I am but one who will stand strong to ensure an equal education for all. All who do or plan to, will express themselves in various ways. Some will March. Others will Rally or gather in Conference. Several have, do, or expect to act locally. Countless change what they can for children within the dynamics that define their family. Nationwide, innumerable Americans join hands and embrace a common cause. Let us Save Our Schools.
Jointly, we wear our hearts on our sleeves so that our children, our communities, this country can see we care. As our forefathers did before us, Americans invest in a shared future. We trust that learned little ones, as well as those denied an adequate education must have a solid foundation on which to build. Our offspring and we will suffer if, indeed, we do not work for the good of our young. It seems our many decades long shortsighted education “solutions” have already had an adverse affect. People from every political Party and point of view proclaim the need to teach the children well.
The Left, “Right,” and middle muse; our education system needs reform. We must Save Our Schools. The questions are how, which schools; charter, private or public institutions and why? These queries lead to further reflection. What might be preserved, reserved, reformed or left for ruin? Would it be better to transform an arrangement that many agree fails our young? The answers spur people to act. It seems with little forethought, the process has already begun. Indeed, change commenced decades ago.
Headlines herald the news. Jonathan Mahler wrote in The Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform. “The modern school-reform movement sprang to life in 1983, with the release of “A Nation at Risk,” an education report commissioned by the Reagan administration that boldly stated…that the United States had embarked upon a “unilateral educational disarmament…The Clinton administration’s emphasis on national standards… President George W. Bush’s declaiming of “the soft bigotry of low expectations”… “
For some, the history is nothing in comparison to what we witness daily. Children are being left behind. The past was but prologue. It is now our present. Education observer Mahler continues. “On to the current generation of reformers, with their embrace of charter schools and their attacks on the teachers union. The policies and rhetoric changed, often dramatically, but the underlying assumption remained the same: Our nation’s schools are in dire need of systemic reform.” The debate as to how, why, when and where has become less about the little ones and more about rhetoric. Messages are “framed” to ensure that a political agenda is maximized.
Today. Public Education has all but Perished.
The Frame; Change arrived in the form of “No Child Left Behind.” This law caused our children to languish further. The One-Size-Fits-All tools adopted fit very few. The state and the nation are pursuing policies that have not closed the achievement gap and have aggravated the situation for many students. “Indeed, No Child Left Behind’s ‘get-tough’ approach to accountability has led to more students being left even further behind, thus feeding the dropout crisis and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” ~ Bob Valiant. Kennewick School District. Education Matters. March 19, 2011
Political postures are effective, that is, for all but the young and their Moms, Dads, Grandparents and Guardians. These elders see the pain on their little loved ones faces.
Students Struggle to Survive…
Curriculums have been cut to the core. Classes canceled. Test scores and statistics govern what occurs. “Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.” School Districts confronted with possible punishment, or the promise of financial rewards, dependent on student test scores, thought it wise to remove coursework that did not pertain to the subjects tested.
Reading and math became the sole priorities. All other topics in a school’s curriculum, with the exception of Science, at minimum, were reduced in scope. Some disciplines, such as the Arts, Social Science, and Literature were as the children, left further behind to the point of being lost. For persons who care about our progeny, this point alone became the raison d’être for a Save Our Schools March, a Rally, a Conference, and a mass Movement. The populace observed Students Stifled Will Not Sing or Soar. The pain became more and more palpable.
Students Stifled Will Not Sing or Soar.
Critical Thought, Creativity, and Curiosity are now null and void in our schools. Public and private institutions wane. Rather than a shared success among all students, today we have winners and losers. Parents work to see that their children achieve. The less financially fortunate will wait in enrollment lines for hours in hopes that by lottery, their young ones will triumph.
Yet, few truly do. In contrast to the much-touted claims, children who are accepted into these so-called “exceptional” charter schools are, in actuality, no better off than those who are rejected. After a lengthy study, Senior Harvard University Lecturer Katherine K. Merseth observed, “No matter how they are measured, there are some amazing charter schools…At the same time, however, we know that there are many charters that are not successful. A further disappointment for me is that essentially given the freedom to create any form or structure of schooling, the vast majority of charter schools look just like the schools we’ve already got. “
Religious schools fare no better. Often seen as the savior for less than affluent parents, they also struggle with standards. Hard times push Catholic schools toward crisis. Enrollment is down and the need to satisfy an insatiable American need for “accountability” is up. Government sponsored voucher programs contributed to each of these truths. Popular conventions are also the reason that Standardized Tests Taken by Nine Out of Ten Voucher Schools.
