"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, April 27, 2020

School in the time of Coronavirus #3 - Some Questions

Sadly, this post consists mostly of questions.

What is the impact that the pandemic-induced closure of America's public schools has had and will have on our children? How are families coping with teaching and learning at home? How are teachers coping with learning the new skills needed to reach their students?

How will public education cope with the economic loss that is sure to come from the coronavirus pandemic? Where does the education of children rank as a priority for state and federal policymakers? Whose voice will be raised in support of public schools?

What will public education look like post-pandemic? Will public education continue to exist? Will states have enough money to fully fund public schools.

Indiana funds three different school systems -- public schools, privately run charter schools, and private/parochial schools. How will we have enough money to pay for even one of these three publicly funded school systems? Who will be shortchanged?


Teachers, parents, and students have had to adjust to a new model of school. For those with internet access online school has become the norm with daily lessons, group video chats, and independent study. Parents are learning what it means to be a first-year teacher. Young children are losing out on important social/emotional learning. Older students must work through the loss of contact with friends, lost social events, and the lack of extra-curricular activities. Teachers are struggling to reach all their students, including those with no access to online resources. The public is beginning to understand the importance of a public school system that provides education for everyone, food for those in need, and intense services for students with special needs.

Parents and teachers are worried about the progress that students will make. The importance of classroom experiences is now understood by parents and the general public.

Does this mean that the media will stop bashing teachers?

Opting-Out of Remote Schooling and Opting-In to Play is an Option All Parents Can Choose

Should parents of young children opt-out of online learning? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests screen time limits for children. Pasi Sahlberg and William Boyle's recent book, Let the Children Play, shows us that play is important for young children.

How do parents balance the need for play and the worry that their child will fall behind in academics?
What about the loss of learning? How will they get promoted to the next grade? Won’t they get left behind? These are just some of the questions I hear when I advocate for parents opting out of remote schooling, and I understand that many parents are not sure this is the right decision. Honestly, there is no easy answer because a lot depends on whether your state plans to reopen schools this year and how they will proceed with reopening schools next year. But what we need to remember is that a temporary break in schooling is not the end of the world. Students who had their schooling interrupted during hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, recovered just fine. And given the multitude of inequities inherent in the push to remote instruction, schools will likely not be able to determine grade promotion based on what students are expected to do during this time. Many districts are exempting remote work from counting towards final grades or only expecting teachers to spend this time reviewing previous material. If we can cancel standardized testing across the country, we can get our students back in school in the next grade without expecting them to spend hours each day engaging in remote instruction.

Here are some questions I think you should ask when deciding if opting out of remote schooling is right for you:

• Is remote schooling causing additional stress on your child and your family?
• Is your child expected to be on a computer for two or more hours a day?
• Are you unable to stay on top of your work from home responsibilities and facilitate remote schooling?
• Does remote schooling bring your child and your family joy?


When we, as a nation, "rethink" education, whose ideas will take precedence? Will teachers have a voice? Will money continue to rule? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is already pushing her privatization agenda...with no proof that privatization improves educational outcomes.

With COVID-19 as an ongoing threat, we'll need to continue social distancing necessitating smaller classes. Where will the money come from to hire more teachers? or will we adjust the calendar instead? Some have suggested alternating weeks for students so a teacher can teach two small groups instead of one large group. Others have opted for alternating days. How will teachers enforce social distancing with four-, five-, and six-year-olds?

Where will we find the funds to do what's best for our students if (when?) the nation's (and world's) economy slips into recession or depression?

How a Trump administration official is quietly exploiting the pandemic to advance her family business — and right-wing agenda

Betsy DeVos's disdain for public schools is well known. She has no experience with "the others" who attend public school. Instead, she's spent her adult life advocating for privatization while buying influence in the form of campaign donations. Her goal is to privatize public education as a way to bring "God's Kingdom" to Earth. The disaster of a pandemic is her excuse to see her dream come to life. (See The Shock Doctrine). Disaster capitalism has energized her. It's up to us to stop her.
Charter operators rolled out new marketing campaigns to lure families to enroll in their schools. And in national and local news outlets, advocates for charters, vouchers, and other forms of “school choice” helped forge a new media narrative about how the shuttering of the nation’s schools was an opportunity for parents and their children to leave public schools...

“This is an opportunity,” said DeVos in an interview with right-wing radio talk show host Glenn Beck, “to collectively look very seriously at the fact that K-12 education for too long has been very static and very stuck in one method of delivering and making instruction available.”

