Reform into easy to swallow chunks.

Published September 8, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I approached today with an open mind. It’s somewhat addled by sinus pain and another pain that I’m trying to ignore, but for the most part I was out to find answers.  This is the part of the movie where the audience should look out for an anvil to fall out of the sky.

No anvil.

I wasn’t getting much inspiration by staring at the cat, so I did a search on education in the news. I found an article on Education Reform by Joseph W. Gauld.  Direct quotes will be in italics, my two cents will be in plain typeface.

Education Reform:

to remake American students superior to international students. Is that even possible? We have inferior learning environments, inferior food sources and exhausted teachers.

For me, this mindset began in 1957 when Sputnik frightened us into thinking the Russians might be educationally ahead of us; it continued with the “Nation at Risk” report in 1983, blossomed into “No Child Left Behind” legislation in 2001, and now gets new life with the Common Core Standards, initially adopted by 46 states.  Well, we’ve all seen the tragic result of that. At this risk of  being unpopular (Oh, that’s right, I don’t care!) I would like to go on record saying that No Child Left Behind was the tail wagging the dog. To quote one of my education professors . “You don’t have to leave anyone behind, but they don’t all have to come today.”

Now, according to the New York Times headline: “Grouping by Ability Regains Favor in Classrooms,: the Times says, “Placing students in clusters according to ability, a tactic once rejected over concerns that it fostered inequality, has re-emerged in classrooms all over the country.” Grouping by ability. How do we decide this ability? Tests?  Socio economic group? Haircolor? Ability to shove square pegs into round holes?

Educational reform over the past five decades has essentially been controlled by colleges, business leaders and politicians, whose common goal is to fuel the work force by emphasizing academic proficiency.  If that is true, shouldn’t the academically proficient be in control of the universe? Some of the smartest people I know shouldn’t be teaching.

Now that we are in recovery from our recession, it should be clear these would-be reformers have failed miserably in their approach. There were 57.5 million native-born Americans, ages 16-65, not working in the 2nd quarter of 2013, up 17 million from the 2nd quarter of year 2000.  Yes, yes, we are in recovery, but for some Americans poverty has been the status quo that they are not only not reflected in the recovery, they were unaware there was a recession.

Only 66.8% of American males are working, the lowest figure on record. At present, boys record 70% of “D’s” & “F’s” in our schools; 80% of the discipline problems — and they make up only 43% of the college population. Will Common Core standards change all that?

No. No it will not. I am considered well educated and well read. I passed the SAT reading section with incredibly high marks. I did not score high enough on the other areas to teach test prep.This means  my current  earning potential is down by about $150 per week.

Simply put, it is asinine to put students in a lockstep system. They have different abilities, interests, and learning styles. Edison was considered a dunce in school, Churchill flunked his form twice and the Wright Brothers were high school dropouts.

The system failed because in its zeal to make American students academically proficient it  seldom recognized, respected, or developed the deeper potentials of students, while ignoring their most powerful resource — growing up in the most innovative and creative culture in the world. So when adversity hit, only those students with really strong family backgrounds had the foundations built to survive and thrive.

This is something to ponder. I wonder if society at large can handle the idea of teaching the individual to foster and develop their deeper potential and to use their different abilities in a way that will make them productive and active members of society.

I know, that kind of crazy talk can keep me from getting hired as an educator.

I’m going to read ahead and color outside the lines. Maybe I will even sing off-key

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