Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Cry-sis in Education

I am either relieved or saddened to see that the problems that are facing our overwhelmed system of education are similar to those being faced across the pond.

The Guardian covers issues surrounding education both here and in Europe and they are finding the number one problem facing children today is stress. Gee back in my day it was what was for lunch and did someone want to be my friend. I was never good at the latter and the former was always Peanut Butter no jelly or crust on my Sammy.

But now suddenly children are to answer that ubiquitous question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" With a theoretical explanation and justification on how they plan to make their life goals attainable and the time frame in which said accomplishments will be made. So much for being Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief.

Add to this the relentless push of the parent, the obsession by the community on how the school is being served and if it is serving too much white privilege, not having enough diversity and of course all on the backs of Teachers making wages that today are laughable. And all while Teaching is now under a gun as a fewer people want to be Teachers and even fewer are those of color. Well who in their right mind would do this job today? If you wanted to be a Teacher do your homework and some research first and find out that in order to pay for your degrees you will need to be paid wages that amount to six figures, which you will not see until the 15-20 year mark if you remain in said position.

Teachers who are the 20 year mark are already weighing their options and leaving in droves. And that is both here and in Jolly Old England, where it there is also less jolly.

There is not one falsehood or parallel from that essay that I could easily repeat here and find similar views in schools across America.

I laughed when Tennessee once again the foot in the boot to crush realities is having a massive recruitment phase to find new Millennial interested in Teaching. What they neglect to mention is that the State has long been the lowest on the scale for Teacher pay, Graduation rates, College attendance and of course racial equality with regards to the above. Read that great book Making the  Unequal Metropolis and ask yourself would you really want to teach here?

Actually the kind that would not do any of that would fit right in. We don't want em too smart they might figure it out.

This is not a profession for wimps. And we also must be amazing liars and in Edshyster this last week, has a great interview with Harvey Kantor entitled, Education Can't Cure Poverty, So Why Keep Insisting that it Can?

Which brings me back to the Guardian and this interesting essay by a young woman who did get an education and figured it out. It's not the schools stupid it is luck by birth or by happenstance and that is the great magic equalizer.

The truth be told that even those who do win the lotto few actually do make it out. We have the free Community College via the Tennessee Promise and they are touting its success while in reality it has moderate success but it is better than nothing. And again hard to know as it is only two years old but hey they are rolling with it to now expand this to Adults to further their education and training. Funny is this not a Government program and entitlement? I admire this but everything here is so shoddy and always up for a debate with lunatics who seem to run our State Legislature I don't see this being some crown jewel on which to emulate. History here runs deep in the red sea and this seems too progressive frankly.

Education is socialism. It is Government run, it is free and it crosses all lines in which anyone can attend, including the undocumented. And over the decade like the health trade it is being co-opted by the elite to generate profit. On the backs of the sick and children we will make our numbers regardless. Education is money for those in the game of it and by that I mean the Moneygame.. its Moneyball without the baseball part.

Many many ed bloggers write about the subject and this is not news - fake or otherwise. As I said in another post I was in a SPED Resource Room, largely for Autism but we had a parade of kids of varying levels of intellectual capabilities also drop in and out for the day. Now some kids could be trained to do very rudimentary jobs and the reality is that having them "mainstreamed" is just fine and the idea of the RR is to take the Student's work, review, re-teach and add on basic information to build a coping skill set. During this time the schools are testing and I watched a woman attempt to test a high on the spectrum Autism child for reasons unclear. She was attempting to test all of them. The point?

And the point of pretending that we are going to educate these kids to be mainstreamed into society is absurd.  Many simply wont.  So the discipline and the lessons should be focused on survival, adaption, coping and management. Helping a child have a moment in the day when they can be themselves is enough. But in little big-town we have no clue what that means. I get exhausted being lectured as an adult I cannot imagine what it is like as a child. The one boy who was seriously on the Spectrum ran endlessly in the classroom but when outside in the yard he sat still. I only managed that once by having him sit on my lap while he did a puzzle, the rest of the time you could see in his eyes how he wanted to be chased as just a way of having control, including eating play dough. I felt bad for him but it was exhausting just after two days I can't imagine it every day. He needed true one on one help, a nap time, and real exercise, nutritious food and then go home.  He cannot be "normal" but he can be himself.    The real push should be just lessons in communication in order  to learn how to express needs and wants and perhaps build to do more over time.

We keep believing the mantra this is about choice and schools with competition will do better? How? As we have seen it is easy to cherry pick as Charters have and dump the challenges and in the meantime how is a Public School to compete? With what, big Bilboards that say: We are the Bestest School in the SITY? And yet I have actually read an interview with a former Principal at a high risk low labeled high school speak of how he "rebranded" it and made it popular. Then promptly within two years left for greener more suburban pastures. Hmm..

And we have the issue of separation of Church and State which comes perilously close to merging with School vouchers and federal funds funding non secular education. The ACLU does a great take down with regards to this issue. But you can find numerous counter arguments and facts and data that will contradict one and counter another but in all reality we are asking schools to do and be too much. There are numerous stories as this from burned out Teachers and

I truly want noting to do with them. As I look back in Seattle with regards to their schools, their fighting Charters, the suits for funding I have actually never seen anything change for the better. Well the high school I started at 20 years ago was a dump and by adding the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program it changed - to two schools in one - but it was better than the one is was before.

But in reality all schools struggle with that.  They fall into a trap and they never emerge unless some expensive fix is thrown at it to make it seem it has improved but it is just another type of band aid and sometimes it works.  The one thing about my old school is it has changed and it hasn't.  They have both good Teachers, bad Teachers, okay ones and a Principal that you may like or don't but he was there 20 years ago when I was, just as a VP. And he saw that within two years that same Principal received a vote of no confidence and was fired. So his longevity speaks volumes in a system that churns and burns them.

Ask yourself if the problem is the Teacher's and their Union or is it more societal and without that target who can you point fingers to?    The reality is that they are an easy excuse and available, easy to find and blame when all else fails.  I am not responsible for your child nor is the "union" and we are not responsible for the way he or she turned out.  You are and you can blame your place in society on those who sold you lies and enabled you to believe the biggest myth - that Education is the equalizer.  No, not its not.

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