Sunday, June 22, 2014

#170 June 22, 2014- People and Education

It Takes a Whole Village
(Of Real People). . .
Education is a profession that requires human beings to be successful.  There are other professions where automation or technology can replace people, but this simply isn't true when it comes to education.  Technology, programs and materials can support the efforts of students, families and educators, but they can't adequately replace humans in the educational experience.  We need experienced, trained professionals available to support the needs of students and to help guide them through the process of gaining needed knowledge and skills. 

Silicon Valley's diversity problems start in the classroom.
Mother Jones

Our educational systems are much more than what they appear to be on the surface.  While some make the argument that our public schools are simply training grounds for students as they prepare to become productive and informed citizens, our schools are also barometers of the health of our overall society.  What is taught, who achieves success, what opportunities are offered and how services are provided in our schools all help provide insight into how our society is functioning. 

There are many who wish that defining success for our students and schools was as simple as looking at test scores and that success could be guaranteed by simply following a set curriculum.  We are constantly seeking that magic formula that will provide every student with opportunities for a clear path to success.  What we find is that our efforts to identify and replicate things that work for all students meet with the simple reality that every student, every school, and every community are incredibly complex and the needs of our students are as diverse as the student population itself. 

This reality creates confusion, anxiety and fear for many who make policy and for those observing the system from the outside.  For those of us who are at work inside the educational system, this diversity, uncertainty and challenge is as much a source of hope and joy as it is a challenge and frustration.  Educators, families and students all see the strengths and the potential of our diversity on a daily basis.  We see that it is in the different and seemingly dissimilar characteristics of every student that hope for the future lies.  The fact that we rarely, if ever, meet an average student who's every need is met by a standardized approach shows us new ways of thinking and provides sparks that light fires of opportunity for all of us.  Yet at the same time the many, divergent needs of our students taxes our abilities and strains our resources as we struggle to maximize the outcomes for students with fewer and fewer supports in place. 

This constant tension between measurable results, standardized outcomes, equality of opportunity and an incredibly diverse population with significant needs puts our public schools under significant stress.  Combine this with the increasingly confrontational political climate, and the privateers who see an opportunity for huge profits in our students and schools, and we see our public schools and public educators becoming social, political and economic targets.

Your choice - actively work to change the direction of these reforms or accept that you are as much to blame as the reformers. This from HuffingtonPost: As I watch the education "debate" ... I wond...
Save Our Schools NZ

If you define "bad teacher" as "whoever is standing in front of these low-testing students," it doesn't matter who stands there. Whoever it is, he's ineffective....
The Huffington Post|By Peter Greene

As the antipathy towards public education increases in policy and rhetoric, educators are fighting back and trying to change the dialog about our schools.  The message that we are sending is one that seeks to counter the negative imagery around our public schools, but also seeks to provide a counter message to the current idea that schools are simply conduits to colleges and careers.  Education can provide pathways to future economic success, but education is more than just an economic investment.  Education provides ways of looking at the world that spur emotional and social growth.  A quality education provides a person with a base from which a productive, happy and fulfilling life can be constructed.            

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, made a video, which you can watch (above) or read (see transcript below), expressing unusual public anger for the labor leader.
Washington Post

We are raising today's children in sterile, risk-averse and highly structured environments. In so doing, we are failing to cultivate artists, pioneers and entrepreneurs.
The Huffington Post|By Darell Hammond

Supporters of public education are challenging the current messages around education, not to obstruct growth or limit opportunities, but rather to make sure that the dialog around public education in America is one that includes all voices and seeks to strengthen our schools.

Dr. Louisa Moats, the nationally-renowned teacher, psychologist, researcher and author, was one of the contributing writers of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).I will let Dr Moats speak for h...
DCGEducator: Doing The Right Thing

If we truly want to meet the needs of our students and provide the best opportunities for every one of them, then we need to make sure that we are supporting the people who are working on a daily basis in classrooms.  All of the policy debate and all of the political action that occurs in legislatures, school board meetings and administrative offices have no impact unless the right people are doing the right things in our school buildings.  The efforts of policy makers and administrators should support and enhance school based educators efforts.  The potential for powerful change lies inside, not outside, of our classrooms. 

Unfortunately, we continue to see educators at the bottom of the heap in many ways.  We are vilified for the struggles of our students.  Those who make policy often view us as either impediments to progress, or as uninformed participants who need to be taught the "correct" way to do things.  Our resources are limited and needed supports have been reduced or eliminated by tight budgets.  Too often we are the last ones consulted (if we are asked at all) about proposed initiatives.  Our suggestions are portrayed as self-serving and our concerns for our students are downplayed.  Creativity and ingenuity are challenged, and conformity is rewarded.         

