Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Teacher in a Gun Store

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Young People Inspire Me

The main reason why I became a teacher was to inspire and motivate young people to change the world and make it a better place. I'll let you in on a little secret, though. The real "main reason" is that they inspire me.

Every. Single. Day.

Gitanjali Rao is a great example of a young person who inspires me. This young woman from Highlands Ranch, Colorado came up with a more portable way to test water for lead.

“Science allows me to look at approaches to solve the real-world problems out there,” she says in an interview at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado, where she’s currently a seventh-grader. Rao was inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan when she came up with the idea that ultimately won her the top prize at the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

I see students like Ms. Rao every day. The things they say, the way they express themselves, and the hope they have for the future is very inspiring indeed!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Worried About Education? Start With Fake News

Right wing bloggers (and really, conservatives in general) have a fixation on our country's education system. They think that it's all one giant, liberal indoctrination. That basically means they want it to be one, giant conservative indoctrination machine. Remember, it's always a safe bet that if the right is bitching about _____________, they are actually trying to do _______________.

Conservatives who whine about the education system should be happy, though. They have successfully undermined both the education system and the liberal elites in the media...with the help of Russia, of course. Students today think that most regular sources of news (CNN, New York Times etc) lie and are all fake news. Yet, they believe what they read on Twitter.

So, Pepto Bismol-colored water pouring from faucets, a tornado spiraling alongside a rainbow and the president of the Philippines urging citizens to kill drug dealers-all declared FAKE by students today. But the gorilla named Harumbe getting 15,000 write in votes, that was all real. Why?

Because they read it on Twitter.

Between the tacit support of treason (Russia's support of Trump) and the continue attacks on sources of information out of juvenile spite, it's clear that these people are an acute and very present threat to our national security.

And they need to be stopped.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Back To School

I've been in school for the past three weeks but the rest of the nation will officially be back tomorrow. That means it's time for articles like this.

Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

I like the attention to 21st century skills and the connection to students. I don't like the fact that her classroom seems to be about her and not the students. And the "ooo-ahh-isn't-technology-making-us-smarter" thing is really played. Let's please stop that now.

Who gives a shit that her room looks like Starbuck's? The article's main thrust is that education has become corporation driven and that's a problem. I don't think that it is. What is a problem if the classroom is about the instructor and it becomes a cult of personality thing. It's not HER classroom.

It belongs to the students.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Entitled Consevatives

Conservatives think that liberals have the corner market on entitlement. They whine and foam at the mouth about how liberals, especially the ones on college campuses, are massively entitled, need their safe spaces and want to protest everything.

Yet, this recent piece in the Times shows that climate deniers on the right are the absolute worst when it comes to entitlement. Check this out.

When the teacher, James Sutter, ascribed the recent warming of the Earth to heat-trapping gases released by burning fossil fuels like the coal her father had once mined, she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes.
When he described the flooding, droughts and fierce storms that scientists predict within the century if such carbon emissions are not sharply reduced, she challenged him to prove it. “Scientists are wrong all the time,” she said with a shrug, echoing those celebrating President Trump’s announcement last week that the United States would wit“It’s not about opinions,” he told her. “It’s about the evidence.”
“It’s like you can’t disagree with a scientist or you’re ‘denying science,”’ she sniffed to her friends.
Gwen, 17, could not put her finger on why she found Mr. Sutter, whose biology class she had enjoyed, suddenly so insufferable. Mr. Sutter, sensing that his facts and figures were not helping, was at a loss. And the day she grew so agitated by a documentary he was showing that she bolted out of the school left them both shaken.hdraw from the Paris climate accord.
When Mr. Sutter lamented that information about climate change had been removed from the White House website after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, she rolled her eyes.
“It’s his website,” she said.

What an entitled baby! I'm hearing information I don't like.....wah!!!!! Seriously, how is this any different from the folks that whine on campus about hearing words they don't like or that offend them. Like most climate deniers, they are in eternal, adolescent rebellion mode. Oh well...

At least some of the folks in the class recognize reality and changed their minds.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Laughably Wrong

Nikto has been doing a great job covering all the Trump stuff this week so I thought I would focus on something else: education. Being that this is my area of expertise, I had a pretty strong reaction to this recent story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune regarding the loosening of regulation in obtaining a teacher's license. Here's the part that cracked me up the most.

