February 20, 2012

"Question: Where is the political Left on education reform?"

"Answer: In the trenches alongside the reactionary teachers unions fighting to preserve the failed status quo."

45 comments:

garage mahal said...

In Blaska's world, billionaire funders are on equal footing with cab drivers.

Yiddishe Bloyger said...

To the left, the point of education is to reform us. And it's doing an outstanding job. More and more people grow up sipping Uncle Fed's Kool Aid; fewer and fewer think they should take responsibility for their lives.

LordSomber said...

Hasn't it always been thus?

Peter said...

Hmmm- support meaningful reforms to taxpayer-funded education, or swear fealty to the teachers' unions?


It's hard not to see this as THE issue for Democrats in the next few election cycles.

A few big-city Democrats have broken with the teachers unions. But there's no sign of that here in Wisconsin.

Yiddishe Bloyger said...

If the point of schools is to groom us to be good citizens of the EU (or Greece more specifically)...hold steady the course!

Patrick said...

Garage - your point doesn't speak to the issue. The left and the unions have been in control of education in WI for more than 5 decades.

When was the last meaningful reform?

When was the last proposed reform that the unions, and their Democratic party lapdogs didn't oppose?

Have you got anything?

roesch/voltaire said...

Of late there has been a distrust of the effort to privatize education because of its exaggerated claims of success and the driving force of profit that runs some of the operations, but historically the left has been at the forefront of reform starting with John Dewey's University of Chicago Laboratory
Schools, to Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed to UW professor Michael Apple's recent book "Global Crises, Social Justice, and Education I think to questioning the claims made by Kaleem Caire before even a smaller experimental school using his approach has been tired is legitimate, just as questioning the new Madison School plan is prudent

C R Krieger said...

When I think of Ed Reform I think of the end of segregation in Boston Schools (a very good thing) and how a young girl started Kindergarten that year and made it to her high school diploma, married, had a daughter, who graduated from high school and married and had a daughter, who is now in school—in a system that is still broken.  The current paradigm is exhausted.

Regards  —  Cliff

Chase said...

IF my children were young and beginning school, I would ask this question:

If the Public Schools do such a poor - and contiunaly worsening - job at educating children that I cannot guarantee that my child would have the even the basic reading and writing and math skills, why would I let them continue to fail with my child?

I would do what we did - sacrifice everything necessary to give my child a better education.

The cry of every parent in this country - ESPECIALLY minority parents - should be:

"You don't get to keep your failing ways with My child!"

rhhardin said...

The teachers' rap on the knuckles with a ruler has been replaced with a crowbar to the kneecap.

edutcher said...

Education reform would start with teaching kids how to think, instead of what to think, and proceed through the various subjects.

Again, can't have that.

victoria said...

This is not anything new. It is not this president's mandates that are ruining education. This has been a long time coming. I am 60 and I can remember when they said in the '50's that education is going to hell. We have had 4 republican presidents since the 1960's who have done little or nothing to change American education. Bush II actually wanted to enhance the Feds becoming involved with the "No child left behind" program.

People tout choice in education, allowing parents to choose to use their money to have their children go to public or private schools. Well, at least in my town, the private schools are filled to the gills, they couldn't admit more students if they wanted to. They don't need the "choice" money to fill their classrooms. Their classrooms are already filled. All of these schools have to petition the city to expand their enrollment, and the city is not amenable at all to doing that. Choice is a nice thing in theory, not so much in practice. In order to use choice, you have to have choice. Not always there. I worry, too, that unscrupulous people will see this as an opportunity to fleece people, take their money and produce no school. People who are hungry for a better education for their children can be duped.


Vicki from Pasadena

Yiddishe Bloyger said...

roesch/voltaire: you forget that even progressive reformers like Dewey and Mann saw a social engineering goal in school reform. It wasn't education for the point of education. It was meant to create a certain type of citizen.

gerry said...

Let's all join Vicki in slouching into oblivion!

garage mahal said...

When was the last proposed reform that the unions, and their Democratic party lapdogs didn't oppose?

Kaleem Caire has no experience running a school. He wanted to try an curriculum that has never been tried before. Reforms are another word for "securing streams of public funding to private ventures outside of the scrutiny or accountability systems of democratically elected school boards".

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rusty said...

Vouchers. No strings attached. Make a free market for education.

coolkevs said...

Kaleem Caire has no experience running a school. He wanted to try an curriculum that has never been tried before. Reforms are another word for "securing streams of public funding to private ventures outside of the scrutiny or accountability systems of democratically elected school boards".

