F. Scott Fitzgerald said,

"There are no second acts in American lives."

Most people think he was crazy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

One More Rant Before I Go...

When, as a society, we talk about education reform, I want to laugh.
Because we really don't need education reform...
We need education revolution.

I have been digesting "Waiting For Superman" for months. If you haven't seen this documentary, you should. If you are a teacher, it will leave you feeling frustrated and guilty. If you are a parent, you will leave feeling angry. If you are a citizen of the United States, I hope you will leave feeling like you want to do something. (Of course, if you are a lawyer, you will leave wanting to sue people and make a ton of money, but that's another story for another day. Kind of an "I hate lawyers except for my sister and Perry Mason and Matlock" story.)

We've tried all kinds of things to 'fix' education: Public Law 94-142, which guarantees a public education for all students in the least restrictive environment...tracking students according to ability... standardization of curriculum...incorporating technology..."new" math...
and none of them have worked.

All that we've managed to do is point fingers at the most convenient scapegoat, and currently the scapegoats are teachers.
Another teacher once wrote that there is no other profession where you fail EVERY SINGLE DAY, and yet you keep going back to fail again the next day. And maybe once every month or two, you see a glimmer of success. THAT'S what keeps you going. Not the money (ha!), not the respect (double-ha!), not those awesome health benefits (that actually are pretty good, if you are single...but forget insuring your family, because you could be in the red after all those kids you decided to have are added to your plan).
And you know what? I agree. I see lousy teachers all the time. I see adults in schools who SHOULD NOT BE THERE because they really don't care whether the kids fail or not. I see folks who look at a day of failure as just one more day, instead of as a challenge. I see teachers who EXPECT kids to fail, so they naturally do. They don't believe they can do any better.
But let's not point our fingers only at teachers. We're not the only ones to blame. Some parents have given their kids the idea that we are the enemy, because they want to be their kids' friends. Some administrators don't want to take a stand because they're afraid of litigation. Some kids are just being kids--because there are kids who will always be rebellious, and will be buttheads just because it's who they think they need to be at that given moment.

We've instituted programs in education reform in order to solve 'problems'--many of them specific problems which affect a very small number of students, some of them larger, nationwide pushes to address issues that affect all kids. Studies are done in order to (a) figure out what should be done next, and (b) keep people who have their PhDs in education employed. These new programs might work for awhile, but then it's onto the next boat that comes along.**
Here's my complaint: these programs cost money.
Here's my other complaint: when the current multi-million dollar program no longer works, you throw it out and spend a few million more on a new one.

I believe we throw them ALL out. All of them. And we all work together--teachers, parents, administrators, kids...maybe a token PhD and one governmental official (but he/she is a non-voting participant)..to decide on a comprehensive program to help all kids in the public schools. With all the money we're not spending on bull$hit programs, we can mount the revolution.

Who's bringing the pitchforks and torches? Please sign up on the sheet that's going around.

**Career Start, ALCs, Writer's Workshop, Balanced Literacy, Instant Recess, Problem-Based Learning....

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