"If this bill passes, there will be a teacher shortage," Cwodzinski said. He predicted that community experts would be unprepared for the multifaceted demands of the job: "When ... they find out that we have papers to grade 'til midnight and curriculum meetings that go 'til five on Fridays and classroom management issues, and safety and discipline ... and Lord help them when they're told you can't go potty until the bell rings," he said.

Let's take this crap one piece at a time. Only English teachers grade papers until midnight. If any other teacher is doing so, it's because they assigned them. Most instructors give multiple choice assessments or assign other forms of work. Curriculum meetings are never on Fridays and invariably are professional days off or are on staff development days. If an instructor has classroom management issues, they should adjust how they deal with the issue. There are a myriad of methods (ENVOY, PBIS) that are effective with any sort of student. This would include discipline. I'm not sure what he means by "safety" but there are only a few drills a year, usually done in the fall and spring, that don't take up much time. Finally, teachers go to the bathroom all the time during class. Tenured teachers leave their rooms unattended all the time. I'm not a big fan of it but if you have to go, you go. Further, you can always get a paraprofessional to come to your home if it's an emergency. So, all of his protestations are nonsense and he is laughably wrong.

As to the larger issue of easing the path to being a teacher, I think it's going to have to happen. We have a teacher shortage in this state, in particular with math, science, and special ed. Who will fill these roles once even more baby boomers retire? Besides, administrators aren't going to hire someone who is underqualified. There doesn't need to be a state law saying who is or isn't qualified. A principal will simply not hire someone who doesn't have the degree they desire.

I had to jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops to get my license. People are turned off by this and that's why there is a teacher shortage. The real issue is tenure. It needs to change. Yesterday. Seniority should be taken into account but only in terms of not allowing districts to cut people simply because they make too much money. Unions need to get tougher on teachers who are just phoning it in and teachers evaluations should be done by outside, private entities.

Administrators should be given greater leeway to hire and fire based on performance. If that happens, the quality of both teaching and candidates coming into teaching will improve.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Busing That Works

In Hartford, Conn., voluntary desegregation is diversifying classrooms...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Make America Learn Again

Bill raises some pretty serious questions in this video. Why must people insist on being ignorant? Lately, I've been thinking it's just out of spite towards "smug liberals" and that's not an ideology.

It's an adolescent tantrum.


Monday, April 18, 2016

April Come She Will

April is usually a time of hope as Spring is about to arrive. People around the country are welcoming the warmer weather and the chance to sit outside in shirt sleeves watching a baseball game. But for many teachers, it's a really crappy time of the year as school districts decide who to cut and who to displace.

Of course, it's not entirely the district's fault. Teachers's unions make contracts that protect the most senior of staff regardless of how good or bad their performance. The reasoning behind this is solid given market economics. If the districts were allowed to cut whomever they wanted, all of the higher salaried staff would go every ten years or so to save money. Newer and inexperienced staff would flood the schools all in the name of penny pinching. Quality of education would severely drop as these new staff members would be challenged with a whole host of issues like classroom management, lesson planning, and relationship building.

Yet the issue of poor performance by veteran teachers persists and there needs to be significant changes to the way they are evaluated. First, they should not be evaluated as they are now by their fellow teachers who take a couple of years off to do Q-Comp (teacher observations). Outside and unbiased evaluators should be hired by each district to carry out these observations. Second, poor performers should not be passed along simply because they are senior. There should be significant consequences if they are not doing their jobs effectively including termination. Third, teachers that have been in the game for twenty years should shift out of the classroom and into a mentoring role for new teachers. With massive numbers retiring in the next ten years due to the baby boomer generation heading off to pasture, there will be a teacher shortage in this country. Many states, like Hawaii for example, are already experiencing this. New teachers need the guidance of their elders.

Take it from someone who has sadly experienced this too many times. Experience doesn't always mean quality.  This does not mean that we should jump on the right wing douche bag bandwagon and vilify all unions for ever and ever amen. But we do have to change the way the system currently works because it protects too many poor quality teachers.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Embrace The Chaos

As most of the nation (including myself) heads back to school today, here is my assessment of the current state of national education.

People in the United States crave simple solutions to complex problems. Their lives are filled with enough static that when it comes to issues like education, they desire the quick answer. In exploring the question of whose interests schools should serve, the response seems evident and merely one word: students. After all, the students’ education is the ultimate goal of each school. An education means that opportunity will arise and equality in the greater world will be achieved for each student that walks through its doors.

