Everybody is talking about education. Is anyone listening?

Marian Wright Edelman (Children's Defense Fund)

"Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid, and poor children of color are the fodder," said Marian Wright Edelman (Children's Defense Fund)

Over the past few weeks Georgia has been the epicenter of education debate, hosting some of the most notable — and controversial — voices in the field today.Speaking to the Georgia School Boards Association in Savannah 10 days ago, historian Diane Ravitch urged, “Don’t stand by and let politicians tear down a public institution that has been the foundation of our democracy for 150 years.”

Reminding the audience that more than 90 percent of Georgia’s students attend public schools, Ravitch, author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System, ” said: “We must improve those public schools. We must not pretend those children don’t exist while we are creating more choices for 2 [percent] to 3 percent of them.”

Following her to the podium was a politician, Gov. Nathan Deal, who won applause with his pledge, “We have to restore the joy of teaching to our teachers. And that means diverting away from the concept that everything hinges on a CRCT score.” (If that sounds familiar, it’s because Deal, the candidate, said much the same thing to the same group last year in Savannah.)

Last week, the National Charter Schools Conference brought 4,000 charter school advocates and a pantheon of national figures to Atlanta, from former President Bill Clinton to Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke to the conference attendees from Washington, telling them, “I think one of the most insidious things that’s happened in this country over the past couple of decades has been the dumbing down of standards for children. In far too many states, including the state I come from, Illinois, we have been lying to children and lying to families in telling them they are prepared for college and careers when, in fact, they are nowhere near ready.”

The charismatic and fiery Mayor Booker was more preacher than politician in his speech, calling education the new civil rights challenge and declaring, “We fought the greatest war on American soil for the liberation of our people yet we imprison more and more of our own in prisons of ignorance every single day.”

Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman also spoke at the charter conference and amplified Booker’s theme of ending the cradle-to-prison pipeline.

“Public education is the battleground for the future and soul of America, ” she said. “Today education is the Freedom Ride and the sit-in movement of this era.”

Edelman described the moment in which she realized the desperation of many poor children’s lives. The day after the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Edelman went into Washington, D.C., schools to warn students not to riot or loot because arrests would hurt their futures.

A boy about 12 looked Edelman in the eye and said, “Lady, what future? I ain’t got no future. I ain’t got nothing to lose.”

“I have spent the last 40 years and will spend the rest of my life proving that boy’s truth wrong, ” Edelman said. “I had no idea how hard it would be. This boy saw and spoke the plain truth for himself and millions of others like him.

“Despite great progress for some over the last 40 years, so much peril remains to snuff out the hopes and dream of children like him, ” she said. “Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid, and poor children of color are the fodder.”

America’s most pressing dangers come not from an enemy without, she said, but from a failure within to invest in its children.

Quoting Frederick Douglass, Edelman said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Donald L. Hense, a Morehouse College graduate and founder of the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, came to Atlanta to receive a hall of fame award from the charter conference. Hense’s charter high school, which awarded its first diploma in 2003, awarded its 2,000th this year.

As the student representative on the Morehouse board of trustees, Hense served alongside King, who was a Morehouse grad. When King was killed, Hense ushered at the funeral. In the aftermath of King’s assassination, Hense recalled sleeping in his Atlanta dorm room with buckets of water for fear of bombs and fire.

“What with everything that we faced in the 1960s, I feel threatened more today as a part of the so-called education reform community than I did then, ” he said.

“Our schools are threatened not by people who don’t believe in charters or school choice, but by education reformers who believe that reform is best charted and directed by the same public school system that did nothing the previous 100 years, ” he said.

Hense said the charter movement is under siege, adding that he lives in “a city that will try to kill charters by a thousand cuts. Every single year, something happens to try to knock the legs of education reform from under charter schools, every single year.”

“Somehow, we have to find a balance between the undertow caused by those who justify the continued existence of failing schools and the overzealousness of TV reformers who believe that schools can be transformed in 20 months, ” he said.

“We cannot allow the continued mindset of either these groups to prevail, ” Hense told his audience at the Georgia World Congress Center. “Our children’s lives depend on those of us who believe that the liberating value of education is too important to be left to either group. Thoughtful reforms with a clear sense of urgency, without gimmickry, must take the lead.”