In this op-ed, a high school teacher explains why the majority of teachers spend their summers working.

Teachers earn a bit more than the average American and they are...

Most reasons the most talented and productive people flee a given workplace can be avoided. Here are common mistakes, along with better alternatives.

The current debate over the MMSD budget gives us examples of these problems.  Take the Teacher Match proposal as a case in point.  Despite the many concerns and the significant objections from community members and staff, the proposal continues to be considered.  After all the feedback, the vote will be delayed so that district administrators will be able to “do some more stakeholder engagement.”  It would seem that the stakeholders have spoken already and are in support of smaller class sizes, increased opportunities and diversity in programming and a commitment to supporting building level educators.  There isn't support for initiatives like Teacher Match from the community, nor is there adequate evidence that results will support such a large expenditure.  

Our students need the support of the best people possible, who are operating with the full support of administration and the most freedom possible.  Instead of micromanaging and working to make sure that every educator is following the same "scripts" educational leadership needs to be informed about what is happening in classrooms.  Communication between all levels of our educational system is vital and decision makers should be visible presences in our schools.  Too often, those making decisions rely only on data, or on the testimony of administrators who are rarely in classrooms as a basis for their conclusions.  The successful education of our youth relies on people, assisted by programs and technology, working together and sharing ideas as we work to improve the quality of our schools for all students.  As we continue through the summer I encourage all people to pay close attention to the issues surrounding our public schools and to be prepared to offer ideas and opinions to the discussions.        

The board voted 4-3 to approve the preliminary budget, which includes a 1.99 percent property...|By Lee Enterprises

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .
The Good . . . It's important to remember that there are people all over the nation fighting to protect the rights and freedoms of everyone.  If we stay connected and support each other, the power of each individual act can spread. 

The Green Mountain State is doing something no other state has done to...
By PolicyMic

The Board ruled that the name was "disparaging to Native Americans" and...
Think Progress

The Bad . . . It is going to be difficult to undo the damage that the Walker administration has done to Wisconsin.  Now that Act 10 and other policies are in place, it will be challenging to return our political and economic landscape to pre-Walker status.  Republicans would have us believe that as Rick Esenberg, a conservative lawyer said, “The horribles that the Democrats predicted didn’t happen and Walker is going to be able to point to a pretty good fiscal record and a lot of local success stories.”

Democrat Mary Burke lays out her position on Act 10, which launched an...|By Lee Enterprises

Gov. Scott Walker famously promised during his 2010 campaign that he would bring 250,000 new private-sector jobs to Wisconsin by the end of his term in 2014. How's he doing? We're keeping...|By Lee Enterprises

Yet, we know that the economic results that are being trumpeted are not all that they claim to be.  We also know that the damage done to Wisconsin is only partially economic.  The real lasting harm may have been done to the social and political cohesiveness and stability of a state that had long prided itself on sound, fair and just government. 

What does it mean to say our politics have grown more polarized? According to a new national...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Craig Gilbert

A glimpse of political life in a divided region.
Washington Post

What follows is an account of the brutal arrest of 71-year-old Ann Fleischi...

The Republican Party of Wisconsin mirrored Burke's campaign site,...|By Lee Enterprises

Gov. Scott Walker is going on the offensive.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Daniel Bice

This Wisconsin claim of  "clean" government will forever be tainted by the Walker administration.  We have become a national political joke, all while those who are the punch line continue to feign ignorance of any misdeeds.

Five county district attorneys allege a nationwide scheme to illegally...
The New York Times|By Monica Davey and Nicholas Confessore

It's complicated.
Washington Post

Stephen Colbert spoke about Governor Walker's refusal to take a stand on gay marriage: "This is...

The Ugly . . . Anti-union propaganda has deceived many people into thinking that unions are no longer needed, or even are the enemy of working people.  The data tells a different story, but too many people don't realize just how important unions and worker's rights are to the success of our society and of our economy. 

Target is America's third-largest retailer. It is also as staunchly anti-union as they come. In 2011, we showed you the cheesy anti-union video all Target employees were shown. We now bring you the new cheesy anti-union video...
Gawker|By Hamilton Nolan

"The fact that CEOs make almost 300 times what workers make should set off alarms," stated EPI President Lawrence Mishel. (Photo: milfodd/cc/flickr)CEO pay is massively outpacing that of regular workers, a new study shows.
Common Dreams

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