It is at this point, however, that the complexity begins to creep in. Each student is unique and wonderfully individualistic. They have their own personality which develops from their socialization process. Every student comes from a different culture. Their family, their community, their peers and how they interact with the mass media all combine with the school to contribute to how they are socialized. These interactions produce a plethora of diverse people that absolutely require differentiation which leads to a perpetual state of chaos in our country’s education system.

Invariably, this leads to far too many educators trying to “fix” the chaos. Instead what they should do is focus on managing the complexity of the chaos and recognize that it’s always going to be there. At the outset of this process, patience on the part of all parties involved is essential. If we are to serve the interest of the students as a primary function of the school, educators need to be patient with students and understand their socialization process. Who is in their family? What community do they live in? Who are their peers? To what degree is mass media involved in their lives?

The main area of exploration of each student’s unique nature should be their parents. Most parents today are employed and quite busy in their professional lives. So, some of the child rearing part of a student’s socialization has fallen to teachers. In some ways, we are viewed as “the help” and are now responsible for teaching children common courtesy and respect. At times, this is most difficult because the parents of many students don’t understand this concept themselves and are decidedly lacking in maturity. Therefore, it is vitally important that parents receive their own education through programs like ECFE or other forums in which they can learn how to actually parent. The parents of a student must be an integral part of the triangle of learning (student-teacher-parents) or students’ interest will not be served.

The secondary areas of exploration into each student’s unique nature are important as well. What is their socio-economic status? Do they work outside of school to help support their family? Students’ interests can’t be served if they are working late into the night to support their family and are responsible for 2-3 hours of homework every night, for example. The social cliques in which each student belong can be a support or a hindrance, depending upon the people in each group. Getting to know the peers that each student surrounds themselves can offer great insight. Finally, a student’s interaction with mass media, particularly technology driven media like smartphones and social media, can be illuminating in terms of serving their interest. If they spend excessive amounts of time engaged with technology, lesson plans can be altered to connect with them in that fashion.

If educators are going to serve the interests of their students, they must understand how to manage the complexity of the unique nature of each student. This begins with engaging the parents to be part of the education process and extends to understanding the community and the peers of each student. Socialization via the mass media is also important in understanding how to best serve the interests of each student. Certainly, these tasks are not simple and require a great deal of patience on all parties involved in mentoring students. Yet they must be pursued vigorously if educators want opportunity and equality for each of their students.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Problem We All Live With

Right now, all sorts of people are trying to rethink and reinvent education, to get poor minority kids performing as well as white kids. But there's one thing nobody tries anymore, despite lots of evidence that it works: desegregation. Nikole Hannah-Jones looks at a district that, not long ago, accidentally launched a desegregation program...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Complete Failure To Grasp The Obvious

Whenever I see articles in the paper about education, I am invariably driven even further to the brink of insanity. This recent piece in the Strib on suspensions in the Minneapolis School District may send me even further. Why?

District officials could not explain the dramatic increase but say they remain committed to reducing suspensions and point to a reduction in suspensions from previous years.

Suspension numbers typically increase, even dramatically, during the spring. Educators are also studying the reason suspensions go up in the spring.

Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? They really don't know!!??

Good grief...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Where is the Joy? (Best Picture Nominee #5)

I have to admit that there are plenty of days when I'd like to be the kind of teacher that J.K. Simmons is in the film Whiplash. This was especially true after my 4th block World Studies class last semester.

Yet, after I watched this film, I couldn't help but wonder...where is the joy? Music is about love, peace, happiness and joy, not a military style regiment that sucks all the fun out of playing. I've played guitar for nearly 30 years and never had anywhere near the obsessive desire to be the best that is on display in this film.

Simmons is going to win Best Supporting Actor, though. His performance is stellar!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

How Federal Spending Lifts Economies

Check out the recent study done by the Washington Center For Equitable Growth. If the United States makes more of an investment increasing our students' science and math scores, the dividends would be enormous.

The important thing to note here is that the increase in GDP means an increase in government revenue which means the investment in such programs would more than pay off, based on their study.

