Posted in Jim Trelease, Parents, read-alouds, reading

A Father’s Day Reminder: Read Aloud to Your Children

An annual Father’s Day post…with changes.

READING ALOUD

I read aloud to my students from my very first day as an elementary school teacher beginning in 1976. I had caught the read-aloud bug from the late Lowell Madden, one of my Education School Professors. I had it reinforced by Jim Trelease, whose Read Aloud Handbook is a treasure of information for anyone who is interested in reading aloud to children. [I’ve referenced Jim Trelease quite a few times on this blog.]

I read aloud to all my classes because reading aloud is simply one of the best tools we have to help children learn to read. Reading is, arguably, the single most important skill a child learns in school.

My collection of Read-Aloud Handbook editions,
several of which have been signed by the author, Jim Trelease.

Jim Trelease, in The Read Aloud Handbook reminded us [emphasis added]

In 1985, the commission [on Reading, organized by the National Academy of Education and the National Institute of Education and funded under the U.S. Department of Education] issued its report, Becoming a Nation of Readers. Among its primary findings, two simple declarations rang loud and clear:

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”

The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom: “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

In its wording—“the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than worksheets, homework, assessments, book reports, and flashcards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom. What exactly is so powerful about something so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it and how exactly does a person get better at reading? It boils down to a simple, two-part formula:

  • The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.
  • The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.

Reading aloud to children is an activity that entertains…it strengthens personal bonds, it informs and explains…and, according to Trelease, when you read aloud to a child you also:

  • Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure
  • Create background knowledge
  • Build vocabulary
  • Provide a reading role model

Reading aloud is more beneficial than standardized tests or worksheets. It is more important than homework or flashcards. It is the single most important thing a parent can do to help their children become better readers. It is the single most important thing teachers can do to help their students become better readers.

FATHERS AND READ-ALOUD

In the latest edition of his book, Trelease devotes an entire chapter to fathers and reading aloud.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease: CHAPTER 9: Dad—What’s the score?

In case you’ve been off the planet for the past several decades, let me bring you up-to-date on our boys and their school woes.

  • In a 2008 study of reading tests in forty-five states, the girls exceeded the boys at every grade level.
  • Unlike four decades ago, it is now common for girls to dominate a high school’s highest academic positions (valedictorian), class leadership positions, advanced placement spaces, and school activities. While the girls are assuming responsibilities, the boys are playing sports or video games.
  • For the first time in history, women exceed their male counterparts in most collegiate achievements, from enrollment and graduation to earning advanced degrees, and the gap is widening annually. About the only significant area in which males dominate in college is “dropout,” where they lead by a 3:2 ratio.

(And an excellent pamphlet with important information specifically for dads….Fathers, Sons and Reading)

Boys, Trelease says, need their fathers to read to them. The relationship between fathers and sons has changed over the years, and not necessarily in a good way. Over the last few decades America’s “male” culture has been dominated by politics, sports and television, and boys watch their role models carefully. Among those men in important cultural and political positions in America are abusers, racists, and misogynists. It’s more important than ever that fathers exert role-model influence over their sons.

The landscape of the American male’s attention span was being dramatically altered and boys were soaking up the changes.

“Is there a connection,” he asks, between the “decline in boys’ interest and achievement in school and the behavior of the male culture?”

Can a father play catch in the backyard after dinner and still read to the child that same evening? Can they go to a game one day and to the library the next? You betcha.

The question is…do they? Do fathers take part in their children’s, and specifically their sons’, intellectual development? Reading aloud to your child is an easy, fun way for fathers to have a positive academic influence on their children.

Dad—what have you done for your son’s head lately?

Make a Father’s Day resolution. Read to your kids every day.

📕📙📘
Posted in Jim Trelease, Parents, read-alouds, reading

A Father’s Day Reminder: Read Aloud to Your Children

An annual Father’s Day post…with changes.