Even private schools have not fully escaped what often holds young learners back. Standardization, in other words and ways, the testing craze is alive and well in exclusive schools. These privileged institutions too have seen the errors of this way. Entrance exams are inaccurately evaluated. “Substantially equivalent” educations are as advertised. Differences, in the end, are not realized, Hence, as might be expected, most every curriculum in each locale has suffered, just as students have. Again, as parents pour over test scores and the scours on little ones faces, in harmony, they chant “Please Save Our Schools!”
“Only two subjects [math and reading.] What a sadness,” said Thomas Sobol, an education professor at Columbia Teachers College and a former New York State education commissioner. “That’s like a violin student who’s only permitted to play scales, nothing else, day after day, scales, scales, scales. They’d lose their zest for music.”~ Sam Dillon The New York Times. March 26, 2006
Students are at risk when punitive policies promote more scales, less music!
“Teach to the Tests.”
Proud Papa Barack Obama understands the problem and spoke to it in March 2011. As the nation’s Chief Executive stood before students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network, at Bell Multicultural High School, in Washington, District of Columbia, the Professor turned President said, “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools. Yet, Administrations Mandate More Standards, Scores, Statistics, and School Closures. Today, Performance is Reviewed Rigorously. “Race To The Top Requirements” rule. Please peruse Race to the Top Program Executive Summary. Department of Education. November 2009
While intellectually, Mister Obama understands the myriad hazards associated with “common core standards,” he and his Administration adopted these. “Standardized-test scores can provide useful information about how students are doing But as soon as the scores are tied to firing staff, giving bonuses, and closing schools, the measures become the goal of education, rather than an indicator. Race to the Top went even beyond NCLB in its reliance on test scores as the ultimate measure of educational quality.“ ~ Diane Ravitch. Historian and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Newsweek. March 20, 2011
Race To The Top Myths.
- Teachers are to blame for the education crisis.
- Business practices build solidly performing students and schools.
- Rigor is “right.”
- Teaching is a task anyone can do.
Race To The Top Truths.
“Race to the Top? National standards for math, science, and other school subjects? The high-powered push to put them in place makes it clear that the politicians, business leaders, and wealthy philanthropists who’ve run America’s education show for the last two decades are as clueless about educating as they’ve always been.” ~ Marion Brady. veteran Teacher, Administrator, Curriculum Designer and Author. Washington Post
Administration after Administration administers standardized exams. The scores reveal one truth consistently; our children are not standard. Each is a Whole being, a child who yearns to learn more than memorize. Indeed, to commit a fact, figure, or formula is not learning at all. Rote and regurgitate; this rhythm does not resonate in a mind, heart, body or soul. Adults will tell you, in retrospect such an education is not an education at all.
Still policymakers are intent. Reinstatement. Rewrite. When will Legislators learn? The Race Leaves Children Further Behind. Please Save Our Schools!
National Standards. Low Expectations.
Countless concur. Standards and standardization in our schools has not helped advance humanity. These are the cause of the stagnation we see in our schools. Indeed, with the restrictions imposed, more students and Teachers dropout of an already diminished system.
More than five years ago, it was calculated that ”Every Nine Seconds in America a Student Becomes a Dropout. Then and now we pay the cost for inadequate education structures.
The number of Teachers who dropout of our schools in the first five years of their careers is far greater than that of students. Studies show the most qualified Educators leave first. Little support, poor conditions, and poverty play roles in what occurs. Innumerable acknowledge; scarcity and the problems this puzzle presents within our society, specifically for our schools, is intolerable.
Writer Kozol perhaps, speaks for the American people when he says, “Good God, with all these gifts, useful energy, innocence, curiosity, why don’t we give [our children] everything we have?
This question is one every individual has asked at some time in their lives. Even the childless are troubled by perceived injustices. Teachers are troubled. Parents perturbed. A Professor ponders and shares her exploration. University of Berkeley Social Scientist Dacher Keltner reminds us of our roots. Innately, humans hold dear the notion “survival of the kindest.” This truth is our strongest instinct. “Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others,” said Keltner.
