It’s Not The Money It’s The System

Fixing education inequalities will require fixing broader societal inequities posted September 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm by Elaine Weiss and Emma García states:

“In Reducing and averting achievement gaps, we show that there was a large gap in preparedness between high and low social class students who began school in the fall of 2010. Furthermore, this gap changed very little over the prior twelve years. And it’s not only a matter of math and reading skills—there are similar gaps in social and emotional skills, which interact with and inform those traditional academic abilities.”

Immediately these researchers divide children into categories of high and low class. This is disturbing since given their bias, it is relevant to assume that their criteria for assessment does not consider the culture of “low class” students to be acceptable as a norm.

They continue:
” If, as a country, we want to narrow the gaps in reading, math, and social and emotional skills—gaps that exist when low social class students enter kindergarten, and dog them throughout their academic careers—we need to ensure that many fewer children grow up in such deprived contexts. So beyond investing in the education system, we urge the expansion of health care, and a much stronger social safety net that boosts incomes for vulnerable families through policies such as unemployment insurance, Social Security Disability Insurance, cash assistance, the earned income tax credit, and the child and dependent care tax credit.

. . . Because until we tackle the huge inequities at the core of these early gaps, we will continue to live with them.”

The answer to the failure of education for these authors is more money. Unfortunately many people believe this and billions of dollars have been spent on education initiatives with little to no result.

The failure of education is because it is a system that assesses students according to an artificial norm that is dependent upon financial status to drive its intent.

We must change our current system of education so that it concentrates on the child not the money they may or may not have.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Where Indeed

In this blog post by Valerie Strauss she asks, “Where have all the teachers gone?”

“While teacher shortages are not new, they are getting worse in many parts of the country. A report by the nonprofit Learning Policy Institute found that teacher education enrollment dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35 percent reduction, between 2009 and 2014 — and nearly 8 percent of the teaching workforce is leaving every year, the majority before retirement age.”

Ms. Strauss quotes Linda Darling-Hammond, “Across the country, districts and schools continue to struggle to meet the growing demand for qualified teachers. Since 2012, when Recession-era layoffs ended, the teacher workforce has grown by about 400,000, as districts have sought to reclaim the positions they had previously cut and replace teachers who have left. But even with intensive recruiting both in and outside of the country, more than 100,000 classrooms are being staffed this year by instructors who are unqualified for their jobs. These classrooms are disproportionately in low-income, high-minority schools, although in some key subjects, every kind of district has been hit. This is a serious problem for the children they serve and for the country as a whole.

“”. . . Current data on the 2017-18 school year confirm that most states are still experiencing difficulty hiring qualified teachers in multiple fields. The U. S. Department of Education reports that a majority of states identify shortages of teachers in mathematics (47 states and the District of Columbia), special education (46 states and D.C.), science (43 states), world languages (40 states and D.C.), career and technical education (32 states), teachers of English learners (32 states), art, music, and dance (28 states), and English (27 states).”

Business Insider reports, “Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found in their recent report, “The Economic Value of College Majors,” that education majors are paid the least . . .”

How can we expect to hire and retain excellent teachers when they are the lowest paid professionals in the country, when they are denigrated throughout society, when they are told how to do their job by individuals who have never done their job, and who are reprimanded when they try to do an excellent job?

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Everything Old, Nothing New

This article, written by Kate Taylor, appeared in the New York Times, “Regents Approve Plan to Evaluate and Improve New York Schools

It states:
“The New York State Board of Regents on Monday approved a plan laying out the state’s goals for its education system, as required by the sweeping federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 known as the Every Student Succeeds Act.

. . . Under the plan, the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools receiving Title I federal funds, which go to low-income schools and high schools with six-year graduation rates less than 67 percent, [The Rochester City School District] would be identified for comprehensive support and improvement. Those schools would receive additional funding and supervision, including visits from external reviewers, and will be required to choose at least one school improvement strategy from a list approved by the state.”

This is how the RCSD maintains its exhorbitant budget, through failure. The system is set up to support failure, regardless of the consequences for our children.

This is not new.

