Category Archives: Teaching Career

2020 Medley #8: Public Education, Disaster Capitalism, and COVID-19

UPDATE: A version of this blog entry appears in the Friday, March 20 edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, titled: Coping in the time of COVID

DISASTER

Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, described how natural and man-made disasters open the door to privatization. During the COVID-19 disaster, we must ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen to public education.

Schools have been starved over the last few decades. The lack of funding for public education, and other public institutions and public infrastructure, have opened up schools to vulnerability under the Shock Doctrine. Klein wrote…

When it comes to paying contractors, the sky is the limit; when it comes to financing the basic functions of the state, the coffers are empty.

and…

The American Society of Civil Engineers said in 2007 that the U.S. had fallen so far behind in maintaining its public infrastructure — roads, bridges, schools, dams — that it would take more than a trillion and half dollars over five years to bring it back up to standard. Instead, these types of expenditures are being cut back. At the same time, public infrastructure around the world is facing unprecedented stress, with hurricanes, cyclones, floods and forest fires all increasing in frequency and intensity. It’s easy to imagine a future in which growing numbers of cities have their frail and long-neglected infrastructures knocked out by disasters and then are left to rot, their core services never repaired or rehabilitated. The well-off, meanwhile, will withdraw into gated communities, their needs met by privatized providers.

COVID-19

As of this writing, schools are closed for more than half of America’s children. But, as we’ve discussed in these blogs over the last fourteen years, public schools, and public school teachers, are about more than academics.

Teachers care about their students. Friends of Betsy DeVos may think that we’re only in it for the money, but public school teachers care about the whole child…and as Nancy Flanagan writes below, teachers are First Responders when it comes to taking care of the nation’s children.

The following articles describe what public school teachers and public schools are doing to help children and their parents thrive during this stressful time. I recommend that you read all of them in their entirety…

ED-TECH

HEWN (Hack Education Weekly Newsletter), No. 344

Ed-tech is ready to dump their items on schools (for a price, of course)…especially now when those schools that have closed are using technology to connect with their students. Remember that computers, phones, iPads, and similar digital devices are tools, not ends in themselves.

…an assertion that rests on the assumption that ed-tech is good, that it can replicate at home what happens in the classroom. “This may be our moment,” ed-tech folks exclaim, giddily sharing lists of their favorite digital learning tools (with little concern, it seems for questions of accessibility, privacy, or security) and tips for quickly moving “to the cloud.” Of course, education technology — as a field, an industry, a discipline, a solution, what have you — has had decades and decades and decades to get this right. It still hasn’t. So when you hear “this is our moment,” you should recall perhaps the thesis of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. What we’re poised to see in response to the coronavirus — and not just in education, to be fair — is more disaster capitalism, and “disaster capitalists share this same inability to distinguish between creation and destruction, between hurting and healing.”

TEACHERS AND SCHOOLS STEP UP

Coronavirus Has Shown Us the Vital Role Schools Play, But Will America Listen?

Schools feed and house (and sometimes clothe) students every day. Those students who have little or no home resources will suffer most from the lack of open school buildings.

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare something that educators have always known. Schools, side by side with hospitals, are the most important institutions in our country’s social safety net. Of course, we’ve said this since the era of school shootings, where teachers have placed their bodies (literally) in front of students to keep them safe.

But the coronavirus pandemic has put this into even sharper focus, as we grapple with the domino effects of closing entire school districts for prolonged periods at a time. Some public schools will be closed anywhere from a day to a month. Yet, others, such as the New York City system, are still, at this writing, open.

Thus far, dealing with the coronavirus has highlighted four important things about our nation’s schools:

Schools are key to keeping the economy running…
Schools provide respite housing for homeless students during daytime hours…
Schools help to prevent large-scale child hunger every day…
Schools are the primary source of public health information for many families.

Once Again Teachers are First Responders

Schools and teachers have stepped up to help their students.

…Teachers are like those firefighters in Kirkland, Washington who came to transport extremely ill nursing home residents to the hospital, without gloves and masks. Just doing our jobs, just following directions.

Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of teachers who organized take-home packets and figured out how to get coursework online, even if they didn’t have a clue about how to do it before last week. And thank you to those who pointed out, with considerable asperity, how incredibly inequitable virtual instruction will be, but went ahead and made plans to do it anyway. Thanks to all who sent home food or arranged for food pickup—or even made a single call to a single household, to make sure an adult was home.

Nobody knows how to do this well. Nobody. But schools and teachers are still trying.

Disaster Capitalism, Online Instruction, and What Covid-19 Is Teaching Us About Public Schools and Teachers

Nancy Bailey’s blog entry was the catalyst for this post.

We’re reminded of disaster capitalism, a concept highlighted by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, how Katrina was used in New Orleans to convert traditional public schools to charter schools. Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. (p. 5-6). Who thought that could happen?

The transitioning of technology into public schools, not simply as a supplemental tool for teachers to use at their discretion, but as a transformative means to remove teachers from the equation, has been highlighted with groups like Digital Promise and KnowledgeWorks. Both promote online learning and it’s difficult to find teachers in the mix.

