"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, January 1, 2012

Looking Back

Here are a few of my favorite blog entries of 2011 from a few my favorite education bloggers (including two of my own). The most important one is the last one. If you missed it before, don't miss it this time. It's a must read for every American citizen who has an interest in public education (aka everyone).

••• From It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, October 19, 2011

I Think It's Called "Having A Chip On Your Shoulder"

Mrs. Mimi (now aka, Dr. Mimi) is the author of It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, a collection of her early blog posts. Mrs. Mimi is a teacher...a real one. She works with real live children in real live classrooms. You can tell.
I guess these days I just assume people are going to shit on teachers. I assume they are going to complain without pausing to recognize what is working. I assume they will be all critique and no constructive thought. I assume they're going to blame it all on the teacher.
••• From Parents Across America, December 31, 2011.

The worst and the best education events of 2011

The list from Parents Across America lists events from other sources, not their own blog.
Hundreds of millions of dollars from the Billionaire Boys Club of Gates, Broad, the Walton family, and the Koch brothers are funneled into creating and expanding numerous Astroturf organizations like Stand for Children, Students First, Teach Plus, 50Can, etc. all devoted towards spreading their tentacles into both political parties, to choke off democracy, demonize teachers, mandate more high-stakes testing, and privatize our public schools.
••• From An Urban Teacher's Education, December 31, 2011

Life Learnings: 2011

A teacher near Seattle, WA (formerly of New York City; Washington, DC; Renton, WA; and Knoxville, TN) writes about the challenges he faces daily in his classroom, as well as national issues. His reports on the SOS Conference in Washington DC from July were especially interesting. This excerpt is from his end of the year post. Click the link embedded below to read his "Day One" entry.
5) The importance of working together

In July (July 28, 2011) I went to the SOS Conference in Washington, DC. I met hundreds of amazing educators there, all rallying together to fight the stubbornness of corporate reform, and I learned the impact that people can have when they come together. My experience there in combination with what I've read over the past year about the Arab Spring and similar protests across the world has reminded me that for all the reasons so many have to complain about this world that we live in, I am happy to remember that it truly is the people who have the power, and that we really do have the government we deserve. Perhaps we might soon deserve something better...
••• From The Answer Sheet, December 12, 2011

A Superintendent Calls School Reformers’ Bluff

Every public school teacher in the United States should read and/or listen to John Kuhn. Thanks to Valerie Strauss and her valuable Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post.
By John Kuhn

Today some 22 percent of American children live in poverty. Are we going to pretend forever that it is acceptable to ignore the needs of children outside the schoolhouse and blame teachers and principals for everything that happens inside?

As soon as the data shows that the average black student has the same opportunity to live and learn and hope and dream in America as the average white student, and as soon as the data shows that the average poor kid drinks water just as clean and breathes air just as pure as the average rich kid, then educators like me will no longer cry foul when this society sends us children and says: Get them all over the same hurdle.

And so I as an educator now say to a nation exactly what it has said to me for years: No excuses! Just get results.
••• From Walt Gardners Reality Check, November 18, 2011

Teaching is no Longer Fun
For teachers who started their careers before the accountability movement gained traction, the transformation has been traumatic. No longer can they rely on their professional judgment in preparing lessons, nor are they likely to experience the satisfaction of having opened the eyes of their students to knowledge for its own sake. They now have to treat their lessons as part of an assembly line, where instruction is evaluated strictly on the basis of how much value it adds. The rationale is that the real world operates accordingly.

Reformers maintain that teaching and learning can't always be fun. They say that discipline is an indispensable part of the educational process. That is certainly true. But the way things are unfolding in classrooms across the country means that even if students perform adequately on standardized tests, we run the risk of forever turning them off to further learning in the same subjects. As I wrote before, you can teach a subject well but teach students to hate the subject in the process. When that happens, it's a Pyrrhic victory.
••• From Bridging Differences, October 27, 2011

There Are No Quick Fixes

The Bridging Differences Blog is written by Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch. I spent a lot of time this year quoting Dr. Ravitch (and did again at the end of this post), but one of the most important entries in their blog was this one from October by Deborah Meier. Make sure you take 10 minutes to watch the chalk talk by Daniel Pink.
By Deborah Meier

Why suddenly does the common-sense fact that teachers (and unions) fight for contracts that give them less onerous workloads, more job security, and more pay turn into a crime? Does Wall Street live by another code? (Educators and Wall Street'ers both need to watch Daniel Pink's chalk talk on motivation to consider his counter-intuitive findings—that rewards are counterproductive when it comes to honesty and doing good work.)
••• From Living In Dialogue, July 6, 2011

The Brooks/Ravitch Dialogue Expands

Anthony Cody is a powerful voice for public education. He was instrumental in organizing the SOS Conference in Washington DC last summer and has continued to speak out for public education in the United States. Here he comments about the single most important factor which the so-called corporate "reformers" refuse to discuss, the level of poverty afflicting our nation's children.
Witness the latest cheating scandal in Atlanta. We have leaders intent on proving that poverty is no obstacle to student success. After 24 years of teaching in Oakland, I can tell you that it is. Poverty and the social and environmental phenomena that are its companions: hunger, violence, PTSD, chemical pollution, lack of access high quality daycare in early years, lack of access to vision, dental and medical care, and lack of access to books. Addressing ANY of these would yield better results than the policies underway that attach ever higher stakes to standardized tests, and continually expand the variety and frequency of tests.
••• From Live Long and Prosper, March 4, 2011.

The Daily Show: Diane Ravitch - Teachers vs. Wall Street

Click HERE to see this entry. No one highlights the hypocrisy of the so-called "reformers" better than Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.

••• From Live Long and Prosper, December 11, 2011.

The Most Important Speech on Education in Years

This year, the OTL Summit featured Diane Ravitch as one of the keynote speakers. Dr. Ravitch's presentation was titled Whose children have been left behind? The Daily Kos calls it the "most important speech on education in years." I agree. It is important. The Daily Kos blogger (teacherken) wrote:
You can read the entire text here (pdf).
You should.
You should pass it on.
Ravitch wrote:
Surely the greatest nation in the world can mobilize the will to do what is right for the children. It won’t be easy, it won’t be cheap, and it won’t be fast. Doing the right thing never is. The only simple part is to recognize that what we are doing now is not working and will never work. What we need is a vision of a good education for every child. We should start now. Today.

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