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The Education Blame Game

Posted on Jun 21, 2007
AP Photo/Francis Specker

Second-graders line up with their language arts books at Oasis Elementary School in Oasis, Calif., where students are required by the No Child Left Behind program to pass standardized math and reading tests in English.

By Sharon Scranage

Editor’s Note:  Sharon Scranage teaches at one of the poorest school districts in Southern California, with a predominately English Language Learner student base. With the help of classroom strategies used expressly for students from poor families, students were able to surpass expectations on their standardized tests, performing at grade level or above in both language arts and math. But more important, they learned not to underestimate themselves.

The No Child Left Behind Act has received criticism from educators and policy pundits, primarily because of unrealistic goals that often stigmatize schools and the teachers connected with them as “underachievers.”  In the quest for accountability, unattainable benchmarks of quantitative success have replaced the more reasonable and humane goals of qualitative growth and improvement.  Despite tremendous student progress in many schools, the inability to meet API or APY standards often leaves teachers and staff frustrated, humiliated and punished for their efforts.

The humiliation stems from the assumption that teachers are the sole reason behind underachieving schools; the punishment comes in the form of increased “policing” through top-down programs dispersed by the state and the school districts.  Adding insult to injury, the teachers are asked to be part of the planning process for upcoming years after “failing to make the grade.”  Again, the onus of responsibility for student success seems to rest entirely on the teachers.  In taking this approach, the school districts have a built-in escape clause should the teachers’ “future plans” fail, which they inevitably will, once again making the teachers the cause for failure and the ultimate scapegoats in the blame game.

There are schools that meet their goals and do not experience this phenomenon.  However, in low-income schools where there is a constant influx of newcomers and second-language learners, this scenario continues to repeat itself.  Superior achievement is determined solely through “data” goals, which fail to take into account true student learning and achievement. This approach makes it impossible to properly support the essentialist curriculum and innovative classroom strategies that teachers and their students require for successful learning.

Imagination and ingenuity will not raise test scores, therefore schools are often unable to support the equally valid goals of talented students who do not test at a certain level.  Developing the hidden and even obvious gifts of a student body is often overlooked in lieu of promoting tested skills.  This philosophy has permeated most public schools, but the tragedy for children in impoverished areas is a lack of access to extracurricular activities and experiences that would contribute to their academic achievement and talent development.  Without these opportunities, many children will leave school without any of the tools they need to build upon their innate talents and abilities.


Square, Site wide

Until a school and its teachers are allowed to set goals above merely quantitative “data” measurements, we will be destined to continue the cycle that No Child Left Behind has promoted.  Until then, even with its impending threats, our educational system will remain mediocre and it will continue to blame other parties for its lackluster results.

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By Teacher in LAUSD, July 17, 2007 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tao Walker says:
“And nobody sets their ownself up to “call out” anybody else, either.  That is seen among us as arrogant and usually self-serving.”

but TAO Walker writes:
“(A)rdee himself continues, in his #82316, to “demonize” those who don’t share his own rather circumscribed and self-centered (in a word, “americanized”?) view of the world.  He claims to be “familar” with the effects of ongoing american policy and behavior toward Native Peoples here on Turtle Island, but his is the false and frequently self-satisfied familiarity of someone who “knows” about life in Jamaica, say, from watching travelogues on TV.  He also appears oblivious to the terrible price others are paying so that he can fuel the rig he drives in service to the bottom line of whatever “major California public utility” he’s labored so long and dilligently for…the message ardee sends is quintessentially allamerican in its arrogant self-satisfied immaturity and wilfully terminal ignorance….a run-of-the-mill “product,” as it happens, of the allamerican system of indoctrination (mis-called “education”)... “

If that’s not calling people out, then I don’t know what is. 

Signing off this thread now.  It has become a waste of time and energy.  Good luck, Tao Walker.

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By TAO Walker, July 17, 2007 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

Not only would it be presumptuous of this old Indian to offer such an already well- informed Person as Teacher in LAUSD (#87292) “advice,” it might be an exercise in futility, as well.  Anyhow, in the way of our People one simply says how things look from where one sits in The Circle.  Others do the same.  Then we each and all together arrive at some sense of the essential nature of whatever it is we’re considering.  We each and all will repond to that according to our best lights.  Nobody “tells” anybody else what she or he is supposed to do.

