School Choice: A Teacher Speaks

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Kids marching in line at school.

Kids marching in line at school.

Allow dollars to follow the child. A Texas teacher makes her case for school choice:

Texas has increased education spending 95% with a 19% increase in school age population while test scores are flat.

I’m coming to believe test scores are less important. A child should be able to read, do simple math, and write by the age ten–5th grade (and that’s me just being arbitrary). With the innovations in education and the ability to tailor education to a kid, the money should be freed up. There are just so many ways a kid can be educated now.

My kids are in public school and all of them could probably be in environments better suited to their needs. Children develop in uneven ways.

It’s strange to think, but the one-room school house actually catered to kids better in some ways. A slow learner could be paired with kids coming along. A quick learner could accelerate as quickly as he wanted.

Our current educational system is just not responsive to the individual. Freeing up money and allowing kids to thrive in environments suited to them would be a step in the right direction.



School Choice And Education Reform: It’s Personal

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Like health care, education affects everyone. Like the new Obamacare, education sets central recommendations, controls choices and creates a bureaucracy.

The government way is one-size fits all.

The problem is that just as every patient is different, so is every student. Patients and students need MORE choices not less.

In education, teachers unions and state and federal bureaucrats have powerful incentives to keep things the same.

Unfortunately, same harms the powerless–our future generation.

Education reform is an easy issue to get worked up over and then do nothing. There are multiple reasons for this:

1. Education reform can take a long time — by the time motivated parents take on a certain issue, it is likely their children won’t benefit and once the child is done with school, the parents are simply relieved.

2. Parents have kids in the system — Yell at he warden, beat up the prison guard, and see how comfortable your stay at the clink is. Parents worry about their children being at the mercy of angry educators. They have good reason to be concerned. Teacher retaliation is not theoretical. It’s happened.

3. All ed reform seems to be trimming around the edges and not overhauling central issues.

4. Teachers unions actively fight against any meaningful change. Kids are caught in the middle.

The solution to this problem is to create more flexibility. One proposal in Texas is to have the education dollars follow the child.

I like this solution. Here’s why:

1. Education is still industrial-revolution ready, but less useful for the technological age. Money could be shifted to education focused on modern economic needs.

2. Children are diverse and learn differently. I have an Asperger’s/Autism student, a GT student and a kid who I’m still trying to pin down. The education system is perfectly suited to the middle of the bell curve. What about all the kids who are outside the middle? What about the kid who needs far more structure verses the kid who is so self-motivated he or she could be a college grad by age 17?

3. It’s market-based. Success breeds success. Money will go towards the best solutions.

I wonder why teachers unions are so insecure about their ability to keep and serve students? Why don’t they believe they’d be as competitive as private schools if they’re loosed from all their educational shackles?

Bad teachers would likely have a tougher time. Isn’t that a desirable outcome? Don’t we WANT good and great teachers? Don’t we want to eliminate the bad eggs?

My uncle who has been a Superintendent of Schools in Michigan and has been a part of nearly every ed reform change over the years says that people just want to talk about it but not really effect real change.

That’s probably true. It is patently unfair, though, that wealthy folks (like the Obamas) can put their kids in private schools that succeed while forcing the poor people to stay in failing schools. It is patently unfair that tax paying parents get no benefits while home schooling their own children.

People vote with their feet while resources are being thrown down the gluttonous public maw of educational failure.

It is time to become more innovative, not less, with education.

Working with National School Choice Week has been eye-opening. There is much work to do.

Choice is the answer.

More at SchoolChoice.org and PutKidsFirst.com



The Greater Good Means Too Bad For The Children

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Senator Lieberman tried yet again to save D.C.’s school children and it fell on the deaf progressive ears of President Obama. Why does President Obama hate children? Why does he treat his own girls one way and act with willful indifference to needy minority kids going to the same school as them?

Read this and be outraged:

Right now, today, some 1,900 Washington children are sitting in calm, safe, orderly classrooms in neighborhoods other than their own, because of this program. The cost, in the scheme of things, is laughably small.

