Mitch McConnell, buffoon or just a sleaze ball?

Once again Mitch, like all the other ignorant Ed-reformers is telling us that what is good for our kids is less than what is good for people like him and his grandchildren. Vouchers are great for wealthy people because it would help defray some of the costs of going to the private schools their children already attend.

Mitch speaks of how much more money someone with a college degree will make that a high school dropout (A few years back I would have agreed). Really Mitch, considering the rising cost of a college education that could be a wash soon, especially if politicians like you fail to enact programs that will produce any decent paying jobs for those college graduates. So higher education takes a beating as well.

Of course there is always those college degree required, $7.50 an hour jobs, as a cashier at McDonalds available. Of all the occupations I dreamed of doing when I was growing up a fast food restaurant cashier wasn’t one of them. I also know I never thought of having my heart and brain removed so I could become a politician.

The public education reform game is a circular one. Mitch and his fellow politicians sell out our children’s education to the highest bidder, whether it’s for profit charters schools, test publishers, groups like TFA, or hedge fund operators, it doesn’t matter to them. Then to make the uniformed, apathetic public think our schools are failing they raise the competency requirements of tests like the Common Core to unreasonable levels (sometimes two grade levels above a student’s actually ability considering  age and maturity level) and when many students fail they tell us it’s public education and poor teaching that are causing schools and students to fail. Then they doctor the data (or just flat out lie) and stack the deck against public education via media blitzes and say we need vouchers and charters schools to stop the slide to mediocrity. Then the cycle begins again. Lies and more damn lies.

Most charter schools, including KIPP, are on average not as good at educating children, as are public schools, even though they receive more money per student. As we all know many charter schools are just plain garbage. They throw away kids, who don’t perform, back to those BAD public schools and recruit the best students they can find. Mitch also fails to mention that private schools have lower class sizes and can get rid of any student for most any reason as well.

How can he say he is for parental control and school choice when schools in the large cities are being shut down and re-opened as charter schools? Parents are protesting all over the country, but they are being ignored. I think what Mitch means is wealthy parental choice and control. No wonder Chicago decides to build a $400 million dollar prison, instead of keeping schools open. They are taking education away from children, not creating any jobs or opportunity for those that live in poverty and the lower middle class. What better place to get cheap labor? There was a reason the laws where changed in the 70s and 80s; to put more young black men in the private prisons that where being built. These goons are coming back for more, but this time I don’t think they care about race, just income, or lack thereof, levels. Any poor person will do.

I usually like to go out for dinner and drinks before being bent over. I’m sure most Americans do as well. Sorry folks, you don’t even have to take your pants off for this one. They are giving to us good right now. We have to fight back.

Thanks for reading,

Rick

Advertisements

No status, but much stress.

This is my response to an NY Times Op Ed piece entitled “Status and Stress”. Here’s the link: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/status-and-stress/?hp&_r=1

I wrote this yesterday in response to the Huffington Post piece on teachers supposedly failing black students. I think it has validity in regard to this article as well.

I grew up poor, especially after my mom and dad divorced when I was 9. I was the oldest of three boys. Dad used to drink any money he made away even before they divorced. Afterward he never paid a dime of child support. We lived on welfare and in subsidized housing. We had little to nothing to eat at the end of the month. We dumpster dived to collect bottles and cans to sell for food until the next government check came. Mom went to college during this time.

We had few clothes and sometimes had to tape our shoes together until we could afford another pair, which wasn’t often. We had some health care provided, but it was poor quality to say the least. It was a living hell. Stressful and humiliating to say the least. I am one of only two of us to have graduated from high school. I am the only one to have a college degree. I also have two master’s degrees. I am a white man telling any of you skeptics out there that this is a real issue and not a racial fantasy. Poverty doesn’t involve lazy people, only people who are down on their luck.

It’s sure easy to spend money on wars and campaigns, but it’s oh so difficult to help the Americans with the most need. Shame on us for not taking care of our own in this rich country.

In response to those who say teachers are failing black students.

Once again social ills cannot be blamed on teachers. I am training a student teacher (I am in the room at all times) this summer from a prestigious institution in the Houston area. She is white, as am I. She comes from an upper middle class family, while I grew up poor and on welfare for six years of my young life.

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/27/are-teachers-to-blame-for-achievement-gap-between-black-and-white-students/
The school district is in an urban area of the city. There are only two white students in a class of 23, along with an even mixture of black and Hispanic students. The first semester of summer school not one student failed the course, even though we had many at-risk along with a few special needs students in the class room. The students come from many socioeconomic backgrounds. Some work until 2 am to help support their families. Some are from middle class families, while others live in poverty. They are all capable, some are just a little further behind academically than others, because of their at birth starting point. This should be an expectation any one with common sense would have.

We don’t care what color they are. We treat them all the same. We may use different learning approaches with each individual student, but the class room is a dynamic student friendly environment that allows all students to be successful. Some students are further behind other students in knowledge and other educational attributes, but that would be expected, even in an all white small town, where there are trailer homes, modest homes and mansions. No one would say teachers are responsible for failing those children from the trailer park, now would they? Most smart people would understand that children who come from affluent households have better educational opportunities from birth than do those from the poor side of town.

