The Ten Worst Things That Happen In School

Taken from an article published in Alternative Education Resource Organization:

“1. Sometimes you have to get up when it’s still dark.

Research has shown that children generally learn better when they start school later.

2. Most schools dispense curriculum from the top down, from distant sources.

Children learn best when the approach is learner-centered, based on their interest.

3. Students are forced to stay in classrooms and are not allowed to leave.

. . . children are happier and learn better when they are free to come and go.

4. Children in most schools are forced to sit in rows of desks and not move around.

Research shows that it is unhealthy for children to not move around, and is especially painful for kinesthetic learners.

5. In most schools learning takes place in rigid periods, governed by bells.

. . . children need to learn according to their own rhythms, working on projects until they are finished.

6. In most schools bullying is rampant and there is no effective mechanism to control it.

There is almost no bullying in democratic schools, and if there is a problem it can be brought up in a democratic meeting . . .

7. In most schools, irrelevant homework is assigned, which students are forced to do at home and turn in at school.

If students are following their own interests, homework is not necessary. If children are natural learners, assigning them to study information not of interest only serves to extinguish that natural ability to learn.

8. In most schools children are segregated into classes of students who are their exact age.

This is “socialization” to a bizarre environment they will never experience in their life after school. Children learn best in mixed age groups in which they can collaborate with children of different ages and backgrounds.

9. In most schools children are forced to compete for grades in every subject.

Grades have been shown to be a false motivator . . .

10. In most schools students are forced to take many hours of standardized tests, often without ever knowing whether their answers were right or wrong.

Teaching to tests pushes students in exactly the wrong direction. . .”

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Truth And Justice

“Spending on incarceration v. education tells the tale of our broken political system’s misguided priorities” by David Sheridan, appeared in Education Votes.

In his article, Sheridan reports, “State and local spending on prisons and jails has grown three times as much as spending on K-12 public schools over the past three decades.

This is the stunning conclusion of a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

Commenting on the report, Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama was unusually blunt: “These misguided priorities make us less safe, cost us an exorbitant amount of money and betray our core values. Where there are fewer resources for schools, job training and economic development, cycles of poverty and incarceration continue unabated.”

The Department of Ed report notes: “Investing more in education, particularly targeted at-risk communities, could achieve crime reduction without the heavy social costs that higher incarceration rates impose on individuals, families and communities.”

The picture of state and local spending on incarceration v. higher education also tells the tale of misguided priorities. Over the past two decades, state and local spending on colleges and universities has been nearly flat while spending on prisons and jails increased 89 percent.”

Federal, State, and local spending on incarceration tells the tale of the profits “hedgehogs” make from the educational failure of our children.

This is not news since the increase in prison spending has been occurring for the past thirty years while the inmate population has decreased more than 17% in that time.

We have always known the cost of incarceration is higher than the cost of education and yet we, the people, refuse to fight for the right of every child in America to a free and public education that is developmentally appropriate, Arts based, experiential and concentrated on discovering, developing, and directing their gifts and talents towards becoming knowledgeable, actively engaged citizens who understand; the only way to secure the blessings of liberty for every American is by protecting the rights of every American.

It is the only way to make truth and justice the American way.

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The Federal Bureau Of Collections

It’s time to gear up for another round of data collection.

From the Federal Register:
Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2017-18 (MGLS:2017) Operational Field Test (OFT) and Recruitment for Main Study Base-year

Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; National Teacher and Principal Survey of 2017-2018 (NTPS 2017-18) Preliminary Field Activities

Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection.

Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS 2018) Main Study Recruitment and Field Test

Abstract: The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is an international survey of teachers and principals that focuses on the working conditions of teachers and the teaching and learning practices in schools.

Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Program for International Student Assessment (PISA 2018) Recruitment and Field Test

Abstract: The Program for International Student Assessments (PISA) is an international assessment of 15-year-olds which focuses on assessing students’ reading, mathematics, and science literacy.

All of these “Collection Activities” have been conducted for years with no discernable difference in the ability of our current system to provide every child in America with an excellent education.

What these collection activities do is provide the “hedgehogs” who produce and administer these surveys and tests information on our children to be used to control the future spending habits of the American public.

Billions of dollars are being spent to collect data that should be spent educating our children. Much of the information being collected is redundant and inconsequential to student learning and improvement.

The data shows that every child in America deserves a developmentally appropriate, Arts based, experiential education, delivered in a neighborhood school by dedicated, knowledgeable adults that acknowledge and respect the gifts and talents of everyone in the school and community. An education that concentrates on discovering, developing, and directing their individual gifts and talents towards becoming knowledgeable, actively engaged citizens.

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An Educated Opinion

The Washington Post published this article, “Donald Trump Jr. trashes U.S. public schools (though he didn’t attend one)” By Valerie Strauss.

In that article she states, “Donald Trump Jr. doesn’t think much of American public schools — even though he never attended one.”

Why would he need to attend public school in order to have an opinion about them?

She quotes Trump Jr. as saying, “The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.”

This is not the usual political rhetoric, blaming educational failure on the lack of opportunity instead of blaming poverty.

Trump Jr. continues, “Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students.”

A truer statement has never been made. Proof of this is the fact that more than 80% of the RCSD budget is spent on salaries and benefits while students are loaded into overcrowded classrooms in order to “lesson our carbon footprint” as we were told by members of the School Board.

