Brave new voices, indeed. This needs no introduction from me.....Comments??
More troubling developments in the preparation of teachers. The business model of turning over education to just anybody still prevails with potentially disastrous consequences. Why these policy makers and the media refuse to acknowledge the research on these programs is boggling to the mind.
Most disturbing to this former social studies teacher is that the statement that “the role of school in democracy” is part of the problem. Abandoning the role of public education in preparing kids to function in a democratic society is not only wrongheaded but against the thought every Founding Father we have--this is so very dangerous.
Alternate Path for Teachers Gains Ground
Officials in Washington, D.C. and New York have stepped up criticisms that teacher education schools are still too focused on theory and not enough on the craft of effective teaching. This week, the New York State Board of Regents will vote on whether to expand the role of the alternative organizations by allowing them to create their own master's degree programs. While alternative programs now operate in most states, only a few, including Rhode Island and Louisiana, allow these programs to effectively certify their own teachers.
....Susan H. Fuhrman, president of Teachers College, said she had another concern — the potential separation of teacher training from what she called an “explosion of new research” into how children learn. Teachers College has chosen not to team up with alternative programs, in part because of philosophical differences over the concept of anointing a neophyte to be the “teacher of record” — the one responsible for a classroom — from the first day of school. “We’re at a huge frontier when it comes to understanding learning,” she said. “Divorcing teacher preparation from this research would suggest to me that you would prepare doctors with hands-on tools without their benefiting from medical research.”
A powerful point....Thoughts?
(New York Times, 04/19/10)
Read More: LINK
Diane Ravitch has spent a lifetime in school. She was the assistant secretary of education under George H. W. Bush and an early advocate of No Child Left Behind. Today, she's a research professor of education at New York University, a passionate critic of the system and an articulate, outspoken advocate for saving our public schools. Her new book has the provocative title "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education."
She's certainly got my attention. As a public school parent in New York City, where on Thursday, chancellor Joel Klein threatened to cut 8,500 teaching jobs -- 20 percent of which would come from the impoverished South Bronx -- I've been watching the ongoing fiasco in education reform with a mixture of fear, anger and outright disgust. In his announcement, Klein said he would fight Albany's mandate to cut jobs with a "last in, first out" strategy -- unsurprising given his long-standing promise to get rid of "bad" teachers. It doesn't take long, however, to notice how often Klein's criteria for career jeopardy seems to involve a higher salary and/or a class with lower test scores. At my own school, parents have heard our principal speak in meetings of removing particular teachers who make the most money -- while several of the tenured staff have suddenly found themselves written up for questionable infractions.
It's a scenario being repeated all over the country -- earlier this month in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, entire faculties at low-performing schools faced the ax. On Thursday, a Savannah, Ga., high school announced it was firing its whole staff. And California recently issued layoff notices to a staggering 30,000 teachers.
All of which paints an incredibly grim prospect for parents, children and teachers within the public school system – especially families and communities servicing English language learners and special needs kids. Want to remove the teachers and close schools in the poorest, "lowest performing" areas? Want to hold every child, regardless of individual circumstances and aptitude, to the same standards? Gosh, what could go wrong there?
Searching for solutions, I spoke recently with Ravitch about the crisis in our schools -- how we got here, and how we can dig ourselves out.
When we parents hear words like "choice" and "standards," they sound like good things. So tell me why they're not.
You create a mentality that private education is good, and public education is bad. What's the long-term result? Look at New Orleans, where over 60 percent of the kids are in charter schools. The schools are basically in the hands of private entrepreneurs, who may or may not have the best interests of kids at heart.
And the Department of Education is supporting these charter schools instead of the schools they're responsible for. The're giving these schools your address. They're giving them info on your children. In New York and nationally, charters are cherry-picking the students. They're not taking a fair proportion of special ed kids or English language learners. They're taking the kids who are easiest to educate. There's a school in East Harlem within walking distance of a bunch of homeless shelters that has no shelter kids in it.
And the charter middle schools in New York start in fifth grade while the public schools start in sixth. I had an educator tell me recently that they're flat out draining her classes, because parents are terrified their kids won't get into the competitive public middle schools.
And then you turn around, and you don't have a public school system except for the kids who can't get into the charters. You have a public system of last resort and no hope.
Yet why not create competition if the public schools aren't doing well? What about the mantra that my own school's principal says all the time about standards and test scores, that the "data doesn't lie"?
Has your principal heard of Ponzi schemes? Has he heard of Enron? The data lie all the time. Business lies all the time. It's easy to fudge the numbers. In New York, for instance, the Board of Ed dropped the passing mark for the tests. In 2006 a seventh-grade student needed to get 59.6 percent to be considered proficient. By 2009 the mark dropped to 44 percent. That produced a dramatic increase in "proficiency."
That's like how our neighborhood school went from earning an F from the Board of Ed to an A in two years.