Combining this with the intentional defunding of public schools, shoddy treatment of teachers including the unwillingness to pay them appropriate salaries, inadequate resources and support staff, crumbling buildings, and the destruction of public schooling in America, should we not question what placing students online at this strange time will mean in the future to our schools?

👩‍🏫🏘🧑🏽‍🏫

Comments Off on 2020 Medley #8: Public Education, Disaster Capitalism, and COVID-19

Filed under Article Medleys, DisasterCapitalism, Medicine, Public Ed, Shock Doctrine, TeacherAppreciation, Teaching Career

2020 Medley #6: Public Schools Week

Public schools for the public good,
The failure of “choice”,
Where will we find teachers for tomorrow?

PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD

Public Schools Week ends today, though for ninety percent of American schoolchildren the celebration of public education takes place every day during their local school year.

Why do the vast majority of our K-12 students choose public schools? Because public schools don’t choose their students. Every child has a place in public schools. No child is turned away. All children are welcome: children with different gender preferences, children of any color, any or no religious affiliation, rich, poor, athletically or academically gifted, or physically or academically challenged.

We support public schools because it’s important for us to have a society in which everyone is educated. Educated citizens make informed citizens. Informed citizens make informed choices. Informed choices make for a better society. Jefferson wrote (perhaps naively)…

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be…Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.

John Adams envisioned a public school system that provided for publicly supported schools across the nation.

The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the expense of the people themselves.

Public Schools Serve The Public Good

The public good is a concept that has always had to fight for survival against human selfishness and it’s no different in today’s world. Tribalism has replaced a shared public responsibility. We have become a nation in conflict, not cooperation.

Vouchers were born out of a desire to avoid integrating schools. When so-called “separate but equal” schools became unconstitutional in the United States proponents of segregation chose to close public schools and set up private schools using voucher programs. Today’s voucher programs benefit mostly religious schools that have the option to choose their students. Only certain students are allowed.

During Public Schools Week, we must recommit ourselves to defend the educational system that serves 90 percent of America’s children: our public schools. One way to do that is by opposing private school voucher schemes.

Reasons to oppose vouchers abound: The plans violate church-state separation and individual conscience because they force taxpayers to pay for private religious education. Voucher schools don’t improve academic performance. Many private schools engage in discriminatory hiring and admissions policies. Vouchers don’t require schools to be accountable to the public.

But there’s another equally compelling reason to oppose vouchers that often gets overlooked: Voucher plans subsidize private schools that serve a private interest, not the public good.

Five Threats To America’s Public School System

Those who feed the forces of tribalism distrust the concept of the public good. Since privatizers are in power, they are a very real threat to public schools.

President Donald Trump…

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos…

Private school lobbying groups…

Anti-government extremists: The simplistic idea that anything the government does is bad has a powerful hold on conservative thought in America. Because public schools are a very common manifestation of a public, government-provided service, they’re a high-profile target for ideologues who favor privatization of as many public services as possible…Never mind that public schools educate the vast majority of American schoolchildren and serve the public good.

Millionaires looking to make a profit: In her new book Slaying Goliath, education writer Diane Ravitch focuses on a band of millionaires (in some cases billionaires) who have decided to make education “reform” a priority. The problem, Ravitch writes, is that these would-be reformers don’t have backgrounds in education and naïvely insist that “market solutions” from the business community can be applied to a public service like education…

National Poll Shows Strong Voter Support for Public Schools

Americans support their public schools and are willing to pay for them, while most are unwilling to pay for private schools. That’s why voucher plans usually fail when put to a popular vote. States rely on legislators to fund voucher programs. [emphasis in original]

We surveyed likely voters. Here’s what they said:

Funding for Public Schools

  • 64% think funding for public schools should be increased
  • 26% think funding should be kept the same, and only 6% thinking funding should be decreased
  • Of those who believe funding should be increased, eight out of ten would support an increase in funding even if it meant they would pay more in taxes.


Public Funds for Private Schools

  • 73% agree with the statement we should NOT take away public funds from our public schools to fund private, religious, and home school education
  • 64% of voters are…less likely to vote for an elected official who supports taking away funds from public schools to give to private schools, including 47% who would be much less likely to do so

Schools And Other Shared Public Spaces

Curmudgucation’s Peter Greene is a fan of public education, the public good, and shared public spaces…

I remain a fan of public education in no small part because it is one of the last shared public places left, even as it is being whittled away. It is a space that reflects the big unruly mess that is a democratic-ish country, and yes that means conflicts and negotiations and an unending clash of conflicting values and goals. But the proposed alternative–these people want something different so they’ll just go over there by themselves–requires a continued breaking of relationships, a repeated running away from conflict in place of resolutions. In fact, a worsening of conflict, because once separated into private slices, everyone can just create cartoon strawman versions of Those People Over There to revile and deride.

I’ve been reading about the ideal for years–if you want to send your kid to a private school for left-handed druids who don’t believe in evolution but do believe in global warming, and who want to play in a marching band, well, then, you should be able to make that choice. Everyone should have their own choice of a hundred separate different school systems. But we already know how well “separate but equal” works out. And by demanding that such a ecosystem of parallel schools be organized by free market forces, we guarantee failure, because the free market is great for picking winners and losers, terrible for creating equity among disparate groups.

