Saturday, March 13, 2010

The President's Weekly Address: Education for a More Competitive America & Better Future

From the White House Blog:

The President discusses his blueprint for an updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act to overhaul No Child Left Behind, the latest step from his Administration to encourage change and success in America’s schools at the local level.

With the number of schools closing, some in my area in Kansas City, we need to be concentrating on Education. However, one reason the schools in Kansas City are closing that seems to have been missed by everyone is the drop in population and enrollment. They have dropped over 40% in numbers in the last few years and have several schools which are basically empty. But that doesn't sell papers as they say.

But, just because schools are closing, and teachers are being shuffled and laid off, we have to concentrate on the QUALITY of education.. That's the key.

Well those are my thoughts.. let me hear yours.


Patricia said...

Education is a pretty dicey issue. A lot of it goes to the culture as a whole. There've been complaints that the president's plan makes teachers the sole scapegoats. If so, that doesn't seem fair. Some of the worst school districts - and to be fair, some of the better ones - around here have had years of school board scandals, with money being stolen instead of spent on kids' educations. Of course, with school districts being run in so many different ways in different localities it's really hard to address that on a national level. I do think it has to start with school boards, though. They make the decisions that set the tone all the way down the line.

Annette said...

I agree that teachers can't be the lone scape goat in this problem. Parents, school boards and curriculum all have to be addressed too. For too many years the focus has seemed to be on sports and not academics. That's just wrong in my book. Sports can be an important part, but not the be all end all of schools.

It all needs to be addressed, as you say, and I think like you it has to be on a case to case basis. Not an overall blanket approach.

mommapolitico said...

Hi Annette,
Thanks for the update! As a teacher, I can tell you that all No child Left Behind has done is hurt kids and schools. The economy is horrible in CA, and teacher and school staff layoffs are everywhere. The unrealistic and punitive measures of NCLB harm kids, and don't help to close the achievement gap.

I know you are a huge fan of the Prez, Annette, and you know I respect your opinion. But I can't help being disappointed that a Democratic President can support such Republican issues when it comes to education (vouchers, merit pay, etc.)and am afraid that many of the particulars of the education plan do very little to rectify things, such as Race to The Top. Treating schools like business, where competition is key, isn't a correct model. My product, well-educated kids, can't be thrown out if it's below standards. We take the raw materials our parents send us, and help them to show growth, no matter how far behind they are, no matter their learning disability, no matter their primary language. The system does not measure growth, but a lack of meeting standards. If a kid is 2 years below grade level, and improves a year and a half in one school year, the present model sees that as a loss, and still punishes schools. It's frustrating some of our best teachers to the point where they leave the field, and discouraging our kids who feel they can never make enough progress.

Look back over your own education. Do you remember your teachers? Were there "bad" ones? Maybe. But I'd wager they were few and far-between. Most teachers work their butts off for less pay than equally educated professionals, with the patience of Job, teaching an insane amount of material with not enough minutes in the day, in a profession that is always the scapegoat of society's woes. I challenge anyone to spend a day teaching a class full of kids, any level. Then see how their opinion of education will changed.

Again, thanks for the post, Annette. Are there things that need to change? Sure, we can always do better. Will The President make productive change in education? Probably not as long as he's listening to Arne Duncan, whose schools showed less growth last year than even some here in CA. Just punishing schools won't help kids learn. But a little support and respect for teachers could!

Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront! Much appreciated!

mommapolitico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mommapolitico said...

Typo above - "will have changed," not "will changed." My apologies!

Annette said...

If you notice in my comment above to ZenYenta, I stated a blanket approach would NOT work. It needs to be on a case to case basis. I don't agree with everything the President does or says... far from it. But that's politics as usual....I have never agreed 100% with any of them and I doubt I ever will. Yes, I support him, but I can still disagree.

Sometimes it isn't the teachers and I said that above also.. it is the BOE and it is the Curriculum that is being taught.. I never thought NCLB was a good program and I am not sure it can be improved.. I think it should be scrapped and a new and improved program instated.

I don't really know enough about the problems in schools because I really am not involved in it like you are, and I defer to your knowledge of the system.

I did have a couple of what I consider bad teachers, mostly because they had their pets and no one else could live up to their standards.. even though I made some of the best grades in my classes I still was not good enough because I wasn't a petite blonde or a good looking boy who was the teachers pet.. I asked questions and wanted knowledge outside of the textbook, and that caused lots of problems. Most of my teachers couldn't handle my thirst and quest for more. There were no classes for me and they wouldn't put me in a higher grade, even though I could do the work, like they will now with some kids.

So, I became bored with school at an early age. Like It didn't make for a good relationship.

TomCat said...

Poor Annette. You wanted to learn how to think when the system has been dumbed down to the extent of teaching only what to think.

I have no problem with some ideas, such a merit pay, as long as it is based on peer review, not test scores. I also think that teachers should receive a bonus for choosing to work in underperforming schools.

I'd like to see the school day expanded and the year extended. This is what countries who are outstripping us in literacy do.