Reformers tell us the mead hall of education is under attack. It is by a monster they say; one of low expectations… They stress: if we only think a child will get a D, he gets a D… If we think that same child will get an A, he gets an A. If we think that child will get an A to the third power, he gets and A3 (to the third power).
Something like that… This appeals to rich white folk because, well yes, if all factors are the same, a child’s brain we know is rather equal at birth, so yes… that child who is trained well will do better than a child left on his own to do whatever he wants..
Common Sense. If you want a world class gymnast, you need a world class coach… Apply rigor. Now.
But if that child has one leg, can Bela Karolyi (the coach of Mary Lou Retton and Nadia) through skill and discipline provide them a spot on the team? What if they have only part of a leg, maybe from the ankle up? What if they have a good leg, but a trick knee? What if they have a good leg, but leaky valves in the exterior veins? Will they still through hard work, rigor, and brutal practice be able to beat out all others better suited, and sit on a nation’s Olympic Team?
Embedded in the educational reformer’s claim is the strange belief that poverty, hunger, homelessness, racism, and other social maladies have no effect on students’ ability to learn in school…..
It doesn’t matter they say; buy our program and put your child on the conveyor belt, and wait 12 years… Trust us.
Well, maybe the blood leaking out from the third box in line might give us a clue as to what exactly is going on. We are being asked to commit too soon; there is no output coming out at the end to judge either failure or success… We have to look for clues along the way to determine if we want this for our child or not.
Is the monster raging though our mead halls, significant to risk putting our children into the machine?… As a parent, were a scary monster about to devour me while holding my child, I’d certainly hope, I’d give my child a shot at life and throw her into the machine hoping she’d survive instead of being devoured with me while holding her…. But failing that, I’m holding on to my child and analyzing the monster to determine its threat level… blue through red….
Here is what I’m being told about this monster…. My child’s future is at stake… Are they real, or myths?… The myths are real, then they are scary like Grendel… But did a Grendel ever really exist?
Similar to Beowulf, here is the emergency warning I received from Duncun Rhee Gates……
Claim 1: American teachers need more incentive to work hard….
Claim 2: Schools need disruptive innovation. The status quo is unacceptable….
Claim 3: The public schools are in crisis….
Claim 4: It should be easier to fire bad teachers. Tenure is a problem…
Claim 5: Schools need to teach more technology….
Claim 6: Teachers should be paid for results….
Claim 7: We need more charter schools…
Claim 8: We’re falling behind the rest of the world….
Claim 9: Teacher preparation is a sham….
Claim 10: Teachers only work nine months a year…..
To battle this I am told we need to completely re-do American public education, let private schools suck up public funds, let private corporations both write, test, and grade our children, and let private entities reprocess our failures and enabling them to succeed on the test the next time… (We need to put more money into privateer’s pockets, is what it comes down to….) And it is not just overall general spending which needs to rise; instead we need to very specifically give it to one of two corporations…..
Ready to bust some myths?
Myth 1: American teachers need more incentive to work hard…. If you threaten to fire them, they will work harder. So we need to establish a method to basically scare the shit out of teachers so they put all their time into educating our students… This myth falls flat because we have all been in that situation at some point in our lives. While there,we thought our bosses nuts, crazy, demented… (You know it’s true.) We spent so much time making sure we didn’t get in trouble with our literally insane supervisor, that we were unproductive in doing what we were supposed to do. Because of that boss’s culture, our lack of productivity is something one doesn’t realize at the time, but after that boss gets fired, and the new one comes in and just wants you to do good work, you suddenly by our output realize why your previous boss was fired.
Myth 2: Schools need disruptive innovation. The status quo is unacceptable… This is common in corporate takeovers. As the new boss, you sow confusion, dissension, and disrupt all previous organization so it cannot work to defeat you… You fire the old, hire the new, and they will do exactly what you say… (because they don’t even know the previous way was far better than what you are trying to do)… As boss, you tell your superiors that it is the people’s fault why you can’t succeed and due to the confusion which you have sown, there are certainly enough individual incidents to back your point to them… If strong enough, and you hire enough of “your kind” you get to run it “your way”… How you are actually performing may be worse than before you took over, but it is so much better than the chaos you initially created, people appreciate the improvement… “We have improved over last year” you get fond of saying….