THE FAILURE OF “CHOICE”

National School Choice Week is actually about promoting certain choices over others

Those who are privatizing our public education systems are creating a system of winners and losers.

Surely some well-meaning parents and students celebrated. But they were joined by powerful people who, despite what they say, don’t believe that every child deserves a great school. Instead, these people believe in a certain kind of choice over all others. In their worldview, market choice is more important than democracy, parents are consumers rather than members of a broader community, and education is a competition between students, with winners and losers.

School choice costing taxpayers

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include information about the charter school scandal now swirling in Indiana…where virtual charter school operators paid themselves and their own businesses $85 million. The money came from state tuition support and included funds for students who were never enrolled in the so-called schools.

The legislature blames the Department of Education, despite the fact that the privatization laws passed in the Indiana General Assembly were lax enough to allow such cheating and conflicts of interest to happen.

This is not unique to Indiana. Privatizers around the nation regularly steal tax money from public schools. The Network for Public Education has been tracking charter school scandals. The current list includes more than two dozen scandals from across the nation in January 2020 alone.

For further reading: Still Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in a Pileup of Fraud and Waste

Blaming the Department of Education for the abuses of charter school operators is like blaming the BMV for the actions of a drunk driver. Responsibility for lax regulations and oversight for both charter schools and voucher schools falls squarely on Bosma and the GOP supermajority. In cozying up to the deep-pocketed school-choice community, they ignored glaring examples of corruption here and elsewhere. It was almost 11 years ago when The Journal Gazette first reported on the suspicious real estate deals surrounding two Imagine Inc. charter schools in Fort Wayne – schools that eventually shut down with $3.6 million in outstanding state loans.

Charter school scandals are so common that the Network for Public Education began collecting them on a website and tagging them on Twitter: #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal.

WHO WILL BE TOMORROW’S TEACHERS?

The Number Of People Who Want To Teach Has Dropped By More Than Half This Decade

Public schools are being starved by privatizers diverting tax money to charters and vouchers. Teaching in underfunded schools isn’t easy, so it’s no wonder that young people are turning their backs on careers in education.

Federal data shows during the 2008-09 school year, 18,113 people were enrolled in teacher preparation programs in [Indiana]. But in 2016, that number was cut by more than half; the programs training future teachers saw only 7,127 people enrolled.

What message are we sending to the future?
🚌🚌🚌

Comments Off on 2020 Medley #6: Public Schools Week

Filed under Article Medleys, Charters, Choice, Public Ed, TeacherShortage, Teaching Career, VirtualSchools, vouchers

2020 Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions: 5. Be an Education Voter

2020 Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions
5. Be an Education voter!

It’s a new year and as is our custom here in the USA, we make resolutions which, while rarely kept, can be redefined as goals toward which we would strive had we the strength.

[Updated and edited from 2018]

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #5

  • Be an Education voter.

Have you been teaching long enough to remember when

  • there was enough time in your day to do things with your class like reading aloud, learning about dinosaurs, developing a science project, or playing a learning game…just for fun?
  • standardized tests weren’t administered in every grade level every year?
  • standardized tests were used to guide your instruction, not punish your students, you, or your school, or to use as a template for teaching to the test?
  • teaching experience was honored in the salary schedule for your school corporation? Each year you taught you received an incremental pay increase.
  • your teacher’s negotiating team could bargain for class size, preparation time, and duty-free periods?
  • the push to learn to read was more appropriately assigned to first-grade instead of kindergarten?

Over the last four to five decades — since I began my own teaching career — things have changed for schools and teachers. Classroom professionals are no longer trusted to make curriculum decisions for their students. The state tests have taken over curriculum choices as well as teacher evaluations. Students have less time to play. Teachers’ salaries have stagnated.

Since the beginning of the standards and testing craze which began in the last decade of the 20th century, we have let legislators strip the joy of learning from our classrooms. In 2001, No Child Left Behind, moved the wheel a bit further introducing punishment to schools which didn’t “perform” (read: couldn’t get enough students to pass “the test” despite the numbers of English language learners, the impact of child poverty, and students receiving special services). Then, in 2011, the Indiana legislature, under the direction of then-Governor Mitch Daniels and State Superintendent Tony Bennett, doubled down in their war against public education with laws providing for charter schools and vouchers, as well as other laws apparently intended to damage the teaching profession.

Since 2011 teachers in Indiana have lost…

  • seniority and the value of experience or advanced degrees on salary schedules
  • declining salaries (when adjusted for inflation)
  • the right to collectively bargain things like class size, prep time, and supervision time
  • the loss of due process

and, along with their students, administrators, and patrons, have had to endure…

  • a constitutional amendment that gives the state legislature complete responsibility for funding schools.
  • the overuse and misuse of standardized testing
  • the diversion of public education funds to testing companies, charter schools and vouchers
  • teacher evaluations and school grades based on test scores
  • untrained laypeople taking teaching positions based on content knowledge alone
  • and, beginning in 2020, Governor-appointed majority (8 out of 10) on the state school board as well as a Governor-appointed state superintendent of public instruction.

