"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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Medley #21

Reign of Error, Educational Professionals, Research on -- Poverty, Closed Captioning, Dyslexia, Aging Teachers, Bedtimes and Behaviors.


This Is Only a Test: ‘Reign of Error’

Diane Ravitch's new book is reviewed by Jonathan Kozol.

Public education is in a crisis only so far as society is. There are no failing schools...only a failing society which has selfishly allowed neighborhoods, communities and the public schools meant to serve them, to languish in poverty and inept governance.
If we are to cast about for international comparisons, Ravitch urges us — this is not a new suggestion but is, I think, a useful one — to take a good, hard look at Finland, which operates one of the most successful education systems in the world. Teachers there, after competing for admission to schools of education and then receiving a superb course of instruction, are “held in high regard” and “exercise broad autonomy.” They are not judged by students’ test scores, because “there are no scores.” The country has no charter schools and no “Teach for Finland.” But, as Ravitch reminds us, there is one other, crucial difference: “Less than 5 percent of children in Finland are growing up in poverty.” In the United States, 23 percent do.

Again and again, she returns to this: “Our urban schools are in trouble because of concentrated poverty and racial segregation,” which make for a “toxic mix.” Public schooling in itself, she emphasizes, is “in a crisis only so far as society is and only so far as this new narrative of crisis has destabilized it.” [emphasis added]


One NC husband who’s happy his overburdened wife is leaving teaching

There's an epidemic. Good teachers are leaving public schools because of the forces of privatization. Is that, perhaps what the reformers want?

Is there a public school in America which doesn't have teachers crying at the end of the day? Has any other country ever badgered and belittled their teachers into giving up like we have? Teachers are disillusioned, demoralized and dispirited.
After nearly seven years of her passion for teaching turning to dread, she is free to live her life unburdened by the oppressive hands of incompetent legislators and school board members who wish to micromanage education without actually getting involved with the people in it.

As each passing year of new policies and tests fails to deliver the results they desire, rather than reform their thinking, these officials create new policies and new tests and pile them on top of the old ones. They, with the raising of a hand and a stroke of a signature, applaud themselves for their feigned ingenuity without thought or regard for those who will have to bear the burden of it.
More stories of teachers who are quitting:

A Teacher explains why she gave up a career she loved
Why Teachers are Quitting
Why Teachers Quit
Challenges in St. Louis Schools have some teachers quitting
And I walk away, or How I Finally Decided to Quit Teaching
Tag Archives: Quitting Teaching
Excellent teacher's quitting leaves readers dismayed
I'm Quitting Teaching: The Impossible Demands of an Unforgiving profession
Nearly 30% more HISD teachers quitting this year
Global Teacher Status Index


States don't want to pay teachers for earning masters' degrees

When people like Arne Duncan who has no education credentials qualifying him for his jobs in education (CEO of Chicago Public Schools and US Secretary of Education) are given positions of authority in the field, it's clear that credentials -- and actual education -- mean nothing to "reformers." As more and more politicians, pundits, policy makers, billionaires, former TFA novice teachers and tv talking heads declare themselves to be experts in education, real educators' voices become swallowed up by the cacophony of ignorance spewing from the nation's media and corporate board rooms.

The education experts in Indiana -- florists and attorneys, auctioneers and politicians -- have arranged things so that you can get a temporary teachers license with a masters degree in anything. After five years you need to have "some training" to keep teaching. However, with the new rules, you could become a principal after only 2 years.

Lawmakers who have no educational experience are saying that further education isn't necessary to improve education in America...apparently unaware of the irony of their position.
Lawmakers in North Carolina, led by Republican legislators, voted in July to get rid of the automatic pay increase for master’s degrees. Tennessee adopted a policy this summer that mandates districts adopt salary scales that put less emphasis on advanced degrees and more on factors such as teacher performance. And Newark, N.J., recently decided to pay teachers for master’s degrees only if they are linked to the district’s new math and reading standards.

The moves come a few years after Florida, Indiana and Louisiana adopted policies that require districts to put more weight on teacher performance and less on diplomas.


Here are some articles of interest for teachers...

Brain Differences

EEGs show brain differences between poor and rich kids

Living in poverty does make a difference. Krashen has been talking about kids in poverty for years. Does it even matter to Americans that nearly 1/4 of our children are being shortchanged? Have we become so selfish that we don't care that 1/4 of our children live in poverty?

I got an email from a friend with a link to an anti-Obama video. One of the main themes was how American exceptionality and individualism made this country so wonderful. Well, it's not so wonderful for about a quarter of our children. Maybe it's time to move from the myth of American exceptionality and individuality to "We're all in this together."

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin.
"This is a wake-up call," Knight said. "It's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status: fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums."

Kishiyama, Knight and Boyce suspect that the brain differences can be eliminated by proper training. They are collaborating with UC Berkeley neuroscientists who use games to improve the prefrontal cortex function, and thus the reasoning ability, of school-age children.

"It's not a life sentence," Knight emphasized. "We think that with proper intervention and training, you could get improvement in both behavioral and physiological indices."

Closed Captions for Comprehension

Video Captions Improve Comprehension

Here's a simple trick that teachers and parents can use daily. Turn on the captioning when available.
"Not only were students talking about how much having the captions helped them as they took notes, their test scores went up," Collins said. "During the baseline year, there were a lot of Cs. In the second years, they went from Cs, Ds and Fs to As, Bs and Cs. It was really significant improvement."

That improvement didn't just manifest itself in grades. Class discussions also became livelier and more detailed, with students recalling specific information shown in the videos such as names of people and places.

"We're living in an age where our students are so distracted by technology that they sometimes forget where they should focus their attention when engaged with technology or media," he said. "Turning on captions seems to enable students to focus on specific information."

As Teachers Age...

Teachers More Likely to Have Progressive Speech, Language Disorders

This needs more study. Why do people who spend their lives using words to explain things lose their words as they age?
"Teachers are in daily communication," says Dr. Josephs. "It's a demanding occupation, and teachers may be more sensitive to the development of speech and language impairments."

e-Readers can help dyslexics

E-Readers Can Make Reading Easier for Those With Dyslexia

Don't buy iPads for everyone without exploring the need or the cost, but when an ereader is useful as a tool, it's worth investing in.

Is it the size of the text? the length of the sentences? or just the flexibility to make the text larger or smaller as needed? Maybe it's the backlit screen...or the ability to adjust the brightness.

Whatever the reason, it's possible that further study will result in the technology which will make my job (my volunteer job, now) as a reading specialist obsolete.
The team discovered that when e-readers are set up to display only a few words per line, some people with dyslexia can read more easily, quickly and with greater comprehension.

Time for Bed

Irregular Bedtimes Tied to Kids’ Behavioral Problems

Just in time for parent teacher conferences. This might be a good article to place on the table outside your classroom door as parents are sitting waiting for their conferences.
The study found a statistically significant link between bedtimes and behavior, according to the researchers.

Irregular bedtimes affected children’s behavior by disrupting circadian rhythms, leading to sleep deprivation that affects the developing brain, the scientists said.

As children progressed through early childhood without a regular bedtime, their behavioral scores — which included hyperactivity, conduct problems, problems with peers and emotional difficulties — worsened.

However, children who switched to a more regular bedtime showed clear improvements in their behavior.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.


Stop the Testing Insanity!


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