This study clearly illustrates the power that federal spending has to lift economies. There simply aren't any other entities out there that have this kind of muscle. One would think that the anti-spending crowd would want to make more money, right?:)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Something Every Teacher Should Watch

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good News Round Up

Most of the news that is heavily reported these days is bad news. There are number of reasons for this but the main one is that bad news sells better. I think this is complete bullshit and, quite frankly,  a cop out by the media. They could decided tomorrow to focus on all of the progress in the world (like the Christian Science Monitor did) and people just might feel better about the future. In fact, they could evolve away from anger, hate, and fear into much more reasonable beings. I haven't talked about good news on here in a while but starting today, it's going to become a more regular feature here at Markadelphia.

First up, we have this story about the Earth's ozone layer.

The ozone layer that shields the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing early signs of thickening after years of depletion, a UN study says. The ozone hole that appears annually over Antarctica has also stopped growing bigger every year. The report says it will take a decade before the hole starts to shrink. Scientists say the recovery is entirely due to political determination to phase out the man-made CFC gases destroying ozone. The study was published by researchers from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story... This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of tackling climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Very good news on a problem that has been around all of my life.

Next we have this report on US child wellness and education which concluded there have been gradual and incremental improvements in the lives of American children. Child-wellness indicators in four main areas – economic well-being, education, health, and family and community – reflected an overall increase in the well-being of America’s youths.

Areas of improvement included the drop in teen births per 1,000 (from 40 to 29) and a decrease in the number of children without health insurance (from 10 percent to 7 percent). All four education trouble spots addressed in the study – children not attending preschool, fourth-graders not proficient in reading, fourth-graders not proficient in math, and high school students not graduating on time – dipped at least slightly, between 2 and 8 percent. All health issues improved as well, with fewer low-birth-weight babies, fewer child and teen deaths, and fewer teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol. The CDC also confirms some of these improvements.

Very cool!

Finally, we have news from the United Nations that Rwanda and Ethiopia have the fastest growing economies in Africa. This is especially amazing when you consider that, historically, the names of each of these countries meant violence, death, famine, and literally, a boiling pit of sewage! Each country has provided better access to health care, diversified their economies, and reduced child mortality by nearly 30%.

Look for good news like this every week at Markadelphia!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Big History

recent piece in the New York Times led me David Christian's Big History project and I have to admit I am completely fascinated by it. Professor Christian divides history-ALL history-into sections he calls Thresholds and shows how all scholastic subjects relate to the history of the world. Here is an example..

It's a different way to teach history and Bill Gates has gotten the class in several schools. It also adheres to the Common Core standards which will remove some hassles if teachers want to get it in their schools.

I think it's way past time that we change the way we teach history in our schools. Big History is an excellent first step!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Back To School Round Up

With a new school year under way, I thought I would clear out my "Education" folder of saved links in one post. The first story comes from my favorite news source, The Christian Science Monitor (daily news feed located on the right side of this site). They have a great piece up about Common Core and why both the left and the right hate it. Why do the Republicans hate it?

Most people agree that for Republicans, the seeds of the backlash were planted when President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan got behind the standards, encouraging states that wanted to apply for federal Race to the Top funds to either adopt the standards or adopt comparable ones deemed “college- and career-ready.” What had been sold as a state-led effort, supported by the National Governors Association, suddenly became associated with Mr. Obama, and rumors circulated quickly of a national curriculum (the standards don’t actually prescribe curriculum) and a federal takeover of education.

So the usual adolescent rebellion. I'd also add in that Common Core critics from the right have religious objections to what is considered basic standards (evolution, climate change, etc) as well as any sort of history being taught that paints the US in a negative light (unless it's criticism of liberals). Of course, this sort of thing goes on all the time.

The letter takes the framework to task for its "negative" approach to U.S. history. As an example, it attacks the framework for portraying U.S. colonists as "oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country." The signatories also say that at 98 pages, the framework essentially replaces the five-page topic outline with a full-blown curriculum, and one that conflicts with many states' social studies standards.

Essentially, they want to be entitled to their own facts:)

What about the left's criticism of Common Core?

There has also been vocal opposition from blue states – some around the standards themselves, particularly for younger grades, but much of it around implementation, as well as the tests and high-stakes consequences tied to the new standards.