The challenge to the public school teachers and schools of Indiana continues. Our state lags behind neighboring states in teacher salaries. The General Assembly, while making noise about the amount of money spent on education, continues to fund public education at below 2008 levels.

[For a detailed look at funding and teacher salaries in Indiana see Education Funding and Teacher Compensation In Indiana: Evaluation and Recommendations.]

YOU ARE THE VOICE FOR YOUR PROFESSION

You know what to do…

  • Write to or visit your legislators. Once you know the issues, tell your legislators how you feel about what they’re doing.

Indiana residents use the links below to find your legislators.

State Legislators

United States Representative

United States Senate

  • Educate your friends, family, and neighbors.
  • Promote public education and supporters of public education on Social Media.
  • Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Write to national newspapers. Start your own blog and write about public education.
  • Let your local school board members know about your concerns for public education.
  • Testify at state legislative committee meetings and state school board meetings.
  • Work for candidates who promise to support public education. Once they’re elected, hold them to their promises.
  • Run for public office.

Family and work responsibilities might restrict what you can do. Personal finances might restrict what you can do. Physical limitations might restrict what you can do. But, everyone can do something.

Once you have the knowledge, teach others.

Do Something.

YOU ARE THE VOICE FOR YOUR STUDENTS

Teachers, you are the political voice of your students. Their needs and interests, as well as your own, are in your hands when you enter the voting booth.

  • When you vote for candidates who skimp when asked to invest in public schools, then you vote against the interests of your students. 
  • When you vote for candidates who divert public school funding to private and charter schools, you vote against the interests of your students. 
  • When you vote for candidates who work to deprofessionalize teaching, exacerbating the shortage of qualified teachers, then you vote against the interests of your students.

This year, resolve to be a public education voter. Make sure you’re registered to vote. Indiana voters, you can register or check your registration online, here: Indiana Voter Portal.

Your vote matters.

Resolution #5: Be an “education” voter. Support your profession and public education. Support candidates who support public schools without regard to party affiliation.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #1

  • Read aloud to your children/students every day.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #2

  • Teach your students, not “The Test.”
  • Educate yourself.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #4

  • Focus on developing positive relationships.
🙋🏻🚌👨‍🏫

Comments Off on 2020 Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions: 5. Be an Education Voter

Filed under Election, Politics, Public Ed, Teaching Career

2020 Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions: 3. Educate yourself

2020 Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions
3. Educate yourself

It’s a new year and as is our custom here in the USA, we make resolutions which, while often broken, can be redefined as goals toward which we should strive.

[Updated and slightly edited from 2018]

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #3

  • Educate yourself.

BUT I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME

Teachers are overworked and overstressed. Often teachers go home after a difficult day at school and spend an hour or two on planning, assessing student work, or sifting through piles of mostly meaningless paperwork.

A few hours later, after a rushed meal, minimal time with family, and a night of not-enough-sleep, it starts over again.

Weekends are a bit better…time to catch up on everything.

It’s no surprise, then, that teachers feel like they don’t have time to find out what’s happening in the politics of public education. They only know that it seems like each year there are more and more restrictions on what and how they can teach, more tests for their students, fewer resources, and larger classes.

Meanwhile, the forces of DPE (Destroy Public Education) continue to move forward increasing funding for charter schools and unaccountable voucher schools by diverting public money from public schools.

THE ARGUMENT FOR EDUCATING YOURSELF

Make the time.

I know…I’m retired. I don’t have to get up and face a classroom of kids every day. It’s easy for me to say, “Make the time.” I get it.

But things have changed since I retired. Sure, I can still write letters and blog posts. I can still argue with legislators in support of public education and public educators, but I’m out of date. A lot has changed since I last had my own classroom in 2010. Today’s classrooms are different than they were ten years ago. Every school is different.

Teachers, this is your profession, and it consists of more than just the time you spend with your students. I would ask you to think of time spent educating yourself about what’s happening in education as part of your professional development — an important part!

The political world of public education will

  • affect your students and your children, if you have any, as they progress through school
  • affect you and your economic status while you’re working and into retirement
  • affect how many more years you will be able to teach
  • affect how large your class sizes are
  • affect your academic freedom
  • affect what you teach, how you teach, and how often your students have to pause their learning to take a standardized test.

Right now, legislators, most of whom haven’t set foot in a classroom since they were students, are making decisions that will affect you, your students, and your classroom.

This is your profession. You owe it to yourself, your students, your future students, and your community, to educate yourself. Be the lifelong learner you wish to see in your students.

[If you’re not a teacher, you owe it to yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, and students of the community, to educate yourself. What happens to public education affects your children – and all of the above – and your community.]

WHERE TO START

Here are some places to start (feel free to add more in the comments)…

Read Books (in no particular order)

Read Blogs (in no particular order)

Listen to Podcasts

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #1

  • Read aloud to your children/students every day.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #2

  • Teach your students, not “The Test.”
📚📡🚌

Comments Off on 2020 Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions: 3. Educate yourself

Filed under Public Ed, Teaching Career

Listen to This – Nineteen for 2019

Nineteen meaningful comments and quotes from 2019 from my blog and others…

JANUARY

Making Laws About Teaching

Speaker Bosma, Qualifications Matter!