8 Ways to Save Public School Funding During and After Covid-19

Where will we get the money to lower class sizes and fund our public schools? Nancy Bailey suggests eight different things we can do to reclaim public funds for public education. The top three on my list are the same as hers -- end the funding of charter schools, vouchers, and high stakes testing.
1. End Charter Schools
Why do we have two separate school systems that work against each other? This is the time to rethink charter schools. In “Federal Charter Schools Program a Fountain of Corruption and Disruption,” Thomas Ultican provides compelling reasons why charters have seen their day...

2. End Educational Scholarship Programs
It’s common knowledge that students who attend voucher schools don’t do as well as students in public school. Like charters, voucher schools are largely unaccountable to the public...

3. End High-Stakes Testing...

4. End Common Core State Standards...

9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen

Here come the predictions for "tomorrow's schools."
...there are still many more unknowns than guarantees. Among the biggest, says Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, is this: "Is it safe and healthy for my kids to pack them into that classroom?"...

Based on the typical size of a classroom in New York City, 12 would be the most children you could accommodate while maintaining social distancing, says the UFT's Mulgrew. At the International School in Denmark, they are grouping kids in classes of 10...

Every expert NPR spoke with predicted that the need for remote learning would continue because of staggered schedules, schools prepared to close again for future waves of infection, and many students needing remediation. And that means training and support for teachers, and equipment for children.

Eskelsen Garcia of the NEA says the equity issue is acute: "What we've been telling [political leaders] for years is the digital divide is hurting children.


Everyone has been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The damage has been physical...and emotional...and psychological. Our lives will likely never go back to what they were like before COVID-19. Like the years following the 1918 influenza pandemic, things will, hopefully, get better, but the impact will follow us until later generations have overcome the damage. Humans are adaptable. Whether we adapt to this new world is yet to be determined.

Children have had to adjust to being without their extended families, friends, and teachers. Worse, some have lost family members, friends, or teachers to COVID-19. How do children adjust to the death of their teachers? their friends? their family members?

In the meantime, curricular learning time has been lost, though a different kind of learning continues.

What's more important, learning what is in the established curriculum, or learning how to survive a pandemic?

Every Child Left Behind
For all the good—and real—conversations about how invaluable school is in our national social and economic organization, there has been no solid, easily adopted plan for re-starting public education. We may end up with something that looks quite different at first, and we may morph—for much better or far worse—into a completely altered conception of how ‘school’ works.

Here’s an example: A friend posted the suggestion that students return to school in the classroom they were in when formal school ended, in March. That would, she argued, preserve teacher knowledge about students’ strengths and weaknesses and allow the most tailored, individualized instruction.

Immediately, her elementary-school colleagues started raising ‘buts’—but who will teach the new kindergartners? But what will the 7th grade receiving teachers do—will middle school also have to stay at the same level with the same teachers? But what about seniors? But I don’t want to teach the next-grade curriculum!

All of these arguments are based on the idea that all important knowledge and skills can be divided into thirteen neat slices and all students should encounter, engage with and even master these slices, in order, based on their age, before they can successfully navigate to the next grade or higher education or the world of work.

Which is ludicrous. Everyone—and especially teachers—knows this is absurd.

Grieving At Home, Kids Face Their Teachers’ Deaths

How do students handle the loss of a teacher or a friend? Can parents alone provide the support students need?
When teachers and school staff members die, they leave behind friends, family, colleagues. They also leave behind hundreds of children and teenagers whom they see nearly everyday. With widespread school closures, children have been left to grieve in isolation, sometimes experiencing the tragedy of death for the first time.

Schools have been offering counseling and holding online vigils. But without face-to-face interaction, it’s hard to know which students are struggling.

“We worry constantly that a student is going to be in need and we wouldn’t know it,” said Todd Minichello, the school counseling coordinator for Rockwood School District in Missouri. The district recently lost guidance counselor Sandy Kearney, who worked in its schools for over 30 years.

The current crisis has only further illuminated the role that schools play in neighborhoods: They feed hungry children, they provide medical and mental health care. Vigilant educators and staff members make sure that children are clean, clothed and safe. Schools are mini-universes, with classrooms providing the structure of artificial families. 

Teachers, parents and principals tell their stories about remote learning
Jeff Palladino is the principal of Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, located in the most impoverished congressional district in the United States. Sixty percent of Fannie Lou Hamer students are Latino, and 39 percent are black. Their parents are either workers declared essential or suffering from the worry of being laid off.