READING ALOUD

I started teaching elementary school in 1976 and from my very first day as a teacher I read aloud to my students. I had caught the read aloud bug from Lowell Madden, one of my Education School Professors and had it reinforced by Jim Trelease, whose Read Aloud Handbook is a treasure of information for anyone who is interested in reading aloud to children. [I’ve referenced Jim Trelease quite a few times on this blog.]

I read aloud to all my classes because I’m convinced that reading aloud is one of the best tools we have to help children learn to read. Reading is, arguably, the single most important skill a child learns in school.

Jim Trelease, in The Read Aloud Handbook reminded us that  [Emphasis added]

In 1985, the commission [on Reading, organized by the National Academy of Education and the National Institute of Education and funded under the U.S. Department of Education] issued its report, Becoming a Nation of Readers. Among its primary findings, two simple declarations rang loud and clear:

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”

The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom: “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” 

In its wording—“the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than worksheets, homework, assessments, book reports, and flashcards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom. What exactly is so powerful about something so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it and how exactly does a person get better at reading? It boils down to a simple, two-part formula:

  • The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.
  • The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.

Reading aloud to children is an activity that entertains…it strengthens personal bonds, it informs and explains…but, according to Trelease, when you read aloud to a child you also:

  • Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure
  • Create background knowledge
  • Build vocabulary
  • Provide a reading role model

Reading aloud is more beneficial than standardized tests or worksheets. It is more important than homework or flashcards. It is the single most important thing a parent can do to help their children become better readers. It is the single most important thing teachers can do to help their students become better readers.

FATHERS AND READ-ALOUD

In the newest edition of his book, Trelease devotes an entire chapter to fathers and reading aloud.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease: CHAPTER 9: Dad—What’s the score?

In case you’ve been off the planet for the past several decades, let me bring you up-to-date on our boys and their school woes.

  • In a 2008 study of reading tests in forty-five states, the girls exceeded the boys at every grade level.
  • Unlike four decades ago, it is now common for girls to dominate a high school’s highest academic positions (valedictorian), class leadership positions, advanced placement spaces, and school activities. While the girls are assuming responsibilities, the boys are playing sports or video games.
  • For the first time in history, women exceed their male counterparts in most collegiate achievements, from enrollment and graduation to earning advanced degrees, and the gap is widening annually. About the only significant area in which males dominate in college is “dropout,” where they lead by a 3:2 ratio.

(And an excellent pamphlet with important information specifically for dads….Fathers, Sons and Reading)

Boys, Trelease says, need their fathers to read to them. The relationship between fathers and sons has changed over the years, and not necessarily in a good way. Over the last few decades America’s “male” culture has been dominated by sports and television — ESPN (and ESPN2, ESPN Classic, etc.), Monday Night Football, and others — and boys watch their role models carefully.

The landscape of the American male’s attention span was being dramatically altered and boys were soaking up the changes.

“Is there a connection,” he asks, between the “decline in boys’ interest and achievement in school and the behavior of the male culture?”

Can a father play catch in the backyard after dinner and still read to the child that same evening? Can they go to a game one day and to the library the next? You betcha.

The question is…do they? Do fathers take part in their children’s, and specifically their sons’, intellectual development? Reading aloud to your child is an easy, fun way for fathers to have a positive academic influence on their children.

Dad—what have you done for your son’s head lately?

Make a Father’s Day resolution. Read to your kids every day.

###
Posted in Parents, read-alouds, reading, summer, water safety

Summer Safety, Summer Learning Loss, Intelligent Parenting

Summer vacation has started…swimming, mosquitos, summer learning loss. Here’s are some tips for

  • summer safety
  • preventing summer learning loss
  • intelligent parenting 24/7

SUMMER SAFETY

Watch your children when they’re in the water. Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. Click the link. Be prepared…

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has two pages of safety information. Print them and save them…

Summer safety tips…(and en Español).

