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I'm not bashing the teachers. Teachers are some of the most decent people I know. They go in to make a difference, and they very often do. They work for small pay and less respect.

I'm bashing the rigid and top down control we as a country attempt to assert on educating our kids. In many other segments of our society we lionize innovation. In the world of public education we hamstring the workers who are directly responsible for the outcome of an educated populace. We shame them for kids who are uneducated. We say we are going to hold them to standards.

I can only speak to the situation in California, but I was shocked to learn that the funding for schools is not done on a statewide basis. If property taxes are higher in a district, then they have more money to spend on their students' education. The dirty truth is that class economics has a lot more to do with the outcome of our children's education than teacher responsibility.


Yesterday in a comment I wrote (about the class war not being a conspiracy):

I think it is individuals who have learned the lessons we teach here in America:

1. competition is good
2. winners are better
3. to win you have to crush your competition

I don't know about you, but I went through school listening to the teachers tell us we were losers if we ended up working in a factory. But all the skills they taught us were following skills. Watch the clock, comply with requirements, work for the goal someone else holds out for you.

The way to succeed and escape and working class life was to jump through all their hoops. Not really a good way to train a leader. But as long as there were plenty of jobs it worked out ok.

Now there aren't plenty of jobs, and nobody knows how to be self determinate any longer. It's been socialized out of us for a few generations now.  

I believe that giving our kids a chance means we have to let go of the control we force on the teachers. So many of them passionately care about the kids. Will there be children who fall through the cracks? Yep. And how many kids currently fall through the cracks? Teachers largely care about the individual. That is a huge factor motivating them into teaching. Who better to allow the freedom and power to excite our kids about learning?

I have developed my ideas about education as a homeschooling parent.  I deliberately have let my kids grow at their own speed. It's been scary as hell, because it has meant being more committed to their development than to the beliefs I was brainwashed with at school. My son is a late reader who at the age of 12 finally became comfortable with reading. I argue that allowing kids to develop their own relationship with learning and to allow them to learn at their own pace gives them a connection to self authority that helps them become more engaged citizens.

There will be those who passionately tell me that a public education system can't meet the needs of each child's unique development schedule. And I agree that the system we currently have in place can't do that. But according to this article we are failing to graduate a quarter of our citizens from high school. By denying our teachers the intellectual freedom to make the best learning environment for their students, we are denying our students the very real possibility of a better relationship to learning. Our relationship to learning goes a long way towards our ability to lead an engaged and self determinate life.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In general I'd have reservations about a system... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...where funding comes from one level but key decisions are made at another level.  It's very difficult to get decent results and decent accountability with such a system.

    It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

    by Rich in PA on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:14:45 AM PDT

  •  California education funding (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, Sychotic1, elfling
    I can only speak to the situation in California, but I was shocked to learn that the funding for schools is not done on a statewide basis. If property taxes are higher in a district, then they have more money to spend on their students' education.
    This is not strictly true. Funding for the vast majority of California districts comes from the state to backfill local tax revenues and is close to equal per student statewide. There are a few districts which have enough in property taxes to be self funding (called "Basic Aid districts") and they are allowed to spend more. California is actually more equal in education spending than a lot of the country; many states fund education on a purely local property tax basis and thus there are much greater inequalities.
    •  Link (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Renee, elfling

      California’s state government largely controls the system by which public K–12 education receives funding, which means that state leaders exercise substantial control over what happens in schools.

      In most other states, public schools receive the largest portion of their funds from local tax dollars, often allocated by school boards. In California’s state-controlled school finance system, schools receive most of their money from the state.

    •  Thank you for correcting me. (1+ / 0-)

      It looks like my larger point stands on a national basis, but I stand corrected on California.

      Still, the amount of fund-raising that affluent communities can contribute to their own districts is a huge difference.

    •  You are correct (2+ / 0-)

      I seem to remember there was a court case that forced the more equal funding of students throughout the state.

      Yes, school teaches kids to be good widgets in the fungible employee maching.  Don't speak out.  Don't questions authority.  If your answer is different than expected you are in for a shiteload of trouble (I know because I excelled at stirring the pot with the help of my troublemaking Mother).