In a similar article by Bianca Tanis, “You Can’t Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear” Ms Tanis writes:

“After much discussion about the whether or not the proposed Next Generation PreK-2 standards align with developmentally appropriate practice, the NYS Board of Regents adopted the Next Generation ELA and Math Learning Standards on Monday, September 11th.

. . . While the narrative and language of the Next Generation standards is more sophisticated and sprinkled with examples of best practice and common sense, they are essentially the Common Core rebranded. Again.”

The Board of Regents does not now, nor have they ever made decisions that create positive change for our system of education or our children.

They are appointed by a legislature that is paid by educational lobbyists to maintain the profits of the wealthy by keeping the populous poor and ignorant.

It is only when we, the people, decide to change our system of education so that it concentrates on the gifts and talents all children possess that we will achieve educational success for all.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

We Know What Works So Why Are We Failing

This article, Learning from schools that close opportunity gaps by Sarah E. LaCour, Adam York, Kevin Welner, Michelle Renée Valladares, and Linda Molner Kelley appeared in Phi Delta Kappan’s publication.

The article outlines ten “exemplary practices” recognized by the Schools of Opportunity project.

The ten steps are:
1. Broadening and enriching learning opportunities
2. Creating and maintaining a healthy school culture
3. Providing more and better learning time during the school year and summer
4. Using a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs
5. Supporting teachers as professionals
6. Meeting the needs of students with disabilities in an environment that ensures challenge and support
7. Providing students with additional needed services and supports, including mental and physical health services
8. Creating a challenging and supported culturally relevant curriculum
9. Building on the strengths of language minority students and correctly identifying their needs
10. Sustaining equitable and meaningful parent and community engagement

One thing that was mentioned in the article but does not appear explicitly in the ten steps is, “Redefining excellence in public education”.

Before any of the ten steps are initiated in any school, it is imperative that we must first demand excellence in our system of public education and then define that excellence as being the discovery, development and direction of the natural gifts and talents that all children possess.

As well, this must not be measured by the achievement of any one group of individuals but by the ability of the individual to achieve success in their particular area of giftedness.

If a child is a gifted artist than success for that child is the ability to express through art that which cannot be expressed through language. This is not to discount the importance of language skills but to eleviate the stress of being able to express, in words, the feelings that generate the emotions one experiences throughout life’s situations.

By allowing our children the freedom of expression through the mode in which they feel most comfortable, we can effectively put an end to the self-hatred that is the basis of all the “ism’s” that divide us.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

More Rhetoric – More Denial

This article, Forget about ‘fixing’ black kids: What If we fixed white liberals instead? by Lynnell Mickelsen written in February of 2015 was circulated recently.

In it Ms Mickelson states:

“We’ve spent years — nay, decades — bemoaning our achievement gap in which white kids in Minneapolis are mostly doing fine while less than 30 percent of black and Latino kids are working at grade level; less than 48 percent graduate on time, etc.

Children of color now make up 67 percent of our enrollment in Minneapolis. (Vocab reminder to the Greatest Generation: This why we can’t call them “minorities” any more.) So you’d think the mass failure of the majority of the city’s school children would be a moral emergency. As in something that demanded bold action.

After all, if white kids were failing at these rates, we’d have already redesigned the schools to work better for them. We’d have changed the teachers, administrators, length of the school day or year or curriculum and anything else. Because if white kids were failing en masse, we’d demand a big fix of the education system.

But when nonwhite kids are failing, we tend to instead discuss how to fix brown children and their allegedly … ahem … chaotic families, which is white code for screwed-up.”

Ms. Mickelson could very well be talking about the Rochester City School District and any other large urban district in America.

Unfortunately, she believes our current system of education is working for caucasian children because they are passing tests designed to make them feel superior to those that fail, perpetuating an attitude of supremacy that is hostile and volitile.

Our current system of education is dehumanizing for ALL children. It reduces them to data bits and dollar signs, never considering their gifts and talents or the importance of what education calls “soft skills” in building a more humane society.

Until we change our current system of education to concentrate on the gifts and talents all children possess, realizing and promoting critical thinking and communication skills, compassion and empathy, all of our children will continue to fail educationally.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!