Privatization: Church-State and Charters,
The Opportunity Gap and Poverty
WHAT MESSAGE ARE WE SENDING THE FUTURE?
I won’t be here to see the next century when today’s infants will be “the elderly.” It’s my responsibility, however, to do what I can to help keep the Earth habitable for my children, and for their children.
…and for their children…and for their children.
Currently, the world’s adults have been unable to let go of fossil fuels and the political and social control that billions of dollars of oil and gas money provide.
Some of our children have become aware of this, so they are trying to take control of the fight against fossil fuels in a quest to save the Earth’s life-friendly climate. It was disappointing, then, to read the ruling that children — who will live on the Earth long after the Koch brothers and the current administration are gone — could not show “standing” to sue to protect their own future.
The term, “standing,” in its legal sense, is “the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case.”
I’m not a legal scholar, but if anyone should have “standing” in a suit about the livability of the Earth in the future, it should be our children.
Judges for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “reluctantly” ruled in favor of the government in the kids’ climate case today, thwarting the young people’s historic legal fight while acknowledging the “increasingly rapid pace” of climate change.
The arguments presented by the 21 young people in Juliana v. United States proved too heavy a lift for Circuit Judges Mary Murguia and Andrew Hurwitz, who found that the kids failed to establish standing to sue.
“The central issue before us is whether, even assuming such a broad constitutional right exists, an Article III court can provide the plaintiffs the redress they seek—an order requiring the government to develop a plan to ‘phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess atmospheric CO2,'” Hurwitz, an Obama appointee, wrote in an opinion issued this morning.
Here is some food for thought while the Supreme Court ponders the fate of public education dollars going to private schools…
No taxpayer should be forced to fund religious education. This bedrock principle alone should convince you — and the court — to leave Montana’s constitution undisturbed. But if that’s not enough, consider the fact that a ruling in favor of the voucher program would also compel taxpayers to fund discrimination, religious and otherwise.
Private religious schools don’t adhere to the same nondiscrimination laws that public schools do. As a result, we have seen them turn students away because their families don’t share the school’s religious beliefs. They have barred admission because a student or parent is LGBTQ or a student has a disability. They have expelled students who engage in sex outside marriage. And some have fired teachers for being pregnant and unmarried, for undergoing in vitro fertilization or for advocating for the right to terminate a pregnancy. While not all private religious schools conduct themselves in this way, too many do, and taxpayers should not have to underwrite such discrimination.
Charter schools run by private companies have no right to claim public property as their own…even if they pay $1 for it.
Communities invest in their future by building and staffing schools for their children. The state shouldn’t have the right to give that property away to a private entity for nothing…or nearly nothing.
Charter school owners-operators have never stopped piously demanding that public school facilities worth millions of dollars be freely and automatically handed over to them. They righteously declare that they have an inherent right to public facilities produced by the working class. The consequences, of course, are disastrous for public schools and the public interest. For example, a new report shows that in 2018 more than $100 million was spent by New York City alone on charter school facilities.1 This is wealth and property that no longer belongs to the public that produced it; it is now in private hands, essentially for free. Even worse, existing institutions and arrangements provide the public with no recourse for effective redress.
I decided to become a teacher in the early 1970s after listening to and observing my eldest child learn to communicate. The process of language development fascinated me.
I’m retired, but it’s still a fascinating subject.
Note the qualifying sentence in this research report: “The conclusion should not be that we should be satisfied with either systematic phonics or whole language, but rather teachers and researchers should consider alternative methods of reading instruction.”
After teaching language skills to children for more than 4 decades, I have learned that one size does not fit all. A mixed approach to literacy skills is important. All children learn differently.
Despite the widespread support for systematic phonics within the research literature, there is little or no evidence that this approach is more effective than many of the most common alternative methods used in school, including whole language. This does not mean that learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences is unimportant, but it does mean that there is little or no empirical evidence that systematic phonics leads to better reading outcomes. The “reading wars” that pitted systematic phonics against whole language is best characterized as a draw. The conclusion should not be that we should be satisfied with either systematic phonics or whole language, but rather teachers and researchers should consider alternative methods of reading instruction.
When you read, you convert symbols to meaning. When you write, you convert meaning to symbols. The two processes should be used together to improve a learner’s skill in both.
Currently, many educators take the stance that the biggest impact on literacy can be made by teaching reading and writing simultaneously.
Literacy researcher, Marie Clay, defines reading as a “message-getting, problem-solving activity,” and writing as a “message-sending, problem-solving activity (p. 5).” Essentially, reading and writing are two different avenues to help students learn the same items and processes. When working with struggling readers, taking advantage of the reciprocity of reading and writing can drastically speed up their progress. Teachers can use the strength in one of these areas to help build up the other.
Since reading and writing share much of the same “mental processes” and “cognitive knowledge,” students who partake in copious amounts of reading experiences have shown increased gains in writing achievement and students who write extensively demonstrate improved reading comprehension (Lee & Schallert, p. 145). When researching the impact of reading on writing achievement and writing on reading achievement, Graham and Herbert found, “the evidence is clear: writing can be a vehicle for improving reading. In particular, having students write about a text they are reading enhances how well they comprehend it. The same result occurs when students write about a text from different content areas, such as science and social studies (p. 6).”
THE OPPORTUNITY GAP
In an early 2008 blog post, I put up the following video (note: the organization which produced the video is no longer around).
A few years later, I found this interview with the late Carl Sagan originally done in 1989. This quote comes from approximately 5:10 and following in the video.
…we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century, more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line.
What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society, as resentful for the injustice served up to them? This is stupid.
How long will we neglect the issues of poverty and racism before we learn that we will only succeed as a society if we all succeed?
It might be ubiquitous, but it’s still a loaded term. When educators, policymakers, and parents emphasize the “achievement gap,” they’re focusing on results like disparate dropout rates and test scores, without specifying the causes. They are, often unintentionally, placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the children themselves. Listeners adopt the toxic presumption that root causes lie with the children and their families. In truth, outcome gaps are driven by input gaps – opportunity gaps – that are linked to our societal neglect of poverty, concentrated poverty, and racism.
Yet placing blame on children and families is pervasive. A 2019 EdWeek survey of more than 1,300 teachers found that more than 60 percent of educators say that student motivation has a major influence on differences in Black and White educational outcomes. The survey also found that student motivation and parenting were cited about three times more often than discrimination as major influences on disparate outcomes of Hispanic versus White students.