"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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Waiting for Superteacher

This article about the movie Waiting for Superman does a nice job of explaining how corporate "reformers" are throwing money into charter schools while at the same time blaming underfunded public schools for failing.

There's still no discussion, however, of the fact that children in poverty live in a world that prevents educational advancement at every step...from pre-natal care, health care, nutrition, and access to appropriate reading materials.

Read it. Then, read on...

There are some good comments as well. Aside from the usual "teachers are overpaid," "teacher unions are evil," "America's schools are failures," "America's schools are failures and it's the fault of the teachers," we can read comments from people who have obviously been in the classroom and actually understand what's going on in the public schools of the USA.
...I've been in the classroom long enough to know what teaching was like before standards testing. We had time to read and write and think critically. We could discuss and debate and process information and...well...learn...Standards testing has turned school into assembly-line factories making mental widgets...Where is the critical thinking, problem-solving, or innovative thinking that's going to solve our world's economic problems, or invent things to make the world a better, healthier or more interesting place?
Remember Psychology 101? Daily survival does not really include drill and kill for the standardized test [included link mine].
Schools serve as social service agenices just trying to help many kids survive their circumstances -education becomes seconday. Remember Maslow's Heirachy of Needs.
When you understand the issues of poverty you can draw comparisons to other aspects of society's infrastructure. High crime rate and it's partner, overcrowded prisons, stem from the same social problems that cause the "achievement gap."
...the social issues that prevent us from being crime free, fire free, and prisoner free are the same issues that prevent teachers from ensuring that every student gets an education. Teachers work extremely hard in extremely difficult situations...
Just to give some time to the "other side," here's a comment about the easy life of teachers.
Check out the "fast track" program for teachers in NYC...They wanted to be teachers, not because they wanted to educate or because they were good at it but because the system facilitated giving them a degree..So they can have a nice job with benefits and summer vacation...
Right...people teach in NYC because it's a nice job with benefits and vacation. Mrs. Mimi...are you listening? I was under the impression that the "fast track" program for teachers in NYC was due to the fact that it was hard to get and keep people to staff the classrooms of the nation's largest school system...something about the difficulty of the work. That's not to say that it's NOT a nice job...if you can hack it. Why do 50% of teachers quit within the first 5 years of starting their careers?

Hey...what's so hard about teaching? Just sit with kids for a few hours a day...read them some books and "tell them what they need to know." [this quote is from a parent of one of my third graders during my first year of teaching in 1976. How hard could it be...just "tell them."]

But I digress...

We pay hypocritical lip service in the US to "equal opportunity" but don't attack the root problems of the country.
...everyday the education field is attacked by the same people who always are at the forefront of attacking unions. Now we get to add a movie to confuse more people about what is going wrong with our country. It is frustrating to see education always being attacked by the outcomes of poverty stricken inner city school districts. It doesn't take much of a scientist or statistician to see that the problems of these district don't boil down to teachers or teachers unions. Sadly, we have a country that doesn't mind wasting money blowing up other countries and investing money in rebuilding those countries, but when it comes to rebuilding or investing in our country we balk at any cost.
Finally the resources provided in the comments were equally wonderful. Here's a quick list. I think I'll add some of these to the list of Articles at the right...

Re: Charter Schools
Charters are:
1. Compounding racial and socioeconomic disparities
(http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/choice-without-equity-2009-report)

2. Not performing well academically (http://credo.stanford.edu, www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2009/06/17/charter-schools-might-not-be-better.html, http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006460, & http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005456),

3. Causing a massive increase in CEO salaries and decrease in teacher pay (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2009/12/13/2009-12-13_chartin­g_new_terr­itory_in_e­d_salaries.html, & http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/education/10schools.html)

4. Increasing school violence (http://cbs2chicago.com/local/fenger.school.fight.2.1234130.html) - note this was partially the result of Arne Duncan's privatization scheme when he was head of Chicago Public Schools.

And more...
The experts on school reform: http://zhaolearning.com/2010/09/03/master-of-myth-what-arne-duncan-says-and-does/

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/diane-ravitch/ravitch-welcome-back-to-school.html

The reviews by experts: http://teacherrevised.org/2010/06/30/movie-review-waiting-for-superman-or-just-another-clark-kent-playing-dress-up/

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2010/01/philanthro­capitalist­s-go-hollywood-with.html (follow the money)

The truth about charter reforms: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2010/09/obamas-charters-profit-centers-for.html

A Crisis in Math and Science?
You may be interested in this article written by Stephen Krashen - a respected authority on education and a Professor Emeritus at USC. Enjoy. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2010/09/is-there-crisis-in-mathscience.html

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