Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Response to Education Week, 05072013 and A Tale of 2 Articles.

Article Numero Uno is from writer Jennifer Jennings and sets the reader off immediately by claiming

An Apology to Secretary Duncan

With all due respect, you do not need to feel humiliated, embarrassed, or sympathetic to an official paid for by our tax dollars. An employee of the United States. More people need to be willing to make vocal their dissension in this time. That is what the constitution is all about. Furthermore, the constitution is in fact being ignored repeatedly by our Federal Government when it comes to public education in the USA. Again, more people need to go back and do their homework. Far too many people who are non-educators, meaning they did not study the law, are now in charge of education. Just recently in North Carolina a HB was proposed to LIMIT THE RIGHTS OF THE PARENTS! Seriously, the school systems now know better than parents? Government, non-educators know more than educators? I wonder if educators were to start telling the AMA how to treat patients if there would be an uprising from the medical community? How is this different? Did he really have the grace, or did he have the brains to understand that he is an appointed employee of the people of this country and can in fact be removed from his position? I think I will apologize for you for being so complacent. "What saddens me is that the educational policy debate has become an overwhelming chorus of boos, of shout-downs, and of bitter personal insults, rather than a real debate about ideas and data and first principles. Unfortunately, this mirrors the direction that most American political debates have leaned in recent years. It is toxic." It is toxic and the toxicity is coming from Washington and therefore needs to be called out. The booing is merely a symptom of being ignored for far too long. You might do well to join the ranks of the sufferers. It is time to "Grasp the Nettle!" and to possibly recognize that what Peter T. Coleman writes about in his book "The Five Percent" has in fact come to the be the case in public education. The solution to the conflict in education is not to apologize, but, rather to do something that Washington and leaders in the ongoing bashing of educators fail to do over and over again, LISTEN! Could this be a case of a "Stockholm Syndrome?"

Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.

I am 100% in support of the limits of standardized testing in this country. Primarily for the following reasons: 1) it benefits only those making a profit off of the failure of our children. A failure that is not the failure of them, or their schools, but, rather the way in which assessments are written, delivered and measured.
2) The time it takes away from meaningful instruction, and development of our children. When you factor in the amount of time teachers spend on preparing their students, school system spend on initiating, delivering, evaluating, etc., the cost of the testing to the local communities drains the system and literally takes away from meaningful instruction. More and more instruction is being set aside in order to measure and test. This is asinine and completely counter-productive. 
3) After 40 years of nationwide measurement, this has been proven time and time again as an ineffectual means towards academic improvement. 

So, with these 3 points outlined, why does is still exist? Because in anything, all one must do is follow the money. Who benefits from the manipulation of our children, teachers and schools? Well, for one, Washington, secondly, the publishing giants, such as McGraw Hill. Look into their Wall Street portfolio and you will see immediately what I am talking about. 

As far as a Common Core goes. I am all for it. As a professional educator with advanced degrees and experience, I believe this is one way in which a unified, national body of educators can rise up against a tyrannical governmental system. I believe when unified more parents will begin to demand that all children learn in a way that will allow for them to be successful in colleges across the country and globally. I ensures that children are given ample opportunities and educators can move from one state to another without losing their licensures. As it is now, if you are licensed in one state, then you cannot teach in another without going through extreme costs in order to obtain an out of state license, per se. This process actually keeps teachers from seeking better employment opportunities in the field of education. As it right now, because of the way our education system is set up, unless you are RIF'd, there is little opportunity for moving out of a school system if you have been there for 5 or more years. 

There needs to be a major Rift, but, it needs to be focused on the big problems, not Common Core Standards. To me that is the way of empowering all of us against tyrannic approaches toward public education.    

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Common Core? It Is Nothing to Be Afraid of! Highly Talented Teachers Are Already Doing IT!

I just completed an article in Ed Week magazine with the following title written by Laura Thomas. As in many things a good title will grab you in and like Thomas indicates in her article, the monster doesn't really exist, it just get's us all worked up. So it is with the Common Core.

The 'Monster' at the End of the Common CoreBy Laura Thomas

I believe in balanced delivery, differentiation, "wholistic" approaches to education. Why? Well, if I were to sit down and talk with Daniel Goleman about my processes, he would indicate that it is because of my EI/IQ, you see after raising children and being a very involved parent, my EI/IQ would be a major impetus to the way I think. If I were to sit down with Dewy, it would be because of my pragmatic nature. The biggest reason that I would attribute my strong commitment to a "commom core" approach to education comes from my years of experience trying to reach those kids who fall between the cracks. They do not test out as special needs kiddo's and they are not the more advanced, or rather, "average kiddo's" Rather they are the gifted and talented overlooked because of social stratifiers, or they are the disengaged learner.

While working with Chicago Hts., SD 170, I had the luxury to be working under a program called, America's Choice for School Design. It was wonderful. At first I was a process that was unmanageable. But, I had a Superintendent and a Principal who demanded fidelity to the program. Their clear, unwavering expectations made it possible to navigate through the first year only to look forward to the send, third and beyond. I still use the routines and rituals set forth by this program. It has solidified my educational philosophy and guess what? It is the common core! It demands a balanced approach to delivery. It no longer isolates curriculum. No longer can a teacher say, "I teach English, math, history, etc." It demands that the educator's first response be "I teacher children how to be effective contributors to the WHOLE!"

America's first step towards embracing a global reality is to begin to recognize that while we are divided up into 50 states, and many municipalities, we are first and foremost Americans. We no longer have the same cultural divides as we did 100 years ago. We are far more mobile, interconnected, and we are far more universal then we would like to imagine. We must have in place a system whereby children in the northeast are in fact equal to the children academically in the far southwest. We cannot stake that claim. This is the first real, and logical step towards embracing a universal understanding of what the truest role of public education is in this country. The word "Common" sets the stage for a common sense of awareness and removes the ambiguity in our school systems.

In closing; A Highly Talented Teacher, never has to worry about his or her lesson plans or curriculum, as they have been doing it right all along, and do not need mandates to show them how to impact their classrooms. .

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Profit Drives Education Improvements? What a novel idea!

Does it surprise anyone that a profit would be a motivator in doing a better job? Just look at McGraw Hill and other companies that continue to increase their profit off of our children. Nice to see profit be a motivator towards success. Do you suppose that if we do a paradigm shift away from a belief that testing improves scores that the multi-billion lost in the coffers of publishing companies will be invested into our schools? Education Week article