Yet congressional Democrats and Obama are killing it. This week, Lieberman’s colleagues voted down his attempt to attach a voucher-saving amendment to a larger piece of legislation.
It is a scandal. That the children already enrolled in the scheme will be able to finish 12th grade with the scholarship is small comfort; why only them? Why not their younger brothers and sisters, who will not have the same chance? Why leave these children behind?

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Only-some-children-left-behind-88189257.html#ixzz0iXHrtiBQ

When you hear liberals talk about loving the little children, keep in mind that, as usual, they only love some children–mostly their own.

That’s what happens when decisions are made for the greater good. The ruling class gets one set of health care, education, tax break, government deal, home, car, etc. and then the regular folks get what the “greater good” gets–which is usually nothing.

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Podcast: Andrew Malcolm and I Talk About Meg Whitman, More Chicago Politics and Health Care

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Andrew and Melissa talk about the “belly of the beast” Chicago, what’s up with Meg Whitman, and much more.

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Podcast: Not Hot For Teacher With Jimmie Bise And Tabitha Hale

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Jimmie Bise of Sundries Shack and Tabitha Hale of Pink Elephant Pundit join me to discuss the spork incident which morphed into discussing socialism and central educational planning which morphed into talking the Nobel Peace prize. Believe it or not, it all relates.

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Reforming A Spork-Wielding Six Year Old

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Think the public schools are just fine? I beg to differ. Have you heard about this via Boing Boing:

Zachary Christie is a six-year old student in Newark, Delaware who is facing 45 days in reform school because he brought his new Cub Scout eating utensil to school for lunch. The utensil includes a knife, and this violates the school’s brainlessly, robotically enforced zero-tolerance policy on “weapons on school property.”

Jimmie Bise and Tabitha Hale join me to discuss this stupidity. You might be surprised at their ideas. We also talk about how this relates to socialism….because it does.

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Listen and get hooked. Best stuff on podcasts!



Podcast: The President, Little People, The Press, Levi’s Palin Penis Johnson

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Stephen Green joins me to discuss the Obama-Education talk controversy. He takes on AllahPundit with wit and style. [I would have asked AllahPundit to be on the show had I thought the man would come out of hiding.] We talk about Obama’s cult of personality. We also discuss The Moment President Obama’s presidency went off the rails.

Brandon Vidrine also joins me to discuss the evolution of news online and the new tools to keep people informed.

Finally, Levi Johnson’s …johnson. Sorry, couldn’t help it. I talk about the press’s Levi-erotica. It ain’t pretty. And then, there’s the Cougars. Growl….

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When Melissa isn’t on the radio, you can find her at melissaclouthier.com and on Twitter. Her username is MelissaTweets.

— Also, don’t forget to check out our other shows on Take That! —

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About Obama’s September 8th Ground Breaking Speech….To The Children

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Some thoughts on President Obama’s teachable moment [more at Bookworm and Michelle Malkin]:

The best predictor of human behavior is past behavior.

Obama will be:

1. Glib
2. Boring
3. Professorish

He will say:

4. One or two outrageous things
5. Mixed in with bland banalities

Teachers will dutifully talk about the glories of diversity. The wonderfulness of the president. The hopefulness of his plans.

Children will want to “help the President” and be “good stewards” and “save electricity” and “save the children” and “study hard”. Well, the last one not-so-much.

The message won’t matter. The fact that the President is speaking to them, unfiltered, with no parent is what I object to.

And I live in the most conservative of conservative school districts. Many teachers don’t even know when they are passing bullshit pap along.

My kids came home from school worried about global warming and the world ending.

Our mind numb society didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Anyway, not everyone agrees with my take–they want to give the President the benefit of the doubt. But I can only predict his future actions on past performances. He has done very well at gracefully talking around a controversial subject and making all who hear it believe he’s agreeing with their take.

Children want to believe authorities. They DO believe authorities. Depending on the child’s developmental level, he cannot discern that a President would mislead. Heck, many adults have been baffled by Obama’s b.s. They are shocked, shocked! I tell you, at how President Obama has presided.

But let’s assume the substance is benign. I still don’t like it. The President being beamed directly to children is unprecedented. It has never happened and for good reason. The authority in a child’s life is his parent. A teacher has a teaching role but it is subservient to the parent.