      People thought I was crazy because I taught my son to question authority, even my authority.  I taught him to negotiate with me in regard to the rules of the house.  I taught him to analyze television and commercials and not to take what people say at face value.  It made him a handful at times but I am pretty proud of his intellect as an adult.

      In other words, a good parent has to be a counterweight to school and fill in the gaps where school leaves off.  I remember telling my son that he wasn't allowed to curse, not because it was bad, but because if he got in the habit he would screw up at school and get in trouble.  Funny thing is that my kid almost NEVER cursed.

      If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

      by Sychotic1 on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:35:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is my larger point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We need citizens who can lead us out of the wilderness of inequality and we aren't educating leaders in the school systems.

        Kids learning to be leaders are sometimes a PITA. But I don't know of any other way to empower them.

    •  Yup, we do the same thing (2+ / 0-)

      here in Washington State.  It's a dumb idea; well-to-do districts like Mercer Island and my own (Richland) have high property taxes and spend a lot of money, and pump out a lot of well-educated kids.  Poorer districts like inner-city Tacoma and rural Wenatchee don't fare nearly as well.  The state does back-fill, but it isn't enough, not nearly.  And the state legislators just made a bunch of cuts.

      And now Washington has decided to go the 2/3 public approval on new taxes route, because that worked out SO WELL in California.  A consequence of all the crummy education, I guess...

      "If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going." - Professor Irwin Corey (1914 - )

      by CaelanAegana on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:55:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  pat said what I was going to (0+ / 0-)

      In addition, districts with a large count of low income students are eligible for additional Title 1 money from the Federal government.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:39:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You seem to contradict yourself. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In one sentence you complain about 'rigid and top down control' and shortly thereafter complain that funding is at the district level, and not imposed and distributed from the top down.

    In any public/political system, with money comes strings.  So if money comes from higher up, so will additional requirements.

    How do you foresee addressing this apparent contradiction?

    •  I suggest that we re-evaluate our use of strings. (0+ / 0-)

      I suggest that the requirements we are enforcing are not yielding results that justify them. I suggest we empower teachers to engage our kids in their own learning process.

      •  Strings aren't necessarily arbitrary. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If a given provider of funding has specific restrictions on the use of their funds, then people who want to use those funds either have to follow the same restrictions, or else the provider gets in trouble with the people whose money it is handing out.

        As a possible partial solution, I might encourage each and every school district to start working on an endowment fund to gather moneys from estates, alumni donations, etc, to make a start toward becoming more self-sufficient and non-reliant on money from up the political chain.

      •  In California, we are in "flex and sweep" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        which means that many of the strings attached to certain funds are severed until 2013 due to the harsh budget cuts. It is an interesting experiment, and I think it would be quite instructive for someone to study it and see how districts ended up using those funds.

        Funds in this group include:
        - transportation
        - GATE (gifted/talented)
        - Music
        - Community Day Schools
        - PE
        - Library improvement
        - Professional development
        - Counseling
        - Violence prevention

        They total about 6% of revenue sent to districts.

        Aha, someone did/is:

        I would say that it may be hard to capture some of the true local results. For example, our district used the Community Day School money to fund a teacher who had the same function as the normal use of that money, but who had the flexibility to work with kids who were still enrolled in the regular program rather than having to move them all to a separate school site as would normally be required.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:48:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for your comment. (0+ / 0-)

          I am digging through the link now.

          I realize that my discussion here is very broad. But honestly, I think the issues troubling this country are broad in nature. We are not fighting over the small details of governance.

  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

    School was designed to educate factory workers. Now that the factories have left, the way schools are currently structured are obsolete. Schools should be focused on teaching two specific points, leadership and art. Leadership helps working for someone, working for yourself when a job is not available or running for office or even developing a project to help your community. Art, many dismiss it, I am not an artist myself. But by making art you exercise the brain in creating. From technology to medicine, from ways to improve life to writing a good book. Art helps people to think outside the box, where all the good ideas are.

    Help fund the Progressive movement. Free.

    by jamatucci1 on Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 09:27:49 AM PDT

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