Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…
A modest proposal to fix the schools
Quote from Article:
Incompetent school boards and union dominance.
“In the first place, God made idiots,” Mark Twain once wrote. “This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.” Things don’t appear to have improved much since Twain’s time. “The job has become more difficult, more complicated, and more political, and as a result, it’s driven out many of the good candidates,” Vander Ark says. “So while teachers’ unions have become more sophisticated and have smarter people who are better-equipped and -prepared at the table, the quality of school-board members, particularly in urban areas, has decreased.” Board members routinely spend their time on minor matters, from mid-level personnel decisions to bus routes. “The tradition goes back to the rural era, where the school board hired the schoolmarm and oversaw the repair of the roof, looked into the stove in the room, and deliberated on every detail of operating the schools,” says Michael Kirst, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University. “A lot of big-city school boards still do these kinds of things.” Because of Progressive-era reforms meant to get school boards out of “politics,” most urban school districts are independent, beyond the reach of mayors and city councils. Usually elected in off-year races that few people vote in or even notice, school boards are, in effect, accountable to no one.
Local control essentially surrenders power over the schools to the teachers’ unions. Union money and mobilization are often decisive in board elections. And local unions have hefty intellectual and political backing from their state and national affiliates. Even when they’re not in the unions’ pockets, in other words, school boards are outmatched.
The unions are adept at negotiating new advantages for their members, spreading their negotiating strategies to other districts in the state, and getting these advantages embodied in state and sometimes federal law as well. This makes it extraordinarily difficult for superintendents to change staffing, compensation, curriculum, and other policies. Principals, for their part, are compliance machines, spending their days making sure that federal, state, and district programs are implemented. Meanwhile, common-sense reforms, like offering higher pay to attract teachers to underserved specialties such as math, science, and special education, can’t get traction, because the unions say no.
District Deeds Synopsis:
A GREAT article from the Atlantic!!!
This article, though published 10 years ago (it was published in the January/February, 2008 issue), provides an excellent primer as to how Public Education was launched in the United states and the progress (or lack thereof) since then.
The description of the School Board/Teachers Union dynamic regarding the driving of educational operation decisions with purely political influence is spot on to this day in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).
It is ironic (or maybe not) that Labor Union Organizer Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera was actually elected to his office in November, 2008 and his actions to mollify and recruit the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) basically followed the “accountable to no one” blueprint described in this January 2008 article.
It is almost as though Barrera read it in January, 2008 and then used it as his SDUSD Trustee election action plan!
Since 2008 Barrera has not only gotten the SDEA to support his crony Trustee candidates in elections (resulting in a 5-0 vote in most, if not all, SDEA backed initiatives) but also gotten the SDEA to allow a totally incompetent Elementary School Principal (Cindy Marten) to be appointed and have them overlook her numerous operational, educational, financial and human resource blunders in return for her equivalent incompetence in union contract negotiations.
Who would have thought that this article could have so accurately and thoroughly predicted the next 10 years (and beyond) in the SDUSD?
And one more question…as for eliminating the SDUSD School Board…
Where do we sign up?
Quote from Article:
In recent years, there has been a great deal of public angst about refugee resettlement in the U.S. and Europe. Americans are deeply divided on the issue. For instance, a Pew Research Center study published in May of this year found that only a quarter of Republicans and right-leaning independents say the U.S. “has a responsibility to accept more refugees,” compared with almost three-quarters of Democrats and left-leaning independents.
Policies under the Trump administration reflect this division: The number of refugees being resettled to the United States in 2017 was just over 50,0000 – less than half the number from 2016. The decline is even sharper for 2018, since the administration lowered the annual cap to 45,000 refugees. Fewer admissions also means a decrease in numbers of students with refugee backgrounds in U.S. public schools.
Those who see refugees as a drain on public resources might view these declines as a positive. However, qualitative research published recently in my co-edited book, “Educating Refugee-background Students: Critical Issues and Dynamic Contexts,” suggests that this trend represents a loss to our schools and communities.
Having fewer students with refugee backgrounds, I argue, may result in missed opportunities for learning among all U.S. students – particularly when it comes to preparing them for global citizenship, civic responsibility and perseverance both inside and outside of the classroom.
District Deeds Synopsis:
This article reaffirms the concept of the United States as a “melting pot” where welcoming immigrants is one of the biggest strengths of the American culture.
Personally one of the best decisions we made as a parent was to send our kids to a school that had a wide degree of both cultural diversity and immigrant families. The result has been that my kids now have an acceptance and understanding of the diverse situations many of their friends, classmates and colleagues have experienced and how all members of our society have the right to be respected for the strength of their character.
Quote from Article:
Think back on your childhood, and you probably remember hours spent in active, imaginative, and outdoor play. It’s likely that you rough-housed with friends or neighbors, engaged with nature, and built entire worlds from sheer imagination.
The 21st century childhood is different. A 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study found that the average elementary school aged child spent 7.5 hours daily using entertainment technology, and 75 percent of these children had a television in their bedrooms. Of course, the widespread use of technology is only increasing, and new forms of digital entertainment are introduced regularly.
So how does the new digital childhood impact our kids? Let’s take a look.
Requirements for Healthy Childhood Development
Healthy childhood development requires:
- Human connection
- Exposure to nature
The lack of these four crucial elements has a negative impact on physical, psychological, and behavioral health. It also limits a child’s ability to learn and to sustain positive relationships with others.
District Deeds Synopsis:
We are not and do not claim to be child psychologists or health experts but the concepts described in this article made intuitive sense to us. In our society we have seen the results of isolation from “Movement – Touch – Human Connection – Exposure to nature” every single day. From heightened obesity rates to the depression/suicide epidemic to 24/7 technology obsession it is clear that the consequences of a “Digital Childhood” are real.
A good article that spells out the repercussions of a Digital Childhood with a strong warning of its effects.
For our Quote of the Week we HAVE TO re-quote Mark Twain:
“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.” – Mark Twain
Have a great week!!!
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