Posted in Article Medleys, library, Politics, poverty, Public Ed, read-alouds

2016 Medley #19

Public Schools, Politics, 
Priorities: Libraries or Tests,
Trauma, Read-Aloud, Poverty

WORDS MATTER

‘Bailing out’ schools

The “business model” of education is so pervasive among “reformers” that they are taking to using terms inappropriate to a public service like public education.

In Chicago, the Mayor’s office refers to the needed funding for the city schools as a “bailout.” It’s as if regular and sufficient funding of public education was not the responsibility of the city…and the “education industry” needed to be “bailed out” of their fiscal problems. Keep in mind that, in Chicago, the mayor appoints the members of the school board who run the schools. If there is fiscal mismanagement, whose fault is it?

The truth is that, if there is a problem with the funding of the schools in a locality it’s the fault of the city or state responsible for that funding. Illinois, like most states in the US, has a constitution that calls for the funding of a system of “common schools” for the purpose of educating the state’s children. When the legislature fails to fund those schools it’s their fault…not the fault of the schools.

They’ve obviously gone from viewing public schools as beggars to outright criminals. As in — Let’s not let these dangerous public institutions back out on the street where they can steal again from the city’s most wealthy tax dodgers.

POLITICS

BREAKING NEWS – Trump goes with anti-public education running mate

We don’t yet know how a Hillary Clinton administration would treat public education. As president she could easily follow the Bush/Obama plan of encouraging charters and over-testing. The Democratic party has come down on charters in its platform, much to the chagrin of the DFER crowd, but that doesn’t mean that Clinton will follow the platform.

On the other hand, we know exactly where Trump stands on public schools. There are three basic points to his K-12 policy (if you can call it a policy

  • locally controlled
  • no common core (“A total disaster”)
  • spend more money than anyone and we’re rated 28th

Those “points” are either vague or incorrect, but that was where Trump stood on education until recently when he chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate. We know Pence’s education platform: privatize through charters and vouchers, test children till they drop, and destroy the teaching profession (for more information click here – PENCE).

As Indiana’s governor, Pence has driven an anti-teacher, anti-public education political and legislative agenda that has included dramatically expanding charter schools and diverting scarce public funds to voucher programs that, in turn, have allowed private individuals to use taxpayer money to send their children to religious schools.

PRIORITIES

Far more $ for tests than for libraries

There’s no name associated with this post, but my guess is that it’s from Stephen Krashen.

Not only do we spend more on testing than on school libraries, there are public schools across the nation with no school library at all. You can be sure that even those schools find the money to test their students annually. I am also fairly sure that individual teachers spend their own money to stock their classroom libraries.

School libraries: About $10 per student = $500 million SLJ’s 2014 Spending Survey: Savvy Librarians Are Doing More with Less

Data from 2011, 2012: I could not find more recent data.
Testing: Estimates range from 1.7 billion (J. Chingos, Brookings Institution, 2012) to 25 billion (Five reasons standardized testing isn’t likely to let up)

Add to this: test prep paid by parents: 13 billion/ (A 21st century boondoogle: high tech testing)

RESEARCH INTO TRAUMA

Teaching Traumatized Kids

Students are not widgets. Their environment has an impact on their physical and emotional health, as well as their achievement.

Neuroscience tells us that the brains of kids regularly facing significant trauma or toxic stress are wired for survival and likely to erupt at the smallest provocation. A major study of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente found that the higher a young person’s ACEs score, the greater the risk in adulthood of chronic disease, mental illness, and premature death. These children also have a far greater future likelihood of either inflicting or being the victim of violence.

READING ALOUD

Read to them…just because…

We know reading aloud to children is important. It is the single most important activity a parent or teacher can do to help children succeed in reading.

Read alouds matter. They create opportunities for a vibrant tapestry of rich classroom discussions. They provide pathways to broader thinking and reflection about the world. The empirical research about the benefits of read aloud is abundant, but there is “heart evidence” too. Books touch our students’ hearts and minds.

Read alouds open up opportunities for gaining new perspectives or different appreciations in ways that only beautiful literature can. Teachers read aloud… because…“Strong young minds continue to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who send their books out into the world like ships on the sea. Books give a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” (Matilda by Roald Dahl)

POVERTY

Two more from Stephen Krashen…he repeats his point again and again, whenever he can get someone to print his letters or on his own blog…

Lift kids out of poverty before expecting higher test scores

Instead of spending billions on unnecessary testing, let’s invest in protecting children from the impact of poverty by expanding and improving food programs, improving healthcare and building better libraries in high-poverty areas. The best teaching in the world has little effect when children are hungry, sick and have little access to reading material.

Education: The real problem

Instead of spreading rumors, let’s make sure our students are protected from the negative impact of poverty: let’s push for better food programs, more school nurses, and well-supported school libraries.

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Author:

Retired after 35 years in public education.