Category Archives: Political Correctness

How to Ensure Every Child Gets a High-Quality Education: A Comparison

The following is my rewording, summarizing, and annotating of a section of the proposed education bill S. 1094.  My version is better, but if you must see the original text, it’s here.

Strengthening America’s Schools Act

Title I:  College and Career Readiness For All Students

Sec. 1001:  The purpose of Title I.  The purpose of this new Title I is ensure every child has a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to get a high-quality education.   That was the purpose of the 1965 education law’s Title I too, but that law didn’t quite reach the goal.  So we’re just tweaking it now.  Totally gonna get it right this time.  After we pass this law, education is going to be All Fixed.  Really.

The old law listed 12 ways to accomplish our totally immeasurable and unobtainable goal.

#1 was all about making sure state standards were challenging and making sure the parents, teachers, and administrators were able to measure progress.

Our new #1 way to accomplish Title I’s purpose:

setting high expectations for children to develop deep content knowledge and the ability to use knowledge to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate with others, in order to graduate, from high school, college and career ready;”

Isn’t that new language much better? Magic phrases like “deep content knowledge” will definitely help students be college and career ready.  And the best part?  Did you notice who will be setting those high expectations?  We didn’t say it outright; perhaps it’s better left unsaid.  But this is a federal law, so unless stated otherwise it will be administered at the federal level.  Those dumb states, local administrators, teachers ,and parents have had since 1965 after all, and they just aren’t accomplishing the unaccomplishable like we can.

Our new #2 way to accomplish Title I’s purpose:

supporting high-quality teaching to continuously improve instruction and encourage new models of teaching and learning;”

The old #2 was about focusing on the students who have the highest need.  We’ll cover that in #4.  The new #2 will hopefully fool you into thinking we want high-quality teachers, when all we really care about is coming up with new-fangled ways to teach.  See how we cleverly assumed that encouraging something new is de facto going to support high-quality teaching?  Because the newest way is always the best way!

We still like the old #3 way to accomplish our educational goals:  closing achievement gaps.  So we’re keeping the idea and just rewording it.

The old #4 was all about holding States, local school authorities, and schools accountable for education.  Obviously, all that nonsense had to go.  We don’t want to hold them accountable anymore, because we want to take over education at the federal level.

Our new #4 is where we provide additional support to those students who have the highest need.

The old #5 was about providing additional support to the schools and local authorities that need it most.  We don’t want to bother with those middlemen anymore.  We just want to aim our federal laser-like focus directly on the children now.

We want to direct that focus as soon as possible, so here is the New and Improved #5 way to ensure a great education for all:

“providing young children with greater access to high-quality early learning experiences to ensure they enter school ready to learn;”

High quality early learning!

The old #6 and #7 were more song and dance about making states accountable for student achievement, and even worse:  providing greater decision-making authority and flexibility to schools and teachers in exchange for greater responsibility for student performance.

How very 1965.  Deleted!

In the modern era, we are all about removing barriers.  Doesn’t that sound better than boring, old-fashioned accountability and authority?

New #6:

“removing barriers to, and encouraging state and local innovation and leadership in, education based on the evaluation of success and continuous improvement.”

New #7:

“removing barriers and promoting integration across all levels of education. . . .”

“Promoting integration” sounds much nicer than “federal takeover,” doesn’t it?

The old #8 was about enriching and increasing quality instruction time.  Whatevs, we covered all that with our magical “deep content knowledge.” 

So we had to come up with something new.  What’s better than removing barriers, we asked ourselves?  Of course!  Streamlining!

New #8:

streamlining Federal requirements to reduce burdens on States, local educational agencies, schools, and educators;”

So, we kind of let the cat out of the bag by admitting that Federal requirements tend to be a burden.  But we’re totally fixing all that No Child Left Behind bureaucratic mess with an even bigger bureaucracy of our own!

The old #9 used the phrase “scientifically based instructional strategies.”  That phrase has got to go, what with the way we’ve foisted an untested Common Core on most states.  Science, shmience.

New #9:

strengthening parental engagement and coordination of student, family, and community supports to promote student success.”

Our ninth and last way to accomplish our education goals is based on the #12 way from 1965.  Numbers 10 and 11 were just some fluff about professional development and coordinating services.  Since we’ve already explained that we want to promote integration of all levels, coordination is a moot point.  Mostly we are just hoping you don’t know that integration means combining different parts into a single (federally controlled) entity.

