"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

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Toxic Culture of Education -- Joshua Katz

The status quo of public education in the U.S. is based on the NCLB system of Test and Punish and the Race to the Top system of Denial, Neglect and Blame.

Joshua Katz, a high school math teacher in Orange County, Florida calls this...

The Toxic Culture of Education.


Minute 4:00
We somehow took the education system that produced the individuals who put a man on the moon with technology less powerful than the phone in my pocket and characterized that education system as a failure using the word "accountability."

Minute 4:20
...a 1983 publication called A Nation at Risk showed standardized tests "proved" schools were failing, teachers were failing, students were failing, and when everything is failing guess what we need...
new textbooks, new workbooks, new resources, new training, accountability systems, new schools, private schools, charter schools
...and who is it that creates all of these things that all the sudden we need? Our supervillian -- private education companies.

The only way to feed a business model in this toxic culture of education is to perpetuate a picture of failure.

Minute 7:35
...because we have a toxic culture of education the teachers and the schools have accepted this accountability for all students...

We take the blame for a student who can't focus in class because she hasn't eaten since yesterday's lunch.

We take the blame for a student who's always in trouble in school because he doesn't know the difference between right and wrong.

We take the blame for a student who can't stay awake in class because she spends her nights on a different couch depending on which friend takes her in.

Minute 10:30
I met with our district and I pitched the idea to bring back home economics but this time as a math course. First words in the response..."That's. Not. Rigorous."

So forget teaching students about measurement, taxes, discounts, loans, credit, debt, retirement planning, because it's not as rigorous as factoring trinomials and graphing logarithmic functions so it can't fit. There's no room for that in this toxic culture of education.

Minute 14:10
The public narrative on teachers thanks to education reformers like Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates is that our public schools are teeming with horrible teachers.

The reality is that most teachers are accomplishing amazing feats of achievement and motivation with their students every day and what they're able to accomplish is being done despite a "professional environment" of questioning belittling and self-doubt due to accountability measures and evaluation systems we had no stake in even creating.

...The truth of education policy is that it is written and enforced by people who have spent either little or no time in the classroom with the students these very policies are affecting.

Minute 15:30
Education is the only industry -- and it's a $750 Billion industry -- that is developing a product without any valid market research from its end users.

Students aren't asked what they want or need. The teachers in the schools aren't asked what would work for their students. The public narrative has to be shifted. The schools and the teachers are not the enemy.

It is the private corporations like Pearson that pay the lobbying groups like ALEC to write these policies and laws that get passed over steak dinners and campaign contributions because of words like "rigor" and "accountability" to perpetuate a bottom line on the heads of our public school children.

Simply follow the money.

From the Youtube site:
Published on May 2, 2014
Joshua Katz is a high school math teacher in Orange County, FL.

Joshua's Talk:
In the mid 1800's, Horace Mann captured the potential impact of education on society. We have yet to realize the potential he saw, and in fact, we are missing the mark by a wider and wider margin. We have created a "Toxic Culture of Education" in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools. We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students. The impact is being felt in communities, on college campuses, and in our economy. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask "Why Not"?


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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