Jennifer McCormick

Perplexing but not surprising- people who are most judgmental & outspoken about the qualifications necessary to perform a job are typically those people who have never done the job.

Hey Kindergarten, Get Ready for the Children.

MD: Failing Five Year Olds

Peter Greene

…it is not a five year old’s job to be ready for kindergarten– it is kindergarten’s job to be ready for the five year olds. If a test shows that the majority of littles are not “ready” for your kindergarten program, then the littles are not the problem– your kindergarten, or maybe your readiness test, is the problem. The solution is not to declare, “We had better lean on these little slackers a little harder and get them away from their families a little sooner.” Instead, try asking how your kindergarten program could be shifted to meet the needs that your students actually have. 

FEBRUARY

Punishing third graders

Third Grade Flunk Laws–and (Un)intended Consequences

Nancy Flanagan

Now we are witnessing the other consequences of the Third Grade Threat—pushing inappropriate instruction down to kindergarten, as anxious districts fear that students who are not reading at grade level (a murky goal, to begin with) will embarrass the district when letters go out to parents of third graders who are supposed to be retained. Because it’s the law.

Who’s to blame when students lag behind (arbitrary) literacy benchmarks, for whatever reason…

Blaming Teachers

At What Point Do We Stop Blaming Teachers?

Paul Murphy

As a teacher who has been told to teach a program as it’s written, how the hell is it my fault if the assignments students get are not challenging enough? I’m not the one who designed the assignments.

If you’re requiring me to read from some stupid script written by publishers who’ve never met my students, then how can you fairly evaluate my instruction? It’s not my instruction.

Should we be surprised that students aren’t engaged during a lesson that’s delivered by a teacher who had no hand in creating it and who sees it as the contrived lump that it is? I’m not a terrible actor, but hand me a lemon and I’m going to have trouble convincing even the most eager-to-learn student that I’m giving them lemonade.

MARCH

The Intent of Indiana’s Voucher Program

School Vouchers are not to help “poor kids escape failing schools”

Doug Masson

…that the real intention of voucher supporters was and is: 1) hurt teacher’s unions; 2) subsidize religious education; and 3) redirect public education money to friends and well-wishers of voucher supporters. Also, a reminder: vouchers do not improve educational outcomes. I get so worked up about this because the traditional public school is an important part of what ties a community together — part of what turns a collection of individuals into a community. And community feels a little tough to come by these days. We shouldn’t be actively eroding it.

Why is this even a thing?

Teachers Union: No Teacher Should Be Shot at As Part of Training

Dan Holub, executive director of the ITSA

Our view is that no teacher, no educator should be put in a small room and shot at as part of a training process for active shooter training…

Retention-in-grade Doesn’t Work (Still)

Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results

Stu Bloom

Can we just stop flunking kids, and use the money we save from repeating a grade and foolish third-grade retention tests to give them the support they need in the years leading up to third grade?

APRIL

Reading on Grade Level…

When Betsy DeVos “Likes” Your “Research”…

Mitchell Robinson

Children don’t “read on grade level” anymore than they “eat on grade level” or “care about their friends on grade level.” Anyone who has actually helped a child learn how to read, or play a music instrument, or ride a bike, knows that kids will accomplish these goals “when they are ready.” Not by “grade level.”

So, kids will read when they have a need to read, and when what they are reading is relevant to their lives. Not when they are supposed to read as measured by their grade level. Can we set our own goals as teachers for when we introduce various literacy concepts to our students? Sure. And teachers do that, every day in every public school in the nation.

MAY

The Relationship Between Teacher and Child

It’s All About Growth

Stu Bloom

There is so much more to education than tests and standards. Children learn much more than can ever be put on a standardized test. Teachers – living, breathing, actual human beings – make the learning process part of life. One of the most important aspects of the education of our children is the relationship between teacher and child.

No test can ever measure that.

JUNE

Reading Aloud Instead of Worksheets

Father’s Day 2019: A Reminder to Read Aloud to Your Children

Stu Bloom

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.

JULY

Just say “NO!” to Online Preschool

Why Online Preschool is a Terrible Idea

Matthew Lynch

Think about it: why are children sent to preschool in the first place? Isn’t it because they need human interaction? One of the most important skills children learn in preschool is how to make friends. Life is about human relationships after all. How do you learn about making friends, sorting out differences, and obeying the rules when you are staring at a screen, looking for the right color to click on?

Children learn through play, not screens

AUGUST

Science in the United States

Who does President Trump treat worse than anyone else? Scientists.

Robert Gebelhoff

This is the intellectual rot of the Trump era. It’s more than just an anti-big government ideology; it’s a systematic assault on science across the federal government. These actions will reverberate in our government for years to come, even after the Trump administration is gone, in the form of policy decisions we make without the benefit of the best evidence available. And worse, Americans may not even be aware of how they are being deceived and deprived.

That’s the true scandal of Trump’s war on scientists. No other group is so pervasively targeted and so thoroughly ignored. Yet it is their voices, more than any other, that our nation needs in this disturbing political moment.