Whew!  Well that was fun, but I’m never going to get anywhere on this bill if I keep fisking like this.  I’ll try to make more efficient progress next time.

Homeschooling In and Out of Our League

I want to talk a little more about my decision to fundraise for the Tampa Bay HEAT.

My decision is based on something bigger than the gratitude I feel for this organization.  I am fundraising for the HEAT’s dream of a full service school building because I see a tremendous need for it.

As I have encountered various homeschool groups in the last two years, I have noticed a pattern.  Each group tends to have a particular focus: academics, informal fellowship, or sports.  Of course, these goals overlap, but most groups give priority to one category over the others.

Without question, the hardest need to satisfy when homeschooling is participation in team sports.  “Tebow” laws are great but not a complete answer to the question of how we provide team sports to the homeschooling community at large.

Groups like the HEAT provide these needed team sports.  They have popped up all over the country.  Here are just a few examples:  Richmond VA, Knoxville TN, Lakeshore WI, Albuquerque NM, and West Michigan.

I don’t know how every group finds space for practice and home games.  I don’t know which ones have an easy time finding the space, and which ones have a hard time of it.

Except the HEAT.  I know they have a hard time.  A huge chunk of their efforts and money goes to finding and renting practice space, and then finding and scheduling games against local private schools.  Their need for a gymnasium and sports field is as obvious a wart on a prom queen’s nose.

I’ve also seen how an effort like the HEAT draws so many other incidental programs:  academic classes, special interest clubs, field trips and social gatherings.

I couldn’t help but imagine how easy and wonderful it would be if they could do all these things under one roof.  A homeschool building.

When I mentioned this to the HEAT’s founder, Teresa Manganello . . . well.  It turns out I was preaching to the choir.

It also turns out that at least one homeschool community has already turned this vision into reality:  The Homeschool Building.  The facility in Wyoming, Michigan, is a great example of how a thriving homeschool community can come together under one roof.  Their school facility provides for the needs of the homeschooling community without assuming responsibility for the academic curricula.

A homeschool basketball association near Wyoming, Michigan, explains the importance of a physical school facility:

“As home schoolers, we are truly blessed to live in one of the best places in the world to educate our children as we see fit. One huge factor in that assessment is our access to the Home School Building. Through the years, the HSB [Home School Building] has hosted tutoring classes, soccer practices, volleyball games marching band, orchestras and, of course, basketball games and practices. It is difficult to imagine how different the WMHSAA basketball league would be without the HSB for meetings, practices and games.”

Did you catch that?  Folks have a hard time imagining how their homeschool sports league could have blossomed without the support of a homeschool-run school building.

It’s funny; we homeschoolers escaped brick-and-mortar schools in the best interests of our children.  Now, it turns out that brick-and-mortar buildings may be the best bet for homeschooling’s future.

P.S. Please consider donating a purely symbolic amount to the Tampa Bay HEAT building fund, here:  http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/tampa-bay-heat-mustard-seed-dream-fund/64690  So far my pledge to match up to $500 total of donations from my readers has elicited only one small donation.  Help me out here, guys, could you?  Just put in the comments that you donated as a No One Of Any Import reader, and I’ll match it up to a $500 total.

UPDATE 1: SDH is such a doll; he donated $500 just to make sure I had to donate my $500.  Wait a minute.  Maybe he’s not such a doll after all . . . /wink/

UPDATE 2: THANK YOU Professor Glenn Reynolds for the Instalanche! I’m all done matching funds but really.  Folks like Bob, SDH, Wraith, and Herb Cumbie have no idea how much they have encouraged a group of folks who really need it.

UPDATE 3: I’ve been over at the Mustard Dream Fund, seeing how generous Instapundit readers are.  I am humbled and honored, and also a little bit worried.  You see, on 28 June my long-time reader SDH donated the entire $500 I had vowed to match.  I matched this sum on 01 July.

As of 10:59pm Eastern time today, 13 July, there are now $185.00 in additional donations that have mentioned my blog & promise to match.  Because I left the info on the prior matched $500 buried in the comments section, I am worried that I have misled some very kind folks.  Therefore, I am going to match this additional $185.00.

All done matching now, though.  It’s tempting to keep on going.  But I’ll get myself into trouble.

Once again, thank you all so much.  Every donation, no matter the amount, feels like a fortune.  I’m starting to understand the word “blessing” more than I ever have.