And nobody sets their ownself up to “call out” anybody else, either.  That is seen among us as arrogant and usually self-serving.  That’s why this old Savage doesn’t presume to comment on the motives and personal worthiness of others, but only on their expressed “values,” attitudes, and beliefs.  Our Cherokee relatives have that same basic understanding, too.

Teacher in LAUSD, like anyone else here, is not only free to take or leave this Person’s observations as she thinks best, she no doubt recognizes it is her responsibility to do so.  Her tendency to “personalize” things here might indicate she is not so well-versed in the Tao or in the Way of the Circle as she maybe feels herslf to be.

She is again invited to look-up this Person’s offerings at other places on this site, where she might find more about how “the situation” looks from where he sits in The Circle.  She may continue to disagree with it, but at least she’ll have a chance to be better informed about what, exactly, she is disagreeing with.  Right now the mostly ad hominem “straw men” she builds out of selective interpretations of a limited “sample” leaves her own criticisms somewhat lacking in actual substance….depending so much, as they do, on guesswork and “personal” projection.

Maybe then it would be easier for her to take “yes” for an answer.


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By Teacher in LAUSD, July 16, 2007 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I give up!  I’m still getting worn-out cliches and platitudes from you.  You have yet to give ANY concrete advice/strategy/WAY on how we are to live, all of us, and all our Relations, the “wild free life.”  I am well aware of the difference between “domestesticated” and “free wild humans” (I am myself a student of Taoism and have lived and studied with several medicine men/women of various tribal affiliations). What I asked you several times was to give us advice on HOW we can live the “wild free life” given our current reality!

In addition, I suffer from no type of “Stockholm Syndrome” as I am a great advocate of living free.  If we could all do it and still sustain ourselves and the animals and the earth in the process, I would like nothing better.

In the meantime I try to live in the Cherokee Way of the Circle. Here are some specifics (the kind of things I have been looking for from you!)

“...Remember that all things are connected. All things have purpose. Consider performing a “giveaway” by distributing your possessions to others who are in need. You are bound by your word, which cannot be broken except by permission of those who the promise was given to. Seek harmony and balance in all things. It is always important to remember where you are in relation to everything else and to contribute to the Circle in whatever way you can , by being a “helper” and protector of life.  Sharing is the best part of receiving…Treat Earth as your mother; give to her, protect her, honor her; show deep respect for those in the animal world, plant world, and mineral world. Listen to guidance offered by all of your surroundings; expect this guidance to come in the form of prayer, dreams, quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders, and friends. Listen with your heart. Learn from your experiences, and always be open to new ones. Always remember that a smile is something sacred, to be shared. Live each day as it comes…”

This is what I teach my students.  You say the education system indoctrinates.  If the above is indoctrination, then maybe I do.

My posture may come accross defensive to you, dear brother, but I am just interested in calling people out who have all the criticisms in the world, but none of the solutions.  Forgive me if I offend.

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By TAO Walker, July 16, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

Teacher in LAUSD (#86920), it seems safe to say, had probably never heard of any distinction between domesticated and free wild humans, before running across it here.  She seems still unwilling to consider the matter on its own terms and merits, with all the profound consequences inherent in it for all of us here. 

This old Savage has never once “demonized” americans or any aspect of the virtual world o’ hurt they inhabit.  In fact, it was stated plainly in the previous comment here that there is nothing airy-fairy about any of this.  We find ourselves and one another in a Living Universe, and so the only real “science” is “biology,” with every other “study” just derivations of that.

Another comment here acknowledged that all these in-human and anti-Life institutional and electro-mechanical arrangements in which the domesticated peoples are caught can only temporarily suppress, and never altogether extinguish, our essential human nature, which pushes-up through the virtual “pavement” like Grass, in the form of Persons like herself who maintain their essential humanity, and strive to foster it in others, in-spite of conditions intended to make that as nearly impossible as possible.  She is to be commended, along with all those who do the same.

It seems likely she and they might be even more beneficially effective if they can carry-on aware of and knowledgeable about the essential nature of the condition their condition is in.  It seems the distinctions this old Indian has tried, perhaps with insufficient articularity, to illustrate are at least worth a serious look.  What use is it to just look for and apply labels, like “new age,” that might temporarily take some of the sting out of words calling into question certain received assumptions shared by most domesticated people about their “estate”?

