Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
Via Intercepts, this photo from the Save Our Schools march was posted originally by Mark Simon of the Mooney Institute for Teacher and Union Leadership.
The only mention of the Save Our Schools march here is a picture of a misspelled sign?
Here’s a commentary from the Nation, just to choose one of many. The Matt Damon clip has gone wildly viral, for those who are unaware. http://www.thenation.com/blog/162558/matt-damon-arne-duncan-and-divisive-teacher-quality-debate
Because it’s totally up to the schools to give you an ‘education’. If the schools teach the fundementals well (phonics, vocabulary, basic math, a general idea of history, geography, and science) then any man can educate himself.
Once upon a time we understood that it was up to the INDIVIDUAL to put the basic skills to use–that education was won, not given.
For instance, in the mid-20th century, people who had an eighth-grade ‘education’ were able to buy, read and discuss the “great books.” They had the basic+desire.
In the early years of the US, Nathaniel Bowditch (There’s a great newberry winning biography of him, if you need a quick intro) took his basic level education and used it to teach himself foreign languages and higher math. This self-educated man ended up writing a major navigational text that was used for centuries and became a founding member of the American Academy of Science!
The problem for us today is that many students are getting neither the basics NOR the desire. You can’t GIVE desire– but you can teach the basics, and that’s what the tests are trying to measure—
But, if a child really just wants an EDUCATION he doesn’t need more and better funded schools. He just needs a library card, some paper, a pencil, and a few adults to bounce ideas off of.
The SOS march wasn’t about change, or improving education–it was just about feeling good. I mean seriously… don’t cut “RIF?” Because without the ads during Saturday morning cartoons, kids will NEVER READ!!!!!
Until education stops being something that the schools are supposed to impart, regardless of a lack of desire on the kids’ part, and returns to being something you have to work for and invest in, we’ll be going nowhere.
(And yes, Cal, I realize that historically very few people had the brains and drive to be a Bowditch. Which is why we need to be more realistic, and maybe return to capping mandatory schooling at 8th grade and start thinking realistically about what most schools can provide to most students, while providing an upper tier for the kids who want to go on after 8th grade.)
I wasn’t able to attend the SOS March for work-related reasons, but a number of my friends and associates who are involved in Parents Across America were among the organizers, and many attended. Some of them devoted vast amounts of unpaid volunteer time to the effort.
You may not think it was effective, Deirdre M., but I can assure you that for those volunteers, it was very much about change and improving education, not just “feeling good.”
I don’t know what the reference to “don’t cut RIF” is about.
Matt Damon’s various rants— he’s worried about cuts to “reading is fundamental” and is complaining about it everywhere. (I’m somewhat confused, as I’d thought it was a charity, not a government agency, but.. oh well.)
Also, if it’s not about feelings, why all the time and effort into organizing a march, instead of putting time and effort into pinpointing what’s wrong at individual schools and taking concrete steps to fix it?
Marches are about feelings. They’re a lazy man’s way of feeling like they’re working on a problem. (As are blog comments, honestly, so I’m no better than they are, but at least I don’t claim to be ‘enacting change’ by arguing with you! 🙂 )
I think a big problem here is that not all ‘schools’ need saving in the same way. And testing has been good for some schools, and not so good for others. (Also, one problem with current testing is yearly variation is practically meaningless– it can just mean a particularly bad cohort of kids rather than a particularly bad school.)
Many charities get a significant part of their budgets from government programs. Not surprisingly, a significant amount of their effort goes to keeping those programs alive and well-funded.
Well, because “what’s wrong at individual schools” is so impacted by our national education policy that it’s impossible to ignore it. Activist teachers and parents have tried and tried and tried to make our voices heard and have instead found national education policy increasingly created and propelled by non-educators. And to my knowledge, many/most/all of the march organizers, participants and supporters (including me) have spent years of active involvement in our local schools trying to improve them.
“Pinpointing what’s wrong and taking concrete steps to fix it” implies a lot more simplicity than actually exists in education. if it were so easy, none of this would be needed.
One of the activist teachers who was a Save Our Schools organizer started the project “Teachers’ Letters to Obama.” The members eventually won a conference call with Arne Duncan — and then Duncan’s agenda turned out to be to talk at them rather than listening at all. Then you try the next way to try to be heard, and then next. The Save Our Schools event was one of those efforts.
If you put down a march and rally as ineffective, I couldn’t argue with that opinion (though thanks to Matt Damon’s encounter with an overmatched Reason TV reporter and cameraman, this one became pretty high profile). But by no stretch could the organizers be described as lazy — they worked their butts off, for free — and they were not doing it for “feelgood” reasons. That’s just not true or fair. And except for however many D.C. locals, the participants all traveled from somewhere, at their own expense. None of that was “lazy,” and all of it was done in the hope of having a real impact.
I’m a believer in the importance of communication, so I don’t think blogs or blog comments are worthless either.
About 75% of RIF’s funding is (was?) from the federal government.
According to the New York Times:
Remind me again why we have a “national education policy” ? ? ?
RIF stands for Reading Is Fundamental…Along with School House Rock, those were staples during 70’s Saturday morning cartoons…
I like the “Put Congress on merit pay” sign, I’d guess they already are… but its not the federal payroll they’re collecting from.
I think debating the merits of the SOS March’s goals (and of even having such a march) is worthwhile–glad to see the comments here move in that direction.
Joanne, basing your coverage of said march on a mis-spelling on a child’s poster is cheap and I would think beneath you.
“basing” Is that equal to “mentioning”?
Detroit teachers’ strike some years ago had a sign “No way, hosay.” Teacher holding it. Presumably it was irony. Bad place to put irony, though.
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