Myth 3 The public schools are in crisis…. Simply because you say so… All Evidence points to the opposite. Most adults working today came through public schools that were performing at worse levels than today’s schools. In all the longitudinal data we see steady progression from the 1980’s to today… Meaning children today are smarter at grade level than we were in whatever time frame we fell in. If our schools weren’t in crisis back when we were students, and today’s children are all better educated than were we, how can there be a crisis? Well, they have to make one up….
Myth 4: It should be easier to fire bad teachers. Tenure is a problem… Again, simply because you say so… All of us work. Should we be fired because a younger kid comes along? Is that ethical? Is that the right approach for the betterment of society? Most of us say no. If we are completely honest with ourselves and look at our output when WE first came in, and our output now, we’d agree that with our years of experience, we tend to understand priorities and spend more time on things that matter, and less on those deadlines that appear to be important, but are only perfunctionary tasks. In other words, at our careers, we got better with experience. ….. Now why would it work the exact opposite for teachers? (Who btw must be doing something right because the national scores keep climbing consistently every test cycle)…
Myth 5: Schools need to teach more technology This is just stupid. Anyone with kids, knows it should be our kids who should be teaching us technology. In the real world, by the time you get around to teaching technology, it is already outdated. Just give them a phone.
Myth 6: Teachers should be paid for results… The debate here is bigger; it is whether teachers are executives who get paid for results, or, are they workers, who should be paid by the hour? At the bottom of this argument lies this question: Should we pay a young boy thrust into the drive-thru-window at McDonalds, for every car he greets? Or should he be paid by the hour? Civilized man has over its 6000 year existence, settled on this solution when determining method and responsibility of payment: if the benefit of a person’s work all goes to his employer, then he should be paid hourly. If a portion of some of the benefit goes to himself, as in a commission, then it is ok to base his pay upon his results.. If I sell HVAC units and take $10.000 for each I sell, I can receive pay based on my results. If I dig ditches for Keystone Pipelines, I should get paid by my time, because whether I hit rock or soft soil, should not be the ultimate factor in how I get paid… According to this yardstick, since teachers have no control over their students coming in, they should extract their fee measured by time….. It literally makes no sense to pay teacher of affluent white students more than teachers of poor Black, Hispanic, or Native American students… because that is where paying by test result will eventually lead…. A really bad teacher of rich white kids will earn far more than a really great teacher of black poor kids. It is wrong to go that way.
Myth 7: We need more charter schools For a long time charter schools were tested by easier tests than public schools. Charter schools were soft; public schools required more rigor. That is not true anymore. Both take the same test and all scoring shows public schools teach better. Hands down. Again, poverty plays a role and one must factor that out.. Bragging on the Charter School of Wilmington and giving it a prize, which is unduly received because it has only a 5.5% black population compared to nearby feeder pattern Warner which has a 73.9% black population… The prize is not for great teaching, but great weeding out of “black undesirables”… But public schools rock in every case … Public school scores are higher than charter school scores… Adding charters to the mix is like adding water to milk… It is hard to see its implication, but the final product is certainly weakened by the process… Charter school infusion led to the collapse of the entire educational structure of Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Washington DC, Cleveland, and Chicago… Their current failure came about because of instead of bolstering struggling urban public schools 10 years ago, they instead diverted funding into private pockets, calling it Charter Reform… Nothing has been reformed and the private pockets swelled from all that extra cash…. (I’m sure some of it got diverted back to those in government who allowed the changes in lwa to make Charters happen…..)
