"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and 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 public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 17, 2009

Educationally Barren

Where might you have heard the following?
"Various spokespeople have stated that the tests are 'educationally barren,' that teaching to the tests has 'distorted the whole education process,'"
Sound like part of a rant against NCLB? Actually it's a quote from an article about what's happening in the UK, where teachers and principals (headmasters) are staging a revolution against the very test insanity that we, as a nation, are promoting. It would be nice if we could learn from others' mistakes.

"...there is 'overwhelming evidence showing the Sats damage the education of children...Testing narrows the curriculum and makes learning shallow'"
My favorite...
"...the original purpose of examinations, to assess students’ progress, has become confused with school accountability and the performance management of teachers.”
Just like the "tests" in the US, the UK standardized tests have not improved education.
“In practice these tests have proved to be a nightmarish failure. The Sats have not only led to a marked decline in standards, they have broken children’s zeal for learning. They have alienated pupils, teachers and parents alike without making schools properly accountable….the Sats have made children better at passing abstruse exams but in so doing have bludgeoned out all enthusiasm for learning"
According to the author of the article...
"NCLB was modeled on and grew out of the UK’s Sats exam initiative, a program that preceded it by over a decade. While it’s of course impossible to compare directly the two countries’ educational systems, it is also foolish not to observe and learn from the English experience. After two decades of data-driven, standardized exam-based performance measurement, the pendulum in the UK is clearly swinging back toward local, teacher-based assessments with periodic but less intrusive system-wide assessment."
Read the whole article on the NYC Public School Parents Blog.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

SAT Scores 2002 from the College Board

The following speaks for itself.

This information is a few years old, but I doubt things have changed much.

"When people have said 'poverty is no excuse,' my response has been, 'Yes, you're right. Poverty is not an excuse. It's a condition. It's like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.'" - Gerald Bracey

SAT Scores 2002 from the College Board

Family Income Verbal/Math Scores

Less than $10,000/year-----417/442
$10,000 - $20,000/year-----435/453
$20,000 - $30,000/year-----461/470
$30,000 - $40,000/year-----480/485
$40,000 - $50,000/year-----496/501
$50,000 - $60,000/year-----505/509
$60,000 - $70,000/year-----511/516
$70,000 - $80,000/year-----517/524
$80,000 - $100,000/year----530/538
More than $100,000/year---555/568

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

This is what happens when the U.S. Sec. of Educ doesn't know anything about teaching, public schools, or education...

Comments in red are quoted (or paraphrased) from Susan Ohanian.


US schools chief says kids need more class time

By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press Writer

DENVER (AP) -- American school children need to be in school more -- way more -- if the nation is to compete with students abroad, the nation's top educator said Tuesday.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said American schools should be open six days a week, at least 11 months a year, to improve student performance.

"Go ahead and boo me," Duncan told about 400 middle and high school students at a public school in northeast Denver. "I fundamentally think that our school day is too short, our school week is too short and our school year is too short."

NOTE: Finnish children, who score at the top on international tests, remain in a true kindergarten situation, with play being the focus of their day, until age seven. Then, they don't have long school days. Many days end by one o'clock. School lessons are broken up by lengthy recess periods of play every hour. Finnish students take off ten weeks in the summer. According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Finnish pupils spend an OECD record low total of some 5,523 hours at their desks, compared to the average of 6,847 hours.

RESEARCH: Physical Activity May Strengthen Children's Ability to Pay Attention. Science Daily (April 1, 2009)

Alliance for Childhood. Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School (March 20, 2009)

"You're competing for jobs with kids from India and China," said Duncan.

India and China make no attempt to educate ALL their children. Duncan ignores the fact that many US jobs are disappearing, not because we haven't educated our youth for them but because corporate greed outsources them. IBM workers were told they could keep their jobs--if they moved to India and accepted Indian wages.

I think schools should be open six, seven days a week; eleven, twelve months a year," Duncan said.

U. S. workers are the most productive in the world--and work the longest hours. . . does the Obama administration wants to put children on this same frenetic pace?

Instead of boos, Duncan's remark got an unsurprising response from the teenage assembly -- bored stares. But the former Chicago schools superintendent went on to talk about school reforms he believes are coming from the Obama administration.

Duncan praised Denver schools for allowing schools to apply for almost complete autonomy -- which allows them to waive union contracts so teachers can stay for after-school tutoring or Saturday school.

Teaching is reduced to on-call script-reading, a test prep occupation for those willing to give up any semblance of professionalism. Of course, if you're reading scripts, you won't have to go home and prepare lessons.

Duncan also applauded Denver's pay-for-performace teacher pay system, a scheme that some Democrats and teachers' groups oppose. In visits to two schools Tuesday, Duncan quizzed school administrators about Denver's reforms, including the pay system, longer hours and waiving tenure rights for new hires.

Pay-for-performance relies on student scores on standardized tests.

None of the people promoting Pay-for-Performance has ever studied the actual items on standardized tests. . . or admitted that Pay-for-Performance promotes endless test prep for children in poverty. The very children who need a rich curriculum the most won't get it.

As George Madaus, Michael Russell, and Jennifer Higgins observe in The Paradoxes of High Stakes Testing, "As a nation, we spend more than $1 billion a year on federally mandated educational tests that 30 million students must take each year. The country spends an additional $1.2 billion on test preparation materials designed to help students pass these tests." Isn't it past time to hold the testing industry accountable for their product--instead of searching for ways to give these tests even greater importance over the lives of teachers and students?