Public Schools for the Common Good

Support Our Public Schools – And The Teachers Who Work In Them

Rob Boston

As our nation’s young people return to public schools, there are things you can do to shore up the system. First, support your local public schools. It doesn’t matter if your children are grown or you never had children. The kids attending public schools in your town are your neighbors and fellow residents of your community. Someday, they will be the next generation of workers, teachers and leaders shaping our country. It’s in everyone’s best interest that today’s children receive the best education possible, and the first step to that is making sure their public schools are adequately funded.

SEPTEMBER

Read Aloud to your Children

Want to Raise Smart, Kind Kids? Science Says Do This Every Day

Kelly at Happy You Happy Family

The best thing about this particular “keystone habit” for raising smart, kind kids is that it’s completely free, it takes just 10-15 minutes a day, and anyone can do it.

To get smart, kind kids, you don’t have to sign your kid up for expensive tutoring or have twice-daily screenings of the movie Wonder.

All you have to do is this: Read to your child. Even if they already know how to read to themselves.

Because research shows reading aloud is the powerful keystone habit that will raise smart, kind kids. (More on that in a minute.)

Misusing Tests

Testing…Testing…

Sheila Kennedy

The widespread misuse of what should be a diagnostic tool is just one more example of our depressing American tendency to apply bumper sticker solutions to complex issues requiring more nuanced approaches.

The times they are a’ changin’.

Greta Thunberg’s full speech to world leaders at UN Climate Action Summit

Greta Thunberg

We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

The Teacher Exodus

Educator: There’s A Mass Teacher Exodus, Not Shortage

Tim Slekar

When we have a shortage, say of nurses, pay goes up, conditions get better and enrollment in nursing programs skyrockets. So if we have a teacher shortage, pay would go up. It’s not. Conditions would get better. They’re not. And enrollment in teacher education would go up. It’s declining. That can’t be a shortage then.

When you talk about the fact that nobody wants to do this job, that parents are telling their kids right in front of me in my office that they don’t support their child becoming a teacher, this is a real issue that needs to be talked about quite differently and that’s why exodus is much better because you have to ask why are they leaving and why aren’t they coming.

NOVEMBER

Billionaire Busybodies

Organizations with the Audacity to Blame Teachers for Poor NAEP Reading Scores!

Nancy Bailey

The latest “criticize teachers for not teaching the ‘science’ of reading” can be found in “Schools Should Follow the ‘Science of Reading,’ say National Education Groups” in the Gates funded Education Week.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds most of the organizations in this report that criticize public schools and teachers for low NAEP scores. Yet they are behind the Common Core State Standards, which appear to be an abysmal failure.

Most individuals and groups never teach children themselves, but they create policies that affect how and what teachers are forced to teach. They have always been about privatizing public education.

DECEMBER

It’s Poverty

Poverty Affects Schools, No Measurable Differences in 15 Years, And Reforms Have Not Worked: What The PISA Scores Show Us

Stu Egan

What DeVos got wrong is that we as a country are not average. We actually do very well when one considers the very things that DeVos is blind to: income gaps, social inequality, and child poverty.

🏫🎓🚌

Comments Off on Listen to This – Nineteen for 2019

Filed under Billionaires, climate change, CommonGood, kindergarten, NAEP, PositiveRelationships, poverty, Preschool, Public Ed, Quotes, read-alouds, reading, retention, Science, TeacherShortage, Teaching Career, Testing, vouchers

Listen to the Experts

FIGHTING THE INSURANCE COMPANY

Remember that time you called your health insurance company because they denied your claim…

You probably thought, “why should an insurance company representative deny or attempt to deny coverage for something prescribed by my family doctor? What expertise do insurance company workers have in the field of medicine?”

A recent article in the Washington Post by Dr. William E. Bennett Jr., associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, highlights part of the problem…

Insurance companies aren’t doctors. So why do we keep letting them practice medicine?

We know how important it is to have insurance so that we can get health care. As a physician, parent and patient, I cannot overemphasize that having insurance is not enough.

As a gastroenterologist, I often prescribe expensive medications or tests for my patients. But for insurance companies to cover those treatments, I must submit a “prior authorization” to the companies, and it can take days or weeks to hear back. If the insurance company denies coverage, which occurs frequently, I have the option of setting up a special type of physician-to-physician appeal called a “peer-to-peer.”

Here’s the thing: After a few minutes of pleasant chat with a doctor or pharmacist working for the insurance company, they almost always approve coverage and give me an approval number. There’s almost never a back-and-forth discussion; it’s just me saying a few key words to make sure the denial is reversed.

Because it ends up with the desired outcome, you might think this is reasonable. It’s not. On most occasions the “peer” reviewer is unqualified to make an assessment about the specific services. They usually have minimal or incorrect information about the patient. Not one has examined or spoken with the patient, as I have. None of them have a long-term relationship with the patient and family, as I have.

In other words, according to Dr. Bennett, doctors should be the ones to make medical decisions…not some distant bureaucrat in an insurance office. What a concept!

EXPERTS

It would seem, then, that those with expertise in an area ought to be the ones we listen to…and that’s true in all areas, not just medicine.

