Back to Blogging I Hope

I recently wrote a post here. Then decided I need to get back to writing. I know my writing isn’t the greatest and I never had much readership, but it is a good way to organize my thoughts. The choice is do I do my writing here, or at my https://philosophywithoutahome.blogspot.com/ blog.

I’m not keen on the brown theme there anymore so I really have to get that changed.

Maybe I’ll publish on both. Though the blogger blog is more connected to my online name of dendari and the powers that be in my district seem to like to look for subversive activity to write up. I think I might lay low over there for a while.

Then again maybe not. I certainly have a backlog of unpublished thoughts I might want to revisit.

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What Should Education Look Like

A really long time ago I used to imagine what it would look like if we rethought education. (Dream School)

Thinking about things objectively, is school as we see it the right fit for anyone?

Look at the hours, typically 8:30 – 3:30. How do those hours work with a now, normal everyone working schedule? Sure that worked when most people worked on a farm and the kids put in a couple hours of work before school, then returned home to do a bit of homework before dinner. That just isn’t the reality of today’s life.

Every school has before and after school activities of course, but they are always treated as extras. Why? Why does the band director have to spend 6 hours a day teaching, a couple of hours planning and grading, then stay after to teach or practice for shows. This easily becomes a 12 hour day for months on end. It’s not just band, it’s any subject you can think of, they all have out of class experiences that often are more engaging and inspiring for students.

Lets try an example. Instead of a high school with 3 math teachers working full time and one who spends 6 months working 12 hour days to manage the Math Olympic team, why not 4 math teachers. One starts the day at 3 PM, teaches one or two classes then manages after school math activities. Or what ever combination that works, such that students still get core teaching, but the opportunities to really engage are there and not just as an after thought?

What would happen if we thought of education as a service? Yes, everyone has to take the minimum core classes, but those are just the bare beginnings. Starting in elementary school. What if the day length were optional based on the wants and needs of the parents. What if I were a stay at home dad and the traditional 9 – 3 day was just fine? What if both me and my partner worked and we needed a day from 6 am to 5 pm. My child could have the basic core classes, math, science, reading, and social studies. Then they could have a longer lunch and recess because she didn’t have to finish by 3. She could choose an elective, or two just like an after school art club, but better.

What about high school? My boys could wake up a 9 and go to school at 10 stay until 6. While there they could take the core classes mixed in with theatre practice during the day instead of an extra tacked on at the end of the day. They are already choosing their own schedule why can’t they have greater choice? Why can’t a math class be taught at 4 pm instead of being required only between the hours of 8 and 3?

That is it basically. Why isn’t K-12 education thought if as a service that can and should be open from early morning until late night? Yes it will increase costs. Staffing will be more difficult. However, the benefits for so many people will be life changing.

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I did go to #edcampusa and I was impress

I did go to #edcampusa and I was impressed http://ow.ly/xMKmd

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RT @schlfinance101: Scapegoating Teacher

RT @schlfinance101: Scapegoating Teachers » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names: http://bit.ly/zpOZ8I via @addthis

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#edcampchicago getting geared up to lear

#edcampchicago getting geared up to learn http://ow.ly/7yFoz

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Education Equity: Civil Rights of the 20th and 21st Century

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22:  Chicago school teacher...

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This post has been in my brain since I sat and read the Supreme Court decisions concerning desegregation of education during our school law class. This will be my last post on this blog, but please do follow my growth on my personal blog.

Just the other day I was listening to the radio (NPR I think but I can’t seem to find the recording) and someone was talking about Cuba and segregation. The general gist of the show went like this: In an effort to be equal Cuba banished race in all census forms.

Except that ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.

Instead of the free and open society Castro envisioned what he actually got was rampant De Facto discrimination.

The speaker went on further to suggest that in the U.S. we had De Jure discrimination. In the U.S. the people had real facts, words, and deeds to fight against and thus the struggle for Civil Rights was born. In Cuba accusations of racism are easily deflected with a shrug of the shoulders and the suggestion that we have no race, how can we have racism?


It was an interesting show and got me back to thinking about education segregation in the United States.

In the 1960’s when it was legal to discriminate on the basis of color or religion it was blatantly obvious that there were inequities in the educational system. When these cases finally made it to court this is what the court said:

“Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment.” (Brown v. Board of Education)

“those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school” (Sweatt v. Painter)

“A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. “ (Brown v. Board of Education)

“Local control over the education of children allows citizens to participate in decisionmakeing, and allows innovation so that school programs can fit local needs.” (Milliken v. Bradley)

“The adoption of a freedom of choice plan does not, by itself, satisfy a school district’s mandatory responsibility to eliminate all vestiges of a dual system.” (Freeman v Pitts)

A basis for determining if a school district were desegregated was set forth in Green v County School Board of New Kent and reiterated in Freeman v Pitts: to achieve unitary status schools must be equal in terms of:

  1. student assignments,
  2. transportation,
  3. physical facilities,
  4. extracurricular activities,
  5. teacher and principal assignments,
  6. resource allocation,
  7. and quality of education.