When you attend these education events and hear how many dedicated people are working toward better schools, from small-town school board members to former U.S. presidents, you have to wonder if anyone is listening.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

284 comments Add your comment

Dr. Proud Black Man

June 28th, 2011
5:17 am

Outstanding article!

CB

June 28th, 2011
6:31 am

“For all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests.” Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/education/02charters.html

God Bless the Teacher!

June 28th, 2011
6:42 am

The problem is not that no one is listening. It’s that people listen to reform “experts” who basically want to sell a book or earn speaking fees and decide the promoted reform will save their schools. We continue to change things in education thinking changes will save our children and miraculously place them in great colleges and higher paying jobs. True, there are a few reform models that have better results than others if given time to be fully implemented, but which reform efforts specifically include/address direct accountability of parents and students? We may change the format of education (e.g., charter schools) and “professionally learn” our teachers to death about how to be better teachers, but ALL of our efforts are for naught if students and parents aren’t held responsible for neglecting the educational system.

peachpits

June 28th, 2011
7:01 am

Interesting article, thank you! As one in the classroom, I see lots of great teachers burned out by paperwork, teaching to the test and being squeezed between demanding administration and parents who fight us tooth and nail when all we want to do is grow these children into the best version of who they are. Positive change will come when we all agree that we are fighting the same fight and not each other.

teacher&mom

June 28th, 2011
7:28 am

Jerry Eads

June 28th, 2011
7:31 am

Thanks, Maureen. And thanks to you first four; many truths. I do need to (VERY humbly) take departed Jerry Bracey’s place for a moment and note that Hense is wrong – the public schools have most certainly NOT “done nothing.” Not long ago the publics could simply toss the low performers and troublemakers onto the streets; school was for people who WANTED to be there (or were told in no uncertain terms by parents to be there). Those with parents who didn’t or couldn’t care could be sent away. Now, the publics – rightly so – must do their very best to succeed with every child – including the ones dragged in there forcefully by the truant officer. As the family structure has (seemingly, not sure about this) declined and (absolutely sure about this) poverty has so radically increased over the years, public schools have been required to address all manner of ills AS WELL AS requiring that they teach EVERYONE. They have indeed become “in loco parentis.” Given the task, the data show that publics have done a truly phenomenal job. Hense, as with privates now and public schools of old, gets to cherry pick a few he can save and toss the rest. Aside from the likelihood that Hense has nevertheless done well by the kids he keeps, publics do not have that luxury. SO, when we look at the virtually worthless indicator of minimum competency pass rates, (Maureen, will the AJC EVER get this straight? WE DO NOT HAVE SCORES) guess what? Things look pretty dismal. And that provides false fodder for the so called “reformers” to stir up the naive and gullible with teacher hate-mongering.

@peachpits brought it home. “Positive change will come when we all agree that we are fighting the same fight and not each other.”

Dr NO

June 28th, 2011
7:52 am

“A boy about 12 looked Edelman in the eye and said, “Lady, what future? I ain’t got no future. I ain’t got nothing to lose.”

BS…Dont believe a word of it. These politicians, speakers, airheads always have some silly story or quote that makes them appear they are in touch with the “little” people. BS pure and simple.

The issue isnt with the schools so much as it is with these “parents.”
This is all nothing more than bloviating and flatulence. A group of suits get up waste our precious oxygen then when all is said and done slap each other on the fanny. HHHHRRUMPPFFFF!!

What Reform?

June 28th, 2011
8:00 am

Does anyone on the “outside” of education really think that it’s as bad as the inside outsiders would lead you to believe? We are finally getting to the point now in our national education where the playing field is being leveled, and with the caring cadre of teachers in the schools now we will see improvement. What is needed is not charters, school choice, or any other magic potion. What is needed is professional teachers, who are given the responsibility and the flexibility to teach the children that come in front of them.

teacher&mom

June 28th, 2011
8:04 am

This article does a great job describing the classroom level changes that have taken place in far too many urban schools.

http://www.theroot.com/print/49176

For the record:

I am not against providing a quality education for all students.