Individuals Used To Matter

We old-fashioned types are pretty shocked when we hear crazy collectivist talk spewing out of what is at least in theory a mainstream media outlet.  We shake our heads and shake our fists and cry out in despair and confusion, “What the hell is going on here? What is wrong with you people?”

It’s hard.  It’s hard to understand what has happened to our country.  How have we managed to elect and reelect a man demonstrably uncomfortable with the constraints of our Constitution?  How have we devolved from the land of opportunity to the land of entitlement?

The scary results before us now are the fruition of many years of individual abdication.  We, as individuals, keep relinquishing our responsibilities.  Young adults wandering the streets today are the grandchildren of a culture that demands both rights and blamelessness.

Nobody wants to take responsibility anymore.  We could list examples all day long, but that doesn’t really help us to understand how we got here.

The devil’s in the details.

Even the smallest decision can resonate far beyond its initial design.

Older son learned to read early.  We naively expected schools to take this skill into account, but by the final year of his brick-and-mortar experience, we knew that would never happen.  In third grade, the slow and thorough application of “reading strategies” to standardized (and therefore lame) material was not only the norm but mandatory, regardless of a child’s reading level.

They have to go through this process, I was told.  Even if they can mechanically read the words, they won’t be able to comprehend the meaning unless we use these strategies to teach them, I was told by Educators Who Are Well Meaning But Shall Remain Nameless.

I might have bought this premise, too, were it not for my own experience.  I was a child once, and a good reader.  My 1st grade teacher noticed.  She told me one day, go to the 2nd grade classroom during reading time.

While my classmates recited aloud the latest 1st grade adventures of Dick and Jane, I went upstairs and into a strange 2nd grade classroom.  The teacher there informed me that her class was at P.E., and I was to read all the “readers” at my own pace.  The shelf of readers extended the length of one wall.

No one ever asked me to apply a reading strategy.  No one ascertained whether I was really reading, or just messing about and taking advantage of the situation.  By the end of the year, I had ingested every reader shelved on that wall.

Fast forward thirty years.  I proposed the same arrangement to a very kind and capable teacher, and she looked at me as if lobsters were coming out of my ears.  You can’t do that, she protested.  The schedule won’t allow it.

Right.  The schedule won’t allow it.

In other words, its not her responsibility.

Thirty years ago, an underpaid urban public school teacher didn’t think twice about taking responsibility for the needs of an early reading student.  The arrangement was probably concocted in the teacher’s lounge.  They probably didn’t even run the idea by the principal first.

Did this arrangement substantially improve my education?

I don’t know.

It sure feels significant, though.  It sure feels like proof that the individual used to matter.

But not anymore.

Offend A Feminist Week Already?

Thank goodness for a good man like Mr. G to remind silly me it’s That Time Of Year again.  I’ve been too busy cooking and child-raising to write a proper post on the subject.

For now, feminists will have to be satisfied with gnashing their teeth over the rank misogyny of a TV show that portrays a woman entirely owned by a man, to whom she refers to as “master.”

nooneofanyimport:

A fellow blogger has run into the same education predicament as I have:

“Every other week, a folder comes home with a book in it. There are accompanying questions, most of which are things a Kindergarten age child shouldn’t be asked and which usually have to be modified to even fit the book that came home. . . . Instead of working on actual reading and basic comprehension, these kids are being quizzed on what the role of the narrator is, what the illustrations bring to the text and to re-tell parts of the story as they relate to their own lives.”

Yep. Be sure and look at the Common Core slideshow that Lady Liberty linked. It demonstrates how far removed the educational experts are from the simple act of teaching actual information. Instead of teaching facts, they are laser-focused on teaching kids how to think. Nevermind the fact that kids need to absorb some basic information, so that they have something about which to think critically.

You can find more of my expounding ranting on this subject here.

Originally posted on Lady Liberty 1885:

This is part two of what is likely to be a continuing series on the Common Core Standards.  This particular post will follow the implementation and related commentary as it applied to my home state, North Carolina. To get up to speed, read Part One: The Common Core Train Wreck: Part One

Common Core Train Wreck (Part II):

North Carolina & Beyond

In 2010, a press release was issued detailing that North Carolina would be participating in adoption of the latest set of education standards – The Common Core Standards (CCS).  In the release, mention is made that North Carolina is pleased to be one of the first states to adopt the Common Core, yet the implementation was delayed until the 2012-13 school year, leaving North Carolina as one of the last states to do so.  The usual suspects cheered the adoption of the CCS, including Governor at the time, Bev…

View original 1,308 more words

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 659 other followers