For example, it makes sense for us to pay attention to actual climate experts when discussing the problems associated with climate change…instead of a former insurance executive who threw a snowball in the Senate chamber as “proof” that there was no such thing as global warming, or a reality television star who decided that climate change was a hoax created by the “Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

We need people with expert knowledge to help us understand and deal with things we don’t know or don’t have experience in. In his 2017 book titled The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters, Tom Nichols wrote,

…experts will make mistakes, but they are far less likely to make mistakes than a layperson. This is a crucial distinction between experts and everyone else, in that experts know better than anyone the pitfalls of their own profession.

We regularly listen to people with expertise in an area because it’s impossible for one person to know everything. Even within fields we sometimes have to go to specialists.

We go to cardiologists when we have heart disease, dentists to repair or replace damaged teeth, and ophthalmologists when we need cataract surgery.

If you’re accused of tax fraud you should find a tax attorney. If you’re accused of a crime you should find a criminal lawyer.

We rely on plumbers, electricians, engineers, and mechanics to take care of our plumbing, electrical, structural and automotive needs because it’s impossible for one person to know everything.

It just makes sense.

K-12 EDUCATION

It makes sense for the field of education, too. Who should you seek out if your child is struggling with reading? or middle school math? or high school English?

Who should you ask if you want to know what is going on in public schools in your town, city, or state? Who can tell you about the value (or lack thereof) of standardized tests, third-grade retention tests, and curriculum development? Who can you go to for help with your child with special needs? Where can you learn about the impact a lack of resources has on your child’s classroom?

Who are the experts in public education?

A. A college drop-out who grew a tech company into a $100 billion net worth and spends millions of dollars experimenting with education.

B. A political appointee and basketball buddy whose only education experience was watching his mother teach.

C. A billionaire who never attended a public school, never sent their children to public schools, and never worked in a public school, but contributed to the campaigns of state legislators, US Senators, and Presidents.

D. Politicians, pundits or policymakers who were lawyers, florists, political science majors, auctioneers, accountants, or college graduates with various non-education degrees.

E. Your child’s teachers.

Rely on those who have been trained and have experience. Ask the experts.

🎓🚌🎓

Comments Off on Listen to the Experts

Filed under Medicine, Teaching Career

2019 Medley #22

Respecting teachers, Vouchers,
Shaming children, Stuttering,
An ADHD prosthetic, Looking back

RESPECT FOR TEACHERS

Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves?

Teaching isn’t, as some legislators apparently think, professional babysitting. Teachers don’t just “tell” students what they need to know, and students don’t just “remember” everything.

Teaching a class of children — whether they are 6 years old, or 16 — is not easy. To do it well takes training, experience, support, resources, and a fair amount of luck.

Most licensed teachers in Indiana have four-year degrees from accredited university teacher training programs; many have master’s degrees. Yet almost half of all new teachers leave the field within the first five years. Perhaps they didn’t realize that teaching is hard work. Perhaps the hours are too long and they thought they were just getting a 7 – 3:30 job with lots of vacation time. Perhaps the pay isn’t good enough. Perhaps they find out that they’re not cut out for teaching.

The teachers who stay, then, are those who are committed to education. One would think that, with years of training, teachers would be considered experts in their field. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Panels of “education experts” regularly have no teachers on them. The National Reading Panel had only one middle school teacher. The Panel, which explored the way young children learned to read “included no teacher of early reading instruction.”

The National Commission on Education, authors of A Nation at Risk, consisted of twelve administrators, one businessperson, a chemist, a physicist, a politician, a conservative activist, and only one practicing teacher.

This lack of respect for the teaching profession seeps in from the various state legislatures. Teachers in Indiana, for example, are told what to teach, how to teach, and how to assess what they have taught. Then they are blamed for failure when the scores on the assessment (currently ILEARN) are lower than the arbitrary cut scores.

Teaching may be the only profession where you are required to get an advanced degree including a rigorous internship only to be treated like you have no idea what you’re doing.

DIVERTING PUBLIC MONEY TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

The Supreme Court Is Considering Forcing You To Fund Religious Education

Since 2011 more than half a billion Indiana taxpayer dollars have gone to fund private and parochial schools despite the fact that vouchers don’t go to “better performing” schools…and despite the fact that the First Amendment (as seen in Madison’s support of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom) establishes a wall between Church and State.

Indiana’s voucher program, like others around the country, is free from any conflict between Church and State because the money is laundered through a parent “voucher” in which the parent “chooses” the school their child will go to. In truth, however, it is the school that does the choosing.

…many religious schools engage in blatant forms of discrimination. They may refuse to admit students who are LGBTQ, nontheists or religious minorities. Many apply similar religious litmus tests to faculty and staff. Unlike public schools, which are open to all, religious schools serve a private interest.

Finally, any diversion of taxpayer money to religious schools threatens the public education system. Public schools serve 90 percent of America’s children. They ought to be our priority when it comes to allocating taxpayer funding.

All of these reasons are important, but at the end of the day, this is an issue of freedom of conscience. Our founders understood that no one should be forced to support religion against his or her will. It’s one of the primary reasons why they built church-state separation into the First Amendment. The Supreme Court must not abandon this vital principle.