I am against excessive test prep, test prep pep rallies, test prep after school sessions, and test prep summer sessions.

motherjanegoose

June 28th, 2011
8:06 am

Hi Maureen…I saw this in the paper and decided to check in….

I am sad to report that I have met teachers from coast to coast, who have lost their joy and it ( to me) is not getting any better. I cannot fathom teaching if you do not enjoy it but I know there are many teachers who do. I am told: ” school cannot be fun…we have tests to take.”

I am in early childhood and know that sound learning can happen in an interesting and fun environment. Are ( early childhood) teachers coming out of college ill prepared to be creative in the classroom or are they too afraid to try anything out of the box ? Is it all about facts? Is it better for children to know that ducks swim or why their webbed feet are more suitable for the pond than say a cow’s hooves? What am I missing?

When I arrive, children are excited as I engage them in creative language activities designed to build vocabulary and strengthen comprehension. We are learning!

How can we restore joy to teaching? Can it be done? I am curious as to what actual teachers would need to get back to being excited in the classroom.

@ peach pits….this is so true:
all we want to do is grow these children into the best version of who they are.

Is it possible to let teachers use their own instincts to grow children anymore?

teacher&mom

June 28th, 2011
8:12 am

atlmom

June 28th, 2011
8:21 am

No, public school hasn’t really been around in the form it is for 150 years. More like 50 or 60 years. Go back and read to kill a mockingbird. it’s eye opening.

Yes, years ago they took the troublemakers out of school. But no, they didn’t ‘throw them out on the street.’ There were schools that were designed to deal with those kids who didn’t want to be there, or whose parents didn’t care if they were there, or whatever. The reality is that the schools just have to ‘deal with them’ these days – to the detriment of the other student. Why is it okay for one student to disrupt the school for the others? It is wrong. Take them out of the school at the beginning of them causing trouble and straighten them out. Right now our schools are holding bins for some kids who don’t care. And they make it more difficult for the others. It’s just wrong.

I have been doing a little bit of research into education lately. Not to sound all old person-ish – but really – part of the problem is our society. We don’t seem to value education for our children. We don’t have any consequences that are real for kids who don’t do well (saying to them: in 20 years you will be sorry is hardly anything to them). We don’t have consequences for the parents of the kids. since the parents are much of the problem. We have bloated bureaucracies, and don’t seem to be doing anything to make them smaller. If anything, more talking, more ‘doing’ well, – we’re just creating bigger bureaucracies. It’s awful, and not attracting the best to the teaching profession. Did any of the people in the conference actually SEE waiting for superman? It is eye opening – I don’t think that blaming everything on the unions is the answer, but it is part of the problem. Part of the problem in education (as with many other areas in our society) is that there really isn’t one person to *blame*. There’s this bureaucracy, and there’s people throwing blame at other pieces and parts, but there’s not really one person/group to take the blame. Part of the blame goes to the parents, many of whom are just as happy to throw their kids to the ‘free’ education and say: it’s good enough.

No, I don’t think anyone really wants to do anything about this. They want to have conferences, they want to discuss it, they want to be all dramatic about it, but no one seems to care about the kids (what’s that quote? when kids pay dues to the teacher’s unions, I’ll worry about the kids?).

Tad Jackson

June 28th, 2011
8:21 am

Right on, peach pits. You’re exactly right.

http://www.adixiediary.com

Ron

June 28th, 2011
8:31 am

We can talk and talk and talk, but until the dead beat parents get involved it doesn’t make a difference.

DagnyT

June 28th, 2011
8:35 am

I saw Waiting for Superman and what stood out to me is the idea of inner city boarding schools. If chaotic home life and parents not being parents is as big a problem as it appears to be, why not more inner city boarding schools like the one in Waiting for Superman? It seems like you would remove the negative influences and perhaps unburden some parents in favor of a real shot getting an education surrounded by other students who want to be there. Just an observation.

