"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 29, 2010

The "Minor Obstacles" of Poverty

This letter by Marion Brady was published in the Orlando Sentinel.
Columnist Mike Thomas has just seen the documentary film "Waiting For Superman," and is fired up.

"We can't use a kid's background as an excuse for his failure," he says in his 10-28-10 Sentinel column. "That allows educators to excuse themselves in advance for their own failure."

Well, we certainly can't have that, can we?! Any teacher who can't overcome the minor obstacles to learning that some kids bring with them to school needs to be shown the door. And the process of booting them through it shouldn't be complicated by some "due process" clause written into a union contract.

No excuses! Just because a kid is hungry, has bad teeth, can't hear well, can't concentrate or behave because of lead poisoning, is tutored hours a day by television, gets no exercise, comes from a home without books or anything else to read, changes neighborhoods and schools a couple of times a year to keep ahead of the rent collector, has never seen the inside of a museum, has never been anywhere, lives with adults who know and use only a fraction of the words known and used by other adults, has no reasonable expectation of ever having a different sort of life (or even a life at all), lives in a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy, where celebrity trumps seriousness-just because teachers haven't figured out how to use the wonderful tools and rules that educationally clueless bureaucrats have handed them, is no reason to let them off the hook.

That American teachers face about 20% of those kinds of kids, and top-scoring Finland has about 4% of them, is irrelevant.

Marion Brady