STOP BLAMING KIDS FOR THE IMPACT OF POVERTY

Penalizing kids for school lunch debt can harm their mental health

Nearly half of Indiana’s children are low income; more than one in five live in poverty. With this many children coming from homes without a lot of money, it’s even more important for schools to remember that it is not the student’s fault if their lunch bill isn’t paid. We have to stop blaming children for the impact of poverty on their lives.

Even when parents have enough money it’s not the child’s fault when parents are late with their payment.

Facing stigma around school lunches can negatively impact kids’ mental health, stress levels, and overall cafeteria experience, Cohen says. That’s seen with kids who feel labeled by receiving school lunch, for example. “When we remove that stigma, it makes a big difference in kids’ lives.” Some schools do so by giving all students cafeteria swipe cards so that it’s not apparent who is or is not paying for the meal. On the whole, Cohen says schools are getting better at free meals, but not lunch debt. “When you give a kid a cheese sandwich, you’re bringing that stigma back.”

ARE SOME OF JOE’S GAFFES SIMPLY COVERING UP HIS STUTTERING?

What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say

I’m not going to comment on Vice President Biden’s education plans, but this article about his history of stuttering might explain some of his hesitations, and misstatements. “He lifts his hands up to his face like he did on the debate stage in July, to guide the v sound out of his mouth…”

“The paragraph I had to read was: ‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a gentleman. He laid his cloak upon the muddy road suh-suh-so the lady wouldn’t soil her shoes when she entered the carriage,’” Biden tells me, slightly and unintentionally tripping up on the word so. “And I said, ‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a gentle man who—’ and then the nun said, ‘Mr. Biden, what is that word?’ And it was gentleman that she wanted me to say, not gentle man. And she said, ‘Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden, what’s that word?’ ”

Biden says he rose from his desk and left the classroom in protest, then walked home. The family story is that his mother, Jean, drove him back to school and confronted the nun with the made-for-TV phrase “You do that again, I’ll knock your bonnet off your head!” I ask Biden what went through his mind as the nun mocked him.

“Anger, rage, humiliation,” he says. His speech becomes staccato. “A feeling of, uh—like I’m sure you’ve experienced—it just drops out of your chest, just, like, you feel … a void.” He lifts his hands up to his face like he did on the debate stage in July, to guide the v sound out of his mouth: void.

I stuttered. I stutter.

Blogger Fred Klonsky says he plans to vote against Biden in the primary election, but understands first hand that the story of Biden’s stuttering is a story about how we treat children with differences.

But Atlantic’s senior editor, who has a stutter himself, has written an article that is about way more than Biden.

It is about how we treat differences.

And it is about me, since I had a severe stutter as a child and I still stutter when I am tired or stressed.

TREATMENT AS AN ADHD PROSTHETIC

What Is an ADHD Prosthetic?

Is medication for ADHD a “crutch?”

“My concern,” the parent continued. “Is that if we get him glasses, we are sending him the message that it’s okay not to try to see. It feels like an excuse. Like we’re enabling him. I mean, he has to learn to see someday, right? He can’t go through life using his poor vision as an excuse not to see.”

A LOOK BACK AT CHANGE THAT HASN’T HAPPENED

School Choice Opponents and the Status Quo

This quote from a June 2017 blog post is a good reminder that not much has changed in the field of public education. There are still those of us who “continue to point out that poverty is the real issue in education” and there are still politicians who refuse to take their share of the responsibility for that poverty. Apparently, politicians think that schools are the sole public institution responsible for overcoming the effects of poverty. If they can’t, then they are blamed, castigated, taken over by the state, or privatized…none of which changes a damn thing.

Meanwhile, nearly 20% of America’s children live in poverty. If we include “low income” children the number doubles….for Black, Hispanic and American Indian children, it triples. The relationship between school success to economic status is well known, but they still blame the schools and teachers.

…To point out the obvious, that poverty is the number one cause of educational inequity, does not make me a champion for the status quo. It simply means that I will not fall prey to the false promise of super-teachers, standardized test driven accountability, merit pay, charter schools, and vouchers, all of which are futile efforts to put a thumb in the overflowing dyke that is systematic discrimination, segregation, income inequity, and, yes, poverty.

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success

We can’t ignore the impact of poverty on our students’ achievement.

From March 2009

The U.S. has set as a national goal the narrowing of the achievement gap between lower income and middle-class students, and that between racial and ethnic groups. This is a key purpose of the No Child Left Behind act, which relies primarily on assessment to promote changes within schools to accomplish that goal. However, out-of-school factors (OSFs) play a powerful role in generating existing achievement gaps, and if these factors are not attended to with equal vigor, our national aspirations will be thwarted.

This brief details six OSFs common among the poor that significantly affect the health and learning opportunities of children, and accordingly limit what schools can accomplish on their own: (1) low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children; (2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics. These OSFs are related to a host of poverty-induced physical, sociological, and psychological problems that children often bring to school, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior.

⚗️🚌🏫

Comments Off on 2019 Medley #22

Filed under ADHD, Article Medleys, Choice, poverty, Speech&Language, Teaching Career, vouchers