Sunday, November 16, 2014

#188 November 16, 2014- Listen to Educators

Education- Who Are We
Listening To?. . .
It seems like everyone has an opinion about the state of public education in America today.  Education has become a hot topic of discussion in many venues.  Unfortunately, the conversations have focused on the negatives and are often fueled by misinformed, misguided or biased sources.  The news around our public schools is provided by those who profit from controversy and negative imagery.  It is also guided by those who have the money and power to shape policies that benefit their interests.  Yet, these sources are given credence, while the voice of those who work in our schools is too often ignored. 

On November 1, WITI reporter Meghan Dwyer won a local television Emmy for her investigation of bullying within the public school system of Milwaukee,...|By J.K. Trotter

By Mark Naison Nearly two years ago, a group of 1,500 principals — including many of the most highly respected school administrators in the state — signed...

After he bought into proposal to reform education nationwide, his money brought most states running.

This isn't an unusual phenomenon in our modern age of fast paced, short attention spanned coverage of issues and events.  We tend to focus on issues for a short time and rely on a limited number of sources for information.  While there are many outlets for sharing ideas and opinions, the ones that garner the most attention are often limited in number.  When we do hear from other sources, it is too frequently because they are extreme, controversial or confrontational. 

While there are those who will argue that this is simply the way the world is, that the media hype along with distortions of reality that are spewed on-line don't really have a huge impact, the end result is a climate that is polarized and misinformed.  This creates an environment where it is difficult for the everyday citizen to make reasoned and informed decisions, something that we know is vital to the very survival of our democratic institutions.

Public education is one of those key institutions that both serve as a barometer of the overall health of our society, as well as that provide citizens with opportunity and hope for a better future.  While the potential of our public schools often goes unmet for a number of reasons, they still are our best option for equitable, accountable and sustainable opportunities to unite and advance the diverse interests that exist in our nation.  That we, as a society, have struggled to fully support and promote our public schools is more of a critique on us collectively as a nation, and less on the concept of public schooling itself. 

Steven Singer: American school children know there used to be slaves; they may even know the Native Americans weren’t treated so nicely. But they don’t know nearly the scope and fallout of these events.|By Steven Singer

The consequences of who gets to establish the dialog around our public schools is significant in several ways.  Education provides a source of propaganda for political leaders who don't intend to follow through on their promises.  Almost every election cycle we hear politicians talk about improving our schools, holding them accountable, and creating systems that will produce more equitable outcomes.  However, once the election is over the schools are either ignored (if we're "lucky") or legislated/budgeted in ways that actually harm our students, schools and communities.    

Four previous years of Walker's policies have set the stage for his next four. A look back at the Governor's educational work shows an emphasis on K-12 educational reform. In 2011 alone, the state...

The dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College says the GOP call for "school accountability" should be a call to action.|By Pat Schneider

Gov. Scott Walker plans to repeal Common Core and expand the voucher program.

The Obama administration is inviting states to apply to renew their waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act. And according to guidance issued Thursday, these...

Real reforms and supports for our schools are ignored and discarded.

For the third time in four years, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers proposes changing the way public schools are funded and increasing...|By Molly Beck | Wisconsin State Journal

Because we don't listen to educators working in schools, we see policies implemented that simply don't meet the needs of students in real, meaningful ways.  Instead, they make good sound bites that will bolster a political resume, ore they create situations that boost profits for a small number of educational privateers.  In the end it is our most at-risk students who suffer the most, but every child in every school across America is impacted.    
Smarter Balanced Field Tests Didn't Mirror Classroom Learning, Study Says
Feedback from states shows that most students didn't feel the test reflected what they were taught in class.

What are we doing to young kids in school?

Common Core Betrays the Civil Rights Movement
Common Core's promise does not correspond to its reality.|By Nicholas Tampio and Yohuru Williams

Educators are not immune to the struggles that our students and schools face.  In fact, because educator enter the field with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of their students, we see the initiatives and policies destroy staff confidence and morale.  Shrinking budgets, initiatives that are conflicting and harmful, and a toxic climate that creates unreasonable expectations for educators and schools all serve to undermine the ability of our educators to effectively do their jobs. 

Assistant principal: " Is anyone in Silicon Valley paying for their own office supplies? I can assure you they are not."

If Teachers Planned Inservice Training...
I let out quite a chuckle when I saw this picture. I've been there and I've made that face. *Disclaimer* This blog is not meant to imply that teachers do not appreciate learning. It is also not int...

We find ourselves struggling with issues around standardized assessments, standards and curriculum that doesn't meet our students' needs.  We hear the negative stories about our schools, our students and our profession and are deeply hurt by them.  Yet, all the while we strive to provide a compassionate, safe and educationally sound environment for all of our students.  Maybe if more articles about education featured discussion like this one, the conversation would change in a positive direction.   

Dear Parent: I know. You're worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting shoving pinching scratching maybe even biting other children. The on...

In the end, even with all of the challenges and discouraging trends, there are still countless educators who go to school every day and who are willing to speak as advocates for their students, families and community.  It's time we started listening to them. 

Dane County public education advocates gearing up to fight Republican agenda : Ct|By Pat Schneider

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . While it isn't a good thing that MTI has to go through this process, at the same time the results will show the commitment that educators in Madison have to their union.  Half-way through the election period the numbers of voters is high.  Voting ends on November 25th.

It has a contract through 2016.|By Molly Beck | Wisconsin State Journal

The day after the November election, Madison teachers will begin a first-ever union recertification...|By ANDREW McCUAIG | Madison teacher

The Bad . . . The election rhetoric that propelled Walker to his victory is based on flawed logic and inconsistencies.  Now we have to live with it for 4 more years.

The Wisconsin governor defended his fellow GOP leaders' decision to block Medicaid expansion, saying poor people need to enter the workforce.

For a variety of reasons we have been seeing a significant shortage of substitutes in MMSD in recent years.  Certainly a problem that needs to be addressed in a positive, proactive way.

Area school officials are ramping up recruiting, hiring staffing companies and considering changes to the required credentials.|By Pat Schneider

The Ugly . . . Nothing like rushing forward based on a mandate from 25% of the voting population.  The fact that the legislators of Wisconsin need to focus on their districts while Walker looks ahead to bigger aspirations may help slow down the process. 

The newly re-elected governor wants the state to adopt a budget earlier than it has in at least a generation, but his fellow Republican lawmakers say there is only so much they can do to speed up...|By Jason Stein

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