  • Fireworks safety
  • Bug safety
  • Playground safety
  • Bicycle safety
  • Skateboard, scooter, in-line skating and heelys safety
  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Lawn mower safety

and Sun and Water Safety Tips (also en Español)

  • Fun in the sun
  • Heat stress in exercising chidlren
  • Pool safety
  • Boating Safety
  • Open water swimming

SUMMER LEARNING

The most important summer learning task for parents and care-givers –  read aloud to your children…EVERY DAY.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” — Becoming a Nation of Readers

Need some help with read aloud? Try these…

Also see

PARENTING

Increase harmony during summer vacation with some tips from parenting experts. Don’t just read the lists here…go to the sites and take a look.

10 Commandments of Good Parenting

  • What you do matters.
  • You cannot be too loving.
  • Be involved in your child’s life.
  • Adapt your parenting to fit your child.
  • Establish and set rules.
  • Foster your child’s independence.
  • Be consistent.
  • Avoid harsh discipline.
  • Explain your rules and decisions.
  • Treat your child with respect.

9 Steps to More Effective Parenting

  • Nurture Your Child’s Self-Esteem
  • Catch Kids Being Good
  • Set Limits and Be Consistent With Your Discipline
  • Make Time for Your Kids
  • Be a Good Role Model
  • Make Communication a Priority
  • Be Flexible and Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style
  • Show That Your Love Is Unconditional
  • Know Your Own Needs and Limitations as a Parent
###
Posted in Parents, Public Ed, SchoolFunding

School as Vacation for Parents

Kmart has a new “not back to school” ad. It’s the usual ad stuff coupled with an explanation to kids that, “this is not a back to school commercial.”

Instead it’s “vacation” commercial for parents to help them with “…relaxation and freedom from entertaining their children…”

That’s right. School is the place where parents send their kids when they need a “vacation.” It’s the same as going out to dinner when Mom and Dad don’t want to cook…or calling the babysitter when parents want a night out. The underlying concept here is that schools and teachers are a babysitting service…and what’s even better, public schools, unlike charter, private and parochial schools, must take your kids because it’s the law.

I get it…it’s not really Kmart’s fault. Even teachers joke about how summertime is the time when parents really learn to appreciate teachers. And, it’s true. Kids are a lot of work…and sometimes two or three kids at home all day can be just as hard as a class of 25. Keeping kids entertained without resorting to Disney marathons or hours on the computer/phone/tablet, isn’t easy. I’m sure that some parents will be relieved that their local public school will supply interesting content for their child…presented by a real, live, caring, person – aka the teacher(s).

But think about it for a moment…school is more than just a vacation for parents, right? The nation’s collective attitude about the role of schools and teachers needs an adjustment. Would we be able to counteract America’s tradition of anti-intellectualism with an acknowledgment that teachers are more than just babysitters? Would Americans begin to see teachers as well-educated professionals instead of part-time test-jockeys if we changed our attitude about school a bit?

Instead of a place to send our kids for a ten-month parent vacation, perhaps we ought to adopt the attitude of higher achieving countries. Pasi Sahlberg says this about the purpose of schools in Finland…

In Finland we think that children need to have a safe and balanced learning environment that is equally guided by academic and non-academic curricula, team learning and individual work, and formal and informal learning. We also believe that it is very important to learn about the world and its different languages and cultures from very early on. That’s why we give foreign language learning and international education high priorities. There is a Finnish saying: “Real winners don’t compete”. We believe that what children learn to do together today, they can do alone tomorrow.

Teachers already know they are much more than babysitters and school is much more than test scores. The vast majority of parents know this too, even if they do (half) joke, “I can’t wait till school starts so you’ll have something to do and get out of my hair!” Most parents understand and respect their kids’ teachers. Polls show that parents of students in school…those people closest to the schools and best able to see what’s actually happening in America’s public schools…trust their kids’ teachers and their kids’ public schools.