In Green  it was determined that the freedom of choice didn’t desegregate schools. “Rather than further the dismantling of the dual system, the plan has operated simply to burden children and their parents with a responsibility which Brown II placed squarely on the School Board.”

In Freeman v Pitts desegregation was not achieved in the Dekalb County School system because:

“In the Supreme Court Case of Freeman v. Pitt the District Court found that DCSS had not achieved unitary status with respect to quality education because teachers in schools with disproportionately high percentages of white students tended to be better educated and have more experience than their counterparts in schools with disproportionately high percentages of black students, and because per pupil expenditures in majority white schools exceeded per pupil expenditures in majority black schools.” (Russo, p. 1096)


Why is this important today?

If school choice didn’t work in Kent County why do we think it will work today?

If inequity of funding was a symptom of the problem 50 years ago how can we reform education by cutting funding today?

If lack of experience and lack of advanced degrees was a symptom of poor schools in the 1960’s how can replacing those same teachers be considered reform today?

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Free Appropriate Public Education

Monroe Elementary School - Brown Vs the Board ...

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Are public schools doing enough or are they trying to do too much?

In the case of Hendrick Hudson School District v. Rowley

A lower court noted that:

“she performs better than the average child in her class and is advancing easily from grade to grade,” but “the she understands considerably less of what goes on in class than she could if she were not deaf” and thus “is not learning as much, or performing as well academically, as she would without her handicap,” (Russo, 6th edition p. 1002)

Thus they decided she was not receiving a “free appropriate public education,” (Russo, p. 1002)

The supreme court reversed the ruling stating, “if personalized instruction is being provided with sufficient supportive services to permit the child to benefit from the instruction, and the other items on the definitional checklist are satisfied, the child is receiving a “free appropriate public education” as defined by the Act….” (Russo, p. 1004) “The Act’s intent was more to open the door of public education to handicapped children by means of specialized educational services than to guarantee any particular substantive level of education once inside.” (http://supreme.justia.com/us/458/176/) The Act does not require a State to maximize the potential of each handicapped child commensurate with the opportunity provided nonhandicapped children. (http://supreme.justia.com/us/458/176/ )

My question then is, Does the free public education in our country need only be of a “measurable” gain instead of maximizing the potential of each student?

Earlier in 1954 the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Topeka I) the justices said:

“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments”
“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.”

Does this sound like asking for a mere measurable gain?

Of course they also say, in the same paragraph:
“It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment”

Perhaps a free and appropriate public education is not meant to give each student the maximum educational benefit.

So what is the purpose of free public education in the United States? Should the state provide just the foundation or should they provide “those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness … (Sweatt v. Painter)”?

References

Russo, C. J. (2006). Reutter’s the law of public education (6th ed.). New York, NY: Foundation Press.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE HENDRICK HUDSON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ROWLEY Supreme Court of the united States, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).

BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TOPEKA Supreme Court of the United States, 1954 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873.

SWEATT v. PAINTER Supreme Court of the United States, 1950 339 U.S. 629

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The budget as a Vision Statement

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As a math person i am not afraid of numbers or budgets, but a budget is more than just numbers. Much of the money from the federal government has strings attached to it so every penny has to come from the right pot and has to be spent in the right way.

It would be easier to block grant everything and allow the schools to just grab money and allocate it where they think it would work best. While that is an idea with some merit, what probably tends to happen is people start taking money and funding projects they think are great, but they might skip a bit on the research. The first few years might be great, but as the years go on some projects might start taking a bigger slice of the money with a smaller and smaller return. Meanwhile many quality reforms might go underfunded.

The idea that an schools must justify each dollar spent requires the board to start thinking about what is each dollar doing. Am I spending $4000 on that IWB because it will improve the education of my students or am I spending it because it makes teaching easier. Will the students perform better or learn more? Am I educating all students or just the majority? My vision says all my students are equal, does my funding say the same thing?

Schools are not google, we don’t have gold plated toilets and millionaires walking the halls. Yes it would be great to have the time and luxury of following passions for part of the time, the 20% time Google has, but in the end it might be better for schools to struggle at least a little bit. The is value in not having everything you need and being required to make do, or struggle. It is a generally accepted conventional wisdom that when kids get everything they want when they want it they generally turn out being spoiled.

The question is not should schools ask, “Is what I am funding supporting and furthering my vision?” The question is why does it require an outside force to make it happen.

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When I said being rich gives you options

When I said being rich gives you options and that vouchers aren’t options, This is basically what I meant http://ow.ly/4FrMJ

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some symmetry designs please comment and

some symmetry designs please comment and grade our drawings http://bit.ly/f3LGPn #comments4kids #mathchat

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