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March 24, 2013

Jack Hassard: School Closings in Our Cities: A Deep Ecological Problem

As Deming (1994a) points out, beware of common sense when we think about such issues as ranking children by grades, ranking schools and teachers by test scores, and rewards and punishments. Deming believes that grades should be abolished, and that the ranking of people and schools should not occur. And significant to the issue of school closure, Deming suggests that taking action (such as closing a school today) may produce more problems in the future, and that a better remedy would be investigate why children in poor neighborhoods are not doing well on state mandated tests, and then do something about it.

March 18, 2013

Native Americans Challenge Teach For America in New Mexico

I have referred to the whole "reform movement" that is happening in NM as colonialism in it's newest form, with the secretary designate and governor wanting to implement the templates from Florida and ALEC. I've stated this in comments to colleagues, but not in any public forum. While TFA found support in the previous governor's and secretary's administration, only a few Native American educators (including myself and staff) disagreed with their acceptance as a means to get teachers into the rural schools. The TFA process is like the missionary teachers who came to our lands, supported from the Department of War, which is where the Bureau of Indian Affairs was located, to educate the Indian children.

March 12, 2013

Chicago Students Teach Through Their Walkout for School Safety

We want to make our schools safety the administration's priority, but that's not enough. In order to make a better future for the students who come after us, we must make voices be a permanent part of decision-making at the school and not just have administration take action upon what we request. To accomplish this, we need to teach administration to communicate more effectively with students so we can make our own decisions about our safety and our learning. They must inform students when things happen and honestly inform us which tests are voluntary tests so students can choose what will help our education and not take the tests blindly.

March 07, 2013

Diane Ravitch Announces New Network for Public Education

Today we are launching a new organization, the Network for Public Education. This group will serve to connect all those who are passionate about our schools - students, parents, teachers and OTHER citizens. We will share information an research on vital issues that concern the future of public education. We hope to inspire one another as we work together and learn together about how to resist the attacks on public education.

February 26, 2013

John Kuhn: Our Schools are Touchstones, and We Will Stand and Fight to Save Them

These buildings aren't just schools, they're touchstones. They're testaments to our local values. The Friday night lights that have illuminated our skies for decades, the school gyms that have echoed with play since the Greatest Generation was young--these aren't monuments to sports. They're monuments to community. They're beacons of our local control, of the togetherness we cherish in our hometowns and city neighborhoods. We don't want education fads imposed on us by Austin or, even worse, out-of-state billionaires.

February 19, 2013

Are Some Charter Schools Becoming Parasitic?

In order for our public schools to thrive they need to have the flexibility to meet the needs of the widest range of students possible. They need adequate funding and the support of their community - and that means we pull together and make sure that our district schools do not become the reservoir of last resort, overburdened with students left behind by charter schools seeking competitive advantages.

February 08, 2013

An Open Letter to Bill Gates: Why Not Measure This?

I will accept that the Gates Foundation may not be able to address all of these problems directly. But according to Bill Gates' annual letter, the sheer act of measuring things and setting goals around them has tremendous power. I believe his school reform project is failing in large part because of the error he identified. It has been measuring the wrong things. If the Gates Foundation is unwilling to tackle the scourge of poverty directly, could it at least begin to actively measure and set goals for some of the things identified here?

February 02, 2013

Churn for Charters is No Solution

The "charter movement" has recently recognized that they are vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy if they demand that traditional public schools be closed for poor performance, but fail to enforce the same standards on charters. This report proposes that we spread the churn that currently plagues public schools into the charter sector. This may be more "fair," but is not, from my perspective, likely to make things much better for students.

January 31, 2013

Interview with Joshua Starr: Excellence is Not a Zero Sum Game

I have become increasingly concerned that public education in the United States is seen as a private commodity rather than a public good. Too often, value is defined as something that I have and you don't, if we both have it, it can't possibly be valuable, regardless of what the "product" actually is. The current achievement disparity between different groups of students is not only a moral imperative, it's an economic one. If we don't better serve children that are poor, African-American, differently-abled, Latino, immigrant or English Language Learners, our economy will greatly suffer because the tax base will decline substantially. I believe that communities have to define what they want from their public schools, organize systems around their vision, and then make sure that all schools within the community have the capacity to achieve it. If we continue to think of excellence as a zero-sum game we will continue to allow too many schools to fail rather than build their capacities to improve.

January 30, 2013

Gerald Coles: Education in Obama's Second Term: What Lies Ahead?

In the president's inaugural speech, the few signs of his thinking about education and poverty offer no hope that policy in the next four years will differ from the last four. Bleak poverty will continue, education will be constrained within the boundaries of educating to "compete in the global economy," the curriculum will be narrowly crafted toward that goal, corporate attacks on the public schools will be promoted through more support of privatized alternatives, and the president will continue to regard charter schools as "incubators of innovation". It will be in stark contrast to the schooling that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have worked to achieve.

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