Texas SBOE, Children’s Growth, ADHD
FLORIDA EXPORTS ‘REFORM’
Does this look familiar to Indiana readers? This article describes how Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education used “ALEC-like” methods to export the “Florida Formula” to other states. One way was through the “Chiefs for Change” group, a group of state education commissioners, including Indiana’s (and later Florida’s) Tony Bennett.
Since its creation, the foundation has been largely devoted to exporting the “Florida formula,” an overhaul of public education [Jeb] Bush oversaw as governor between 1999 and 2007.
That agenda includes ideas typically supported by conservatives and opposed by teachers unions: issuing A-to-F report cards for schools, using taxpayer vouchers for tuition at private schools, expanding charter schools, requiring third-graders to pass a reading test, and encouraging online learning and virtual charter schools.
WHO WILL BE TOMORROW’S TEACHERS?
One of the goals of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is the destruction of the teaching profession. The lack of professional educators means lower overhead…lower pay, no pensions, no unions, no professionals to get in the way of for-profit “choices.”
Around the nation teachers’ job benefits are disappearing, pensions are being blamed for the economic difficulties caused by the banking crisis, and qualifications for becoming a teacher are watered down to the point that completely untrained college graduates can walk into a classroom and start teaching.
The “reform” movement is being directed by billionaires with no training in education, politicians with no training in education, and the media with no training in education. Soon public education will be delivered by people with no training in education.
….teachers quit because we have all the responsibility and little or no authority in the classroom. Administrators don’t support teachers and often don’t trust our judgment as professionals. It’s very hard to stay at a job where you are not supported, appreciated or trusted. Add disrespectful students and parents, and it becomes a daily battle to go to work.” A daily battle to go to work sounds like reason enough for anyone to leave the profession. She went on, “My stepdaughter has been teaching for three years and she’s done. It’s sad because she’s a teacher at heart – this is her calling. But she says no way. Her main reason: lack of support from administration and parents. She said she is held responsible for things she can’t possibly control.”
Another intelligent, award winning, high quality teacher resigns.
I’ve seen teachers cry over Standards of Learning scores. I’ve seen students cry over SOL scores. I’ve seen newspaper and TV reports sensationalize SOL scores. These are all indications of an unhealthy obsession with flawed standardized tests.
SOL tests are inherently unfair, but we continue to invest countless hours and resources in our quest for our school to score well. This leads me to the following questions:
- Do we care more about student progress or our appearance?
- Why can’t we start a movement to walk away from these tests?
- Why can’t we shift our focus to critical thinking and relevant educational experiences?
It’s tough to acknowledge that people in Washington, D.C., and Richmond (and sometimes decision makers in Waynesboro) develop systems and policies that affect my students and me negatively. But as they retire and sail off into the sunset, we’re the ones left with the consequences of ineffective measurements and strategies.
Our new teacher evaluations focus heavily on test scores. But while teachers are continually under pressure to be held accountable, there seems to be very little accountability for parents, the community, or district offices.
It’s only going to get worse, and it seems that we have no intention of taking a stand or advocating against flawed assessments. Instead, we have submitted ourselves to these tools that misrepresent student growth. It is a game, and it is a game I no longer wish to play.
VAM isn’t reliable. Why do we continue to use student standardized tests for the wrong purposes? Is it because testing companies don’t care what their tests are used for as long as they’re being paid (with the public dollars)? Is it because the politicians making education policy don’t know anything about educational testing? Is it because the policy makers are getting campaign contributions from said test makers?
The answer is probably “yes” to all three questions.
Holding teacher training programs accountable for measures such as how many graduates get jobs within a year of graduating, how well teachers perform on evaluations during their first few years of work or how much student test scores grow isn’t fair because the science behind those measures can’t be trusted, said Gerardo Gonzalez, Indiana University’s education dean.
…“We want to blame teachers, hold them accountable, pay them less than just about every other profession and then we worry why they are leaving within five years?” Gonzalez said.
NEED CAMPAIGN FINANCES? SUPPORT PRIVATIZATION
The most important fact in American politics today is the Citizens United decision. With this, the hand of the Democratic Party was forced: in order to win major elections the party must accept major campaign funding from the Silicon Valley right libertarians, neoliberals and their financiers on Wall Street. For neoliberal Democrats who are forced to lick the Nikes of their major funders, the privatization of education has become the price they pay to get the dollars needed to win elections.
COURAGEOUS TEACHERS STAND UP
Read the position paper…a strong statement against corporate “reform.”
The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.
IGNORANCE IN THE TEXAS SBOE
The Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, James Madison…and Moses?
According to the Texas State Board of Education, Moses (yes, that Moses) was a major influence in the formation of the nation’s founding documents, aka the U.S. Constitution.
During a months-long process, publishers made a number of improvements to their textbooks. Those improvements included removing inaccurate information promoting climate change denialism; deleting offensive cartoons comparing beneficiaries of affirmative action to space aliens; making clearer that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War; and revising passages that had promoted unfair negative stereotypes of Muslims. Scholars and the general public had ample opportunity to review and comment on those revisions.
However, the new textbooks also include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament. Scholars from across the country have said such claims are inaccurate and mislead students about the historical record.
A growing body of research suggests that teaching really young kids how to recognize and express their feelings can help them into their adult lives…and save society time, money, and social stress in the long run.
…common sense — along with a growing body of research — shows that mastering social skills early on can help people stay out of trouble all the way into their adult lives.
Research now shows what many people who have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder — or those who parent someone who does — have long since believed there is a huge link between ADHD and creativity, often referred to as the “upside of ADHD.” And according to an extensive report by Salon, in focusing solely on the difficulties those with ADHD have — such as poor attention and impulse control — kids with ADHD are falling through the cracks, educationally speaking…
…recent studies in the field of cognitive neuroscience draws a strong connection between ADHD and creativity, as well, showing that both creative thinkers and people with ADHD have trouble “suppressing brain activity coming from the ‘Imagination Network.’”
All of this creativity — and with it, the inability to control those creative thoughts — can be seen as either positive or negative. Creativity is a valuable asset, but so is being able to control one’s thoughts and impulses, and obviously, a creative mind that is always spontaneously generating new ideas or constantly daydreaming interferes greatly with the ability to pay attention in the classroom.
For parents, teachers, and significant others…
Most parents, teachers, and significant others don’t say things to others to hurt their feelings on purpose, but sometimes, when living, or working with an ADHD child or adult we become frustrated and the hurtful words slip out. Unfortunately, hurtful words stay with people, causing humiliation and embarrassment which can last into adulthood and negatively impact relationships and one’s ability to hold on to a job.
Here’s an incomplete list of hurtful phrases ADHD folks have grown up and lived with.
People say some pretty insensitive things. ADHD myths and misinformation don’t help. People blame us or our kids for behaviors controlled by the condition, and we know it’s wrong. But sometimes frustrating behaviors can push even the most loving parents to say things we quickly regret.
I would add a few more to this list:
- “Why didn’t you think!?”
- “…if you’d only try harder…”
- “…if you weren’t so lazy.”
My advice to those living (or working) with people with ADHD…”Think before you speak.”
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.