"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do Facebook Posts Illustrate the State of American Education?

It's been an interesting few days in education in St. Louis.  We listened to a School Choice Week panel discussion about closing traditional public schools in favor of opening alternative public schools (charters) with just a passing mention of the federal takeover of education by Arne Duncan.  We listened to a legislative panel presentation about a court decision or legislative "fix" that will allow students from unaccredited districts to attend schools in accredited districts at a projected tremendous financial cost to both the sending and receiving districts.

What's rarely asked in these discussions is why the schools are bad.  It seems to be an unspoken assumption that:
  • it's the teacher's fault
  • it's the administration's fault
  • there's not enough money
  • it's the union's fault
What I didn't hear from these panels on educational failures are these premises:
  • some children can't/won't learn
  • some parents can't/won't support their children
  • federal mandates take time away from actual teaching in the classroom
  • federal mandates smother innovation and creates teaching to the test 
  • parents that DO support children often are dismissed by teachers and administrators if parental vision differs from the school vision
What seems to be missing is a true sense of community.  Education reform has morphed into a war between parents, taxpayers, schools, administrators, teachers, unions, corporate interests, Federal agencies, politicians and students.  When education becomes so centralized and top down driven, the stakeholders become estranged from each other.  When students are moved around like pawns on a huge chess board so the interests of adults are reached (unions, charter school venture capitalists, data set completion, etc), it's the students caught in the crossfire of agendas. 

To close out this wild week in Missouri education, we are offering a bit of dark humor from various Facebook postings.  Do these postings represent the current crop of students from American educational institutions?  Is this what NCLB has wrought?  If it is, why are we subscribing to Race to the Top mandates (NCLB on steroids) which demand even more centralized control, standardized testing and less critical thinking skills?

From "Unforgivable Facebook Posts": (warning some strong language)




You can read the other "unforgivable Facebook posts" here.  These aren't all from young people.  There is a post from a dad apparently flummoxed by the internet and his son rescuing him from the avalanche of technology available.     

1 comment:

  1. Great points, Gretchen. When the government dictates curricula down to "look at class, smile, then continue reading," you've got a problem.

    Central planning benefits no one but the central planners--and the state police who put down dissent and subversion.


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