The Bronx community that the high school serves has been devastated by covid-19. “Since this began, our students are losing family members," he said. "We lose two or three each week. We have lost an alumna. One of our students passed away, although we are not certain if the cause was covid-19. It is so hard because you cannot physically be there for them.”

Palladino told me about a student whom they could not contact for two weeks. Both parents had the virus, and she was caring not only for them but for the rest of the family as well. Everyone was relieved when they got the message that she was okay and catching up on her work.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

School in the time of Coronavirus #2 - EdTech Wants Your School

EdTech Positions Itself for Boom Times

The Ed-tech industry is jumping into the gap left by closed schools during the coronavirus crisis. Many companies are offering temporary free options for students to use while their schools are closed. We can give them credit for offering a service for free during a crisis, but cynicism from past experience forces me to question whether it's being done based on altruism or whether they are using the crisis to "hook" consumers on their products.

We in Indiana are well acquainted with the failure of virtual charter schools. I understand that everyone is forced into virtual schools right now -- everyone except those who have little or no access to the internet -- but the forced virtual schooling has only reinforced the importance of face to face relationships between teacher and student.

1: Teacher-student eye contact is important. "Eye contact makes so much difference: if students feel that the teacher is actually talking and engaging with them, they are more likely to engage with the teacher and listen to what they’re saying."

2: Working at home has too many distractions. It's hard enough for adults to transition to a work-from-home situation, yet we're expecting our students to be able to change from the interaction of a live classroom to a disconnected digital environment. "...actually productively working from home can be challenging for some professionals."

3: Students benefit from live, small-group work. "Learning in small-group contexts enhances students' overall learning experiences in several ways. For example, it can...address gaps in students' knowledge...provide opportunities for students to receive feedback on their learning...help students develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, interpersonal relations, teamwork, team leadership, and lifelong learning skills..."

Oh, and if you haven't read The Shock Doctrine or other books by Naomi Klein, then this is the time to look them up. [Check out Hoopla or Libby. Most public libraries allow you to check out ebooks or audiobooks using one or both of those apps. Hoopla works as a phone/tablet app or online using your computer. Libby is a phone/tablet app only.]

Here's a look at how the EdTech sector is positioning itself to "reimagine" education...

Ed-tech Startups and Investors Shift Into Overdrive Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Like drug dealers..."Here's a free sample. Once you're hooked we'll sell you more..."

March 19, 2020
Many educational technology startups have shifted into overdrive, providing services free of charge, both out of moral concern and in hopes of enlisting future paying customers. Several startups have even raised funding amid the crisis.

The First Taste is Free: Ed Tech Follows Drug Dealer Sales Techniques with Schools During Coronavirus Crisis

Steven Singer who blogs at Gadfly on the Wall makes the analogy to drug dealers clearer..

April 4, 2020
How much does it cost?”

Teachers, parents, students and education activists are wary of educational technologies in the classroom, and research backs them up. Ed-tech has been shown to widen socioeconomic divides, it hasn’t lived up to its promise of increasing academic gains, and – perhaps most tellingly – Silicon Valley executives restrict their own children’s use of technology and send them to tech-free schools.

“Nothing. It’s free.”

These for-profit corporations are offering limited time promotions – they’re providing additional services for free that would normally be behind a paywall.

“Oh goodie!”

Districts are jumping at the chance. They’re encouraging teachers to use apps, services and software that have never been tried before locally in an attempt to abide by continuity of education guidelines written by departments of education.

“That’s right. Absolutely free. But if you want some more, next time I’ll have to charge you a little something…”

So when the pandemic is over and classes eventually are reopened, a great deal of the technology that schools used to get through the crisis will no longer be on the house.

The Ed Tech Vultures Circle

Peter Greene who blogs at both Curmudgucation and Forbes, includes a link to an older article for the business community about the benefits of face to face business meetings as opposed to online.

March 23, 2020
My email is filing up with pitches from more companies than I've ever heard of, all variations on "Your readers (aka our prospective customers) would love to hear about our cool product that is just the thing for dealing with the current pandemic crisis." While I am sure that some companies sincerely believe they have help they can offer at this time, I am equally sure that those companies are not trying to wring a bunch of client-building PR out of it. I'm seeing these pitches because I'm an education blogger at Forbes.com--if these things are coming to me, then the big-time education journalists must be drowning in the stuff...

