24 June 2009

Fer Reallio.

It's not enough to just provide equal access to education as outlined in the Brown decision. I'm thinking some of the early civil rights activists would feel demeaned, insulted and infuriated by these ideas:

See, as long as these children have homes away from the watchful eyes of the state, we all know that some of those homes have problems. Apparently, according to this report, people who happen to be black or poor or Latino... or people who happen to not acquire a certain number of words by their third birthday or live in a less "language rich" environment... well, these people are all at a larger disadvantage and have less "success." And how are we gonna fix that?

I was surprised that "make all children become white and upper-class" was not proposed as an answer in this report. Go ahead and read it. It's kinda funny in a sad, twisted sort of way. If only people didn't really read this stuff and think it's "fer reallio" as Patrick would say, we could all guffaw about it.

Well, maybe we will anyway. The paper *seems* to present the idea that we need absolute equality in education. Or else. All children must achieve identical scores on standardized tests under No Child Left Behind. But this ideal hasn't been achieved, even though our schools are nearly perfect! We wonder why! Excerpt with fun snarkiness in red:

"However, out-of-school factors (OSFs) play a powerful role in generating existing achievement gaps, and if these factors are not attended to with equal vigor, our national aspirations will be thwarted."

That's right! Our NATIONAL ASPIRATIONS (please get two people to agree on these so we know what they are) will be thwarted! Thwarted, I tell you! By factors outside the school! So to have a good school, we must control the family! The community! The economic system! The world!

"This brief details six OSFs common among the poor that significantly affect the health and learning opportunities of children, and accordingly limit what schools can accomplish on their own: (1) low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children; (2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (Yes, this paper *actually* sets forth nutrition and economic programs as a solution so that no one is born at a low birth weight or needs to pay out of pocket for a cavity, ever again! For education, you see!) (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics. These OSFs are related to a host of poverty-induced physical, sociological, and psychological problems that children often bring to school, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior."

Now go back and read that last sentence out loud again. HOW in the world can you "bring" excessive absenteeism to school? And isn't all "absenteeism" excessive?

And, people. You don't think schools will ever be effective until "family stress" is dealt with? Methinks I smell some sort of ruse here. Schools will never, never, NEVER be able to teach well, because there will always be one family with "family relations and family stress" out there.

Talk about a copout. Talk about asking for a little too much control and money. But I'm seeing this linked in other places in the education blogosphere as though it... you know... MEANT something scholarly and stuff.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, Mrs. C, do you know why no one commented yet on this? You're such a deep thinker that we just sit here and think "wow, I never thought of it that way before." :D At least for me. Here I am thinking about what to make for lunch. You are at your side of the states thinking about how to change the school system. Along with making lunch. Lucky. I must have lost brain cells along the way because I never think so deeply.

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  2. Virginia, I can acknowledge that the schools do a lot of good.

    But wow, with the money they spend... I think we could do a lot better than what we're getting.

    And I think these bureaucrats/ educators like to sit around and think about what's best for "our" kids. So presumptuous! Better to think of what would be the best use of taxpayer funds in terms of educating children (if any) and offer that *choice* to parents.

    I don't think school should be mandatory. I think it makes us appreciate it less AND I think it makes for fights when parents and schools disagree. :]

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  3. **The paper *seems* to present the idea that we need absolute equality in education. Or else. All children must achieve identical scores on standardized tests under No Child Left Behind.*

    The problem is that our school system was started out based on the factory model, assembly line kids to produce good little worker bees. They assumed the tabula rasa--empty slate. All kids are the same and, with the same education, will come out as a consistently same product.

    That is why I love Charlotte Mason who believed that children are born persons and ought to learn to accept or reject ideas presented to them . . .

    **"However, out-of-school factors (OSFs) play a powerful role in generating existing achievement gaps, and if these factors are not attended to with equal vigor, our national aspirations will be thwarted."**

    Charlotte Mason developed her ideas when working with the poorest children in England (coal-miner children) and she managed to help them overcome the achievement gap by treating them like persons . . .

    **Now go back and read that last sentence out loud again. HOW in the world can you "bring" excessive absenteeism to school? And isn't all "absenteeism" excessive?**

    If children were treated like persons, not test-taking machines, and had short-lessons on wide and varied things and ideas, they might actually find school interesting . . .

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)