Why We Say Save Our Schools

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert. Empathy And Education; BeThink or BeThink.org

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 . . .

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7 responses to “Why We Say Save Our Schools

  1. Perhaps teachers need to learn our heads are round to allow our thoughts to change direction.

    DESCHOOLING SOCIETY
    My analysis of the hidden curriculum of school should make it evident that public education would profit from the deschooling of society, just as family …
    http://www.davidtinapple.com/illich/1970_deschooling.html – Cached – Similar
    Deschooling society
    Deschooling Society (1971) is a book that brought Ivan Illich to public attention. It is a critical discourse on education as practised in “modern” …
    deschoolingsociety.digress.it/ – Cached – Similar
    Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich
    Ivan Illich was one of the most visionary political and social thinkers of the twentieth century. Deschooling Society is his most radical and profound book. …
    http://www.ecobooks.com/books/deschooling.htm – Cached – Similar
    Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviality and the possibilities for …
    Ivan Illich Deschooling Society (1973: 9). Ivan Illich (1926 – 2002) rose to fame in the 1970s with a series of brilliant, short, polemical, books on major …
    http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-illic.htm – Cached – Similar

  2. Dearest Publius | . . .

    I smile. From my brief read of the literature you present, Educators would not disagree. Policymakers, indeed, have standardized systems and thus, students, This is the reason Teachers wish to Save Our Schools!

    Perhaps, in a desire to create a service economy. Businesses can run more cheaply if we have a strong “working” class.

    To remain a pupil is to serve your teacher badly.
    ~ Friedrich Nietzche 1844-1900
    Overschooled But Undereducated: How the crisis in education is jeopardizing our adolescents. Book Review. 21st Century Learning Initiative. 2009
    Opeing Minds and Unlockig Futures? British Columbia School Superintendents’ Conference. 2007
    I think that this relates to the reason that “productivity” is a valued community in our culture and venacular. I believe this also illustrates the “logic” [sic] of the term entitlements.

    People work. Common class citizens pay into a pot that is designed to provide return of their monies when they retire. Yet; we use words that characterize the dollars as a generous grant? Yikes!

    Please allow me to reflect further . .
    Apparently, the education crisis our Industrial Society gave birth to, what you and I, as other Educators, think unhealthy and unwise. I share . . .
    Overschooled but Undereducated – How the Crisis in Education is Jeopardising our Adolescents
    By John Abbott with Heather MacTaggert
    Continuum international Publishing 2010

    Seismic shifts in educational legislation of 1870, 1902, 1944, 1965, 1988 and 2000 set in motion a trend of making secondary education irrelevant to the needs of the adolescent formative brain. These catastrophic events also ended, too early, the effective good primary education practice of educating the whole child.

    “No curricular overhaul, no instructional in- novation, no change in school organization, no toughening of standards, no rethinking of teacher training or compensation will succeed if students do not come to school interested in, and committed to, learning… We need to look, not at what goes on inside the classroom, but at students’ lives outside the school’s walls.”
    ~ Laurence Steinberg, Beyond the Classroom, 1997

    May life bring you peace, prosperity, pleasant dreams becoming the best of your reality. May your life reflect the goodness that is you . . . Betsy

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  3. The issue is this-children are cheated by schools. Teachers earn their income from schools. A paradox indeed until one understnds the ideology. Education is not liberation but inculcation in servility.
    Teachers typicallly were outstanding in their servility as students. Thus they become teachers themselves in emulation of the athority figure from childhood. The schools are broken beyond repair because the ideology that informs them is flawed. At the very least Martin Gardner’s work on multiple learners and methods for these learners is never implemented in public education and seldom in private education. Is it the cost? Absurd. The school is a new Bastille and the teachers within it complicit in varying degrees. Learning how to think is not prioritized in schools. Our children have to take a test upon graduation becuse it is thought they learn nothing in 4 years of school-and possibly this is correct-so we give them a test to say yes, you have learned something-how to take a test.

    Standardized tests-the banking system of education. The lecture hall, as compared to seminar style learning, useless. Johnny couldn’t read in the 1950’s and now we have multiple generations of morons. No offense intended, but truly, there must be a time for educators to throw off the shackles and embrace a pedegogy of the oppressed and realize that the failure to educate lies in the heart of the system of education they struggle so hard to save.

  4. Dearest Publius | . . .

    I smile and say. Oh absolutely; every child wants to grow up and become a Teacher. The reasons are abundant.

    How Does Teacher Pay Compare? http://ow.ly/5FUCB
    The major findings of our review and analysis include the following:

    • Recent research shows that teacher quality is key to student and school success.

    • A continuing issue is whether teacher pay is sufficient to attract and retain quality teachers: trends in relative teacher pay seem to coincide with trends in teacher quality over the long run.

    In this 2004 analysis of weekly wage trends shows teachers’ wages fallen behind those of other workers since 1996…. Since 1979 teacher wages relative to those of other similar workers dropped 18.5% among women, 9.3% among men, 13.1% among both combined.. Teachers’ wages have deteriorated about 14.8% since 1993 and by 12.0% since 1983 relative to comparable occupations

    May you live long and prosper and perhaps the latter will be realized if you chose to be other than a Teacher . . . Betsy

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  5. As you show, the very system works against education. It makes the teacher a cog in the stupidity machine. The wage paid to the teacher reflects their unimportant role inside the system of dulness. TV can do your job or radio and probably does since the kids don’t learn anything in school. The educator, sadly, is only paid to dumb the child down. Tis is not your fault, it is simply the job created by the laws you must follow for getting tax money for the District. Your primary customer is the bureaucracy you are employed by and not the student in the classsroom. I recognize the teacher may think this is otherwise the case but one moment of observation shows the school system fails everyone inside it. Good teachers burn out. And this is intentional. The school system is designed to fail. It fails students, families and educators. It allows administrators to prosper. It operates under market capitalism to create or manufacture a product by using a curriculum, the bell, periods, the lecture, the classroom, etc. Teachers I should think would be among the first to ask how best to move out of the classroom and into the imagination. Smash the schools, liberate the teachers.

  6. Publis, do you suggest we get rid of the schools and have the parents do the teaching? Most parents are unqualified or lack the free time to do this. So the children would just go without an education. If not, what exactly are you suggesting? (I went to one of your links, but it was a VERY long read, and eventually gave up on it). Sure, our school system has it’s problems. But you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. I can remember some excellent teachers I had (and some bad ones). But no one does his best when under threats, which is basically the situation our teachers find themselves in today.

  7. Do I advocate children having parents teach them or having schools as presently understood teach them? You must realize the latter does not teach and the former surely will. My position is zero tolerance for schools. We need to educate our children, not pen them up in prison with barbaric methods of education reminiscent of the worst of the Dark Ages. Teachers are minions of the dumbing down mission of the schools. Children have the right to be intelligent and I do not think it the present day doctrines of classroom text book learning are the best education. New ideas are necessary with the children teaching themselves and learning how to learn. Utilize the deep intelligence of children and provide them tools for convivality.

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