"Talent matters tremendously. ... It's important that great teachers get paid more," Duncan said.

Who is going to define who's "great?" Testing manufacturer McGraw-Hill?

Duncan visited at the invitation of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who was Denver's schools superintendent from 2005 until his appointment to the Senate this year. The city's pay-for-performance plan was one of Bennet's chief accomplishments while in charge of the 75,000-student system.

The old saw used to be "Anybody who's been to public school feels qualified as an expert on how they should be run." Now such attendance isn't required. This fellow, a corporate turnaround expert, is the product of private schools all the way. Bennet was a featured speaker at the recent Al Sharpton/NY schools chancellor Joel Klein notorious National Action Network Convention.

A couple of years ago, Bennet's pay-for-performance plan received a $22 million boodle from the Bush's U.S. Department of Education, a funding grease-the-wheels package to increase test score hysteria, further encroaching on the professional integrity of educators.

Similarly, Duncan hasn't shied away from challenging Democratic positions on education since joining Obama's cabinet.

Last month, he said that poor children getting vouchers to attend private schools in the District of Columbia should be allowed to stay there, putting the Obama administration at odds with Democrats trying to end the program. Duncan talked up school choice during his Denver visit, though he didn't mention vouchers or elaborate whether he meant private schools, too.

Poor children don't need vouchers. They need a family with an adequate income. They need adequate food, housing and health care.

"I'm a big believer that students and parents should have a choice what school they want to go to," Duncan said.

Bennet, greeted by hugs from teachers lining the hallways of the two schools, sided with Duncan. Bennet told reporters he wanted to help steer any education reform proposals from the White House through the Senate.

"A change needs to come, especially in urban school districts, and it's not going to be easy," Bennet said.

He added, "I will do absolutely everything to get myself in the middle of that conversation."

Colorado, along with other states, is prepping to apply for some $5 billion worth of federal education grants coming through the economic stimulus package. Duncan said details of how that money will be awarded haven't been decided.

Already, the federal Department of Education has released $44 billion to the states for education. According to Colorado estimates, the state is due about $487 million for K-12 education. The principal at the high school Duncan visited announced to the students and teachers that the school has already received its portion, about $200,000.

"It's here!" principal Kristin Waters cried, to cheers from the staff.

Why is it that so few people are speaking out against Duncan and the Obama administration's continued assault on public education. Perhaps it's because, with all the money being poured into the U. S. Department of Education, people don't want to hurt their chances of getting their share.

— Kristen Wyatt
Associated Press

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Monday, April 6, 2009


Some answers to current questions in Education. I posted these in larger comments on the Americans United for Separation of Church and State blog.

Private schools vs Public schools
Public schools have to educate everyone. Private schools have the option of exiting students who are more expensive to teach. The fact that Public school students do as well as private school students with this extra burden says something about our public education system.

Competition as a way to "improve" schools
As someone said earlier, children are not shoes…business concepts do not necessarily work in education. Expecting “competition” between schools to increase achievement implies that somehow teachers, administrators and school boards are not “trying hard enough” to educate children. Spend a day at any public school in the country and you’ll see the vast majority of public school teachers busting their butts to get kids to learn.

Overidentification of Learning Disabilities
Too many kids are labeled learning disabled? Maybe if there was enough money to fund adequate staffing people wouldn’t resort to labels to “get more money.” The school I work in has one half time interventionist outside of the special education teachers - me. How can I help all the students who need help in a school of 500 on 4 hours a day. At best I see students twice a week for about a half hour. In a K-6 elementary school I focus on first and second grades since catching and helping kids early works better than “fixing” them later, but there’s not enough time…not enough help…

Minority students overidentified for Special Education
Too many minority children are labeled learning disabled. That’s absolutely true. One reason is that the level of poverty for minorities in this country is higher than for the majority. Poverty is a direct cause of “learning disabilities.” Poor pre-natal care…poor infant care…inadequate diets…literacy poor environments…all contribute to students beginning school at a disadvantage. “When people have said ‘poverty is no excuse,’ my response has been, ‘Yes, you’re right. Poverty is not an excuse. It’s a condition. It’s like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.’” - Gerald Bracey

National Standards...everyone on the same page at the same time
Every child is different…and not every child learns the same thing the same way and at the same speed.

Standardized tests
A child is more than a test score, and success in school should not be measured by test scores alone.

Impact of a teacher
A teacher can touch you in ways you can’t begin to imagine and many probably helped you in ways you did not even realize and don’t remember.

Bad teachers...good teachers
Not every teacher is best for every student. Even the best teacher will have students they cannot reach. Even the worst teacher can make a difference in the life of a child.

Everyone's an expert in education
Most adults remember their school years through the eyes and memory of a child. As a parent, do you think your child understands the reason for everything you do? Do you think your child can see the logic behind all your actions? An adult’s memories of their school years are colored by their childhood.

No Child Left Behind
When Congress passes No Child Left Unfed, No Child Without Health Care and No Child Left Homeless, then we can talk seriously about No Child Left Behind.

No Child Left Behind is leaving thousands of children behind!
Dismantle NCLB!
Sign the petition by clicking HERE.
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