Myth 8: We’re falling behind the rest of the world There is a saying, that when you hate someone, everything they do just pisses you off! OH, MY GOODNESS!!!! DID YOU SEE THE WAY SHE CRUMBLED THOSE CRACKERS AND PUT THEM IN HER SOUP. HOLY FREAKIN’ COW!!! WHAT A MESSED-UP BITCH!!!!!!! FREAKIN’ LOSER!!! You get the idea… Point is that if you moan and groan over anything, people pay attention at first… Such was done with the PISA scores… OH MY GOODNESS! WE ARE SO FAR BEHIND THE CHINESE!!! NATIONAL TRAGEDY!!! WE’RE A COMPLETE FAILURE; WE HAVE TO CHANGE EVERYTHING NOW!!!! Turns out, it was about as meaningful as crumbling crackers in one’s soup… China only allowed its one top district of Shainghai to participate in the test. This is a district for its billionaires, all who employ $40,000 tutors to live in and teach their children.. Again, this was the only district allowed to be tested. (They did allow some other districts to be tested for internal data only, but these according to the agreement, were never to be released in public form).. So when we compare American inner city students to these Chinese students, we might as well compare them to the children of Harvard and MIT professors sitting in Charles River School District just outside of Boston… What the tests do show us, is that the US tests all income levels, and some nations only test their best… But if one breaks down the test scores by income levels, and we can do that with the data, one finds that American students test better world over than every nation in each isolated income bracket… The overall PISA scores used for this comparison, are a more of a rating of average global prosperity, than they are of techniques of education… American schools are the best in the world…
Myth 9: Teacher preparation is a sham…. Any business person looks at the result. The best refutuation of this claim is the evidence stated above. When ranked income level against income level, American schools are the best in the world…. So other nations should copy OUR teacher preparation: not the other way around…
Myth 10: Teachers only work nine months a year…. Again, considering the successful results they have achieved, (American schools being the best in the world), I think that working schedule should be applied to all American’s workers… We should ALL work 9 months a year for the same pay we do 12 months now. If we are not getting the raise we deserve because of whatever excuse our boss may make, then ok, give us more paid time off. Just think of how in one swoop it would knock out unemployment? But seriously… Why aren’t we all trying to work only 9 months a year? Who’s writing the rules here?… Why solid reason is there that all of us can’t work 9 months a year? Just imagine how great and rested and productive we’d be when stepping back into our jobs… It’s not like the top 1% can’t afford to give it to us…
(Brief hat’s off to Jack Schneider)
These are the myths about Grendel… Come, our mead hall is under attack…. We are being devastated…. Upon arrival, there is no Grendel. There is only Grendel’s mother… who is poverty… Every single solitary particle of evidence now points to poverty being the sole and single cause of educational failure….
Originally that is why public education was founded. To allow all children, not just the wealthy, the equal opportunity to education… All empirical data shows that the distinguishing variable in test scores, is low income. Blacks in Bronx score as low as whites in Pikesville, Kentucky… It’s the Poverty, stupid. Hispanics in Brownsville score as low as whites in West Virginia…It’s the Povertym stupid… Ignoring poverty to fight myths will get you more myths created by you to explain your failure….
Here is how you REALLY attack education if we want to be serious and want America to improve…
You first accept poverty is the key to our problem. Our entire capitalist system is overdue for another overhaul and tuneup…. People need to earn more, spend more, and less needs shunted to the top earners….Period. But that solution, is completely out of the educational debate. Here are some things that directly can be done in the educational field to offset the influence poverty puts on education……
1) Instill an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all k-5 schools where the free lunch level is above 50% and in all 9th grades…
2) Pay for it by taxing the top 1% marginally for the costs incurred.
3) Remover Charter Schools from per-pupil funding mechanism and stop transferring money out of public and into private pockets. Charter Schools are a luxury. They should not be a diversion of the necessary money with which a public schools needs to survive. If you wish Charter Schools to continue, then fund them as you would a pet project, by a budget line in your state budget, directly out of the state’s general fund. All property tax money stays attached to the public school in its feeder pattern.
4) Dissolve any connection between high stakes and testing. Use the tests solely for each child’s benefit. use them to answer questions like: What does he know? What did he miss? What is the best approach to teach him? All this data is available but is being obfuscated by this: make sure that punk passes!!!! When it matters to no one what a child’s score truly is, then we can get an honest score and with that honest data, allow proper focus on what each child has missed… Education is like a ladder. You climb higher until a rung is missing. Today’s testing is great; it shows us the exact location of that missing rung… Fix it and that individual again climbs higher…. Before technology came into classrooms, we handed out grades, not knowing where a child was stuck. He’s just dumb ours and older generations assumed. Now we can know precisely what he missed, but if we are firing that teacher who taught that child just as soon as she gets the results in hand, or transferring that principal, or closing that school, then all that precise data is doing no good at all.. For education to go forward into the full potential we have in this 21st Century, it is necessary we decouple all test scores from firing teachers, or transferring principals, or closing down schools.. This is a no-brainer.
5) Let teachers teach. We are human learners; curricula can’t teach. Humans do: more human caring and concern; less business callousness and interference. Remember these are children learning from zero up; not grown adults already embedded with a life time of learning…