We are by nature free wild beings.  Captivity is a condition into which most of us have been born, here in these latter days….one that by its very nature is as ultimately destructive to us as factory farms and feedlots are to those of our relatives confined in those similarly terminal circumstances, for the same reasons and to the same ends.

The Tiyoshpaye form is also natural to us.  We will come into it again as the contraption we’re caught in continues to collapse and disintegrate.  Meantime,  all the “real world” is wild and free.  The virtuality from which Teacher in LAUSD   writes is in fact a world of make-believe, a kind of “global” hot-house coming apart at the seams.  It’s good she is among those of us doing what we can to get ready for what is going to be a drastic and sometimes even, for many, a terrifying change in our circumstances here.

Perhaps her defensive posture here is a function of her strong identification with the elements of her own captivity….a kind of world-wide “Stockholm Syndrome” also suffered by most others in it with her.  She maybe shouldn’t take this old Person’s observations so personally.


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By Teacher in LAUSD, July 14, 2007 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Old Indian,

I’m not sure what you do all day or from where you get your sustenance, but here in the real world, this part-Indian sister works her butt off all day to make sure that her students (who suffer from all kinds of ills, mostly inflicted by their own parents or peers) can have choices, use their minds, think for themselves.  And, no, I do not “indoctrinate” them and, no, my classroom is neither “toxic” nor is it an “artificial over-lay.”  I work my butt off daily to make sure my students (of all varieties of race and background, BTW) know that they have someone they can trust and talk to and come to in a crisis. 

For example:  Several years ago when many of my teen-aged female students were “cutting” (a trend where teens cut themselves with razors or knives to relieve their emotional pain) I was able to redirect this emotional outpouring to poetry instead of cutting.  Students studied the great poets and then wrote their own poetry. I still check in on these students and they are still writing and not cutting.  Not one has dropped out of highschool.

Not to toot my own horn, but dear old Indian brother, just saying the people need to live as “free wild human beings” is one of the biggest platitudes I’ve heard.  (Ergo, the “new-age” comments.)  How, dear brother, may we live in the world we have now, with the population we have now, and the limited resources we have now, in the old “Tiyoshpaye” way?  I would love to very much live in accordance with nature, and be free and wild, but given our numbers and our resources, methinks that is a pipe dream. 

And please don’t try to tell me that life was all perfect back then either.  There was disease and starvation and murder and rape, etc.,etc., well before the “white-man” came. 

I am a vegetarian because I do not want to partake in the “ranched” elk. (Nor really in the wild one.) I try very hard to conserve my resources and walk lightly on this earth.  I would love nothing more than to live a simple life in the country, or woods, or mountains, or desert, but how?  If we all were to go there, there would be no more wild lands.  (And BTW, do you only eat food you have hunted or gathered, dear brother?)

So from you I hear constantly how we have gone wrong, and how the allamerican is the demon, and how our schools are even more demonic, in that they are only teaching the demonic allamerican nightmare, etc., ad nauseam.

We know how bad it is.  We know Bush is an idiot who has brought this country only further into the pit. We know our system benefits the rich.  We know money talks.  We know consumerism is killing our earth. Now tell us something we DON’T know.

Don’t just bitch and then give me platitudes like “we must live the free wild life.”  Tell us how!  If you are a TAO walker, then again, I ask you, dear brother, show us the WAY!

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By TAO Walker, July 14, 2007 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

If Teacher in LAUSD (#86427) will look back at some of this old Indian’s comments on this and other threads on this site, s/he will see that the “....alternative….” to the domesticated “individual” is the free wild natural human being.  The Way out of the mostly self-inflicted difficulties the civilized peoples are in today is back into that natural organic form of humanity the Lakota people call “Tiyoshpaye.”

That a billion plus Chinese are bidding to out-do 300+ million americans in the degree of ecological devastation they can accomplish strikes this Person as pretty cold comfort. Anyhow, long-time and ongoing “monitoring” of the allamerican “scene”
makes it plain that the “bottom line” of their hopes is for some way to keep all the gadgetry and institutional furniture they enjoy, while getting rid of those features of “modern” “global” economies that are perforce limiting their private “freedoms” and otherwise cramping their “lifestyle.”  That is a vain hope and an expectation doomed to disappointment. It would be dishonest to suggest americans or anybody else can be both free and wild and hang onto the more attractive elements of the system that keeps them captive.