Here we see the usual reluctance to be accountable for student learning. Part of this I get because the real problem in education today is the parents. Students also have different learning styles so the assessment mechanism should be altered. But this still doesn't excuse the fact that teachers should be held accountable and high stakes testing should be implemented for ALL subjects including basic civics. There is a reason why states have standards and there needs to be more serious consequences for instructors that don't follow them.

Interestingly, it's a Reagan era report that is driving Common Core.

The report’s five proposed solutions – improving content, raising standards, overhauling the teaching profession, adding time to the school day and year, and improving leadership and fiscal support – are clear in current reform. They can be seen in the spread of the Common Core standards, a set of streamlined but intense new standards introduced in 2009 that, though controversial, are still in use in more than 40 states; in new teacher ratings based partly on standardized test scores; and in the invention and rise of charter schools with longer school days and no union contracts. 

Initially embraced by a coalition of conservatives and liberals, the solutions offered in “A Nation at Risk” stoked a backlash among many on the left who argued that its criticisms of public education were over the top and that its solutions ignored poverty and inequity in the system. But the Republican-driven revolution is being driven home, as never before, by a Democratic president. The Obama administration admits there’s a connection. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said the report was “influential” in the administration’s education reform strategy.

Huh. I thought President Obama was presiding over a mass indoctrination program turning our nation's children into communists. Instead, he's embracing Reagan?

Well, guess what. So am I. I fully support Common Core because there needs to be some sort of umbrella for our nation's 100,000 schools and 13, 000 school districts. Everyone complains about how we seem to be falling behind the world in education but no one does anything about it. Well, Secretary Duncan (Best SecEd ever in my view) and the president have done something and it's about fucking time.

Criticism from the left is beginning to take its toll on the unions as we see in this piece from Politico.

Responding to all these challenges has proved difficult, analysts say, because both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are divided internally. There’s a faction urging conciliation and compromise. Another faction pushes confrontation. There’s even a militant splinter group, the Badass Teachers Association.

In many ways, they are starting to sound more and more like the Republican Party:) Ah well, I've been persona non grata with the union since I questioned tenure. I have the same advice for them that I do for the GOP...change or become irrelevant. 

Speaking of conservatives, one of their big pet peeves has always been zero tolerance laws so they should be happy about this story from NPR.

Saying that "zero tolerance" discipline policies at U.S. schools are unfairly applied "all too often," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is urging officials to rethink that approach. The Obama administration issued voluntary guidelines today that call for more training for teachers and more clarity in defining security problems. The move by the Education and Justice departments comes after years of complaints from civil rights groups and others who say the policies are ineffective and take an unfair toll on minorities. The zero tolerance approach has been blamed for boosting the number of suspensions and expulsions and for equating minor infractions with criminal acts.

Agreed. Although it's not as big of a problem as the right wing bubble will have you think (misleading vividness and all), it is something that needs to change.

Turning to the world of the wacky, we have this...


My favorite?

5. “The woods” is a perfectly normal location for a party. Want to get drunk and shoot guns and make out? So does everyone else! Meet us in the forest half a mile off the highway–take a left at the big rock.

Party, dudes!

Finally, we have this amazing piece from Sarah Blaine called "The Teachers."

We need to stop thinking that we know anything about teaching merely by virtue of having once been students. We don’t know. I spent a little over a year earning a master of arts in teaching degree. Then I spent two years teaching English Language Arts in a rural public high school. And I learned that my 13 years as a public school student, my 4 years as a college student at a highly selective college, and even a great deal of my year as a masters degree student in the education school of a flagship public university hadn’t taught me how to manage a classroom, how to reach students, how to inspire a love of learning, how to teach. 

Eighteen years as a student (and a year of preschool before that), and I didn’t know shit about teaching. Only years of practicing my skills and honing my skills would have rendered me a true professional. An expert. Someone who knows about the business of inspiring children. Of reaching students. Of making a difference. Of teaching.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Good Words

From a question on Quora...

I worked in public schools for many years and am a graduate of public schools in the most conservative region of the country. I have yet to observe anything like indoctrination of any kind. 

I'm really not sure how these urban legends or political mythologies start. I don't know any teachers who have time to brainwash children. Most appear to be very busy managing classes, teaching lessons and doing required paperwork. 

Anybody who went into the classroom thinking there are all these young minds into which ideologies can simply be poured would find out very quickly that kids have the ability to think for themselves and come to the school with the cultural values they learn at home.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014