Georgia dad

June 28th, 2011
8:54 am

So sad to hear of “leveling” at the school system. We should be lifting, not leveling. If you have a child in school, you know what’s happening in Georgia. Instead of lifting up the brightest and smartest, we’re raising a generation where the smartest aren’t being challenged so we can “level” the playing field. Teaching down to the lowest common denominator. What will that result in?

Jennifer

June 28th, 2011
9:01 am

It’s a mess.

i used to teach

June 28th, 2011
9:07 am

The problems with education started at home. I remember a time when I could call parents and have full support. I remember when people wanted their kids to get an education, not just the HOPE or athletic scholarship to pay for college. I remember when parents came to meetings and not just to complain. Now, the parents are friends with their kids and they gang up on teachers. Teachers are less empowered to teach rigor and hold a high standard. I don’t care what kind of school Georgia sets up, unless you have true parent support, it won’t produce results.

Education Insider

June 28th, 2011
9:10 am

When public assistance becomes a career choice, and it is for many…we have to look at how we “help”. There is an assistant principal in GA who encourages those who will mess up their graduation rate or AYP score to “withdraw”…”you can always go on assistance”. We are paying this dude…by God is keeping score.

Dr NO

June 28th, 2011
9:10 am

“The Joy of Teaching.” How silly. Teaching is a job like all other jobs and who can honestly say their job brings them joy. If everyone was honest, which they are not, the answer would be less then 15% or lower.

Let me explain something to you unrealists, a job is a job and everyone performs their job for money. Money for the essentials and perhaps a few luxuries. If jobs were fun then individuals would take much less financial compensaton as the reward would be the “joy” brought by said job. etc etc etc.

Wake up America. Get over yourselves and these fantasies, fallacies and self righteous attitudes OR do what the community organizer n chief wants and volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!!! Can I get an AMEN!!

Dr NO

June 28th, 2011
9:14 am

DagnyT

June 28th, 2011
8:35 am

And take the children away from these parents, put the children in orphanages and put these sorry parents where they belong. In Prison.

Middle School Teacher

June 28th, 2011
9:27 am

No one is listening. In public schools teachers are plagued by administrators and county “leaders” who have fallen prey to the published reformers who truly do not understand the real world. Our entire education system is designed to get our students into college. The truth of the fact is that, perhasps, 30 to 40 percent of our population is truly intelligent enough to pursue a traditional college degree. The others, regardless of how anyone feels, are not up to par.

Every society in the history of the world has its elite. We just pretend that everyone fits into this category. And the beat goes on!

When is America going to wake up and realize that our education system needs to be completely redesigned with the above facts taken in mind? We desperately need to have a realistic system that measures potential in everyone in the system. We need to take that information and create a realistic school system that works towards the goal of getting each and every student prepared fot their “place” in life. Some of us will be philosophers, some thinkers, some MENSA members, some professors, some movers and shakers, some politicians, some teachers and professors, some engineers and inventors, some business leaders and executives, some managers, some technical workers, some electricians or plumbers, some mechanics, some lawn care specialists, some clerks, some custidial workers, and some laborers. We all have our place. This is not “Shangrila!”

Our school system MUST recognize the diversity of human beings. We are killing the potential of our children when we expect too much from them all. We need to teach all levels of intelligence and stop pretending that Johnny must go to Harvard.

All other major countries have already gone in this direction. We are pretending that everyone is college material. Our goal is set too high. It is a goal we will NEVER reach. Countries such as China and South Korea have strict criteria in place to identify the true potential of each student, and they have designed educational systems that recognizes those potentials and prepare each child for the place they will inhabit.

Wake Up, America!

Ashley

June 28th, 2011
9:27 am

Wisdom….our great-grandparents and grandparents had it. Although a lot of our ancestors didn’t attend school or only went long enough to learn the basic, they knew the next generation of black americans needed it. These were the people who saw Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots. Education was that one factor that was suppose to expand our horizon. When I was a child in the 60s-70s education came first no excuses and no reprieve. Our parents knew school was the stepping stone to a future, no matter what you wanted to do in life. I didn’t really have a loving household , but I use the schools as an escape and along the way I learn a valuable lesson, education was going to take me away from my hellacious homelife. School was the only place where life had meaning not always good but not always bad either. Of course back in those days we didn’t have all this child cuddling let them do what they want mentality. Education and good grades were a must, we had to be better than the next generation. We can fought the educational system in this country , we can blame teachers and the higher ups, but when are we going to hold the child and the parent responisible? Our wise ancestors who struggled to achieve a better life for us are rolling over in their graves. I once heard that a black man or woman is not truly free until they are educated….I believe that.