Strauss quotes a passage from Trump’s book “The America We Deserve”, “We’re doing worse than treading water; we’re going under.” According to school-testing experts’ rule of thumb, the average child’s achievement score declines about 1 percent for each year they’re in school. That gives the expression ‘dumbing down’ a whole new meaning. Schools may be hazardous to your child’s intellectual health.”

Again, a very true statement. Our children are no longer learning to succeed they are being schooled to comply.

Trump Jr. may not have attended public schools but he is not wrong about their functioning.

Education is not a political issue it is a human rights imperative.

All children deserve an excellent education.

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What The World Needs Now

In an article in the Sunday New York Times by Diane Ravitch, “The Common Core Costs Billions and Hurts Students” Ms. Ravitch states, “. . . policy makers encouraged the firing of thousands of teachers and the closing of thousands of low-scoring public schools, mostly in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods. . .”

“. . . it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.”

The federal government, states and school districts have spent billions of dollars to phase in the standards, to prepare students to take the tests and to buy the technology needed to administer them online. . . Those billions would have been better spent to reduce class sizes, especially in struggling schools, to restore arts and physical education classes, to rebuild physically crumbling schools, and to provide universal early childhood education.”

“If we really cared about improving the education of all students, we would give teachers the autonomy to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the children in front of them and to write their own tests. We would insist that students in every school had an equal opportunity to learn in well-maintained schools, in classes of reasonable size taught by expert teachers.”

“What is called “the achievement gap” is actually an “opportunity gap.” What we need are schools where all children have the same chance to learn.”

Ms. Ravitch ends her commentary by saying that providing every child in America with an excellent education doesn’t require national standards however, if we adopt one “National” standard for education it should be that every child in America must receive a developmentally appropriate, Arts based, experiential education that concentrates on discovering, developing, and directing their gifts and talents towards becoming knowledgeable, actively engaged citizens.

The “common core” of education must be to create a morally conscious, righteously motivated populous that recognizes and respects their own gifts and talents and the gifts and talents of others to be able to work together and bring peace to the world.

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Time To Register

From the Federal Register:

Final Priority and Requirements-Technical Assistance on State Data Collection Program-Targeted and Intensive Technical Assistance to States on the Analysis and Use of Formative and Summative Assessment Data To Support Implementation of States’ Identified Measurable Result(s)

Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection program is to improve the capacity of States to meet the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) data collection and reporting requirements.

Funding for this program is authorized under section 611(c)(1) of IDEA, which gives the Secretary the authority to reserve funds appropriated under Part B of the IDEA to provide technical assistance activities authorized under section 616(i) of IDEA.

Section 616(i) of IDEA requires the Secretary to review the data collection and analysis capacity of States to ensure that data and information determined necessary for implementation of IDEA section 616 are collected, analyzed, and accurately reported to the Secretary.

It also requires the Secretary to provide technical assistance, where needed, to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection requirements under IDEA Parts B and C, which include the data collection and reporting requirements in sections 616 and 618 of IDEA.

Though the program is still in effect the last reported funding was Fiscal Year 2011 $25,000,000

Number of New Awards Anticipated: 0
Number of Continuation Awards: 3 – California, North Carolina, and the Dept. of Ed.
Average Continuation Award: $6,083,333
Range of Continuation Awards: $3,250,000–$8,990,850

Note: These funds are set aside from funds appropriated for Special Education—Grants to States . . .

In 2012 the Department of Education awarded itself $6.4 million dollars with an approximate sum received yearly.

On average, more than $6,000,000 million dollars each year in Special Education funding is spent on the ability of two States to collect, analyze, and report to the Secretary of Education, data on our children.

Data collected from two States cannot provide enough information on the many classifications or needs of classified children for the government to make an educated decision on any Special Education issue.

Our children deserve a government that seeks to properly educate them instead of securing “hedgehog” profits.

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More Core Training

The D&C reports Ms.Deane-Williams, “. . . was first approached about the Rochester job (as superintendent) about three weeks ago, she said — after the board’s negotiations with Ithaca Superintendent Luvelle Brown fell through.

“This presents an opportunity for me to join a system that is well on its way to building bridges and … better schools for each and every child,” she said.

She signed a three-year contract with an annual salary of $225,000, formally beginning Aug. 8.

Deane-Williams and the school board talked at length Monday about improving relationships, both in the community and at central office.”

Ms. Deane-Williams began her educational career as a guidance counselor. She was never an administrator or a classroom teacher. She is a believer in the common core.

As part of Deane-Williams’ initiatives in the Greece school district, the following was quoted in the district’s vision:

Moving Forward
NY State Reform Agenda
The New York State Education Department has outlined an
aggressive new reform agenda establishing high expectations
for New York State schools. Its components support cohesive
transformation to ensure all students graduate from high
school college and career ready.
1. Adopt Common Core standards and developing curriculum
and assessments aligned to these standards to prepare
students for success in college and the workplace.
2. Build instructional data systems that measure student
success and inform teachers and principals how they can
improve their practice in real time.
3. Recruit, develop, retain and reward effective teachers and
principals.
4. Turn around the lowest-achieving schools.”

The first points of this agenda support the common core, its policies and procedures.

If effective teachers and principals are rewarded, what will happen to those who are deemed ineffective? How will teacher and principal effectiveness or ineffectiveness be determined?

The RCSD Board voted unanimously to hire Ms. Deane-Williams which means they unanimously voted to retain and maintain common core initiatives.

Until we elect educational leaders that care more about our children than complying with State regulated mandates that insure their budgetary demands which include a $225,000 dollar superintendent’s salary, we will never turn around our lowest achieving schools or properly educate our children.

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