Toxic Culture of Education

The problem in a 17 minute nutshell.

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Education Reform: Debunking the Myths on Privatization

Certainly,not every person determined to ever open a charter school is in it solely for profit.Unfortunately however,without enough regulations its hard to tell the difference between a well-meaning charter opener and a school being opened for greedy big business. Many charter schools are being opened with grants and funding supplied by large corporations like Walton, Bill Gates, and the Broad Foundation.

While receiving the same per-pupil government funding as public schools,charter schools strive to be autonomous. In a nutshell, they don’t want to be regulated by a school board. Instead they elect their own board of advisors or superintendents that don’t have to answer to parents, educators,or local boards.

The same companies developing the technology for the new high-stakes tests (Pearson, Gates) just so happen to be some of the same people funding charter schools. When well-intentioned parents get frustrated with the tests they are force-feeding our children, the same corporations serve to make more money when those well-intentioned parents start looking for other options. It’s important to see how the new high-stakes tests correlate to privatization. Essentially, by choosing privatization, we are doing exactly what big business hopes we do.

Because they aren’t subjected to the same rules as public schools, charters have the ability to pick and choose which students they keep. This in turn backs up their promise of great test scores. In turn, who is left in the public schools but the learning disabled, poor test-takers, and students without a stable home life.

Instead of using government resources to further fatten the pockets of Bill Gates and Co., why aren’t we focusing those resources on revitalizing inner city schools? Isn’t that a better answer?

Here’s an interesting article on the pros and cons of privatization from USC. Where do you stand on charters

Why we chose to opt out.

We are not suggesting this article to encourage opting out at this time, because right now that would only serve to hurt our school district. However, this is another great summary of the history of high-stakes testing and how enmeshed government funding and corporate money has become with education.

B is for Basics

We are a group of Centerville City School parents whose MAIN GOAL is to START A CONVERSATION. To start many conversations. We are not experts and we are in the process of information gathering. We want to SHARE information and get Centerville parents involved in the conversation.

Some things we’re talking about:

1. High-stakes testing and assessment are hurting education.

The problem is also BI-PARTISAN. The current streak of high-stakes testing began under George W. Bush and his policy, No Child Left Behind (NCLB.) It began the high-powered focus on test scores instead of a more comprehensive look at the whole child with a variety of diagnostic tools. NCLB began assessing teachers based on how their students performed on test scores. Through NCLB, schools were forced to begin teaching to the test or risk losing funding. Bad test scores=lower school grade=teachers losing jobs, districts losing funding, etc.

Barack Obama’s and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s policy, Race to the Top, made the stakes even higher. Same wolf, different clothing. Under the current administration, children have more tests to take, and if teachers don’t show at least 30% growth rate for the year, their jobs are at stake. Principal’s jobs are at stake. Schools can be closed. That’s a 30% growth rate ON THE TESTS. On one week’s worth of testing that your child may or may not do well on because: they’re tired, they’re sick, they’re 7, or 8, or 9, they’re nervous, they’re hungry, they’re distracted, or a myriad of other reasons.

These type of stakes placed on student performance make the environment ripe for failure. And then what happens? Cue the Superhero Charter School.

2. Privatization widens the gap.

Once a district proves they are struggling, the “market” of education becomes a free-for-all. Charter schools begin to open, promising student achievement and great test scores, which they can provide. What you may not know, however, is that Charter schools can attain great test scores because they can CHOOSE who to let in and who to keep. If your child doesn’t test well, they can be kicked out and sent back to public school. Which leaves our public schools filled with children that don’t test well, children with learning disabilities, children in economically disadvantaged homes whose parents don’t realize or care that choice in education is available to them. Instead of continuing to close the achievement gap between minorities and class the gap widens, leaving the public school system with less Government funding, fewer teachers, and a place for the “have-nots.”

3. Schools as business.

Once privatization begins, anyone wanting to make a quick buck can get in on education. Charter schools can be opened by anyone with enough money to do so. Teachers get fast tracked through their education which leads to a lower quality teaching staff. What you’re left with is an education community focused less on teaching children, and more on making money, and competing for funding, turning our kids into automatons of test-taking.

With Race to the Top, states already had to compete for government funding. Those states that implemented the Common Core Standards received extra funding. The CC testing will require computers and software to take the tests. Sensing a theme? Race to see who can make the new software fast enough. To the top, indeed.

4. The Common Core

This is a great idea that is floundering in its implementation. It’s a novel idea to have all states on the same chapter so kids aren’t missing out on valued pieces of curriculum. It’s a great idea to require certain educational standards that children should meet. However, the Common Core is like trying to fit the step-sisters’ feet into Cinderella’s shoes. One size does not fit all.

Common Core is currently being field-tested on our kids. That’s correct, it was not tested before it was adopted, nor was it written by educators. However, it’s adoption earned districts’ much needed resource money, and it’s assessment implementation will require software and computers.

5. Parents in the dark

Local districts and staff are bound by the state and federal mandates being handed down that suggest they need to teach harder and better to make kids “pass” tests. Their jobs are at risk, their hands are tied. As parents, ours are not. We owe it to our kids and to their great teachers to understand the facts behind Education Reform and it’s opponents.

It’s time to organize as a community and start paying attention. All opinions are welcomed here.

 

Rebecca Mead: Why Louis C.K.’s Complaints about Common Core Matter

Diane Ravitch's blog

Thank goodness at least one prominent journalist in the mainstream media sends her child to public school!

At Rebecca Mead’s public school, two-thirds of the children opted out of the state tests aligned to Common Core.

So Mead understands the frustration of the comedian Louis C.K., whose tweets about the Common Core tests went viral.

Louis C.K. had more than 3 million Twitter followers so when he spoke out, his voice was unheard, unlike the voices of countless other parents.

The advocates of the Common Core insist that the problems that parents object to are not part of the Common Core but caused by faulty implementation.

(That is the same refrain we always hear about great ideas that fail: faulty implementation.)

Mead notes:

Plenty of parents and educators agree with him. After last month’s state tests for English language arts, teachers citywide protested, calling the problems tricky and developmentally…

View original post 450 more words

Save the Date

Centerville City Schools will host a community forum on June 19, 2014 at 7pm in Cline Elementary’s auditorium. Get information on the upcoming PARCC tests, Common Core Curriculum, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, and more. Special guest, Ohio State Representative and Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Peggy Lehner. Details to come as the agenda becomes available.