Charters, Teacher Evaluations,
“Reform” Fail, Politics
The importance of recess for young children, and children with ADHD especially, can’t be overemphasized. The Finns, with the highest academic scores in the world, make sure that young children have frequent breaks. We should do the same.
Lunch and recess are, for more grade school students, as essential as reading, writing, and math. Time spent playing kick ball or running the bases teaches our kids valuable social skills. Plus exercise releases chemicals into the brain that promote focus, sequencing, and working memory once the bell rings again.
“Kids need a break,” says Stewart Trost, assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University. “They can focus better in the classroom when given that break.”
“Kids who have recess display an improved ability to stay on task,” says Dr. Larry Silver a regular ADDitude contributor. That means less fidgeting, more focusing. It also means building friendships and giving teachers and administrators a chance to see who is being bullied, isolated, or teased.
Yet many schools cut recess to add more classes, or take it away as a punishment – even though the CDC says, “Exclusion from recess for bad behavior in a classroom deprives students of physical activity that can contribute toward improved behavior in the classroom.”
WALMARTIZING PUBLIC EDUCATION
The privatization of public education will lead to the same sorts of community devastation that Walmart is famous for.
Stories about local communities being devastated by business decisions made in distant headquarters have become a staple of this era. Time and time again, the nation has witnessed whole towns being hollowed out when big companies uproot local manufacturing plants to move to cheaper labor markets in Mexico or China.
The cause of the trauma and grief is always the same: “strictly business.” “Fiscal sense.”
But what if that story isn’t just about businesses anymore? What if instead of a closed factory or shuttered store, the story is about a closed public school? What if the consequence of these types of “business decisions” isn’t a grown man having to look for another job or an elderly woman having to figure out a new way to pick up her prescriptions, but a child having his or her education significantly disrupted or a whole community left without convenient access to schools?
That question is becoming increasingly urgent as more and more government officials turn to publicly funded but privately run charter schools to compete with and upend local public schools—an education option, it is worth noting, that the family behind the Walmart empire has played a huge role in promoting and funding nationwide.
Co-locations are all the rage in Charter-crazed New York.
We don’t block off parts of public parks so private entities can set up for-profit park facilities. We don’t cram all the public library’s books into one area so a private vendor can set up shop at public expense. But for some reason it’s ok to do this to our children…
“Choice,” when there is any, belongs to the private, for profit, corporate owners, not the community or parents.
Imagine this. You get a call telling you that another family will now occupy the second floor of your home. After you recover from your initial shock, you complain. “Outrageous,” you say. That is where I have my office, our second bathroom and the guest bedroom for when my mother comes to stay.” You quickly learn the decision is not yours to make. This is a top-down order, and you must comply.
As far-fetched as the above might seem, the above is what principals in New York City and other cities around the country face when charter schools demand space. And although principals may not “own” their schools, the community that surrounds the school surely does. Yet, no matter how strongly they protest, community voices are nearly always ignored.
When it comes to collecting public tax dollars, charters are “public.” However, when students demand their rights, those same schools suddenly become “private businesses.” The “choice,” once again, belongs to the private, for-profit, corporate owners, not the students.
“The structures that allow charter schools to exist are marked by the absence of protections that are traditionally guaranteed by public education, protections that only become apparent and necessary when families and students begin to face a denial of what they were initially promised to be their right.” (American Bar Association)
VAM doesn’t work, yet states are forcing school systems to include “accountability” measures (aka student test scores) in evaluation systems…especially after the Duncan Education Department pushed it on the states without sufficient research.
Bottom line: It doesn’t work. It’s inaccurate. It’s an invalid use of student achievement test data.
With all the outcry and brouhaha about “bad” teachers, the VAM-based evaluations have made a mockery of actual teacher evaluations.
“Now that these hurried, top-down mandates are being retrospectively studied, even pro-VAM scholars have found minimal or no benefits, offset by some obvious downsides. I wonder if they will try to tackle the real research question, try to evaluate IMPACT and similar regimes, and thus address the biggest danger they pose. In an effort to exit the bottom 5% or so of teachers, did the test and punish crowd undermine the effectiveness of the vast majority of educators?”
Why are we still blaming teachers and unions for low student achievement? The appeal of the Vergara trial brings this up again…tenure doesn’t protect bad teachers. Certainly there are ways to improve the system, but denying teachers of due process doesn’t help anyone. Much of the blame for low student achievement can be laid at the feet of politicians and policy makers.
…the Vergara trial did not show any damage to the plaintiffs. One of the accused teachers was Pasadena’s “teacher of the year.” Two of the student plaintiffs were enrolled in charter schools, where none of their teachers had tenure. Some of the other teachers did not have tenure.
Be sure to check out this post by Diane Ravitch…and the comments as well. Why are our legislators and policy makers still backing failed “school reform?”
Spoiler alert: Corporate donors.
One of the many utter FAILURES:
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: FAIL
ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS: FAIL
RACE TO THE TOP: FAIL
COMMON CORE: FAIL
VALUE ADDED MEASUREMENT: FAIL
TEACH FOR AMERICA: FAIL
COMPETENCY BASED EDUCATION: FAIL
JOHN KING: FAIL
ARNE DUNCAN: FAIL
DAVID COLEMAN: FAIL
ANDREW CUOMO: FAIL
MICHELLE RHEE: FAIL
BILL GATES: FAIL
The apparent determination of one particular Party to restrict citizens’ voting rights irks me.
It is much easier to order pizza or a trip than it is for you to exercise the single most important task in a democracy, and that is to select who’s going to represent you in government