"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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

* A New Plan for Education from Congresswoman Judy Chu *

It's no secret that the country has been obsessed with standardized testing and the (seemingly) purposeful dismantling of the nation's public school system, replacing it with corporate sponsored and run charter schools. Current "school improvement plans" are set up for schools and students failing the tests. If a school fails to make "adequate yearly progress" on getting its students to pass a test, then they are labeled "Failure" and punished in one of four ways.
  • Replace the Principal and at least half the staff.
  • Privatize the school (Charter school plan)
  • Close the school and send its students to schools which are not "failing"
  • Implement 4 strategies from the USDOE beginning with replacing the principal
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) has come up with a better idea...a plan called Strengthening Our Schools (SOS).

Read about it...read the report (or as much as you can)...and then let's get the word out to congresspeople. Ask them to back this plan!
~~~

May 20, 2010 1:22 PM

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) officially unveiled a plan today to improve our nation's education system using a new framework of school improvement grants, a proposal that is being supported by AFT, NEA, PTA and the National Association of School Psychologists, among other groups.

The Congresswoman's new framework constitutes a radical departure from existing guidelines on School Improvement Grants, replacing the overly punitive and restrictive model with a more flexible, holistic approach and giving schools a broader menu of research-driven options and more time to show improvement. Under the new framework, school closure would strictly be a last resort option.

"The current school improvement grant program is admirable in theory, but some of the tactics haven't been successful in practice," said Rep. Chu, noting as an example the recent mass firings, and subsequent rehiring, of staff at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. "What we need is a system that promotes flexibility and collaboration instead of tying the hands of administrators, teachers, and parents. We must remove barriers to student success instead of ignoring them. And finally, we must support teachers and leaders, instead of breaking them down."

That is the approach taken by Rep. Chu's proposed new framework, called Strengthening Our Schools (SOS) (see attached report). The plan would promote flexibility and collaboration between schools, parents, community leaders, businesses and other stakeholders; provide support to students facing crisis, both inside and outside of the classroom, by offering mental health services for behavioral problems, ESL resources and other wrap-around services; and giving teachers the tools they need to reconnect with disengaged students and help improve performance through personalized teacher training and specialized instructional support.

"In the upcoming ESEA Reauthorization I will be pushing for a complete revision of school improvement grants that is based on Strengthening Our Schools," said Rep. Chu, who was joined by representatives of major national education associations, teachers groups, former administration officials, parents and others as she unveiled the details of SOS at the Rayburn House Office Building. "As a Member of the Committee on Education and Labor, I plan to work with Chairman Miller on school turnaround and push for this framework to be adopted in ESEA Reauthorization."

The Congresswoman's plan was lauded by prominent members of the educational field.

The goal of SOS is nothing less than to achieve dramatic improvements in student achievement at priority schools, said Lily Eskelsen, Vice President of the National Education Association.

"The only way for schools to succeed is if all the adults involved in public education work together collaboratively and make decisions based on our common purpose to give students what they need to succeed," Eskelsen said.

"Congresswoman Chu has developed an excellent framework for redefining the federal role in K-12 education. Her proposals recognize that the path to school improvement is through positive, not punitive, measures. She understands that teachers do their best in atmosphere of respect and encouragement, rather than incentives and sanctions," said Diane Ravitch, education historian and former Assistant Secretary of Education. "The federal role should be to support school improvement, not to mandate closings and firings. She is a breath of fresh air in a stale and nonproductive discussion."

"PTA is appreciative of the opportunity to provide input on the proposal and the framework's
inclusion of family engagement and collaboration with parents," said PTA National President Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors. "We cannot turn around struggling schools without parents at the table."

Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor, UCLA researchers who have investigated many of the successful methods included in the Congresswoman's proposal, lauded the new SOS framework and its holistic, multi-tiered approach.

"Good teaching and, indeed all efforts to enhance positive development, must be complemented with direct actions to remove or at least minimize the impact of barriers, such as hostile environments and intrinsic problems," said Adelman and Taylor in a written statement. "Without effective direct intervention to address barriers to learning and teaching, such barriers continue to get in the way for many students and interfere with teachers' efforts to close the achievement gap."

The goal of SOS is nothing less than to achieve dramatic improvements in student achievement at priority schools, said Lily Eskelsen, Vice President of the National Education Association.

"The only way for schools to succeed is if all the adults involved in public education work together collaboratively and make decisions based on our common purpose to give students what they need to succeed," Eskelsen said.

CLICK HERE to see full SOS Report

Here's Lily Eskelsen (VP - NEA) talking about the plan...

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