Dr. John Trotter

June 28th, 2011
9:28 am

I have been reading a lot on nutrition in the last couple of years. (This is what you do when you are getting older, right? Ha!) For years, physicians and nutritionists ignored the essential fatty acids when developing diet plans for people. Everything was about the American nutritional chart (the famous pyramid) which was heavily tilted toward carbohydrates. Then, the low fat craze came in. But, the essential fatty acids were ignored.

We have all kinds of talk about “reforming” schools, but the essential element of discipline is completely ignored. But, you must first have discipline in place BEFORE you will ever establish any significant academic achievement. Discipline THEN achievement, not vice versa. If you aim at academic achievement without first addressing the essential discipline, then the academic efforts fail miserably, as has been the case for the last 30 years, especially in the urban schools.

Without emphasizing a disciplined and orderly learning environment, we are doing a great disservice to the children. As soon as these kids end up in the military (or, unfortunately, in the prison system), “discipline” will be imposed on them from the outside.

No serious person would try to diet today without paying attention to Omega 3s and 6s (fish oils, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, etc.). But, educrats (Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, et al.) continue to talk about “reform” without addressing a disciplined learning environment. Our urban schools are as far from “a disciplined learning environment” as I am from trying out for and making the Miami Heat basketball team next year. Talking about making the Heat’s team and actually making the team are as far apart as you can conceive. By the same measure, talking about reforming these urban schools (and let’s face it, all of the hand-wringing is really about the failed urban schools) without addressing discipline is pure folly. Nothing will change: the learning conditions will only get worse. And, as we have said a zillion times at MACE, you cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.

At MACE, we have been sounding the alarm of the paucity of discipline in the schools since our inception 16 years ago. Our message has never changed. We have seen these “reforms” come and go…with complete and utter failure…because they ignored the essential element in the learning process…the disciplined learning environment. (c) MACE, June 28, 2011.

http://theteachersadvocate.com/

justbrowsing

June 28th, 2011
9:29 am

Unfortunately, the African American cradle to prison analogy is only fodder used to elicit positive support for charter schools. I wish we would stop experimenting with the futures of children. Many charters are for-profit machines- simple. As for Arne Duncan- charters will lower standards- not raise them.

SoGAVet

June 28th, 2011
9:30 am

Dr. NO – your life must be a sad one. I’ve held primarily two jobs in my adult life:

The first, the military, I served in for more than 21 years. Despite the family separation, late nights, cold and HOT environs…I had one bad year – and it was because I had a bad boss that year.

The second, teaching, which I did for 5 years. I truly enjoyed the classroom, loved engaging with students and reveled in every “ah-ha” moment when the light went on and they figured it out. I left because I was working for a horse’s pa-toot who had no respect for me or my colleagues.

I meet teachers every day who truly enjoy their jobs and really only want respect as a professional. And BTW, teachers DO take much less financial copensation to do their very difficult jobs.

Dr. John Trotter

June 28th, 2011
9:32 am

I forgot to address “the outside culture.” The discinplined school environment helps cut off or at least mitigate the outside culture which in many, many cases is anti-academic and works counter to any efforts to “educate” the children.

Dondee

June 28th, 2011
9:34 am

@AtlMom…You said what I have been saying for a while now. School is just a smaller part of what is wrong with our society. We can have all the tricks in the book, etc., but if children come to school not valuing education (be it from home or from other sources), how can we overcome that obstacle? And like Peachpits says, we are all fighting the same battle…we just want the best for our students, simple as that.

atlmom

June 28th, 2011
9:37 am

dr no: You are so correct. For years, people who went into teaching were supposed to get ‘joy’ out of it – it was just an excuse not to pay them anything. and here we are, where a SIXTH year teacher doesn’t even make $40k (yeah, it’s not completely awful, given that the perks they have are awesome, you can retire in your 40s with 60% of you pay – what is that ? why not pay people what you’re supposed to pay them and have them worry about their retirement? – and also you can take on extra work all those months where you’re not teaching) – who do we think can go into teaching with that pay rate?