With a change in national attitude maybe we could wash away some of that “traditional American anti-intellectualism.” A strong social investment in improving the understanding of the purpose of school, along with fully funding our public schools, would do more to improve student achievement than “test-and-punish” policies and diverting money from public schools to private corporations and religious groups.

We ought to support, not trivialize, America’s public schools.

Kmart ad for a parent vacation.

~~~

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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
~~~
~~~

~~~
Posted in Jim Trelease, Parents, read-alouds, reading

A Father’s Day Reminder: Read Aloud to Your Children

I posted this last year on Father’s Day…here it is again with slight modifications.

READING ALOUD

I started teaching elementary school in 1976 and from my very first day as a teacher I read aloud to my students. I had caught the read aloud bug from Lowell Madden, one of my Education School Professors and had it reinforced by Jim Trelease, whose Read Aloud Handbook is a treasure of information for anyone who is interested in reading aloud to children. [I’ve referenced Jim Trelease quite a few times on this blog.]

I read aloud to all my classes because I’m convinced that reading aloud is one of the best tools we have to help children learn to read. Reading is, arguably, the single most important skill a child learns in school.

Jim Trelease, in The Read Aloud Handbook reminded us that

In 1985, the commission [on Reading, organized by the National Academy of Education and the National Institute of Education and funded under the U.S. Department of Education] issued its report, Becoming a Nation of Readers. Among its primary findings, two simple declarations rang loud and clear:

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” [Emphasis added]

The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom: “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” 

In its wording—“the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than worksheets, homework, assessments, book reports, and flashcards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better teaching tool than anything else in the home or classroom. What exactly is so powerful about something so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it and how exactly does a person get better at reading? It boils down to a simple, two-part formula:

  • The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.
  • The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.

Reading aloud to children is an activity that entertains…it strengthens personal bonds, it informs and explains…but, according to Trelease, when you read aloud to a child you also:

  • Condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure
  • Create background knowledge
  • Build vocabulary
  • Provide a reading role model

Reading aloud is more beneficial than standardized tests or worksheets. It is more important than homework or flashcards. It is the single most important thing a parent can do to help their children become better readers. It is the single most important thing teachers can do to help their children become better readers.

FATHERS AND READ-ALOUD

In the newest edition of his book, Trelease devotes an entire chapter to fathers and reading aloud.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease: CHAPTER 9: Dad—What’s the score?

In case you’ve been off the planet for the past several decades, let me bring you up-to-date on our boys and their school woes.

  • In a 2008 study of reading tests in forty-five states, the girls exceeded the boys at every grade level.
  • Unlike four decades ago, it is now common for girls to dominate a high school’s highest academic positions (valedictorian), class leadership positions, advanced placement spaces, and school activities. While the girls are assuming responsibilities, the boys are playing sports or video games.
  • For the first time in history, women exceed their male counterparts in most collegiate achievements, from enrollment and graduation to earning advanced degrees, and the gap is widening annually. About the only significant area in which males dominate in college is “dropout,” where they lead by a 3:2 ratio.

(And an excellent pamphlet with important information specifically for dads….Fathers, Sons and Reading)

Boys, Trelease says, need their fathers to read to them. The relationship between fathers and sons has changed over the years, and not necessarily in a good way. Over the last few decades America’s “male” culture has been dominated by sports and television — ESPN (and ESPN2, ESPN Classic, etc.), Monday Night Football, and others — and boys watch their role models carefully.

The landscape of the American male’s attention span was being dramatically altered and boys were soaking up the changes.

“Is there a connection,” he asks, between the “decline in boys’ interest and achievement in school and the behavior of the male culture?”

Can a father play catch in the backyard after dinner and still read to the child that same evening? Can they go to a game one day and to the library the next? You betcha.

The question is…do they? Do fathers take part in their children’s, and specifically their sons’, intellectual development? Reading aloud to your child is an easy, fun way for fathers to have a positive academic influence on their children.

Dad—what have you done for your son’s head lately?