Dacher Keltner’s research reveals that Political divides and partisanship disappears when compassion, particularly for the children, is the issue. Possibly, this is the essence that energizes the masses to Rally, to March and to build a Movement. The people are compelled to call for action.
Finally, as education worsens Moms and Dads put their habits and hubris aside. Many have decided dollars can no longer dictate deeds as have been true in the past. Compassion for the children can and must be our guide.
Perhaps, that is the real reason people from every political Party will join hands. In Washington District of Columbia, in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, California, in every State in the Union the public proclaims, we will not abandon our public schools. This is why I will March, attend a Rally, Register for a Conference or two, and you? Will you?
References for Real and Rhetorical Education Reform . . .
- Why US education deserves our praise (and funding). By Jonathon T. Harvey. Forbes. July 8, 2011
- Bail Out Our Schools, By Robert Reich. Huffington Post. March 8, 2010
- Building a Solid Foundation, By Sara Mead. New America Foundation. May 2009
- The Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform. By Jonathan Mahler. The New York Times. April 9, 2011
- “A Nation at Risk,” U.S. Department of Education. 1983
- Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math, By Sam Dillon. The New York Times. March 26, 2006
- School-to-Prison Pipeline.” By Bob Valiant. Kennewick School District. Education Matters. March 19, 2011
- Obama’s War on Schools. By Diane Ravitch. The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Newsweek. March 20, 2011
- Children Left Behind How Metropolitan Areas are Failing America’s Children. Harvard. Diversity Data. January 2007
- The Trouble with the Standards Movement. By Peter Relic. National Association of Independent Schools. 2000
- Regents Look at Private Schools’ Standards, By Randal C. Archibiold. The New York Times. January 14, 1999
- Save Our Schools. Texans advance on Capitol in bid to preserve public schools, By Richard Whittaker. The Austin Chronicle. March 11, 2011
- SOS Michigan.
- Test Service Says 7,000 City Students Got Incorrect Grades By Sarah Maslin Nir. The New York Times. April 8, 2011
- 2009 GreatSchools and Harris Interactive Poll
- A Brief Profile of America’s Private Schools, U.S. Department of Education. June 2003
- Challenger School Releases its 2011 Standardized Test Results. PRWeb. June 29, 2011
- Public Schools Vs. Private Schools: New Study Says There Is No Difference. Education-Portal. June 2011
- Educator: ‘Race to the Top’s’ 10 false assumptions, By Marion Brady. The Washington Post. October 23, 2009
- Katherine K. Merseth Harvard University.
- Inside Urban Charter Schools. By Jill Anderson. Harvard University. January 30, 2009
- Hard times push Catholic schools toward crisis. eSchool News. July 18, 2009
- Standardized Tests Taken by Nine Out of Ten Voucher Schools; Reporting Results Would Increase Accountability. Public Policy Forum. February 16, 2004
- Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math By Sam Dillon. The New York Times. March 26, 2006
- Obama says too much testing makes education boring, By Erica Werner. Boston Globe. March 28, 2011
- Research & Commentary: National ‘Common Core’ Curriculum Standards. School Reform News. Heartland Institute. June 23, 2011
- Common Core Standards.
- Race to the Top Program Executive Summary. Department of Education. November 2009
- ”Every Nine Seconds in America a Student Becomes a Dropout. American Youth Policy Forum. 2005
- Digest of Education Statistics. National Center for Education statistics. Department of Education. 2008
- Teacher Dropout Rate Higher Than Students. By Lisa Singleton-Rickman. Times Daily. February 22, 2009
- Save Our Schools March.
- Save Our Schools; The Movement.
- Save Our Schools. Conference.
- Diane Ravitch.
- David Brooks, Diane Ravitch, and the education wars, By John Merrow. Taking Note. July 6, 2011
- Private versus Public. By GreatSchools.
- Deborah Meier.
- Social Scientists Build Case for ‘Survival of the Kindest.’ Science Daily. December 9, 2009
- Winners and Losers in the Charter School Lottery, By Kevin Drum. Mother Jones. June 2, 2011
- Wealthy Reduce Buying in a Blow to the Recovery, By Motoko Rich. The New York Times. July 17, 2010
- Private schools cope with weak economy. By Lorrie A. Shane. Education Report. May 26, 2010
- Tight Budgets Whittle Away School Days, By Sam Dillon. The New York Times. July 5, 2011
- Private schools look to survive economic hit, By Pat Kossan. The Arizona Republic. December 1, 2008