If school districts published their own books with chapters written by those teachers who had the writing talent and desire for some extra money, the districts as owners of the copyright could print up as many copies of these books as they needed at a fraction of the present cost, while paying the teachers a continuing royalty for their work. School district generated textbooks would not only cover national issues, but would be more easily adaptable to local issues by having built in links to other data on the Internet that is far richer than any single textbook could ever hope to be.
Good teachers are one of a kind. Teachers like my old Government teacher Marvin Katz and English teacher Eugene Friedman from my days at Monroe High School. Good teachers who individually configured their own nuanced approach to teaching courses in a way that wasn't just going through the motions. What I have always found to be true is that students -- even the students that don't try -- definitely know the difference between a good teacher who is trying to inspire them and a teacher that is just phoning it in and watching the clock with them.
In the final analysis, the only advantage that democracy has over a much more efficient totalitarian system is the ability to teach its citizens to think out of the box by ensuring everyone has access to a great public education. The present glaring contradiction between attaining the pragmatism necessary for maintaining a viable democracy and our present education system is that it has not been able to fulfill the function of sufficiently educating the future citizens of this country for a long time. The only reason that it was able to get away with it for so long is that we only reached the physical boundaries of this incredibly rich country during the massive westward migration during and after WWII. Finally, waste of this country's most vital resource -- it's youth -- can no longer continue in what is becoming more and more a highly competitive world...
Detroit, which already has a $219 million deficit is about to find out if the social promotion issue can be effectively addressed. Detroit Public Schools "Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb signed an executive order Friday immediately banning teachers from passing students who are not proficient at their grade level to the next grade -- to the outrage of Detroit school board members who called it a political ploy in the midst of a court battle between Bobb and the board over academic control of the district. It is estimated that Bobb's edict will effect 20,000 students...nearly a quarter of the district's 84,600 students."
In what more and more appears like a reverse
Renaissance -- aka self-inflicted Dark Ages -- those in power seem to
be seeking the destruction of public education, so that the reflective
thought necessary to question and hold accountable the greedy
leadership of this country will no longer exist. In The Death and Life of the Great American School System - How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Diane Ravitch
concisely analyzes the very real threat to a viable constitutional
democracy that consciously chooses to vest power in an educated citizenry. Beyond the strength of the arguments
she makes in questioning the much touted educational reform we
constantly hear about in the media is the fact that this politically
conservative educator is coming up with the same critiques that
politically progressive people have leveled at constantly changing
public education reforms that never seem to come to fruition in any
measurable way, except in the profits that these reforms seem to
generate for everyone except the students.
At perdaily, we had hoped to balance all the negativity out there with articles about the commitment and idealism that got us into teaching in the first place. While the last 60 stories we have put up on the site needed to get said and had an incredibly salutary effect on ourselves and hopefully our readers, we need to do something more than just respond the LAUSD dysfunction. Rather we need to posit our vision of who we are as educators and remember that most of us still love those moments when real learning takes place.
While I am happy to be away from the toxic and administratively
sanctioned unhealthy environment that physically and mentally continues
to do damage to my fellow teachers, I'm saddened by not being allowed
to work at my profession as an idealistic, honest, and
motivated teacher. While a proper independent venue will ultimately
decide the disputes I continue to have with LAUSD, there is no reason why I can't still be allowed to at least earn my salary and benefits, even if the District doesn't seem to care about my trivial pay in light of an over $640 million hole in it's budget. LA Weekly even mentions it HERE.
Here's the deal: I bet Cortines my whole salary against his, approximately 3 to 1 odds -- since I am obviously the long shot here (without considering the $150,000 a year he gets from Scholastics) -- that I can balance LAUSD's budget without firing or laying off any employees necessary in the actually rather straight forward process of teaching students. In the group think world of public education where Superintendent Ramon Cortines has spent his 50 year career, he has become so accustomed to accommodating to this failed system that it is unrealistic to think that he could ever implement the difficult changes that must be put into place if we are to finally create a successful 21st century education model.
Guess where my new office is? I'll give you a hint: it's quiet, centrally located, and only steps away from my kitchen, bedroom and living room. Job Requirements: Must be able to make two phone calls a day to my principal. Two! Job includes full salary and benefits. And this is supposed to be my punishment for starting a website?
VIA Lenny: Several years ago, when LAUSD acquired and demolished
the old Ambassador Hotel site in the Mid-Wilshire area, I proposed an international school like the one I had been involved with for 7 years, when I lived in France. Although my proposal was included in the environmental impact report, nobody ever contacted me about the proposal nor did I ever have the feeling that LAUSD was open to ideas on what to do with the site. I must emphasize that my proposal was not something that was untried, but rather a vibrant multilingual and multicultural system of education that has been up and running in France since shortly after the Second World War. I guess LAUSD had a better idea...
In the United States, the total capacity of all colleges and universities is only 40% of high school graduates. A relatively successful high school in LAUSD like Palisades Charter has only 30% of its graduates finishing a four-year college degree. It goes without saying that this rate is significantly lower in the vast majority of other LAUSD high schools. So why has LAUSD continued to tout going to college as the sole measure of success in high school?
With all the brouhaha about fixing public education, people are left with the false impression that this is some herculean and incredibly complicated task that borders on the impossible. In actuality, nothing could further from the truth. What is hard is maintaining archaic disproved models of public education that only serve to maintain the relatively small number of people who benefit under the present regime. Instead of reconstituting teachers in failed schools, try reconstituting administration. Instead of accommodating teacher and student dysfunction, look at why they fail and stop lying to yourselves -- enforce objective standards for all. Stop adapting to failure and assaulting those who complain. Create independent oversight instead of blind loyalty to failure. Here are 8 ways to solve the education problem literally overnight.
Bake sales could be a thing of the past. Teachers all over the country are turning to selling lesson plans online. Since most educators spend endless hours on crafting the perfect lesson, why shouldn't they get credit for their work (and money)? Sounds like a win-win, except somebody thinks they actually deserve a cut. HINT: They don't.