Friday, November 30, 2012

What happens when non-educators reform public education....

From Dov Rosenberg
"Education Reform, beginning with the No Child Left Behind 
Act and continuing with Race to the Top, has produced no US score 
gains on international tests in science, math, or reading. There has 
been no shrinking of the "test score gap" by race or class, no 
reduction in child poverty, no narrowing of income inequality, 
and no diminution in the prison population. However, it has 
resulted in huge profits for Pearson and other testing firms;
 the reduction of teacher morale to its lowest level in history; 
expansion of "Teach-For-A-While" elite programs where teaching 
is viewed as a career stepping stone, and the proliferation of
education consultants and charter school leaders making 6-figure 
salaries. Look at what's going on in your city & your 
community since high-stakes testing has been imposed (2001).
 Have students in poor and under-served communities been 
empowered? Are they enjoying school more? Are their families 
being energized by the new choices they now have? Or, have 
precious portions of the school day, that should be devoted to the 
arts, music, sports, physical education, been sacrificed as schools 
are deluged with tests? Have special needs & English Language 
Learners been marginalized because they might lower a class or 
school's test profile? There is a story to be told here, school by school,
 city by city, state by state. Your TV, radio, and newspapers haven't 
told it yet. It's up to you to tell it. Be heard." - Inspired by Mark Naison

Community Control of Schools Jeopardized in Michigan?

I just learned about the Michigan state legislature's attempt to take control over all of their public schools. What does that mean for public education when school boards are ignored and marginalized? Are we witnessing an attempt at total authoritarian control of public schools? What ramifications does this have for public schools in America? From my perspective, I agree with the concerned public school advocates of Michigan,  this is bad policy and will not provide an excellent education to all children. It will, however, take away community control and funnel citizen's tax dollars to for-profit corporations. 

When control of public education is taken away from local communities, fine arts learning opportunities are bound to be further diminished by authoritarians seeking to cut education costs. We have seen this funding rationale time and time again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Correction: REPA II Response Deadline Moved UP!

Please send your REPA II response to State Board of Education officials by November 27th!
I have just received information the meeting has been moved up, so we will plan accordingly!
Thanks so much to all of you who care deeply about keeping highly qualified educators in Indiana classrooms!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

REPA II: Your Response Needed! The Deprofessionalization of Special Area Teachers by the Indiana Department of Education

It's back. Here is a summary of REPA II's rule changes that would affect fine arts and special education teachers licensing criteria:

"What does it mean for students, parents and taxpayers to have teacher candidates without a comprehensive professional education background, working with students in fine arts or special education classes across Indiana Public Schools?

What kind of learning experiences are children likely to encounter with adults who have little or no training in education methods, pedagogy or child development who have been selected to teach visual arts, music or special education students?

Do parents and taxpayers expect special education, fine arts and music education teacher candidates to have extensive training as professional educators in the areas they have been intrusted to engage Hoosier school children in?" 

Here (log in to Google) are some talking points.

Why the rush to REPA II?

Contact the Indiana State Board of Education before Dec. 5th and voice your concerns.

Please share with your parent groups! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

RttT and Divergent Thinking in US K-12 Education

The President, has created a conundrum for himself by doubling down on standardized learning experience and high stakes testing while at the same time, professing his desire to improve the development of creativity through STEM learning....high stakes testing and deep autonomous learning experiences that would facilitate the development of divergent thinking capacities is not compatible. 

Teachers must train learners to take tests in order to avoid losing their jobs.

What we will see from current federal policy makers is a continuing shift toward non consensual educational experience in our schools based on data driven approaches to learning. 

"Researchers have consistently found that an approach based on extrinsic rewards and consequences actually reduces children’s intrinsic motivation to learn (Amrein & Berliner, 2003; Good & Brophy, 1995; Kohn, 1993). Sheldon and Biddle (1998) boldly claimed that attaching high stakes to tests “obstructs students’ path to becoming lifelong, self-directed learners and alienates students from their own learning experiences in school” (p. 170). .Because of high-stakes testing and the pressure that surrounds it, children are no longer engaged in enriching experiences for the pure joy of learning-experiences whereby they make decisions, explore options, make hypotheses, or problem solve. Extrinsic motivation, in the form of rewards and consequences, has replaced learning for the sheer pleasure of learning and the internal satisfaction that comes from a job well done. Children are now under increased pressure to perform on demand, memorize mundane facts and figures, and sit for long periods of time while listening to the teacher and/or filling in circles on a worksheet."

Unless their is a change, the US Dept. of Education will continue to embrace Pavlovian approaches to educational experience more likely to be found in authoritarian societies while our economic rivals will move to emulate the best of US educational learning experiences of the past that nurtured and supported the development of vast numbers of innovative thinkers and entrepreneurialism never before seen in human history.

Fine Arts education in U.S. schools have never before become so important in the learning experiences of American children.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012