What Do I Expect from Elementary School? Not this.

Laura Eberhart Goodman has captured the essence of our problem in U. S. education. She speaks for the parents and children who are currently impacted by our “race” toward something no one appears able to define or validate. I have been in her shoes and am thankful to now be addressing this problem from the side of academe. Though still mind-numbingly frustrated, I am trying to attack the stupidity and hubris by continuing to practice the kind of teaching I know works. As Goodman states: “academics follow naturally if the proper environment for learning is there…it’s not rocket science.” This statement does not diminish the preparation for and hard work of teaching. It exemplifies teachers’ superiority in the education discussion; the simple part is paying attention to the true experts.

Boils Down to It

When I put my children on the bus in the morning, the wish I call out to them after kissing their heads, is, “Have a good day!” Pure and simple.

Now, I know that not every day can be a birthday party, and not all things in life should be made into a fun activity. My wish is not overly naïve or idealistic, it is simply that they enjoy their day at school.  It is my hope that even if there are moments of the day when things don’t go well, or times when they are frustrated, or they find something to be particularly challenging, the overall feeling when they return home is not negative.

I want them to have had enough positive experiences, enough moments of engagement, enough creativity and fun built into their day that “good” is the predominant mood descriptor.

That is not currently the case.


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edTPA is a horror story. Why we can’t find people to teach.  

Why are our legislatures going in a direction that removes assessment responsibility from the most logical and cost effective source – college faculty and clinical supervisors?
Follow the money.
Pearson pays PhDs $75 each for these assessments, so how much time do you think is being spent here? And who’s getting the other $225?

Fred Klonsky

– By a teacher who knows

This is the third year I’ve been forced to put my student teachers through this test, and it was $300/per person this year, and next year it’s $300 and high stakes.

It takes weeks to write, mostly because the questions are long and strange, and everyone is student teaching full time, on a cart, 30+ kids per room, first time ever, at the SAME TIME!

Art teaching on a cart, when you have 800+ kids a week and 3 preps, it is completely unrelated to edTPA. You have to write all this stuff from experience you do not even have yet as a pre-service teacher.

CPS does not do anything to support this requirement, so my puny department of 3 ft teacher licensure faculty must explain and justify 5 days of video recordings in classrooms to each assitant principal, cooperating teacher, and to some…

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Fossil Friday – Carboniferous plants

I love adventuring beyond my own discipline! Had a great time fossil hunting with this group of friends who bring so much diverse knowledge to the table. I’m thankful that this English Education academic made the acquaintance of people who love to share their domains. I hope to blog about this association more extensively soon. For details of the day, here is Alton Dooley’s paleontology blog entry.

Valley of the Mastodon

 Last week I made a short trip back to Virginia for my son’s graduation from Patrick Henry Community College. This also was a perfect opportunity for some fossil collecting, so Brett, Tim, and I met DorothyBelle Poli and Lisa Stoneman from Roanoke College for a day trip to Beckley, West Virginia.

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Listening shows respect

Listening shows respect

Something to think about in regard to educational reform. Respectful listening is missing and it is integral to positive outcomes.

Value: We’re getting this all wrong

You can’t go home again, right? And many of us wouldn’t want to; but the past is a fun place to visit, especially for 7 friends who haven’t all been together for over 30 years. A few in the group have stayed close; one might surmise that those closer associations run along an educational line – those who went to college, those who got married right out of high school, etc., but that is not the case. Turns out what we had in common had little to do with our educational paths and more to do with our life experiences and values.

This all became obvious as we gave an accounting of ourselves – schools, marriages, kids, jobs. Family ties held many of us to the area; others had moved far and wide; some we’re simply missing in action, chained to negative relationships that tend to retard personal growth.

Always the analyst/observer, I studied the women I had grown up with and realized how we had all come together. We were in the “smart classes” at school. That grouping now comprises an academic, an administrative clerk, an insurance sales person, a massage therapist, an architect, a non-profit administrator, and a medical transcriptionist. Only three of us completed college, though at one point or another all of us have taken college courses.

I guess I should ramble on to my point…

why did some of the smartest girls in the school, tracked into the college-bound courses early on, not all go/finish?

Impediments both real and perceived.

Socially, this group came from the poor side of town. General expectations were low and the path to college obscured by ignorance of the road signs. Lack of school guidance beyond the middle school years was another factor, as was familial responsibility.

So, how did we all succeed in  life? How did we all become professional women with responsible, fulfilling careers?

We were educated in a public school by teachers who were able to teach us how to learn. And that most important lesson enabled us to draw upon that knowledge even years later and in a multitude of circumstances. For all the failings of the system in guiding us as closely as might have been useful, the teaching was more than enough! Career educators with deep commitments to their calling are responsible for enabling our successes.

Yet, we hold these very folks in such low esteem today, that we evaluate them with invalid instruments and sanction them as if they were recalcitrant children. And then we expect them to positively affect the life prospects of children. The amazing thing is, that they often accomplish that Herculean task! But the cost to them is so high, the path so steep – not to do the teaching part of the job, but to meet all of the inane administrative obligations – that they give up on what’s important in order to accomplish the inane. And then we sanction them for failing.

We were all ultimately responsible for our own learning, but we needed those teachers to open the doors with their information and to push us through a bit with their heart and passion for learning.

That 21st century world we are supposedly educating children for has very similar obstacles to the 20th century one that sent us down such different paths. Our children need the intellectual skills that will allow them to carve their own ways through their particular obstacles, not a rote set of facts and figures memorized for a test.

Show respect for what (and who) is truly valuable. Let teachers do the jobs they know how to do, the best way they know how to do them.

One night in 2043, over drinks and dinner, a group of friends will thank you.

The Teat: Is Leadership for Educational Equity getting TFA’s dirty work done?

The picture becomes clearer.

Cloaking Inequity

In our last segment of the The Teat, we discussed how education reformers have exploded 501(c)3 organizations to push corporate education reform.  Now we’ll focus on its big bad cousin: 501(c)4 organizations.

But first, as is tradition, our cow haiku:

Two cows in pasture

A steak and a glass of milk

Dinner is served now

501(c)4 organizations have recently been discussed in the mainstream media, but what are they and how are they different from 501(c)3 organizations?

According to an IRS publication:

501(c)(4) provides for exemption from federal income tax of civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”

One major distinction between each is that:

501(c)(4) may engage in political campaign activities if those activities are not the organization’s primary activity. In contrast, organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) are absolutely prohibited from engaging in political activities. 

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