Last year, when Mike Bloomberg was running for reelection, 97 percent of New York City schools got an A or B. It's about prestige -- these people like Bloomberg are considered leaders and pioneers because they're saying they can improve the data. The data are sanctified and the data are bullshit.
Meanwhile, if a school is filled with "low -performing" kids, it's a failing school. It may have raised those kids way beyond what anybody else could have done for them. Joel Klein says the reason we have low performance is because we have bad teachers. It might be because nobody at home speaks English or the kids don't even have a home. They're working against incredible odds.
But surely we need some way of measuring how kids and schools are doing.
Tests are useful for information. It's good to see that if the scores are low, maybe we need bilingual helpers. Let's see how we can make things better. Instead they take the data and say, "Let's see who we should fire."
School now rests on incentives and sanctions. It's permeated by the Jack Welsh philosophy of "Kick out the bottom 10 percent." Harshly punish the schools, and then magically something will happen. The results don't bear it out.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said this country has thousands and thousands of teachers who are eager to go into these "failing" schools. Who would leave Scarsdale to teach in the South Bronx? You want to go on the firing line, into a school that gets the lowest test scores, where you'll lose your job if you don't raise them?
You've lived and worked through countless moments of crisis in education. What makes this one different?
Public school has always had critics. But we now have for the first time a movement to eliminate public education. We have never in our history had a strong push to privatize a large piece of the public education system. And when you have it coming from the Oval Office, that's different.
Obama and Arne Duncan have completely aligned themselves with the Jack Welches and Joel Kleins. There's this idea that teachers are the enemy. Everybody has drunk the Kool-Aid, because if you want to keep your job, you walk the walk. It's doing a really good job of stigmatizing public education.
So what can we parents do?
Organize, organize, organize! Get involved politically and vote against these plans. Parents have to sit down with their congressmen and say, you're destroying education. You've created a mind-set of, "What's in it for me, and the hell with everybody else." This is nonsense. This is anti-education. And it's harming children. Schools will be stripped down to math and English and what's not on the tests won't be taught.
There are two ways to look at the business model: One is, produce or die. But there is plenty in corporate literature that talks about common goals, and what happens when you don't set people in competition with each other. So how about finding solutions for everybody?
There is some buzz around this film coming out and it would be great to see some discussion of these general ideas ....apparently, there are more clips on YouTube. The "War on Kids" phrase was popular about six years ago by some scholars but it got dropped pretty quickly. I do think that what a lot of the rhetoric (and now policy) serves to do is blame the victim; we end up blaming kids for our own system that alienates and derides them. thoughts?
A powerful music video showing how indigenous youth are playing with new media and historical representations. The artist here is hip hop writer Wahwahtay Benais from the Anishinabe tribe from the Great Lakes region and he's sampling the Dixie Chicks. What's so interesting to me is to see that he clearly adopts some components of hip hop culture and just as intentionally leaves some behind--a poweruful example of contemporary identity work (new media, mashup, new perspectives, voice to the voiceless, etc...). There is some thoughtful commentary on In Media Res as well. Seems like Critical Pedagogy to me.....Thoughts?
Trying to branch out into video here, so bear with me.
An interesting student-produced video on the costs of poverty and the choices of high-stakes testing in public education. This seems like an innovative way to get the message out there. I wonder what kind of video would come out of IUPUI....
Certainly a far cry from the local voices here in Indy that lay the blame for all of urban education's troubles on hip-hop. It reminds me of just how silly that is.
A colleague recently asked me for some good resources on teaching strategies that provide opportunities for student voice. She specifically asked about structuring "roundtable" activities at the secondary level that highlight issues of race, class, sexuality and other controversial, social justice type issues. She is interested in finding information in the area of "how to get started" and how to facilitate the difficult questions. I'm wondering if folks have resources that they can share. We often talk about things like "student voice" and democratic teaching practices but I can't easily put my hand on work that helps teachers actually structure these activities. Watcha got???
International Democratic Education Conference
The 14th International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) was held this past July in Sydney, Australia. 250-300 people from 15 countries attended. The event is relevant to today’s debate on education because governments, including Australia, are dealing with the issue of how to prevent students from disengaging, IDEC contributes positively by highlighting models that have successfully put students at the center of the learning process.
Recent news tells us that high-stakes testing may come to social studies education in Indiana. This opens up a very complicated conversation about the role of testing and the curriculum but also about the role of social studies itself. A way to start thinking abou this comes from a recent story on NPR. I'm still not sure that most folks really know the impact of these major changes in education policy. Thoughts?
National Public Radio: Social Studies Goes to the Back of the Class
Weekend Edition Sunday
leaving other subjects behind. Fred Risinger, former coordinator of
Social Studies Education at the School of Education at Indiana
University, discusses the problem with Liane Hansen