Make a Father’s Day resolution. Read to your kids every day.

~~~

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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
~~~
~~~

~~~
Posted in Parents, read-alouds, reading, summer, water safety

Summer Safety, Summer Learning Loss

Summer vacation has started…swimming, mosquitos, summer learning loss. Here’s my annual reminder about summer safety, tips for preventing summer learning loss, and intelligent parenting 24/7.

SUMMER SAFETY

Watch your children when they’re in the water. Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. Click the link. Be prepared…

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has two pages of safety information. Print them and save them…

Summer safety tips…(and en Español).

  • Fireworks safety
  • Bug safety
  • Playground safety
  • Bicycle safety
  • Skateboard, scooter, in-line skating and heelys safety
  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Lawn mower safety

and Sun and Water Safety Tips (also en Español)

  • Fun in the sun
  • Heat stress in exercising chidlren
  • Pool safety
  • Boating Safety
  • Open water swimming

SUMMER LEARNING

The most important summer learning task for parents and care-givers –  read aloud to your children…EVERY DAY.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” — Becoming a Nation of Readers

Need some help with read aloud? Try these…

Also see the National Summer Learning Association

PARENTING

Increase harmony during summer vacation with some tips from parenting experts. Don’t just read the lists here…go to the sites and take a look.

10 Commandments of Good Parenting

  • What you do matters.
  • You cannot be too loving.
  • Be involved in your child’s life.
  • Adapt your parenting to fit your child.
  • Establish and set rules.
  • Foster your child’s independence.
  • Be consistent.
  • Avoid harsh discipline.
  • Explain your rules and decisions.
  • Treat your child with respect.