Teacher in LAUSD’s repeated charge of “new age”-ism is a bit mystifying.  This old Savage hasn’t offered anything here in the way of social “criticism” that isn’t just plain basic biology.  Nor is the intent ever to “run (anybody) down.”  Noting the rather stark differences between “ranched” and free wild Elk, or example, probably wouldn’t elicit the somewhat defensive reaction from him/her that mention of the same thing as between similarly situated Two-Leggeds has here. 

That the vast majority of humans today are in the unfortunate former condition is the result of specific processes set in motion for specific purposes by certain entities intending to benefit theirselves thereby.  There is sure as Hell nothing “new age” about that.

Saying repeatedly that the civilization they’re stuck in is a dead-end death-trap, and has been from its introduction to us here, may not be the kind of “feel-good’ message modern people have become so eager to hear.  But it’s true, nevertheless, which is after-all the “theme” of this site. 

Peoples’ hope must be in each other, in All Our Relations, in the natural living arrangement of our Mother Earth, in the Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.  That this truly ancient knowledge sounds “new age” here in these latter days may only go to show how thoroughly displaced from their roots are our domesticated brothers and sisters today.


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By Teacher in LAUSD, July 12, 2007 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

o-si-yo Tao Walker,

This relatively young, part-Indian wishes that you would follow some of your own advice and stop using so many worn-out cliches.  Perhaps the old savage could offer some positive solutions so that all Americans may see an alternative to the allamerican.  You sound off with more new-age platitudes and more negative stereotypes than a neo-NAZI in a sweat lodge on peote.  How about some meat?  Give us some answers instead of running everyone who isn’t a new-age Indian down.  Such negativity only leads to more dispair.  Have you perhaps “lost any capacity whatsoever for effective self-examination” yourself?

And please don’t forget that it was not the allamerican who invented the system of consumption—better known as capitalism—nor is the allamerican the best at it.  China (the country which invented your name) is far better at exploitation, environmental devastation, and corruption than the allamerican. 

You are correct when you say that the history of America is a “sordid saga of rape, ruin, and murder” but let us also not forget (or delude ourselves) that this pattern was not going on before the first European set foot here.

You accuse ardee of being jingoistic, but it is you who sounds more so.  Rather than labeling, why not offer alternatives.  Rather than separating the native or “domesticated” peoples from the many and vast others who have also suffered, why not draw on our indignation for all atrocities of all life?  (Do you eat meat raised on a corporate farm?) 

We are together in this ongoing “play of life.”  Look for some good too, dear native brother.  Remember that some loveliness has come from all.  Seek to unite, not divide.  You are the TAO walker so show us a new WAY we can walk!

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By TAO Walker, July 12, 2007 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

Greetings again, MiColapi, from the High Plains.  This old savage is venturing again into cyberspace after a couple weeks of HeartSong ‘n’ SunDance where “....the Buffalo roam….”

Looks like ardee (#82505) won’t be seeing this.  Others who might’ve followed the thread, though, have an opportunity, in his last here, to see writ plain (if not exactly large) the underlying attitudinal anatomy that has served so well to deliver theamericanpeople (along with their stillborn republic and their unborn generations) into the ruthless grip of the homegrown and “global” privateering plutoligarchs who mean them all absolutely no-good.

Having no sensible answer to critical questions about the condition his condition is in, ardee lashes-out viciously instead at his own mental effigy of those who dare somehow to raise such questions.  That false image, in its particular construction, only betrays its projector’s own character flaws, as a civilized “individual” of the peculiarly allamerican persuasion.

All forted-up behind the empty platitudes and worn-out cliches and corrupted symbols so many of his fellah and gal subject/citizens use also, trying to cover-up the sordid saga of rape, ruin, and murder that IS americanhistory, ardee cries “foul” when this Person and others decline to come at him from the quicksands of the allamerican mythos.  He, like those who whine about “the enemy” out-of-uniform in Iraq (for example), can’t stand the picture of themselves (and their make-believe “nation”) revealed by “the facts on the ground,” so they go on striving vainly to smash the Looking Glass in which their own ugliness and disintegration is truly reflected.

Whether meant as such or not, ardee’s bent and jingoistic posture here stands as a warning sign to theamericanpeople.  It says they are already a very long ways down the virtual highway of mostly self-inflicted mutual destruction paved with all their self-glorifying but unrealized good intentions.  It says the money-powered runaway contraption they’re travelling in has no brakes….in fact, no effective on-board controls at all, since their “limitless growth” delusion welded the pedal to the metal.