Insanity

June 28th, 2011
9:39 am

The problem is that there are actually people who continue to believe that central planning works. It never has and never will. The presence of government in the education delivery marketplace is a destructive force that has destroyed everything that was once great about education in this country. Get government out of the picture, make parents responsible for their own children’s education (either through home schooling, private, charity, or whatever other creative mechanism the marketplace might create – there needs to be absolute freedom) and the problem will correct itself.

Government serves only the continuation of government. It has no customers it must be accountable to. The ballotbox is not a mechanism of accountability. The almighty dollar and the voluntary exchange mechanism of the marketplace IS.

Dr. John Trotter

June 28th, 2011
9:39 am

Sorry about “discinplined” above! Ha! I have been multi-tasking the whole time. Time for my essential fatty acids now! I think that I love cooking breakfast more than any other meal!

Dr NO

June 28th, 2011
9:39 am

“I meet teachers every day who truly enjoy their jobs and really only want respect as a professional. And BTW, teachers DO take much less financial copensation to do their very difficult jobs.”

“Very difficult jobs.” Yeah, cry me a river buddy. Life is tough, jobs are tough, its tough all over.

Sad life? Not particularly. Has its up and downs like most I would imagine. Not sure I understand your point.

James

June 28th, 2011
9:43 am

Edelman merely restates the problem; the solution does not lie in politics nor in the hands of anyone else but the “people of color” she describes. But don’t expect people of “no color” not to compete for jobs, education, and quality of life. The best educated are those who desire to be educated. Ignorance will lose.

@ Dr. No

June 28th, 2011
9:47 am

You are 100% correct: teaching is a job; so is being a student. Therefore, by your logic, NO ONE at school is there to have fun – just work. How pitiful your understanding of education must be, sir. Everyone involved should be there for the singular joy of learning. Anyone that is in education for the job only should be in another line of work. I have taught 15 years and I am fortunate that I begin every year with hope and happiness in my heart for the students. If I only showed up to do a job, my effectiveness would be only measured by test scores for students (mine happen to be the highest in our 7 county area, by the way); instead, I measure my success by the enthusiasm of my students and my own willingness to come early/stay late/take work home. Please leave your black & white analysis in your cubicle and stay out of education debates; you really are not qualified to deliver an opinion of any substance.

I'm just sayin'

June 28th, 2011
9:53 am

@Dr. No–I believe some enter teaching because of the security (?) and summers off. However, a true teacher does love teaching students and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. These are the same teachers who are assigned all the extra duties and have more students in their class than anyone else. Probably “taking the joy out of teaching” isn’t as appropriate a statement as “please stop burning me out.” I have worked in classrooms and the private sector. You might be tired at the end of the private sector day, but at the end of every classroom day, you are physically, mentally and emotionally drained because you have given it all to all the students.
We have been teaching to the test for so long now our children no longer have critical thinking skills. They only know how to fill in the blank or multiple choice. Who convinced us that yearly testing was a good idea? The testing companies? When I went to school, the teachers tested us to make sure we had learned the material. At the end of the quarter, we had finals–and you had to study for everything you had been taught. Exams lasted three days, 2 finals per day. About every three years they would standardize test us to compare us more to the rest of the country than each other. I assumed it was to make sure the state’s curriculum was “getting the job done.” When we graduated from high school, we were prepared to enter the work force if college wasn’t our choice. It seems all we are preparing now are students. So many haven’t learned to think for themselves and are waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.