In this class room we can and have been able to take whatever baseline a student of any color starts from and show them a successful educational path. Student’s who start out further behind their cohorts may have to work a little harder to catch up, but just because they start out at a different baseline doesn’t mean they aren’t capable. However, ultimately it is the student’s early upbringing that establishes that baseline that all teachers must work from. Teacher’s don’t fail black students, our government and politicians do (Isn’t this the group edrefomers come from?).

With pre-kindergarten for all, especially those with the highest economic need we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with. Will health care for all we wouldn’t have undiagnosed health issues that directly affect student learning. With free educational opportunities for the parents of these low socioeconomic students we wouldn’t have this issue. With an major increase in the minimum wage (you know one that actually kept up with inflation) those jobs they are working at now would pay $22.50 an hour, instead of the below poverty level $7.50 an hour we currently have. Wouldn’t just those four things alone set up these students on a more equal educational baseline?

Teachers don’t determine their wages. Teachers don’t determine governmental programs. Teachers don’t decide what a failing school is. Ed-reformers, some of whom are really hedge funders in disguise, along with the help of the DOE (Arne Duncan= hedge funder) and politicians are making sure inner city students, especially black students, are appearing to be failing with smoke and mirrors. The true failure is underfunding of public education and the diverting of those funds to the ed-reformers to start for profit schools, which in reality fail all kids, not just those of color. Teach For America is also to blame for many inexperienced teachers (5 weeks of training before teaching, really?) being in the those inner city class rooms and hurting those children even more.

Teachers do a hell of a job considering the circumstances they find themselves in. How many in the corporate world use their own money for supplies that students need? How many in the corporate world take items from home and use them to help those who have little? How many in the corporate world have put their arm around a crying child to let them know someone is there for them? The people who blame teachers for black students failing or public school issues in general are part of the problem.

Not every approach works for all learners

I have to say I get tired of hearing about this new software program or this new way to teach a subject with guaranteed success. Learning happens differently for all students. No two learners are the same. However, we buy all these programs, read all the newest books and other literature that supposedly gives us the answers on how to reach each and every student, in the class room with one miraculous approach.

I would say that learners have not changed over time; that they have been the same since the days of the one room school house. My premise is that education changed early in the 20th century and the focus became more on the actual school, teachers and administrators, with the students being left out of the equation. My meaning is every thing became about the process of the school and it’s inner workings and less about the students learning. The industrial age also helped to keep learning less about the individual student and more about process of turning out factory workers who were to remain silent in their desks, which were lined up in nice neat little rows of conformity because that’s what they would be expected to do in the factory–shut up and work.

Now, in the 21st century corporations, groups and individuals roll out software programs that supposedly will fix the lack of learning and enhance student performance. We have “experts” who write books on how to help all children successfully learn in the classroom and perform well on standardized tests. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture.

Still, none of this truly speaks to the needs of the students as individuals, within a group setting, each of whom have different needs or learning styles than any of the other 18 to 35 students in that class room. Every product is focused on how this will help the teachers instruct (in some cases supposedly make it easier for them to do their jobs) students successfully. It’s as if each student, campus, district and state are the same and all have the same types of students and needs. We all know that not to be the case. It is of course fantasy for profit. The same can be said for products for administrators and the programs and books that will help make you better at your job and run your campus more smoothly.

Once again, none of this speaks to the INDIVIDUAL student in that classroom and what will work for them to succeed. There are at-risk students, many of whom are really bright, but lack the motivation to do there best for many reasons. Some are just plain bored or the learning process confuses them or makes them angry. Maybe some students work the late shift to help their families out financially and are tired the next day, too tired to care about school work. Maybe a child in second grade, whose home life is terribly stressful and neither parent (if there are two) or guardian cares about education or even the child. What about the high functioning student with Asperger’s in a class room with children who are GT or above average learners, or those receiving Response To Intervention (RTI), 504 or other special education services all in the same class room? Does this generalized book, that training or this program help these students? I flat out say NO, they do not.

Stop buying and throwing all this information at teachers because you think it is the next best thing out there. It really is not helping, it is only muddying the waters. We need to stop driving fast paced curriculum that covers far too many topics in a shallow and uninformative way. We need to slow down so the students can learn the most important topics in an in-depth way that promotes higher level thinking. Teachers bonding and getting to know each student and what works for them is the only way to truly serve these children, so let’s put the emphasis back on the student-teacher connection. Save some money and stop buying every new item that comes along and put that money in the class rooms instead. The class room teacher should be the decision maker on what a student’s needs are because he/she sees them everyday. School administrators should only step in when a teacher asks for help. Politicians, textbook publishers and software developers should not be offering one size fits all solutions in any situation.

Rant over.

Thanks for reading!

Rick

Welcome to 2013

“For the American people, out-of-control corporate power –
corporate fascism, if you will – has eroded their standard of
living, to say nothing about the standard of democracy.”