As school closures drag on, there are two schools of thought on the ed-tech incursion. The ed-tech vultures of Coronavirus Katrina are sure that once pushed into using the products, teachers, parents and students will fall in love and never want to go back. Others suspect that once forced to deal with this stuff, students, teachers and parents will rediscover everything there is to love about traditional live-action 3D education.

Not to say that some of these tools may well turn out to be useful in the weeks ahead. Time will tell. In the meantime, the ed-tech vultures are circling, hoping that the current crisis will provide them with a bounteous feast.

How The Ed-Tech Industry is Trying to Profit From COVID-19

March 23, 2020
Want to cut costs? Put one teacher—or an assistant—in charge of fifty or so students, seated in front of their own screens, moving through pre-packaged curriculum one personalized step at a time.

Better yet, just keep kids at home. Let them attend virtual schools or plow through lessons without a teacher on hand.

For ed-tech’s innovators, COVID-19 is an opportunity to experiment with tech-driven, less labor-intensive schooling options. But, as Watters points out, education is much more than the simple delivery of instruction or the mastery of certain skills.

Instead, schools serve as community hubs and nutrition centers, as well as safe spaces for students and families left reeling by inequality, housing instability, and the general insecurity that many live with today.

Like Vultures, They’re Still Planning to End Public Schools and a Professional Teaching Workforce!

It's not just EdTech, either. There are those who have spent years and careers trying to bring an end to the public schools -- Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jeb Bush, Betsy DeVos. They're looking at this pandemic as an opportunity. This is a must-read by Nancy Bailey!

April 11, 2020
There’s a movement underfoot to end the way children learn. Look carefully at who says “we need to reimagine” or “this is the time to reassess” schools. These can be signals from those who’ve led the charge to dismantle public schools for years. Like vultures, they’re scheming how to use this pandemic to put the final stamp of success on their privatization agenda...

No one denies the importance of technology, but all-technology and a loss of public schools, will omit the rich learning experiences that all children deserve. No proof can be found that all online instruction works. It will leave children and the nation at risk.

While it’s understandable that public schools will face hurdles when they return, we must ensure that a democratic public education will continue to serve the children for which it was originally designed. That funding will address learning driven by professional teachers and not be for those who seek to cash in on our students.


Monday, April 20, 2020

School in the time of Coronavirus #1 - The digital divide

The Digital Divide

Millions of American school children are at home, their school year abruptly ended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools and teachers have been offering pickup meals and online education activities. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has a page with educator and parent online resources for continuing students' education during the time schools are closed.

But what about students who have no internet access? The IDOE resource page includes links to free or reduced access opportunities, but one needs access to learn about those opportunities. Some of those opportunities may not be available in all rural areas. The only access for some families is a cell phone. And some parents won't avail themselves of the opportunities even if they are aware of them.

The chronological list of articles and blog posts below highlights the fact that under the extraordinary circumstances we now find ourselves, some students will be left behind.
We can’t (and in a free society, probably shouldn’t) try to reduce the resources that advantaged parents can give children...

But we can increase resources for other children to provide more equity...

What the coronavirus reveals about the digital divide between schools and communities

March 17, 2020

Students living in poverty and students with special needs are the ones who have lost their access to education now that schools are closed. Do we ignore them and just focus on the students who are able -- economically and physically -- to access and benefit from the online resources offered? Do we ignore the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) because it's too expensive to try to educate students with special needs during a pandemic?

If you're reading this, you have internet access. If you have children, your children have likely been able to benefit from the ability to connect to the internet and continue their learning opportunities. Unfortunately, in the economically divided America in which we live in, not all children are so lucky.
...With a disproportionate number of school-age children lacking home broadband access, the breadth of the U.S. digital divide has been revealed as schools struggle to substitute in-school resources with online instruction, electronic libraries, streaming videos, and other online tutorials.

Every U.S. student could eventually be impacted by extended school closures. New York City, whose public-school system serves more than 1.1 million students, has announced the closure of its 1,800 schools. These mounting circumstances have administrators scrambling to migrate courses online and create some level of accountability between students and teachers. However, the U.S. digital divide makes any effort fallible for certain individuals, households, and communities that are not sufficiently connected.