What are you talking about - never tried before? Never tried before in Madison??? This is a charter school - I believe it has been tried before! Did you see the movie "Waiting for Superman" with that ultra-conservative Davis Guggenheim directing??? Believe me, I would rather spend the $15 million or so on something like this charter school THAT CAN BE CLOSED DOWN if it's not working, unlike the Madison school board's plan of throwing $105 million at the problem (AGAIN!) that cannot be shut down until we the taxpayers of Wisconsin are bled dry. I wish we had more of a choice of school board members in the election here in Madison tomorrow, but sadly we do not!

bagoh20 said...

"I worry, too, that unscrupulous people will see this as an opportunity to fleece people, take their money and produce no school. "

That's the staus quo.

Most of the people I know who use private education are relatively poor minorities who spend nearly all their disposable income on it. I often try to talk them out of it, because it causes them such financial difficulty. They compare their kids learning to that of their friends and neighbors in public school and they feel that sending their kids there is admitting they don't really love them much. I have never been able to talk one out of it yet, no matter how poor it makes them. Public school used to be a good thing.

Unions are always detrimental to quality and performance. They should have never been allowed in public schools. Then teachers would become teachers and stay teachers for the right reasons.

Rusty said...

Reforms are another word for "securing streams of public funding to private ventures outside of the scrutiny or accountability systems of democratically elected school boards"



No they're abount accountability to the parents and students.


But you just keep shillin' there butch.

Patrick said...

Garage, you didn't answer the question.

"The curriculum has never been tried?" Is that the standard? If so, how does anything new happen? But that, I suppose is the point for the Union. Can't usurp the authority of the union bosses (which you so adorably ascribe to the school boards, whose hands have been tied by years of Democratic party ass-kissing of the union).

MayBee said...

I wish more people during the last election would have paid attention to Obama's utter failure leading the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
He paired up with a radical and doled out money to other friendly radicals and failures.
Now, Obama isn't always a friend to teachers' unions, but he is always a friend to spending money on bad reforms that reform nothing.
He is also always a friend to dishing money out to friendlies.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Roesch:

Ah, yes, they want to make a profit!

But what escapes me is how running deficits is somehow more virtuous, or in any other way to be identified as "better"?

Years ago, it dawned on me that if we really want to keep government from harnessing religion to its purpose: hence so-called "separation of church and state," why aren't we all in favor of separation of indoctrination and state?

In the distant past, public education was entirely a local matter, and -- as evidenced by its explicitly religious content -- clearly not part of a secular enterprise. (I'm not defending that reality--just citing it.)

It is now something entirely different.

It is increasingly federally-run, if not federally paid for. The feds call the tunes, and that will only increase. No one should be surprised if, in the near future, the federal government mandates any number of topics for public schools (and maybe private schools, to the extent any tax dollar even takes a cab ride in front of the private school):

> Mandated education in birth control and "safe sex."

> Mandated education in race and sex identity, perhaps as part of an anti-bullying campaign.

> Mandated education in what counts as family, along with impermissible narrowness/"bigotry."

And, who knows? Perhaps contraception and IUD distribution will be mandated? It's already included in many public schools, so the argument will be, why not mandate it for all?

In short, the only thing defending the status quo is about is power.

Original Mike said...

"He wanted to try an curriculum that has never been tried before."

Yeah, 'cause everybody knows that the way to fix failure is to keep doin' what you're doin'.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Rusty:

The problem with vouchers is simply this: you cannot be confident no strings will eventually be attached.

The argument will be made--it already is--that the voucher represents government "subsidy" and there is the Trojan Horse.

In reality, the mindset at work here trends toward the most expansive notion of "government money," as witnessed in the debate over Obama's contraceptive mandate. In that discussion, the claim was made that when hospital patrons come spending dollars received from federal programs--Medicare and Medicaid--that, too, brings federal intrusiveness.

To which I made the following proposal, not yet accepted:

Every dollar I earn I will sign with my name; and when I turn around and spend that money, whoever accepts it (for whatever reason) must, henceforward, do whatever I say: because they are accepting "my" money.

Vouchers help a lot, but don't kid yourself, sooner or later those strings will be attached. It's all for the children, of course!

Bender said...

Education reform = Give me more money! I want more money! Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Synova said...

What parents mostly want is a smaller school where they feel like they have some input.