9 Steps to More Effective Parenting

  • Nurture Your Child’s Self-Esteem
  • Catch Kids Being Good
  • Set Limits and Be Consistent With Your Discipline
  • Make Time for Your Kids
  • Be a Good Role Model
  • Make Communication a Priority
  • Be Flexible and Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style
  • Show That Your Love Is Unconditional
  • Know Your Own Needs and Limitations as a Parent
~~~

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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
Posted in ALEC, Parents, poverty, Privatization, Teaching Career

2013 Medley #13

Public Involvement, Poverty,
ALEC, Privatization

STUDENT, PARENT AND EDUCATOR INVOLVEMENT

Reclaim the conversation.

The “reformers” own the media and their words get the publicity. Lately, though, the voice of teachers and students are being heard, for example…

This is what Chicago Democracy Looks Like.
Badass Teachers Association on Facebook.

It’s about time that those directly involved in public education, the teachers, parents and students, reclaim the conversation about America’s schools from the likes of Bill Gates, Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee.

NEA Set to Launch Educator Led National Movement for Public Education

It’s about time. I’ve been disappointed with the NEA leadership under President Dennis Van Roekel. NEA has the opportunity to lead the re-professionalizing of the teaching profession. Let’s hope that the new leadership does a better job.

The foundation of the Raise Your Hand campaign rests on the strong belief that educators – not politicians or self-proclaimed “reform” experts – know what works and they are the ones to lead and act for student success.

Well-Behaved Educators Rarely Make History

Why aren’t more educators speaking out? The national movement is, after all, moving towards the destruction of their livelihood and career. It’s mostly fear.

In numerous conversations I’ve heard teachers and administrators say things like, “I really agree with you, but…” They follow with things like, “…the state is forcing this on us,” or “…this is coming from the superintendent’s office,” or “…in order to keep our funding…” The pressure that the legislatures and pundits have put on public education doesn’t give educators the option of fighting back.

Teachers feel stifled, and children are at risk of being educated on a production line. Although many teachers and school leaders are taking one step forward and trying to innovate through all of this, mandates and accountability force them to take two steps back.

Educators are rule followers by nature. It’s just who they are. They believe following rules is an important part of learning. This goes for administrators as well. Unfortunately, many administrators enforce rules they don’t believe in. They abide by rules in the hallway and complain about them behind closed doors. That rule following doesn’t create necessary change and its helping make education worse.

But what can educators do? They don’t want to lose funding. They don’t want to get in “trouble.”

Many teachers don’t feel as though they can speak out for a variety of reasons. They may not know where to begin, have a deep fear of saying something negative, or have an unsupportive administrator. They fear being moved to another school or being given an unfair observation that punishes them for being too vocal. Some administrators are fearful too. They work for superintendents who are too political and care less about speaking out against mandates and accountability that is unfair to students.

See also Why Aren’t More School Leaders Fighting Against Ed Reform?

The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

Read through some of the (hundreds! of) comments to this post to get an indication of the reasons that educators are afraid of speaking out. Someone needs to do a psychological study about why so many people hate teachers.

I used to be a molecular biologist. I spent my days culturing viruses. Sometimes, my experiments would fail miserably, and I’d swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances would ask how my work was going. I’d explain how I was having a difficult time cloning this one gene. I couldn’t seem to figure out the exact recipe to use for my cloning cocktail.

Acquaintances would sigh sympathetically. And they’d say, “I know you’ll figure it out. I have faith in you.”

And then, they’d tilt their heads in a show of respect for my skills….

Today, I’m a high school teacher. I spend my days culturing teenagers. Sometimes, my students get disruptive, and I swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances ask me how my work is going. I explain how I’m having a difficult time with a certain kid. I can’t seem to get him to pay attention in class.

Acquaintances smirk knowingly. And they say, “well, have you tried making it fun for the kids? That’s how you get through to them, you know?”

And then, they explain to me how I should do my job….

POVERTY

As Poverty Increases, Reformers Cling to the “New Status Quo”

“Reformers” like to say they are fighting the status quo, but the overuse and misuse of testing began after A Nation At Risk* in the early 80s. Punishment for low test scores was added with No Child Left Behind in 2001. ALEC has been writing anti public education legislation which states have been passing since it started in 1973. The beating up of public education using testing as a club has been the status quo for a long time.

According to its 2013 Condition of Education report, one in five schools in the United States are considered high poverty. Twenty percent of public school students attended these schools in 2011, considerably more than the 12 percent who did in 1999–2000. That year, 45 percent of students attended a low-poverty school. Now only 25 percent do. Overall, approximately 10.9 million school-age children are from families living in poverty, a four percent increase from a decade earlier.

The trend is stark – poverty is affecting more and more students. And yet, the debate over education – at least how it plays out in the national media and many legislatures across the country- continues to freeze out substantive discussions about poverty and its obvious impact on student achievement. The ongoing fascination with market-driven education reform proposals and their media-savvy boosters leaves room for little else, although recent scrutiny over faulty standardized tests is reason for encouragement.

*A good response to A Nation At Risk is the book, The Manufactured Crisis by David Berliner.

Under GOP Plan, States Would Be Free To Take Money Away From Poorest Schools