Broadband availability has been at the heart of the digital divide with an estimated 21.3 million people lacking access in 2019, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Virtual Learning Through Quarantine Will Leave Poor and Disabled Students Behind

March 25, 2020

Education Secretary DeVos has the right, under the $2 trillion coronavirus bill, to seek waivers to parts of the law guaranteeing an education to students with disabilities. Will she discuss this beforehand with parents and teachers of special needs students? If she can't think of ways to teach students with special needs during a pandemic does that mean that there are none? Let's hope that she checks with people who actually know something about education before she sets this dangerous precedent.
The U.S. Senate’s proposed coronavirus aid package includes a provision to waive existing federal law that requires all schools to provide services to special education students. Removing this specification would allow districts to move forward with virtual learning without having to worry about meeting the needs of their special education students.

Advocates worry that even a temporary suspension of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) could have devastating long term effects on students with disabilities and ultimately remove the requirement upheld for the last 45 years that they receive a free public education...

This is tantamount to prioritizing the education of some students over others. In short, if we follow DeVos’ guidelines, we will be saying that regular education students are more important than students with special needs.

It is a dangerous precedent.

Pandemic response lays bare America's digital divide

March 21, 2020

The inequity in our nation should shame us.
While the internet provides opportunity for many to live with some modicum of normalcy amid the outbreak, millions of Americans do not have reliable access to the web. Also many industries ranging from auto-manufacturing to hospitality cannot be conducted online. Because of this stark digital divide, many are at risk of educational lapses, profound social isolation or unemployment, advocates warn.

According to the Pew Research Center, 29% of adults with household incomes less than $30,000 a year don’t own a smartphone, while 44% don’t have home broadband and 46% lack a “traditional” computer either. Pew also noted that 35% of lower-income households with school-age children don’t have a home-based broadband internet connection.
How covid-19 has laid bare the vast inequities in U.S. public education

April 14, 2020
For two decades, we have been trashing schools and blaming teachers. It is easy to assume responsibility rests with them. But the achievement gap is a product of our unequal society — the reflection of an education debt that has never been settled. It is not something schools alone will fix; and as they remain shuttered, that fact will become painfully clear.

Perhaps the present crisis, then, will prompt some deeper reflection about why students succeed. And perhaps we will awaken to the collective obligations we have for so long failed to fulfill.

Schools will eventually reopen. When they do, we should return with eyes unclouded. Rather than finding fault with our schools and the educators who bring them to life, we might begin to wrestle with what it would take for all students to enter on equal footing. Until then, even an equal education will not produce equal outcomes.
Why covid-19 will ‘explode’ existing academic achievement gaps

April 17, 2020
With schools shut, white-collar professionals with college degrees operate home-schools, sometimes with superior curricular enhancements...

Meanwhile, many parents with less education have jobs that even during the coronavirus crisis cannot be performed at home — supermarket clerks, warehouse workers, delivery truck drivers...

...too many students in low-income and rural communities don’t have Internet access: 35 percent of low-income households with school-aged children don’t have high-speed Internet; for moderate-income families it is 17 percent, and only 6 percent for middle-class and affluent families...

We can’t (and in a free society, probably shouldn’t) try to reduce the resources that advantaged parents can give children...

But we can increase resources for other children to provide more equity...


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Listen to this - 2020 #1 - Wearing a Mask Edition

Meaningful quotes...


Schools have closed for the coronavirus pandemic and most will likely not open again this school year. Many school systems have gone to online learning, but because a significant percentage of students have little or no access to the internet, some students are not being served.

How can schools best serve all students (including students with special learning or physical needs) and what happens next year when some students have had the benefit of online learning experiences and others have not? Do we test all the kids to see where they are? Do we retain kids? (answer: NO!) The coronavirus pandemic, like other disasters and disruptions, hurt most, the kids who need school the most and have the least.

From Steven Singer
in Virtual Learning Through Quarantine Will Leave Poor and Disabled Students Behind
This just underlines the importance of legislation. Special education students have IDEA. Poor students have nothing. There is no right to education for them at all.

From Steve Hinnefeld and Pedro Noguera
in Time for ‘educational recovery planning’
...the massive and sudden shift to online learning is exposing huge gaps in opportunity. Some communities lack reliable internet service. Many families are on the wrong side of the digital divide. As Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said, a parent and three school-age children may share a single device, often a smartphone.

“The kids who have the least are getting the least now,” UCLA education professor Pedro Noguera told Hechinger Report. “They will, in fact, be behind the kids who are learning still.”

From Peter Greene
in Should We Just Hold Students Back Next Year?

