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View Diary: The Myth of Failing Schools (216 comments)

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  •  A+ - excellent "compare and contrast" essay! (26+ / 0-)

    This is awesome:

    You cannot fix the schools until you fix the students. You cannot fix the students until you fix their parents. You cannot fix their parents until you fix society. How do you fix a broken society?

    My partner has taught at some of the worst public schools in Baltimore, and among the best public schools in Portland Oregon. Her experience as a teacher mirrors yours as a student: there are vast differences in expectations and attitudes of students, parents, and communities towards education that drive academic outcomes. That, and the environmental effects of poverty vs. wealth on learning.

    The reformists claim that they can control for these differences by holding teachers accountable for kids' progress rather than absolute performance, but that assumes that kids in low performing schools will learn as fast as kids in "better" schools. As you point out, though, kids who don't give a crap (or are too sleepy, or hungry, or whatever) aren't likely to learn at the same rate as those who do, so they will show worse progress. Progress measures create an obvious bias against teachers in "bad" schools.

    •  Also, in this economy, teachers go where they can (14+ / 0-)

      I understand there are some monetary incentives for graduating teachers to go into "bad" schools for a few years - but once the student loans are forgiven, I'm sure many of them would love to leave the "bad" schools and go to a permanent home at a "good" school. Unfortunately, jobs for those positions are super competitive, and for every "good" school there are a dozen mediocre and bad ones.  

      My husband, who is an education professor, has said he'd never want to teach at the high school level again unless it was at a school like the "good" school I attended, one where the children were engaged and the parents participated in the education process.  It's something he also tries to prepare his own students for, although it will be a few years after they pass his classes before they get thrown to the sharks (he teaches Foundations and Diversity, which are sophomore level programs.)  Things are not all roses and sunshine in the land of the elementary school teacher, let alone the middle or high school teacher.

      Conservatives: They love America. They hate actual Americans.

      by catwho on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 08:15:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent points (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      One of the fundamental insights of John Dewey was that education was a social process. It takes place within the context of a community. Strengthen the education community--that small society of students, parents and guardians, neighbors, extended family, teachers, administrators, etc--and you strengthen the education of our children.

      Education reform--in its current corporatist manifestation--is destructive of education communities. "Solutions" always come from the outside, and achievement, as Dewey once wrote,

      comes to denote the sort of thing that a well-planned machine can do better than a human being can, and the main effect of education, the achieving of a life of rich significance, drops by the wayside.

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