Dr. John Trotter

June 28th, 2011
9:54 am

School “reform” has NEVER been successful nationwide, statewide, or systemwide. NEVER. I defy anyone to attempt to dispute this categorical assertion. The entire “school reform” movement for over a century has been a dismal flop, as well pointed out by Diane Ravitch in one of her earlier books, “Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms.” Professor John Goodlad of UCLA essentially made the same conclusion in his mega-study, “A Place Called School.” School “reform” can only take place on a school-by-school basis and then only with an inspirational leader. None of these outside mandates and top-down, heavy-handed management crap. Snoopervision and standardized tests galore! None of this works. None. In fact, it only retards real education, as we can clearly see today with the dumb-downed and narrow curriculum. I am sorry, but I have not one scintilla of educational respect for the Arne Duncans and Michelle Rhees.

Becky

June 28th, 2011
9:55 am

I taught for five years in Special Education. You would not believe the paper work involved or the hours. I had students who could not even be in the classroom and would disrupt everyone while I was trying to teach. I loved being in the classroom but could not handle the stress of the student’s behavior, the mounds of paper work, or the administration breathing down my neck for everything to be perfect. I also had to put up with parents whom I would call and never get a call back. And don’t even get me started about the behavioral issues. It can downright awful in the classroom these days. I’ve been in schools where students have their IPODS out, their cell phones used during class, and interruptions galore. How can you teach in an environment like that? And all the top dogs want to do is blame the teachers. We are supposed to get up there and tap dance and entertain the students while trying to teach. It is really sad when you have to entertain students instead of teaching them.

motherjanegoose

June 28th, 2011
9:57 am

I LOVED teaching, in the classroom, and did so for 15 years. I still LOVE my job and that is teaching teachers and also on site visits with children.

I have frequently donated my time, because I believe in what I do and the outcomes.

The joy comes ( to me) when you have the AHA moment. Not in the 8 hour days nor the times you dealt with things you never dreamed could happen.

At the end of the day I do not wish to be out of my job, while others are waiting at the door to get in.

If I can teach, in the way I know to be effective, I can get children to learn and that is my joy. Red tape has often stolen my joy but I look in the mirror and remind myself that what I do will affect another life….hopefully in a positive manner. When I get feedback from thankful teachers or parents, then the joy kicks in.

Fedup

June 28th, 2011
9:59 am

Dr. Trotters’ comment regarding the “outside culture” is right on. No matter what goes on inside every classroom in every urban school, the kids go home in the afternoon to God knows what. The pressure of gangs, thugs, and hoodlums, multiplied with the lack of appropriate parental guidance/love, fosters an environment of the need for survival – only survival. Where are the bootleg preachers who steal money from families to cushion their own needs? Where is the leadership to help a child envision a positive future as a productive American citizen to combat the “gangsta rap” lyrics that penetrate the minds of these young people? For those of you who believe that it is the sole responsibility of successful Americans to pull people from the dungeons of despair in our cities and rural Southern States, that’s not going to solve the problems. Healing is going to need to come from within as well….it’s time for everyone to take a hard look at where this country is and that if we do not work together to resolve our problems, we will all need to learn how to speak Chinese and eat with sticks. That is not meant to be a funny joke, but a harsh reality of where we could be headed unless serious changes and developments can alter a bad forecast.

A Conservative Voice

June 28th, 2011
9:59 am

@DagnyT

June 28th, 2011
8:35 am
why not more inner city boarding schools like the one in Waiting for Superman?

Yeah, OK. Getting enough money allocated for the armed guards would be a problem

AMEN, Dr. Trotter

motherjanegoose

June 28th, 2011
10:00 am

OOPS….true educators rarely have just 8 hour days…what was I thinking?

Dr NO

June 28th, 2011
10:00 am

as “please stop burning me out.” I have worked in classrooms and the private sector.

