Saturday Cartoon Fun: Scapegoats Edition

"Burn books in front of them"

I think I have come across the answer to our education woes. I used to read The New Republic all the time, then I stopped. Then Diane Ravitch tweeted a link to a story about Michelle Rhee at TNR and I read it. It was pretty light. But, a comment by a reader struck me as a novel way to improve education outcomes. It's pretty brilliant:
Forbid children to go to school. Make them work in the fields. Make school a forbidden delight (like sex, drugs, texting). Prohibit them from reading. Burn books in front of them. To get to school they will have to sneak out at night, with books hidden under their clothes. Shoot live ammunition over their heads as they scurry through the fields to get to school. When they do get to school, clones of Michelle Rhee will drag bad teachers out of the classrooms or abuse the mediocre ones in front of the horrified children.

Blogging Is One Way, Commenting Is Another

I've been spending more and more time on other blogs responding to comments left by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

Over at HuffPo I got banned from making comments on one particular article because the writer, I think, was feeling piled upon. It was my intention to pile facts on her. But I did not violate any comment rules, although the rules are surely open to interpretation (and editorial agenda). HuffPo is notorious for its crappy moderation.

Then there is Michelle Rhee's organization, MichelleRheeFirst, where many, many people buy her nonsense without question.

I feel my time is better spent doing that than blogging, lately.

Then there are the Twitter wars I have engaged in. They take up lots of my online time.

I am fighting for America's impoverished kids who go to crumbling schools in crumbling neighborhoods; who often don't have enough to eat; whose teeth hurt; whose parent(s) don't have the time or inclination to value their child's education; who live among crime and violence; who are treated like failures because society won't help them succeed.

Saying poverty affects a child's ability to learn is not an excuse or a crutch, as many like to say; it is a fact that needs to be addressed. Schools will not cure poverty, and in America poverty precludes a decent education. The research shows it. Teachers know it. Social workers know it. Public defenders know it. Sociologists know it. Everyone knows it, they just don't want to do anything about it because it will cost money. Lots of money.

The top 10 wealthiest Americans are worth $280 billion combined. And remember, 2 of those people are Kochs, and 3 are Waltons. There are 6 families in America who are worth $280 billion. If we were to take half of their money, they would still be worth $140 billion. Remember, this is only the top 10. Did you know that there are nearly 400 billionaires in America?

People like to say throwing money at a problem won't help. Tax cuts for the rich is throwing money at the unemployment problem, isn't it? The rich seem to like throwing money around, just around themselves.

Money, disparity, poverty, selfishness, and greed are our problems, not bad teachers.


Foisted Technology: A Silly Waste, Bad Pedagogy Too

What follows is a response by Alan November to a comment left for Gary Stager at Tech Learning regarding a post Gary wrote about White Boards and how we don't really need them.

Alan November, a seasoned educator himself, says White Boards are awesome because he once saw a Harvard professor use one well.

The following is most of the comment, but not all of it....(go to the link about Gary's post)
I have no reason to doubt that the Harvard Professor you mention is anything but a fabulous teacher. However, the differences between a primary classroom and a Harvard University lecture hall are too numerous to list. I trust that his students also get to DO physics, not just watch it.

Would you not agree that our scarce resources and attention would be better invested in empowering learners, rather than delivering content and testing recall?

Does it concern you how notions of interaction and engagement have been cheapened by for-profit corporations?

Have you seen the ridiculous IWB demos and claims made by the vendors? Surely, you have seen the terrible curricular materials purchased from the white board companies when administrators panic because teachers aren't using the white boards they never asked for? The arrogance of the IWB companies is only rivaled by their profits and ignorance about how learning occurs.

Of course I appreciate how good disadvantaged students feel beating the AP exam. That hardly justifies either the AP test, course or IWB purchase without questioning their moral value or educational efficacy. This is especially true when some of the wealthiest schools and districts are abandoning the AP because of how it narrows educational opportunity and furthers the descent into endless test preparation.

Alan, I've heard you tell countless audiences how school is irrelevant, must change immediately and even how teachers are in the way of educational progress. Surely, this stance requires one to question the value of Algebra instruction, especially when it comes to making a child with learning challenges endure the subject?

Social interaction hardly requires an interactive white board or game show device especially when the single greatest infraction committed in classrooms is "talking in class." Reinforcing the dominance of the front of the room, at considerable financial expense, hardly makes learning more social. Research and experience teaches us that knowledge construction is more social when every kid has their own personal laptop along with agency over what and how they learn.

I have no doubt that you and your friends can work magic with an IWB. You probably should have one. That hardly justifies their lemming-like adoption by schools.

My work is focused on addressing the the growing power imbalance between adults and children. I prefer to sit next to students and learn with them, rather than deliver content from the front of the room.


Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Unseemly Edition

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