In my post last week, Taking Responsibility for “Failure”, I discussed the fact that policy makers have an impact on student achievement, but are rarely, if ever, held accountable for how poorly or how well students achieve in public schools.
“Reformers,” like Secretaries of Education Margaret Spellings, Arne Duncan, and John King, have little (King) or no (Spellings and Duncan) experience teaching in a public school. Yet these same people have no problem dictating policies which affect students, teacher, schools, and school systems.
Local “reformers” are no different. Here in Indiana, legislators and politicians like Mitch Daniels (an attorney), Mike Pence (an attorney/radio talk show host), Robert Behning (a florist), David Long (an attorney) and Dennis Kruse (an auctioneer), have set the same sorts of policies.
Teachers are given directions as to what to teach, how much to teach, how to test, what to test, and are not allowed to deviate from assigned roles, yet they and the schools they work in are given complete responsibility for the achievement of our children.
When a large number of children in a particular public school fail to achieve academically (so-called “failing” schools), all stakeholders in the community must share in the responsibility. Attention must be paid to out of school factors which affect academic achievement, such as
- infant birth weight
- drug and alcohol abuse
- environmental pollutants
- medical care
- community and domestic violence
- mental health care
- pre-school availability
Schools and teachers have no control over a child’s environment, medical care, and medical history. Those who do must accept their share of the responsibility for children’s education.
by Nancy Bailey
Politicians and those from business, and other outsiders who know little about children and how they learn, have taken control of public schools, including the classroom, for the last thirty years. Isn’t it time they be held accountable for student failure? Why should they be allowed to continually “trick” the American people with policies that fail?
THE REAL PROBLEM
In this article, John Merrow discusses the research that led to the “three great teachers” theory which claims that three great teachers in a row can make the difference between achieving academic success and falling further behind. New research shows that, when the effects of poverty are overcome, achievement improves.
by John Merrow
Three consecutive years of quality nutrition, medical care, housing, clothing, and emotional support at home and in school does even more than having three great teachers.
Charters are on the ballot this election year in Massachusetts. Here are some items arguing against turning over public education to charter “edupreneurs.”
The voting public should read carefully about what has happened in Chicago. Public funding ought to go to public schools.
by Michael Zilles, President, Newton (MA) Teachers Association
When the veil is lifted, we could find ourselves among those children with severe special needs, those with social or emotional disorders, or those who are just learning English — precisely those children underserved or rejected by charters. We would find that, once this cruel experiment in market competition has played itself out, we are left with chronically underfunded public schools, school closures, disrupted lives, and an ever more unbreakable pattern of segregation, inequality, and poverty.
by Jonathan Kozol
…setting up this kind of competition, in which parents with the greatest social capital are encouraged to abandon their most vulnerable neighbors, is rotten social policy. What this represents is a state-supported shriveling of civic virtue, a narrowing of moral obligation to the smallest possible parameters. It isn’t good for Massachusetts, and it’s not good for democracy.
by Peter Greene
Education seems to be the only field in which people suggest that when you don’t have enough money to fund one facility, you should open more facilities. Charters are in fact a huge drain on public schools in the state. If my district serves 1,000 students and 100 leave for a charter school, my operating costs do not decrease by 10% even if my student population does. In fact, depending on which 100 students leave, my costs may not decrease at all. On top of that, I have to maintain capacity to handle those students because if some or all come back (and many of them do) I have to be able to accommodate them.
by Myron Orfield and Thomas Luce from Education Policy Analysis Archives at Arizona State University
…after controlling for the mix of students and challenges faced by individual schools, Chicago’s charter schools underperform their traditional counterparts in most measurable ways. Reading and math pass rates, reading and math growth rates, graduation rates, and average ACT scores (in one of the two years) are lower in charters all else equal, than in traditional neighborhood schools.
This is an argument against vouchers, but works equally well against all forms of privatization.
By Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children
Market forces such as competition and cost benefit analysis simply do not apply in the formation of a human being. A classroom is a holy place of learning—not a marketplace of financial gain. To make commodities of our kids and markets of our classrooms is to misunderstand—and profane—the spirituality of education.
INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE
Who will be running our nation in twenty-five years (assuming it lasts that long)? How are we as a nation preparing for our future? How does it help us if we under invest in our schools…especially those schools with low income students?
by Eva G. Merkel, Superintendent of Lakeland School Corporation, Indiana
Good public education comes at a cost, but it is an investment in our future. If we don’t want to kill public education, it is time to understand how it is being undermined. It is time we demand that our schools are funded well, that public dollars remain public, and that those who chose the noble profession of teaching our children are treated as the precious resources they are. We don’t need a study commission to tell us that we have beaten public education to the ground. Do we want our local public schools to die?
STRESS ON TEACHERS AFFECTS STUDENTS
Teachers working conditions are the same as student learning conditions. Improving the treatment of teachers will increase student achievement.
by Timothy D. Walker in The Atlantic
“High levels of stress,” said a 2016 research brief by Pennsylvania State University, “are affecting teacher health and well-being, causing teacher burnout, lack of engagement, job dissatisfaction, poor performance, and some of the highest turnover rates ever.” Does teacher stress affect students? “When teachers are highly stressed,” the authors noted, “children show lower levels of both social adjustment and academic performance.” They identified, amidst other findings, that high turnover rates have been to linked to lower student-achievement and increased financials costs for schools.