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A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state.
The Scandinavian country is an education superpower because it values equality more than excellence. Sergey Ivanov/Flickr Everyone agrees the United States needs to improve its education system dramatically, but how? One of the hottest trends in education reform lately is looking at the stunning success of the West's reigning education superpower, Finland. Trouble is, when it comes to the lessons that Finnish schools have to offer, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point. The small Nordic country of Finland used to be known -- if it was known for anything at all -- as the home of Nokia, the mobile phone giant.
United Opt Out National has declared January 7 th to be National Opt Out Day . It is our goal that students, teachers and community members will express their dislike for corporate education reform and will use various means to demonstrate how they plan to OPT OUT. There are many ways to opt out. You can explore these ideas at our website .
Update 12/12: QUIZ: Take part of the test that the local school board member took in the story below: Reading Quiz | Math Quiz . Questions come from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for 10th grade. Update 12/6: Revealed: The school board member who took standardized test
Among the cliques in our national education debate, I am considered part of the no-excuses crowd. We are defined by our fondness for charter schools and the Teach for America organization, our belief that poor kids can learn as much as rich ones and our support for Obama administration policies that encourage rating teachers, at least in part, on student test scores. On the other side, as we see it, are the besieged leaders of the establishment: education schools, teachers unions, superintendents and school boards who think Obama has forgotten the need to educate the whole child and is going with anything that might raise proficiency rates. Our arguments about this issue often disintegrate into the online equivalent of a school-yard brawl.
CLEVELAND -- On a recent Wednesday afternoon in the auditorium of Eastern Technical High School, where 1,000 people had come to hear him speak, Arne Duncan was stumped. "What will the plan be in three years when the Race to the Top funding runs out?" Deontae Gresham, a high school senior, asked the usually well-prepared United States Secretary of Education. "Will there be a separate program or will it go back to the way it was? Meaning, will a young black male student like me ... with dysfunctional parents be left to make it on his own with no support?" he wondered, through a moderator.
Getty Disrupting the entrenched education system is daunting. There are 7.2 million teachers in the U.S., 76 million students, and more than 98,000 public schools, according to a government census (as of 2008). So what’s the most effective way to unshackle the current archaic system from ineffective tactics that no longer work in the digital age? Google, the world’s go-to for answers, has an idea for the most impactful place to start.
Today is August 6. On the Christian calendar followed by Catholics and Orthodox and many Episcopalians, it is the Feast of the Transfiguration. Historically it is the 66th anniversary of Hiroshima, the first use of a nuclear weapon upon human beings. Today the political world is focused on the event being held by Rick Perry at which he is expected to announce his candidacy for this nation's highest office - the event officially sponsored by Focus on the Family, but practically an action of the very scary New Apostolic Reformation. All of the events of this day could serve as the basis of a diary, and the last certainly seems very appropriate for a political blog.
Guest Blog: Education Reform in the Wrong Direction: High-Stake Consequences for New York State Teachers and Their StudentsJune was the busiest month of the academic year for New York State high school teachers and their students. In addition to getting their students to hand in any last minute assignments, NYS high school teachers had to make sure that their students were fully prepared to take required standardized tests, called Regents examinations , commissioned by the NYS Education Department. These exams are critical for most students who entered a New York high school in 2008 or beyond, as graduation is contingent upon passing (65% or above) all five of the required Regents exams. However, now, due to recent legislation passed by Governor Cuomo, students won’t be the only ones who will suffer the negative repercussions of failing a Regents exam.
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education By Diane Ravitch Hardcover, 296 pages Basic Books List price: $26.95 In the fall of 2007, I reluctantly decided to have my office repainted. It was inconvenient.
All the talk lately about health care warrants stepping out of topic briefly to discuss a national public health epidemic: obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control, one third of American’s are obese . Furthermore, obesity is not an equal-opportunity affliction. Obesity is 21% more prevalent among Hispanics, and 51% more prevalent among Blacks.
By now you’ve read part one about America’s obesity epidemic, and how blame falls squarely on the shoulders of our nation’s incompetent, lazy doctors. If we fire them and start over, the health and vigor of our citizens will rise to Olympic proportions. (If you haven’t read that yet, do so first and then come back here).
(Continued from part 2 ) In their relentless drive to prove how incompetent our teachers really are, Thomas and Wingert resort to the ubiquitous comparison of the United States to other countries. They point out that the achievement gap in the United States is far larger than in other countries – a “scandal of monumental proportions”. They never mention that “achievement” means “how well the kids do in school”; and that many so-called high achieving countries – Japan, China, Germany, India and others - don’t have compulsory education through high school. India, for example, is recognized as a mecca of great mathematical and scientific minds.
(Continued from part 3 ). In Shrub , Molly Ivins wrote “whenever you hear a politician carry on about what a mess the schools are, be aware that you are looking at the culprit.” This past year, states across the country have slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from public school funding. Kansas cut $300 million and is proposing cuts of nearly $200 million more . The majority of those cuts come from salaries – layoffs - and it’s not just teacher’s salaries.
Diane Ravitch wrote an excellent piece in Education Week which answers critics, including Jonathan Alter and his recent disingenuous article . I recommend everyone take the link above and read Diane’s piece in its entirety. I will post extensive excerpts here and comment on them.