That said... the first term of Udacity, CS101 Building a Search Engine, starts today. They are also offering CS373 Programming a Robotic Car.

http://www.udacity.com/

And of course there is Khan Academy.

http://www.khanacademy.org/

Synova said...

Traditional schools may soon be facing the same crisis as the publishing industry.

No one needs them anymore.

SteveR said...

The education establishment and teacher's unions have never strayed from the position that more money, specifically for teachers and administrators, is the key to improving education.

They continue despite evidence that its not that at all.

As with any public sector union scenario, the emphasis is on supporting the election of those who keep the train rolling, not on changing anything.

Right garage?

GulfofMexico said...

The political left (in Madison, anyway) is at the coffee shop attempting to somehow figure out how all of their special interest groups can get some lovin'. Fortune recently dealt them a bad hand, in which they were forced to shit on someone in a protected class. They didn't like that a black man attempting to insert postive male role models into the lives of young black men because: (1) What about the girls?????; (2) What about the teacher's unions????? They are trying to weasel their way out with Nerad's plan which keeps everything in house, because in order to help a protected class, we have to make sure the other protected classes don't get pissed. In the process, their rigidity only proves the system stinks. Spend more money so everyone stays on board. It's a joke.

chickenlittle said...

Spend more money so everyone stays on board. It's a joke.

The most sumptuous palace afloat

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that public K-12 education is a poster-boy of why government intervention and quasi-socialism is inherently bad. Not necessarily evil, but bad.

No one is anywhere near satisfied with the status quo. The solution for a long time has been to just throw more money at the problem. But, the money has run out, compounded by the super-plush retirement and benefits that the teachers have often gotten through their unions' "negotiations" with school boards that they were instrumental in electing.

But even the teachers, with their often outsized benefits, and sometimes even pay, aren't happy. No real power to do what they think is right. No real pay for performance, but rather for longevity and mostly pretty bogus educational credentials and degrees.

The basic problem is that the school systems are political, from the national level all the way down to the school board level. So, stuff is added to the curriculum because some powerful group was able to bend some powerful arms on the way down. So, we find the schools having to teach black history instead of more relevant white history (i.e. what really happened that mattered, since Whites have tended to run this country since its founding). We have everyone celebrating Kwanzaa for the Blacks on a par with Christmas and Hanukkah, despite almost all Blacks here celebrating Christmas. Condoms instead of abstinence, because, well, the later offends progressives because it is supported by the religious. Now, we have a school replacing the wholesome sandwiches parents sent with chicken nuggets, and then charging the parents for such, because, well, the schools know best, even when, as here, they obviously do not.

I am saying that this is a problem with government more than anything, because the directives that the schools have to live with are mostly politically driven, and often have little to do with actually educating the kids.

And, the politicians and those pulling their strings, can get away with this because they are able to maintain a monopoly. Sure, you can go elsewhere (and we did), but you still have to pay for those public schools. So, there really isn't much in the way of competition for those education dollars. They flow to the school districts regardless of how badly they do, or, maybe the amount of dollars involved is dependent upon how badly the public schools operate, and not how well.

Jon Burack said...

I am all for giving Kaleem Caire a shot at it. But conservatives are wrong to let the left define their educational agenda as free market private choice. Most parents will continue to use the public system, at least until technology really does replace it, which is a lot farther off than the tech gurus keep fantaizing to us all about.

Therefore, the emphasis ought to be on renewing public education. Reducing teacher union clout is a part of that. But just as important is 1. REAL classroom order. 2. Imposing uniform, tough, content-rich curriculum. 3. Tough family intervention to teach poor, less educated parents how to give their kids the lanaguage capital middle class kids get (the biggest gap of all in schooling now).

As for point 2, "Uniform" because poor kids especially go from school to school now and lose most of what they learn as a result of never picking up where they left off. "Tough" because every kid WANTS it tough, and tough is the only way to engage them. 2. "Content-rich" because all the fads mentioned earlier (Dewey and the endless spawn of life-adjustment "learning," the ridiculous peasant Marxism of Paulo Freire, Michael Apple's tendentious anti-capitalism) have resulted in a process-dominated pablum while cognitive psychology has long made it clear that learning to think and gaining content-specific knowledge are absolutely inseparable, with the former dependent on the latter.

Sadly, conservatives are as mired in their mindless market rhetoric as badly as the left is in its dreams of egalitarianism. So neither side comes close to talking about all this in a way that even starts to get at the problem.