When I think of leaders going around parents to talk to children, I think of Elian Gonzalez. Over at TheRealCuba blog here’s what it says:

Poor Elian!

For the last six years, after he was forced to return to Cuba to become another slave, Elian Gonzalez had to celebrate his birthday with his real father, Fidel Castro. But now, the Cuban dictator is half dead and unable to attend his young slave’s birthday party.
However, that doesn’t mean that Elian would be able to celebrate his birthday as a normal child. Not in Castro’s Cuba!

Elian, who today became a teenager, still had to “celebrate” his birthday party in the presence of two “viejos cagalitrosos,” the new dictator-in-chief and Ricardo “Watermellon Head” Alarcon.
Can you imagine? A teenager having to salute these two sinister characters on his birthday, after having been forced to do the same with Cuba’s mass murderer for the last six years?
Poor Elian! I wonder if Janet Reno remembered to send him a birthday card.

I don’t want an entire generation of Americans getting a universal message from ANY leader or politician. I want a generation of children to be inspired by big dreams–like going to the moon or exploring Mars. A free country can do big things. A free country, lead by a visionary, can demonstrate greatness. The leader doesn’t have to use empty words.

Let President Obama’s personal example of education, hard work and achievement speak for themselves. It is enough…and it’s very American.



Suing Colleges Because Job Prospects Stink

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

I think this is a fabulous idea, actually. This woman is upset because her $70K education is netting her a big, fat, donut. So, sue ’em!

1. Many people accepted to college are dumb as stumps and shouldn’t be there to begin with because they don’t have the chops for the schooling or if they do, don’t have the chops for a job after college.

2. Anyone in the humanities departments should be paid to go to school for all the job offers they’re going to get.

3. Colleges have no incentives to make sure they create a good product.

Do I think that the woman is inane–considering that the economy stinks and no one is having good luck with jobs? Of course she is. But hey, she could be the start of a trend. Stupid, expensive education is a problem even in good economies. In a good economy, though, even idiots get a job, falsely giving the impression that the college education is actually worth something.

Mostly, a college education proves a person can endure for four six years. It’s also like an extended Grade 13 because public school education emphasizes all the wrong things.

Anyway, this lawsuit brings up the whole notion of accountability. Do colleges have to show any evidence that their educations produce a good product? Not really. Maybe they should.

UPDATED:

Lawyer says it’s frivolous.



Aggressive Schooling

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

There have been all sorts of articles written about Helicopter Parents and now, there’s a new trend called “slow parenting“. Slow parenting is just as the name implies–yank your kids out of activities and slow down. There is competing evidence, like came from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers that kids do better with more activities and need at least ten years of consistent, hard work to achieve mastery. And then, there was his extolling of the schools that go year around and for eight hours a day, including Saturday.

Slow parenting might be a new trend, though I’m dubious. Aggressive, strung-out parenting seems to be the norm. Kids have their extra-curricular activities and then they come home…where they are the victims of aggressive schooling.

All the parents complain about aggressive schooling and then, they comply. Their kids come home with projects beyond their ability and the parents are forced to “help” or else the child will be consigned to B+ status.

There is a method to the schooling madness. By making every piece of homework a little too difficult and a must-check and sign by parents, teachers off-load responsibility. If the kid is uneducated, it’s not the teacher’s fault, the parents just don’t care enough and aren’t involved.

Beyond the state’s control of the individual’s behavior, is there any evidence that front-loading education accomplishes anything besides making kids tired and frustrated with school?

And while kids seem to know more minutiae do they have the context to put this information in?

My concern is practical–kids are tired, worn-out and have less time to just play. My concern is also scientific. It seems that there should be evidence that these methods actually work. Children are scheduled heavily and working evenings and weekends when the time could be spent doing other things. Does this work pay off? What are the outcomes to this approach?

If SAT scores mean anything, education has declined, not improved. From the Wall Street Journal:

High-school students’ performance on SAT college-entrance exams stalled, and the gap widened between low-scoring minority groups and the overall population, raising questions about the quality of teaching in U.S. schools.

There should be evidence that broad academic front-loading is helpful and effective. If not, kids need to be cut a break. They have their whole lives to learn taxonomy, but there are only a few years to play.