticated, parent.

Schmoil said...

I love reading your stuff, but it brings back bad flashbacks of Mrs. Thompson wanting us to be "data-driven," Mr. Mosley saying, "No frills... drill, drill, drill!" and, of course, Mrs. Burlap.

Stu said...

Mrs Burlap? Wasn't she a recurring character in the Three Stooges movies?