Monday, February 28, 2005

The Battle Moves on to High Schools -

This link is from the Washington Post but it could have been one of hundreds of stories. The NPR stories first caught my ear. Words like: "our high schools are obsolete;" "all students should prepare for college;" High school and college students don't finish "on time;" "higher standards;" "more rigor;" all made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Then this morning in the local paper, also from the Washington Post, I read that the latest Governors Education Conference is being paid for by "Achieve Inc., a business-backed education reform group that organized this weekend's event..." ! So, according to Achieve Inc., out of 100 ninth grade students only about 18 will finish college "on time." They go on to say that the reason for this is because our students are not properly prepared. Because they are not properly prepared we must make the test harder. This will prepare all students to go to college. Does this thinking really make sense to anyone out there?

Do you think that raising the requirements for high school graduation and making exit exams tougher will help:

The student that just arrived in the country or perhaps has been here for three or four years but must take the test in English?
The student from another country whose family does not read or write their own language?
The student whose dad beats up on them regularly, or worse?
The special ed. student with severely decreased capabilities?
The severely autistic student who can barely communicate with anyone?
The student from a family that knows that they and theirs have never gone to college and don't need it now thank you?

Does anyone really believe that requiring more from our kids and making the tests harder will produce more college graduates? If they do, they do not know kids or human nature. If they really believe these things, I submit that these folks are severely out of touch with reality!

Doesn't anyone remember high school and college? How much sense does being forced to do things for no apparent reason for 13 years of public school mean to most kids? And do they really believe that not being prepared is the reason most kids do not make it? As I remember college, the first time, it was partying that got the better of most students. It was not buckling down and doing the work. It was trying to get through with minimum effort and maximum fun.

What really gets my goat is the media sucks up this spew and spits out just like it went in. Doesn't anyone question this so-called news! Come on people wake up! Yes, we need better trained teachers. Yes, we need smaller classes. Yes, we need innovative programs. Yes, we need to match student's needs with their capabilities. What we do not need is a system set up to prepare each and every student for college. Come on! We know that all kids are not cut out for college. We also know that all students can be successful at whatever endeavor they choose, given the right skills and the motivation. We also know that not all people are motivated to complete high school and college in the given 17 year time span. To say that all kids need a rigorous college prep program is pure crap!

In the above mentioned Washington Post editorial the writer claims that the Achieve Inc. numbers "...deflate the myth of the United States as a society where college degrees are routine..." The Myth of Our Failed Education System Frosty Troy does a great job of pointing out the inaccuracies of the claim that our education system is failing our students, including this one. That all our high school students need a college degree is another myth in the making.

The above was written at school this morning before the kids came in. I was hot. I am home now and I still have a lot to say even though I am very tired. There's this little seemingly unrelated article from the Washington Post. Anti-AARP Ad Gets Plenty of Mileage
(You will need to scroll down.) It says, "...Industry experts say it cost less than $1,500 for the conservative group USA Next to put on the American Spectator Web site for a few minutes last week an ad attacking the AARP over Social Security. But the ad was so incendiary -- it asserted that "the real AARP agenda" is to promote gay love and to belittle American soldiers -- that it caused a media sensation. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Associated Press and a wide range of newspapers covered the ensuing fracas, as politicians such as Sen. Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.) weighed in. As it happens, the anti-AARP group is being advised by some of the same people who counseled the Swift Boat Veterans, whose initial ad buy of $550,000 against Kerry had a greater impact than the tens of millions of dollars spent on ads by the Democrats..."

This is the way they work folks and you can look for this same kind of constant hammering of the supposed high school crisis. Repeat a lie often enough and it will be believed. Let cable news repeat it over and over... Well I think you have the picture.

Friday, February 25, 2005

It Is a Bad Law and Should Be Repealed -

This is a great Article from Education Week. The author lists six reasons why. The most compelling is this:

"5. Our poor and minority students are hurt again by the high-stakes testing under No Child Left Behind. Disproportionately, they are the kids who are retained in grade, forced into summer school (for more test prep), beaten down by repeated failure, and deprived of a high school diploma. If we really wanted to help poor, inner-city kids, we would not try to do so by imposing a bad law on everyone. We would identify the problem and muster massive resources to solve it: provide money to renovate crumbling buildings, add clinics (especially dental and vision) to school campuses, provide day care for infants and small children, recruit the finest teachers with significantly higher pay, and even provide boarding facilities for homeless children and those caught in family emergencies. We would establish on-site research-and-development teams (in cooperation with universities) to experiment with, develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate promising practices. Understanding that schools and kids are not all alike, these would be long-term R&D projects serving particular schools—not research projects looking for “what works” universally. We could do these things if we had the will, and if we would stop wasting enormous sums on testing, compliance measures, and the host of activities associated with testing."

Just the other night I was asked,waht would be better than NCLB. This is a better answer than I gave.

Also check out this:

State Legislators Offer Formula for Improving No Child Left Behind Act

It is time for us all to resist!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

We Need Your Help -

Got lots of thoughts from a lot of reading but...Here is what my partner Linda and I want to do with our site. We want to turn it into the of Anti-NCLB. We want to get an on-line petition going and let Washington know that millions of teachers and parents are totally against NCLB and how it is structured now. The problem is we are both busy teachers and not particularly tech savvy. Also there would be the money piece, especially if it meant buying and running a server. Can you help in any way? Please let us know. And thanks.

And here are three great articles to ponder:

The first is an oldie but goodie from Stephen Metcalf from The Nation

Another great one from The Black Commentator: Bribes + Vouchers = Black bush Supporters

And here is a great blog on charter schools and reintegration.

I have a lot more on my mind. I'll be back when there's time.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Chicago Schools Must Pay Twice as Much Because NCLB Says Tutoring Must Be Private -

Read these articles and tell me you still do not believe that it is all about privatizing education.

But the good news is Jim Trelease believes NCLB is going down because it was not built on a firm foundation. I hope he is right. I do not really believe it. With the grip that the anti public school forces seem to have on the media, the public and even the teaching profession, do not seem to realize what is going on. It is my fear that any one who attempts to read this stuff will immediately assume that I am a delusional, conspiracy theory kook, but I am not. Do some research of your own. Follow my links. See what conclusions you come to.