It says a people so grievously weakened by profligate congenital consumption have now all but lost any capacity whatsoever for effective self-examination (How much less have they left any will or ability to arrest those perverts who pursue bloody empire in their names, on their dime, with their children for cannon-fodder?).  It says those who’re addicted to comfort and convenience are doomed to institutionalized degradation and destined for an early demise.

Maybe saddling poor ardee’s self-serving words here with such a heavy load of semiotic freight will strike some as “over the top.”  Still, from the informed perspective of this long-time (if at-first completely involuntary) “student” of all things american, the message ardee sends is quintessentially allamerican in its arrogant self-satisfied immaturity and wilfully terminal ignorance….a run-of-the-mill “product,” as it happens, of the allamerican system of indoctrination (mis-called “education”).

So’s G.W Bush, by-the-way, “and so’s (his) daddy,” whoever in Hell that happens to be this week.


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By ardee, June 29, 2007 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

For Teacher in LAUSD’
I appreciate your post and your experience and thank you for them.

For that stoned out TAU person. You are about as bad as Paolo and personal attacks come from you and he as well. I mentioned TWICE you stoned out jackass that my experience with Indian culture comes from a grandson whop IS ONE. We enrolled him in his tribe eight years ago and have maintained contact with his grandparents on the res every since.

You have joined PAOLO in being ignored, and for the very same reasons, failure to read and understand and speak to what was said, instead sputtering off in some marijuana induced fanatsy concerning your own opinions which do not allow for those of others to sink through. Blather away all you want I will skip your crap as I do those others who refuse to comprehend an opinion before responding to it…useless the both of you.

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By TAO Walker, June 29, 2007 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

(A)rdee himself continues, in his #82316, to “demonize” those who don’t share his own rather circumscribed and self-centered (in a word, “americanized”?) view of the world.  He claims to be “familar” with the effects of ongoing american policy and behavior toward Native Peoples here on Turtle Island, but his is the false and frequently self-satisfied familiarity of someone who “knows” about life in Jamaica, say, from watching travelogues on TV.  He also appears oblivious to the terrible price others are paying so that he can fuel the rig he drives in service to the bottom line of whatever “major California public utility” he’s labored so long and dilligently for.

This old Indian has read Paolo’s posts here, as well, and agrees that ardee neglects to address their substance while lashing-out instead at Paolo personally, and choosing to pick-at out-of-context (and often mangled) snippets bereft of the simplistic “meaning” ardee then imputes to them.  It is a pattern repeated in the latest submission, too.

The allamerican hypersensitivty to any critical questioning of the engraved-in-stone, red-white-and-blue, starred-and-striped platitudes (wrapped-‘round the “educatory system” and other institutional features of the received iconography to which americans are so devoted), is very much on display in ardee’s pugnacious defensiveness here.  He and they waste their precious vitality and dwindling attention, however, tearing down straw-men and beating dead horses, while those whose ruthless and sole purpose is the rape and ruin of our Mother Earth (along with all of us Her children) go virtually un-noticed and half-witlessly abbetted by their tame two-legged victims. 

To be sure there are many good and decent and capable people toiling in those charnel houses of the human spirit called “schools.”  The same can be said about government in-general, commerce, organized religion, and other major sub-systems of the global criminal enterprise called “civilization.”  Our essential (and essentially communal) human nature finds its Way through these meant-to-be permanently suffocating obstacles just like Grass does through the inevitable cracks in the side-walk.  We, too, like Grass through pavement, will finally reclaim what the forces and agents of no-good are attempting to steal from us using their institutional and electro-mechanical killing contraption.

Teacher LAUSD (#82381) is plainly both knowledgeable and sincerely engaged in trying to help us grow through the artificial over-lay that is the “public school system” (and all its “private” counterparts, to-boot).  She and Mann are probably right about the system being a “great equalizer,” but equalizing everybody at some greater or lesser level of institutionalized degradation isn’t necessarily a desirable end.  Their faith in “education” as a cure-all for what ails their virtual world-o’-hurt here in these latter days, however, depends on ignoring both its own fundamental content (toxic) and shape (pyramid-schemed) and the disintegrating socio-economic and ecological context from which it’s derived and which it, in-turn, feeds back into.  This run-amok positive-feedback-loop is the heterodyne whine overwhelming the domesticated peoples’ already overwrought sensibilities these days.