Retention in grade doesn't help -- even in the face of nation-wide disruption.
...We have been suffering for years now under the notion that kindergarten should be the new first grade; next fall, we could give students room to breathe by making first grade the new first grade. In other words, instead of moving the students back a grade to fit the structure of the school, we could shift the structure of the school to meet the actual needs of the students.

From Nancy Flanagan
in If Technology Can’t Save Us, What Will?

Most important of all...kids need their teachers. They need human interaction which improves learning -- and positive teacher/student relationships, even more. See also A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, below.
It turns out that technology cannot, will not replace the human touch, when it comes to learning that is worthwhile and sticks in our students’ brains and hearts. We already knew that, of course. But it’s gratifying to know that school—bricks and mortar, white paste and whiteboards, textbooks and senior proms—is deeply missed.

Public education is part of who we are, as a representative democracy. We’ve never gotten it right—we’ve let down millions of kids over the past century or two and done lots of flailing. There are curriculum wars that never end and bitter battles over equity, the teacher pipeline and funding streams.

But still. We need school.


From Rob Boston
in The Religious Right’s Disdain For Science Is Exactly What We Don’t Need Right Now

Science is a process, not an outcome. We must improve our science education so students understand science. We ignore science at our peril.
The rejection of science and refusal to see facts as the non-partisan things that they are have consequences, as Jerry Falwell Jr. – and his students at Liberty University in Virginia – are painfully learning. Put simply, viruses don’t care whether you believe in them or not. They will wreak their havoc either way. 


From Diane Ravitch
in Noted education scholar says parents now more aware of vital role of schools, by Maureen Downey.

The profit motive won't create better tests. Teachers who know their students will.
If federal and state leaders gave any thought to change, they would drop the federal mandate for annual testing because it is useless and pointless. Students should be tested by their teachers, who know what they taught. If we can’t trust teachers to know their students, why should we trust distant corporations whose sole motive is profit and whose products undermine the joy of teaching and learning?


From Jitu Brown, National Director for the Journey for Justice Alliance
in One Question: What Policy Change Would Have the Biggest Impact on Alleviating Poverty?

The fact that poor children are suffering more during the current world crisis than wealthy students should not be surprising. We have always neglected our poor children.
According to the United Nations, America ranks twenty-first in education globally among high-income nations. When you remove poverty, the United States is number two. This tells me that America knows how to educate children, but refuses to educate the poor, the black, brown, and Native American.


From Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO of NAEYC,
in Making Connections. There’s No Such Thing as Online Preschool
Using public dollars intended for early childhood education to give children access to a 15-minute-per-day online program does not expand access to preschool. It doesn’t address the crisis in the supply of quality, affordable child care. It doesn’t help parents participate in the workforce. And it doesn’t help families choose an “alternative” option for or version of pre-K because it is something else entirely. To what extent we want to encourage parents to access online literacy and math curricula to help their 3- and 4-year-olds prepare for school is a conversation for another column. In this one, the only question is whether these technology-based programs can be “preschool”—and the answer is no.


From P.L. Thomas
in Misreading the Reading Wars Again (and Again)

Proponents of whole language and balanced literacy have never said that phonics wasn't important. What they do say, however, is that other things are important, too.
Test reading is reductive (and lends itself to direct phonics instruction, hint-hint), but it is a pale measure of deep and authentic reading, much less any student’s eagerness to read.

Because of the accountability movement, then, and because of high-pressure textbook reading programs, we have for decades ignored a simple fact of research: the strongest indicator of reading growth in students is access to books in the home (not phonics programs).


From Russ Walsh
in Hula Dancing, Singing and a Teacher's Impact

Over the years I've had several former students relate to me what they remembered from my class. I had a student tell me how important an art project was as a connection to his father. Another student thanked me for helping her during a difficult time in her family. A student who grew up to be a teacher and taught in my district told me that she was reading the same book to her students that I read to her class. Many students, in fact, talked about my reading aloud to them as the most important thing they remember. And a student remembered how I had trusted her to clean off the top of my desk every day after school.

I never had a student come to me and thank me for teaching them how to multiply...or spell "terrible"...or take a standardized test...or count syllables in a word. I take that as a compliment.
The messages we send to kids last a lifetime and they are not often about the times table or coordinating conjunctions or how many planets are in the skies. It is the personal messages and connections that are remembered. It is the belief a teacher instills that we can do that resonates through the years. It is that one book that made a special impression that we remember. That is a lesson we all must take into every interaction we have with a child.


From John Prine
in Hello in There

Thanks, and good night, JP.
So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello."