I became a conservative after a year teaching 4th grade at a public school in the inner city. Before that, I probably would have said I was a liberal. I wasn’t really interested in politics, but all my friends were liberals, so I figured I must be one too.
When I got my teacher’s license, the first thing I did was go looking for the most challenging teaching situation I could find. I had just completed a two-year Masters program at a prestigious teaching school in New York City and was filled with idealism, determination, and a cocky conviction that I would succeed where so many others had failed. (Think Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.) Continue reading
If a prize were awarded for the worst policy idea, one that would waste billions in some futile quest for the impossible, the indisputable winner would be uplifting the academic bottom by fixing their “bad schools.” It is a seductive idea that never seems to die despite repeated failures; it even seduces free-market conservatives infatuated with school choice remedies. What can possibly explain such stupidity?
Let’s start with the underlying “logic” of this doomed quest—the belief that low-IQ, academically unmotivated youngsters prone to classroom disorder attending schools disinclined to impose discipline can achieve reading and mathematical proficiency by tinkering with school environments. Moreover, that these troubled youngsters already attend well-financed schools with perfectly adequate facilities, small classes, state-certified teachers, ample pedagogical specialists and everything else that physically defines a “good school” is hardly acknowledged. Nor is there any past evidence that this fix-the-environment approach, everything from unscrewing chairs from the floor to cutting-edge technology, has ever moved the academic proficiency needle.
But hope springs eternal and the fantasy’s latest installment was President Obama’s $7 billion dollar failed School Improvement Grants Program whose aim, according to Arne Duncan Obama’s Secretary of Education from 2009 to 2016, was to “turn around” 1000 schools per year over five years (according to the DOE rhetoric, this initiative was to “…implement innovative, effective, ambitious, comprehensive, and locally driven strategies”). Alas, whether calibrated by test scores, graduation rates or college enrollment, nothing helped. And keep in mind that the multi-billion dollar nostrum has been around since the George W. Bush era though the Obama administration significantly increased funding.
The following column by Alan Caruba was originally published by Kettle Moraine Publications on August 29, 2010, however it won’t be long before the end of summer, and the victims of the Fed-ucation Holocaust will be returning to the den once more. Alan’s words are as direct and point-on as they were so many years ago. ~ J.B.
The Blood-Sucking Educator
As the nation’s children return to elementary and secondary schools, it is increasingly essential that their parents and communities coast to coast realize how poorly served they are and how their learning environment is increasingly tainted by a socialist agenda.
Our nation’s schools have long been factories of boredom, centers of academic incompetence. High school graduation rates have been in a fairly steady decline. At its peak in 1969, the rate was 77 percent. By 2007 it was 68.8 percent.
In mid-August, The Wall Street Journal reported that “New data show that fewer than 25% of 2010 graduates who took the ACT college-entrance exam possessed the academic skills necessary to pass entry-level courses, despite modest gains in college-readiness among U.S. high school students in the last few years.”
What caught my eye was a quote from Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, who said that “if our kids aren’t dropping out physically, they are dropping out mentally.” Continue reading
Thirty-five states have policies engineered toward sending extra dollars to needy districts. But not all are successful.
Students at Little Fort Elementary School in Waukegan, Illinois. Illinois is one of three states where school funding is regressive overall. (Kamil Krzaczynski / AP)
Districts serving many low-income children in New Jersey receive nearly $5,000 more per pupil from the state government than districts with a fewer poor students. If that same district was located in Montana, it would only receive an extra $18 per student from the state. Despite the fact that the majority of states have education funding formulas meant to target low-income students, the effectiveness of this targeting varies widely around the country. Continue reading
The NEA – the Ultimate Trojan Horse
The National Education Association meets every year for a big national convention in some city or other and teachers from all over the country show up for this event.
An agenda is usually presented showing all the things nationally that the NEA is either for or against. In the past several years they have presented agendas that Hugo Chavez, Marxist dictator of Venezuela, would love. Many of the issues they choose to address have little or nothing to do with education, but everything to do with their leftist worldview.
While many have heard of the NEA they don’t have any idea of how long it has been around or what it really does, only that many of their kids’ teachers belong to it, and the compliant media, when it reports on NEA conventions, is not about to give out anymore real information than it has to. In all fairness to public school teachers, there are some that are not in favor of what this “teachers union” does, but their opposition is generally ignored or ridiculed. Continue reading
If one compiled a list of massive cultural engineering projects, America’s effort to close race-related academic achievement gaps would be the most ambitious. For over a half century we have spent tens of billions, devised scores of remediation schemes, and pursued legal solutions galore, all to no avail. Even conservatives normally hostile to social engineering have joined the quest.
What makes this enterprise remarkable is that every single putative nostrum entails zero effort by the students themselves as if those targeted lacked any agency for academic uplift. To use bizarre phraseology, this is passivity on steroids. This is not to suggest that if math-challenged junior got religion and buckled down he could master stochastic calculus; rather, in places like Baltimore where schools spend an average of $16,000 per student and barely any can meet minimal English and math standards, room exists for improvement . Continue reading
There’s a good reason why some college departments are riddled with social justice ideologues, and others are not. It’s because these beliefs are completely illogical, so they can only thrive in subjects that are open to interpretation. So if you went to college and took a class for liberal arts, gender studies, or sociology, you’re far more likely to run into politically correct nonsense than if you took a class in say, astrophysics. It’s hard to insert emotionally charged drivel into a subject that is relatively cut and dry. Continue reading
What does an expert in learning think about how to learn math (and other things for that matter)?
In an interview published in a recent Wall Street Journal, Oakley did not have good words for the permissivist way math is taught in the United States and offered a blunt assessment of U.S. education in general. Continue reading
Across ethnicities and economic status, girls outperform boys on English in standardized tests
Three of four African-American boys in California classrooms failed to meet reading and writing standards on the most recent round of testing, according to data obtained from the state Department of Education and analyzed by CALmatters.
More than half of black boys scored in the lowest category on the English portion of the test, trailing their female counterparts. The disparity reflects a stubbornly persistent gender gap in reading and writing scores that stretches across ethnic groups. Continue reading
There is a scene in one of Heinlein’s books [Starship Troopers] in which the teacher asks the student if he’d be happy just getting the medal for a race he didn’t win. The student is rightly outraged and thinks it makes a mockery of the proceedings.
It wasn’t until last week when I found myself caught in a Facebook thread on Common Core started by my friend and colleague Larry Correia that I realized this scene must be utterly baffling to the left.
You see, my husband posted some examples of Common Core math problems.
He’s a mathematician and it exasperates him when people praise Common Core for “teaching children to think.” Continue reading
A high school principal in Pennsylvania has suspended nearly half of the student population after an alarming number of unexcused absences.
About 500 students at Harrisburg High School have received suspension notices as the school’s principal has begun cracking down on the issue of unexcused absences among students.
According to PennLive, at least 100 of the students issued suspension notices have served one-day suspensions following Principal Lisa Love’s effort to crackdown on the problem. Continue reading
Update on “Education”
Once the public/parents catch on to the goals of government school programs, e.g. School to Work, Goals 2000, Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, Common Core…the tactic is simply to change the name, give glowing recommendations and expand the collectivist/Marxist dumb down goals to short circuit children’s minds. Why? Ignorant, indoctrinated students grow into compliant, uninformed citizens, easily manipulated. Continue reading
How did we get here at this existential crossroads? Ask the communist agitators, school indoctrinators, Hollywood, and community organizers whom parents entrust their children to every day
How did our society get where we are today? Where did this profound hatred, disrespect for authority, for the rule of law, disdain for their own country, utter laziness, entitlement, anarchy, and anti-Americanism come from, especially in the younger generations who shape the future of our country?
There is no simplistic answer. The default answer is always horrible parenting or lack thereof. Parents spend less and less time with their progeny as the government takes over their education at a very early age, or are in need of behavioral reeducation themselves. Older fathers with pony tails and mothers going through menopause are raising terror children who have never been spanked or made to behave like normal, rational human beings. They scream in restaurants and public places at hours when they should be in bed while the parents try to talk to them in a calm voice to the exasperation of everyone around them, trying to enjoy themselves while celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, interrupted by howling brats. Continue reading
Read Full Story: Canada TOO???
There are some subjects one thinks would be immune from the input of social justice warriors. While social studies are ripe for their meddling—as are literature and even science these days—a subject like math should be resistant to their tampering. Well, one would think that.
Unfortunately, a report at Campus Reform shows that such an assumption would be wrong.
“Teaching Social Justice through Secondary Mathematics” is a six-week online course designed by Teach for America and offered through EdX, which provides free online classes from top universities such as Harvard University, MIT, and Columbia University. Continue reading
Netflix’s recent announcement that it would be producing a second season of Thirteen Reasons Why has raised new questions about the disastrous state of the US public school system and its effects on the economy.
“Hey, it’s Hannah Baker,” says the show’s protagonist, played by a stunning Katherine Langford in the opening episode. “Get settled in. Because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended.”
The Thirteen Reasons’ portrait of how a stifling, bureaucratic system progressively cuts this teenage girl to pieces, eventually driving her to death, provides a dramatized, insightful reflection on (another) emerging lost generation. Continue reading
Six schools in Baltimore have exactly zero students who are proficient in math and English.
WBFF reports Project Baltimore led an investigation and discovered five Baltimore City high schools, along with one middle school, do not have any students who scored high enough to be deemed “proficient” in math and English on state testing.
The schools that did not have a single proficient student are Booker T. Washington Middle School, Frederick Douglass High School, Achievement Academy at Harbor City, New Era Academy, Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood High, and New Hope Academy. Continue reading
If you know anything about New Orleans public schools, you probably know this: Hurricane Katrina wiped them out and almost all the schools became privately run charters.
Young children play outside in the fog at Crocker College Prep, an elementary school in New Orleans. ~ Clarence Williams/WWNO
Many of those schools subscribed to the no excuses discipline model — the idea that if you crack down on slight misbehavior, you can prevent bigger issues from erupting.
That was also true of Crocker College Prep, an elementary school in New Orleans. It had strict rules about everything. Students had to sit up straight at their desks, eyes tracking the speaker. They had to walk the halls in silence and even wear the right kind of socks. Students who broke these rules, or acted out in other ways, were punished.
The thing is, students across New Orleans face high rates of exposure to trauma, but school discipline policies have rarely accounted for that.
A plane passenger asked a teacher a kind of rude question about her job.
She responded eloquently!
It’s annoying when people mistakenly think your job is really simple.
Most people’s lines of work are more intricate and multilayered than those who don’t do that work would guess. So most of us can think of a time someone reductively assumed that our jobs are very simple (whether it’s writer, janitor, stay-at-home parent, or any job really). Continue reading