I buy that. We all tend to get burnt out with our jobs.

gamom

June 28th, 2011
10:03 am

Between the School to Jail Pipeline and Corporal punishment still being used in Georgia Schools – we are in serious need of real reform. I too wonder if anyone is listening

Dr. John Trotter

June 28th, 2011
10:11 am

@ Fedup: Do you think for even one mili-second (is this a word?) that the Chinese would countenance ANY defiance from the children in their schools? Ha! The defiance and disruption that goes on in one day in each of America’s urban schools might very well be more disruption and defiance than the Chinese will see in an entire year…among it more than one billion students. I am trying to make a point. This defiance and disruption is unheard of in other cultures but it has become a way of life in so many, many of America’s urban schools. In fact, it’s almost universal in America’s urban schools. Every now and then, a Joe Clark comes along and makes a difference…then he is fired because he rocks the boat.

atlmom

June 28th, 2011
10:13 am

if we got rid of the feds in the ed. equation, and got rid of more than half the bureaucrats that do nothing but ‘oversee’ what is going on (because there isn’t enough of that in the school? we need dozens more for each school?).
then there would be plenty of money for whatever you want to do. boarding school, private like school, several different schools in a neighborhood/district that do things different ways, validating the idea that different children might learn differently.

Grob Hahn

June 28th, 2011
10:16 am

Politicians aren’t the ones destroying the schools. More often than not it is the very “children of color” you speak of as if they are victims. With a culture that still treats advancing non-white students as if they are “Acting White” what could you possibly think would be the result? Politicians can only do so much fiscal damage. The bricks and spray paint aren’t being supplied by them. The disrespect for teachers is not being taught by them. At some point a community will have to address the REAL problems and quit looking for external scapegoats. We have already seen that throwing money at a cultural problem does NOTHING to solve the actual problem. Time to man-up and actually ADMIT what is wrong.
Grobbbbbbbbbbbbbb

atlmom

June 28th, 2011
10:19 am

grob hahn: do you not think the politicians had ANYTHING to do with this? Really? Creating a lifestyle that says: it’s okay not to take responsibility? the man was so mean to you – you DESERVE to take from others?
Do you think govt doesn’t thrive on this wealth envy? on creating the whole myth that some people are owed something from others?

That eddie murphy skit from the early 80s was so relevant then, and it just as relevant today (where he dresses as a white man…from saturday night live)…

Mikey D

June 28th, 2011
10:19 am

Unfortunately, what is happening now is the same thing that usually happens in debates of public policy… Those in positions of leadership have a certain mindset, and they find those people whose ideas echo that mindset, and they listen to those people simply so they can convince themselves that they were right all along. That’s why Michelle Rhee was brought in twice to speak to our legislature, but people like Diane Ravitch or (gasp!) actual teachers were not.

Stacy

June 28th, 2011
10:21 am

Dr NO–Some people do have jobs that they love, and if not for the necessities of life, many would do it for free. I am sorry that you have chosen a field that you do not feel that way about.

One major issue with education is the parents. It doesn’t matter what school you attend, socioeconomic status, teachers education, or anything else. If the parent is not supportive of the child, pushes the child toward greatness, and supports the teacher, the student has no desire to achieve greatness.. Many parents feel that the public school system is their free child-care system and nothing else. Teachers are overwhelmed by paperwork and lack time to prepare exciting lesson plans to make learning fun for the students.

In my opinion, the college education system is failing our teachers by not preparing them for the content they are teaching. A middle grades education major who has concentrations in Math and Science is required to take content classes with future Rocket Scientist, Physicist, Biological engineers, and Mathematicians. How do these classes teach our future middle school teachers how to help a child learn simple math. That is like going to a Brain surgeon when you have something wrong with your toe. It just doesn’t make sense. Most other degrees teach you what you will be doing, it just makes sense that it should be the same for teachers. Middle grades majors are required to take 5 content classes and are certified to teach 4-8 grade. That is 5 years, so why not have a class for each year that covers the standards and goes in depth with it. While covering the content, they could also learn multiply ways to teach it as well as ways to make modifications for the diverse group of students that are being grouped together now. Instead of teaching to the middle you would be more prepared and be able to address all students needs. The Gov’t would never pass an idea like this, it makes to much sense.

bob leblah

June 28th, 2011
10:22 am

“Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid, and poor children of color are the fodder.”

Oh here we go, Excuse making 101 in session. You don’t get sent to prison because you’re black. You get sent to prison for breaking laws. So whose fault is it now? Is it lawmakers? Should we allow black people to get mulligans on crime committed? What?

The source of this is bad parenting. There are many kids that turn out fine from poor backgrounds. Stop making excuses, you only extend the problem.