Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why NCLB is a Failure


Thus far, I have documented my personal feelings regarding the No Child Left Behind legislation.  As of the last week in September of 2011, the act will most certainly be revised during Obama’s administration.  Thus far, Arne Duncan the secretary of the Department of Education has revealed that some of the provisions in the act will be either be waived or substantially changed.  The major provision that all children be proficient in math and reading by 2014 will most definitely be scrapped from the legislation. In return for the waiver, the Obama administration is expected to attach teacher performance to students test scores and create the expectation that charter school are to be expanded within each state.  Obama and Arne Duncan have also stated publicly that each state would be given more flexibility regarding testing controls and standards.   
I agree with the fact that states should have more control.  I states previously that I think it is unconstitutional for the federal government to intervene in the affairs of education.  However, I still have a major issue with linking teacher evaluations and performance based on student test scores and student data.  As an educator, I have a fundamental disagreement with attaching teacher performance to student data and testing scores.  I can attest for the record that teachers try their best each and every day.  Educators have to work with the students that they are given.  It is our hope that all students come to school every day willing to work hard and to learn.  However, there are just too many variables that educators cannot control that undermine the process.  I think that some common sense has to be applied to in this situation.
 The overall consensus is that that requiring all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014 has resulted in unnecessary pressure being put upon educators and administration.  The pressure has resulted in cheating scandals that occurred in the states of Georgia and Connecticut. 

A widespread scandal within the educational community ensued when the Governor’s office of student achievement investigated the abnormal number of erasures on student answer sheets. As a result of this investigation, principals, teachers and other department officials were implicated in the scandal. As a result these public officials and educational staff were either forced to resign or were fired if they weren’t willing to resign officially.

Another cheating scandal erupted in Waterbury Connecticut at Hopeville School. An administrator and a teacher were implicated in the tampering of elementary test scores. The Connecticut Mastery tests were subject to tampering in an effort to raise test scores as well. A state investigation found irregularities in the school's scores on the State Mastery Tests, there were major improvements, and in some cases, scoring top in Connecticut.
If student data and test scores are still going to be the focus of the No Child Left Behind revision, then more scandals could be a very real possibility in the future.  I think it is folly to continue to place undue pressure on teachers and administration.  This is the very core essence of the bill that needs revision!  I just cannot comprehend why this key issue hasn’t been understood by Mr. Duncan or President Obama.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Excerpt


Next, the other issue that is of major importance is taxes.  It is painfully obvious at this point that the executives want to pay less taxes. The capitalists understand that their profits are lowered substantially if they are made or forced to pay taxes.  Historically, the Democratic Party has used taxation of the rich as a means to redistribute wealth in the economy.  The taxation from the rich as well as corporations is used to help fund the entitlement systems.  In turn, the entitlement systems are used to help the less fortunate in America.  Thus, the Federal Government is forced to take care of the influx of undocumented workers that the corporations are encouraging to come to America as a source of cheap labor in the first place. 

So, the question at hand for the capitalists/owner class is how to keep their profits from being taxed by the Federal Government.  A strategy that they constantly employ is to make sure that Republicans get elected to major offices within the American government.  Then, another strategy is decrease the marginal tax rate on their profits.  In essence, the capitalists/owner class is very happy with the fact that they can get rich off the backs of the undocumented workers.  However, the capitalists/owner class doesn’t want to help support them through taxation!    

Where is the corporate responsibility?  The way I see it, since the capitalists/owner class has encouraged the undocumented workers to enter America illegally and hire them for menial labor jobs; then the capitalists/owner class is inherently responsible for them.  The capitalists/owner class owns all undocumented workers, point blank period.  Why aren’t these people being given a decent wage?  In fact, I would go so far as to say why are these people being allowed to enter the country illegally in the first place?  Why aren’t American people being employed by the capitalists/owner class?  Why aren’t American people being paid a decent wage for their efforts?  In essence, there is no need for undocumented workers in the first place.  I am tired of hearing the excuse that American people are unwilling or unable to do the tasks that the capitalists/owner class requires.  This whole issue can be remedied with corporate responsibility. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Responsibility

Who is the MOST responsible for the state of US public education & what can be done to fix it?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011



Written by Ron Clark
(CNN) -- This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

Please quit with all the excuses

The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone.
Ron Clark

And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor

And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"

Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office.

Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.

And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.

Teachers walking on eggshells

I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.

My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"

I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators.

Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.

That's a teacher's promise, from me to you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Education Reform

Any interest in discussing or thinking about what's really happening in education reform/ abuse of power at local, district, and national levels? I am an example as are many, many others. If any interest, contact others you think are also interested, and perhaps we can consider together what can be done to expose and perhaps make some positive changes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

book excerpt "parental accountability"


Often times, parents view educators in contempt. In addition, parents have little or no respect for the educator that is charged with the care of his or her child. I believe that these pervasive attitudes exist due to the fact that many adults had a poor educational experience. Unfortunately, sixteen percent of Americans have not graduated from high school. There is a crisis in America concerning the dropout rate for teenagers. However, if an adult has a negative or poor attitude toward education, then his or her children are most likely going to have a poor educational experience as well. Adults become concerned with survival and putting food on the table,

which then supersedes a parent involving himself or herself in the educational experience of his or her child. As adults, we become enveloped in our daily lives and responsibilities. I understand that completely; still it is not an excuse to excuse a parent from becoming personally involved in the educational process of his or her child. A parent should want his or her child to be better than they are. A parent should want to give his or her child an opportunity to go forward with life in ways that they could not.