"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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is Anyone Listening?

We keep shouting but no one seems to be listening. The corporate/federal school "reformers" seem to have access to all the media...the Washington Post and the New York Times, NBC News, Oprah, even movie theaters. Does the average American know that there are people who object to the Gates/Broad/Duncan/Superman view of American schools? I hope so...but I don't see it.

As Marion Brady writes in the article referenced below,
...the failure of those now setting policy to respond to my arguments says they’re not listening, or not understanding, or are so sure they know what they’re doing they don’t need to pay attention to someone who was wrestling with issues about which they consider themselves expert before many of them were born.
Are the reformers listening? Does Bill Gates know that people disagree with him and his corporate money? Does Arne Duncan know that his policies go directly against what research has shown to be best for the schools in the country? Does President Obama know that poverty is, indeed, the major factor in student achievement and that our middle class and upper class students lead the world in their achievement?

Perhaps not. Perhaps they really believe that charter schools, which, on the whole are no better than public schools, are the answer to our "failing schools." Perhaps they really believe that teachers don't try hard enough and we're somehow hiding our real teaching skills until they pay us for test scores.

So...they need to listen. They need to listen to Stephen Krashen when he reminds them that Gerald Bracey showed that poverty was the major problem with student achievement.
The entire basis for the national standards/testing movement is our low scores on international tests when compared to other countries. Our scores, however, are only low because we have such a high percentage of children in poverty, compared to other countries that participate in international tests. When we consider only middle-class children who attend well-funded schools, our math scores are near the top of the world (Payne and Biddle, 1999).
They need to listen to Marion Brady when he decries
...Congress as America’s school board, and members of the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce cutting the checks that help elect and keep the members of that board in office...
Is anyone reading the Gesell Institute's report on their 18 month study which shows that even though we're pushing academics in Kindergarten children still develop at their own rate...proving once again that One Size Does Not Fit All!
In many districts, worries about benchmarks and test scores have made kindergarten less play-centered and developmental gaps more pronounced. When some children couldn’t handle expectations and were disrupting class, the William H. Frazier Elementary School in Fallbrook, Calif. began “Preppie Kindergarten” to separate those children who are ready for today’s kindergarten from those who are not. These children spend two years in kindergarten rather than one.

“All these kids were struggling and we wanted to give them a better start,” says Preppie Kindergarten teacher Kim Kinsman, who requires children to sit 15 minutes—not 30—at a stretch. “You cannot make a baby walk before they are ready to walk,” she says. “You cannot push a child. If they are not ready, they’re not ready.”
There's clear evidence that poverty is the real problem and that children learn at their own rate no matter how much we test them. The best teacher in the world can't change a child's rate of development. The best teacher in the world can't overcome the enormous negative influence of malnutrition and hunger, lack of health care, environmental toxins, and lack of access to books. American students from well-funded schools who come from high-income families outscore nearly all other countries on international tests. Our overall national scores are lower because the US has a very high percentage of children in poverty (over 20%, compared to Denmark's 3%).

Who's listening?

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