Congratulations to the president for securing a second term. It is my hope that in the subsequent years of this administration real change may come to education. The president and Mr. Duncan must begin to address the real issues affecting public schools. So far they have not. Although I do not see Mr. Duncan as the best fit for Secretary of Education, he is clear favorite to a Republican led administration or even a Michelle Rhee.
We must have faith in our public schools and our urban students. Now that the November politicking is set aside, let us work for the change public education direly needs. Mr. President, YES WE CAN end high stakes testing, fund schools equitably, strengthen teacher preparation programs, and begin to close the achievement gap. 2013 is a new year and just around the corner.
As a straight ticket voting democrat since 18, I am offended by the undependability of the party that traditionally represented the laborer. The line separating the Dems from the GOP is getting less distinguishable for the proletariat. A mayor against the unions is a mayor against the middle class, Democrat or not!
Don’t hate teachers because their union is strong. Don’t hate teachers because they make demands. It’s taken a century to secure rights for the laborer to afford a comfortable middle class life. This fall the teachers are striking for a reasonable raise while the unchecked capitalists of this country swim in their greed and reap their capital gains.
The average salary of a Chicago teacher is 54k. The average salary of wall street banker is at least eight times that. If the Dems want to keep the support of the teachers’ union, then they must support the teachers instead of the bankers with paws twitching to deregulate public education.
Remember Tom Joad from high school English class?
‘Well, Jesus, Mr. Hines. I ain’t a son-of-a-bitch, but if that’s what a red is-why, I want thirty cents an hour. Ever’body does. Hell, Mr. Hines, we’re all reds.’”
Teachers aren’t asking for a banker’s bonus. They’re asking for a middle class raise and demanding an end to the nonsense demands put on the profession by bureaucrats.
The union is representation. If you feel under-appreciated or underpaid, then organize! There was a time, before temp agencies were the norm, when a working man had a secure job that paid enough to raise a family. If you’re complacent with a minimum wage, then the private sector is complacent to pay that pittance.
The teachers are absolutely right for doing what they are doing.
Corporate reformers and tea party zealots have opened doors with their wealth for Scott Walker to ruffle feathers on school yards across Wisconsin. Their “reform” aims to dismantle the Department of Education by unjustified criticism of public schools and attacking American unions. These reformers seek profit by turning education into a free market business.
Contrary to their propaganda, it’s not pubic education that’s failing; it’s the middle class. Great public schools exist in America with devoted teachers investing their lives, and often their own money, to help kids achieve their goals and chase their dreams. There are, in fact, holes in our nation’s education. Some of our students do fall short on achievement results, but let’s ask ourselves why. These corporate “reformers” and Walker would like you to believe it’s the fault of unions and lazy tenured teachers. The truth is that teachers do their best often with limited classroom means. As a nation, we must fund education equitably while also addressing poverty in our communities. We should also model parts of our education system after high achieving unionized countries like Finland. When we support our unions we support the working class. When we support the working class we address issues like poverty. When poverty is addressed and schools are equitably funded, then we will have successfully addressed our own shortcomings in education.
The free market is for buying vacuums and blenders, not schools. Public education is precious to the future of American democracy and must not be treated like cheap plastic goods. Corporate America is using struggling public schools as an opened window in education policy. If they really cared about equal education, then they would step down from the bully pulpit by supporting unions and those public schools struggling.
Instead what the general public gets is the glitz of a cheapened illusion show performed by these “reformers.” Documentaries and other propaganda have produced a smokescreen to hide corporate greed behind. We must look past the superfluous hype and myths behind the charter circus.
Breaking up unions and closing public schools will not attract highly qualified educators or improve academic gains. Merit pay is another myth vis-a-vis the charter panacea that is failing to address real concerns in American schools. It’s not even a reasonable starting point in the reform debate. First let’s focus on ending poverty by providing healthcare and creating jobs for the middle class. This will ensure some stability that will allow children to come to school ready to learn.
We’ve already closed the Main Street hardware shops and grocery stores. Is public education the next to go? There’s a fox in the school house and his name is Scott Walker.
Just watched “Waiting for Superman” and am wishing I hadn’t. The film is disguised propaganda, in the embrace of American exceptionalism, that traces the paths some featured parents take to get their child out of the big bad public school and into a charter. Basically saying without words that the only way to save America and education is by shaming teachers, destroying unions, closing public schools, and privatizing education.
What they don’t know is that Superman went to public school and Superwoman was his 4th grade teacher. Charters are a hoax controlled by the profiteering elite. Teachers and their unions are not the problem. The problem is that we live in a country with a growing divide between the rich and poor. Nicholas Butler once said, “America is the best half-educated country in the world.” Teachers aren’t trying to waste tax-payers’ money; they’re trying to help that other half catch up while putting up with crappy documentaries that ostracize educators and foster a growing trend of hatred for the public sector.
Middle class America’s presence has faded like the once ubiquitous Trapper Keeper now absent from school hallways. We can live without Trapper Keepers, but can we live without a middle class America? Poverty, inequity, and polarization are holding back achievement in our urban schools. Many of these urban districts were once the heart of American industry and now they’re the ghost towns of a dried up American dream. As company after company packs up for cheaper labor abroad, family after family and community after community are left behind. Parents are left struggling to find work offering insurance and paying enough to support basic necessities. A new refrigerator, lawn mower, or a can of paint are no longer products afforded by what was once the middle class. With little hope and few opportunities I understand why impoverished families fall into credit card debt or turn to alcohol and drug abuse. The system has been privatized and the working people of our nation have been abandoned. As leaders in urban education we must approach day-to-day issues in respect to the current state of urban communities.
So how dow we turn it around? We must all continue to speak up against inequity. We must urge our policymakers to draft legislation that will fund school districts based on need, not property tax value. Every student deserves the opportunity for the same education, so we must hire well-prepared and fully certified teachers to educate urban students. Because urban schools often lack basic resources, they have difficulty attracting and retaining the best teachers. For many districts the solution has been to staff schools with under qualified and unprepared personnel holding only emergency licenses. Other programs, like Teach for America, are good hearted at best, but only temporary solutions to a much bigger problem. Reform will come once we broaden our scope of what good education looks like. If we can overcome this notion that high stakes testing is the cure-all for our ills, then progress will have a fighting chance. By investing in an equitable education, we invest in the middle class while ensuring a brighter future for us all.
The private sector is fueling polarization in educational policy through its philanthrocapitalism as millions of dollars pour into think tanks and campaigns to influence policy and opinions on privatization. In her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System Diane Ravitch argues that the free market has its place in society but not in education. Charter schools turn students into consumers which jeopardizes the value of their education. Good schools are not something to be bought; good schools are the product of communities that embrace them as neighborhood landmarks. Public schools house more than just students. They preserve a lifetime of memories and forgotten teenage secrets. They hold generations of cherished artifacts from state trophies to the etched initials of homecoming sweethearts.
Public education is a gift from our democracy and all of those before us that fought so hard for it! This is why we must protect our public schools as the gems of our communities. If we give in to privatization, then we’ll be dropping children off to schools named like sports arenas: Welcome to Verizon Telecom Middle School of Technology.
I’m not down with that, are you?
As leaders for an equitable urban education, lets rise to the challenges and let our voices be heard. Let’s make the middle class the trend again by supporting working class families and providing the same quality education to our urban students. Education is too fragile to be treated with passing fads. Leadership means realizing the importance for fairness in education and the endless potential in every student.
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