The one thing the right does get right. After decades of rising per pupil spending (in REAL terms, yes), the right knows as its demented opponents do not admit, that spending more by itself accomplishes exactly nothing.

Joe said...

My local public schools are pretty good. I'd say the two biggest problems are that teacher certification is bullshit and pay scale is off so that new teachers, even with real world experience, get paid very little while those with thirty years experience have it pretty good.

The schools my kids went to weren't great, but pretty good. My biggest complaints are that the few truly bad teachers (the ones everyone knows are bad--you get eye rolls from other teachers) are very difficult to get rid off and the damn teacher/coach bullshit.

My kids have all had teachers who were coaches and they were the worse at being in the classroom or offices after class or getting their grades put into the computer.

Then there are the few who don't care any more and are just cruising to retirement.

Seeing Red said...

Chicago teachers are asking for a 30% raise, a gym, music and art teacher for each school, financial transaction tax, a tax on "the rich" so Chicago can pay for it BUT they will not negotiate in public.

The commenting language got so out of hand the Tribune had to close down comments and direct people to the Trib's FaceBook page.

cubanbob said...

Nothing that banning teachers's unions as a condition for for federal funding can't cure.

Synova said...

"My biggest complaints are that the few truly bad teachers (the ones everyone knows are bad--you get eye rolls from other teachers) are very difficult to get rid off..."

I had an abusive teacher. What she'd do was have a project-child. When I had her class, that was me. Several parents complained about her, but it didn't matter. She was proof positive that someone doing evil for your own good never rests. And she really was doing it to "help."

She got fired, finally, when she foolishly chose one of the other teacher's children for her project-child.

Kathy said...

Well, at least in my town, the private schools are filled to the gills, they couldn't admit more students if they wanted to. They don't need the "choice" money to fill their classrooms. Their classrooms are already filled. All of these schools have to petition the city to expand their enrollment, and the city is not amenable at all to doing that. Choice is a nice thing in theory, not so much in practice. In order to use choice, you have to have choice. Not always there.

Vicki,

Did you notice why choice is not there? Your private schools must petition the city to expand their enrollment! The market would support more private schools, it appears, but the government monopoly won't allow it.

This is not an indictment of the idea of choice. It's an indictment of government interference in the free market.

Pogo said...

On the left "reform" has a specific meaning, referring only to the transfer of funds from the disfavored to the favored group.

Saint Croix said...

Too much of public school education is indoctrination. "Write down what I say. Spit it back on the test."

It's utterly authoritarian. The most important ability public school teaches you is note taking and memorization.

And the public school has always been the playing ground for whatever vogue theories the left has about building a better society.

Can you imagine not being allowed into a public library because there are too many white people? Or too many black people? And you have to go to one across town?

We do that crap with kids all the time.

We control them, rule them, order them, dictate to them, and experiment on them.

I have no doubt that 9-year-olds today are being indoctrinated to Love the Planet.

You can't reform a monopoly. You can only bust it up.

Rusty said...

Fr Martin Fox said.

Father. Good points, but we have to start somewhere.
If all the property tax money earmarked for education were placed back in the hands of parents the biggest winners would be private schools and, of course, the children.
Open up the market place to competition on a level field and let the chips fall where they may. It couldn't possibly be any worse than the status quo.

Fen said...

Was listening to AM talk radio show about Finance this morning. Discussion was centered around women & men needing to get a pre-nup these days, about how important it was to put the romance aside for a moment and sit down and go over tough questions - who's willing to sacrifcie their job to stay home with the kids, etc.

Everyone agreed you needed to make plans NOW to save for private education for your kids. It was a given that sending them to public school would retard them for the rest of their lives.

Hell, even the liberals don't support public school. Those that can send their kids to private schools.

Michael said...

Shanker put it best and most eloquently when he said something along the following lines.

"I will care about the children when the children start paying union dues."

No one could put it better.

Mr. T. said...

Garage: " He wanted to try an[sic] curriculum that has never been tried before."

I take it you were publicly educated.

As far as indoctrination, there are worse things that are being fed to kids in schools than just far-left talking points; Like maybe spoonfulls of semen, maybe? Notice how the LA teacher unions got upset after the teachers were fired, not when it was discovered that they were abusing students...

Tarzan said...

I used to be for vouchers, but am now against them, after seeing what the higher education bubble burst and then some. All vouchers will do is drive up the price of private schools. What we need is legislation to allow private schools to increase their enrollment.

Give us the choices, and those of us who want to will find the means to make them.