Sunday, October 12, 2014

#183 October 12, 2014- Fixing Education- The Right Tools

Voting Information…
The Supreme Court has done its job!!  Now it is up to every citizen in Wisconsin to vote in November.  Winning a legal battle is a hollow victory if people don't fulfill their responsibilities as members of a democratic society.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin from implementing a law requiring voters to present photo IDs.|By WISN

Fixing Education- The Wrong
Ideas from the Wrong People. . .
Issues around public education truly are complex.  There aren't too many easy answers, and those of us who work and learn in our state's public schools know this all too well.  From issues of classroom discipline to curriculum to holding everyone involved in the educational process accountable for academic achievement, the issues are many and the challenges are intense.  Over the years we've turned to "experts", and we've looked to those who have been "successful" for solutions to these issues.      

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big. When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to...|By Bob Herbert

Not surprisingly, the results haven't led us towards a more socially just system that provides equality of opportunity for all students.  In fact, despite what may very well be noble intentions, we are seeing the exact opposite trends happening.  Trends that are leading us towards more segregation, more standardization and bigger gaps in opportunity and achievement between groups of students.

Where you live should not determine the type of education your child gets, but several local schools and a new study are saying that is exactly what is...|By Emily Davies

Fans of market forces for education simply don't understand how market forces actually work. What they like to say is that free market competition breeds...|By Heather DuBois Bourenane

Acknowledging the myriad ways in which school districts can undermine curiosity and academic exploration by over-stressing test scores and technical training, one can emphasize the importance of structured explorations that can expand a...

A Letter to Commissioner King and the New York State Education Department:I have played your game for the past two years. As an educator, I have created my teaching portfolio with enough evidence ...

Why is this happening?  How is it that in a nation with the resources that America has available we can't seem to get education (public or private) "right"?  We continue to struggle and experience societal frustration, even as we claim to support public education as a concept.

We hear more and more from educators who are frustrated and too many who are leaving the profession because of the negative climate around our public schools.

Surrounded by piles of student work to grade, lessons to plan and laundry to do, I have but one hope for the new year: that the Common Core State Standards, their related Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing and the new teacher...|By Hartford Courant

We see too many people who are leaving the fight and deciding to look out for their own children or neighborhood, while choosing to ignore the plight of those in other places.  We want a system to work, but not at the expense of our own interests, and certainly not because of the challenges that other people's kids present.  Along the way, we forget that all kids are our kids.  As a society we can't survive and succeed if we don't help care for all of our fellow citizens. 

It's an issue affecting children and their families across the country but is hitting Wisconsin harder than most, even occurring more often in our local schools.|By Jessica.Bringe

It becomes easy to blame others, or to claim that the problems we face are too big and too difficult for us to solve.  We are frustrated by the apparent inability of anyone to address issues of poverty, inequality and discrimination.  The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of those who are most directly involved in the struggle, and we find ourselves drawn to "common sense", bumper sticker solutions.  Solutions that sound good, but lack the depth necessary to really address the challenges we face. 

This creates a disconnect between what we the people claim to want and what the policies that our decision makers and elected officials implement.  According to the polling done by the Democrats for Public Education about 2/3 of those polled want neighborhood schools staffed by educators who are accountable to the community, not standardized assessments.  The people want money devoted to our schools and not to other interests.  Yet, we face the all to real prospect of seeing a governor elected in Wisconsin who has been a vocal supporter of educational policies that do the exact opposite.  While education isn't the only issue in the campaign, it certainly is one of the high profile ones.  It is troubling that the rhetoric around education can drown out the real impact of policies like Educator Effectiveness, voucher schools, and standardized testing.

All of these pressures on educators create an environment that limits creativity and perpetuates a system that has not fulfilled its potential.  We blame educators and call public education a failure, all while ignoring the fact that, as a society, we've never given careful thought to what we are really expecting from our schools.  While everyone can agree that we want our students to be prepared for success as citizens and individuals by our schools, we really haven't considered what that really means.  We end up asking our schools to do everything for everyone and create the most responsible citizens, the best possible employees and to meet the needs of every possible individual circumstance.  At the same time we restrict educator voice and freedom, and complain that it all costs too much money. 

HAVERHILL, MA—Conveying their eagerness to dodge the possibility of any classroom role-playing exercises or featured guest speakers, 10th-grade...

There are many voices calling for reform of our public education system.  In many cases the word reform has become synonymous with the privatization and standardization of our schools.  The so called experts and the other voices of reform have been heard loud and clear.  They have shaped the dialog about education and moved us in directions that threaten the very heart of our democratic ideals.  Education for profit, and a system that serves only a small segment of the population isn't really public education.  True public education should serve all students and be available no matter where a person lives, how much a person makes and what demographic a person comes from.  This is what so many public educators and supporters of true public education are fighting for. 
On Monday a grassroots coalition calling itself...
Blogging Blue

UOO Calls on Unions to Support Teacher Refusals to Administer Tests - UNITED OPT OUT: The...
United Opt Out National serves as a focused point of unyielding resistance to corporate ed. reform. We...

What kind of support remains unclear.

On Monday a grassroots coalition calling itself...
Blogging Blue

Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research
A new study on the academic effects of homework offers not only some intriguing results but also a lesson on how to read a study -- and a reminder of the...

So, while the issues may be complex, there are a few places we can look to for answers.  One of the best sources for solutions should be educators themselves.  It is time that we listen to those who work in school buildings all around our state and nation.  The next time you hear an idea for "fixing" public education, look at who is offering the solution and what their interests are.  What real experience do they have in working with students?  What connections do they have to the communities being affected?  Our public educators have chosen their profession because they truly care about their students and want public schools to be the best possible place to learn and work in.  If we can combine the voices of educators, families, students and community members we can create a powerful force that can begin to work towards truly fixing our public education system.    

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . The simple truth is that we can't afford to have a society where only a few people profit from the work that all of us do.  The American Dream shouldn't be based on personal achievement at the expense of our fellow citizens.

In Germany, auto workers get paid well and their companies still profit. Author Thom Hartmann on...

The Bad . . . It is troubling that we live in a nation where this type of action isn't just possible, but is even supported by some.  Here in Wisconsin there are too many who don't understand that if we can take power and voice from our public employees, then we can just as easily take power and voice from anyone.

There's only one thing worse than the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's early morning assault on unionized teachers -- and that's the underhanded way they did it, in a fog of near secrecy, with a determination to squelch public...

The Ugly . . . Get ready for a long October Wisconsin!!

Sixty-two percent of the ads in the governor's race so far were negative and just under 4 percent were positive|By WKBT
Should people who have achieved their positions through the support of campaign efforts like those under investigation really have the right to decide how we proceed with the John Doe probe?

Challengers to the investigation have spent millions to boost the campaigns of the four-member conservative majority.|By Dee J. Hall | Wisconsin State Journal

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