The Federal government has a role to play in the lives of Americans. The Jim Crow laws might still be on the books in the “Old Confederacy” if not for Federal intervention. Sometimes the states need to have their arms twisted to do what’s right. The same is true for public education.

Unlike what the right wing seems to believe, the government is not always bad.

The measure represents the conservative establishment’s answer to the failures of the Bush-era education reforms known as No Child Left Behind. Proponents argue it would close achievement gaps by freeing states to spend federal money allocated to poverty-stricken schools without being bound by the conditions of current education laws. But as a ThinkProgress guest blogger wrote in 2011, the bill would “widen achievement gaps rather than close them” because states are unlikely to maintain funding levels for poor schools if given the freedom A-PLUS provides:

“The sad fact is that states don’t always take actions to support their most vulnerable children. Texas officials recently battled over whether education money should be used to actually provide education services to children, a standoff that ended after nine long months. As budget cuts force increasing numbers of states to wrestle with funding challenges, federal Title I funds must remain a stable source of funding for students who have the least access to resources.”

Comments on Sirota and Strauss: ML King was right about poverty and education

High achieving nations already understand this. We need to take care of the basic needs of our citizens.

Studies have failed to find a correlation between improved test scores and subsequent economic progress and have also shown that job loss results in depressed school performance. In one study, job losses affecting 3.4% of state’s population predict a decline of 10 points on standardized math tests.. Their results also indicated that “downturns affect all students, not just students who experience parental job loss.”

This data strongly suggests that reducing poverty helps raise educational levels, not the other way around. It means that Martin Luther King was right:

“We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.” (Martin Luther King, 1967, Final Words of Advice).

ALEC

Vulture Capitalism in Education with ALEC

Dennis Van Roekel, who now represents 3 million educators as president of the National Education Association, said, “if just one percent of K-12 education spending were diverted to private profits, it would mean $5 Billion a year in someone’s pocket.” Is it any surprise that there are so many Charter Schools and Virtual Schools popping up all over the country when the research has not shown any greater student achievement scores for children in Charter Schools over students in public education?

Exposing ALEC’s Agenda to Defund and Dismantle Public Education

So the core of ALEC’s education agenda is about vouchers and privatization. Of course, since educators have unions that resist vouchers and privatization, they will do anything in their power to weaken our unions and silence our voices. That’s why ALEC backs anti-union measures like the attack on workers’ right to collective bargaining. They want to strip away our ability to negotiate not only for salary and health care for our families, but also for things that affect our students, like smaller class sizes.

Full Show: United States of ALEC — A Follow-Up

Moyers’ documentary on ALEC, expanded and updated. Comments about Alec’s involvement with the privatization of public education starts at about 11:45. Keep watching…there’s more that starts at about 23:30. At this point it delves into the question of privatization of public education and the corporate interests behind the move towards privatization.

PRIVATIZATION

Charters* not outperforming nation’s traditional public schools, report says

Charters have improved, but are still doing about the same as public schools. The 2009 study said the same things with similar numbers.

The problem is not public school teachers, or public schools. The problem is that there is a segment of our society which wants control of the money going to educate our children.

The nation’s public charter schools are growing more effective but most don’t produce better academic results when compared with traditional public schools, according to a report released Tuesday.

Researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes looked at test data from charter schools in 26 states and the District and found that 25 percent of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading while 29 percent of charters delivered stronger results in math. That marked an improvement over a similar 2009 study by the same research team.

Bill signing highlights state support for sectarian schools

The so-called “Choice” movement claims to give choice to parents, but actually, with the voucher program, the choice is that of the school, not the parent.

The setting was significant Thursday when Gov. Mike Pence signed House Bill 1003, which expands Indiana’s school voucher program. He signed it at Calvary Christian School, a small Pentecostal school on the south side of Indianapolis that enrolls voucher students.

The governor praised the voucher expansion for giving more “choice” to parents and students. However, you can only choose Calvary Christian if it chooses to let you in. “Families expect a higher level of achievement and behavior at CCS,” the school’s handbook says, “and as such the admission process requires that incoming students’ records be carefully reviewed.”

OP-ED | A Window Into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Dystopia

Public schools need public oversight. Private schools and corporate CMOs shouldn’t be receiving public funds.

Alfie Kohn, a leading author and lecturer on education, is even more blunt.

“Anyone who punishes children by suspending them repeatedly, confining them, or stigmatizing and publicly humiliating them is either deeply ignorant about how to help kids or is more concerned with the adults’ convenience than with doing what’s in the best interest of the students. Or I suppose there’s a third possibility, which is that the school deliberately mistreats challenging kids in the hope that they’ll give up and withdraw, thereby allowing the school to weed out students with special needs so Achievement First can boast about its results. If the Gates Foundation is funding schools that engage in practices like this, that’s a strong argument for us to resist its involvement in education.”

*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It’s Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then.

~~~

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.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~