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By Teacher in LAUSD, June 29, 2007 at 11:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d like to address some of the educational issues brought up by the thread of Paolo, Ardee, and Tao Walker. 

Firstly, while many home schooled students do quite well, I find limiting a child’s educational exposure to the ideology and educational level of the parent to be problematic in general (just my opinion).  Many parents choose to home school their children because of extreme religious beliefs, like teaching creationism over the solid scientific foundation of evolution.

Secondly, most parents these days don’t have the luxury of time to home school.  Most of my poor, inner-city parents are working several jobs.  If Paolo doesn’t want his taxes paying for public schools, then what are people who can’t afford to educate their kids to do?

Thirdly, my grandfather was an Oklahoma Cherokee whose family and ancestors suffered as much as anyone from the US governments actions. I was taught, and am of the mindset, that education is the great equalizer (Horace Mann’s words) and I truly believe that.  And as another put it, the purpose of education is to replace and empty mind with an open one.  Without free, public education we would have a situation similar to Mexico where because of costs associated with education, there is an incredibly high rate of under-educated people.  Because of the lack of education, the poverty rate is enormous. 

Even in these days of NCLB and standardized tests, most teachers, (who BTW are highly educated professionals) still try to teach students HOW to think and not WHAT to think.  Of course there are exceptions and many differing ideas, but in public education students are exposed to many different views over the years.  I dare say (and may get shot down for this) that even those one or two “bad” teachers can expose a child to the challenges of life in a way that home schooling cannot.

The point is that being educated is a proactive process.  The more education we have, the more open our minds and the more we are able to discern and to think for ourselves.  We may reject “Westernism” or capitalism or socialism or any other “ism” along the way in our continuing process of becoming educated.

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By ardee, June 29, 2007 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

#82304 by TAO Walker on 6/29 at 2:01 am
(74 comments total)

Where to begin. You are, Mr. Walker, apparently one of those people so certain that their opinions are writ large and in gold leaf that I almost ignored your ridiculous and rather empty rant completely. I rewad it twice and fail to gain a point regarding the topic at hand. How exactly has our educatory system “devastated us”. That was the subject at hand until you decided to stomp all over it in some personal agenda.

I have labored for over forty years to achieve what Ive got now. That I can go fishing whenever I want is the product of both hard physical labor (which I still, at 64 years of age, engage in because I love my job) and seniority. I am a tractor trailor driver for a major California public utility and you ,sir, are a self involved and limited thinker.

I have already mentioned the fact that my second eldest grandson is a Red Lakes Band Chippewa, thus I am familiar with the history of the abuse of the Indian culture.

I am also familiar, through study and personal involvement (four kids fourteen grandkids), with the deficiencies of the public school system. However those like Paolo simply magnify and distort the nature of that system to their own end, there is nothing real about his, or your rant in todays world.

It is a shame that you couldnt stick to the subject at hand and resist going off on your own personal crusade, its called hijacking a thread you might understand. I remain convinced in the very real value of public education to our democratic processes and believe those who demonize it so childishly (Paolo) do so in an agendised fahsion and for their own personal reasons.

It is also a shame that you chose to villify me when you know absolutely nothing about me, but that simply says volumes about you. I would suggest you try hard to stay with what is being discussed here.

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By TAO Walker, June 29, 2007 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

This old free wild Indian is among those, mentioned by a couple of other commenters here, who was subject to the attempted forced “Americanization” process carried-on in BIA-run and/or -sponsored schools.  That it ulitmately failed of its purpose was not for lack of trying, but due rather to a kind of natural immunity (to systematic abuse and institutionalized intimidation) that seems to be running true in our current generations. 

Paolo is right, however, in his description of the devastation, personal and cultural, these programs wrought upon many of the immediate “beneficiaries” and their decendents. (A)rdee is very much mistaken in his rose-colored belief that it’s all just part of Ronald Reagan’s “ancient history” now, here in what he himself calls (rather arbitrarily) “the 21st century.”

It’s nice ardee has the leisure to go catch fish when he feels like it.  He seems to be one of those lucky members of a couple of generations of theamericanpeople who’ve lived pretty comfortably, enjoying a “standard of living” afforded him as much by the ruthless exploitation of so-called “third world” countries (with their abundance of the “natural resources” so essential to the level of material advantage he seems to’ve taken for granted) as by his own efforts, however diligent and above-board those might’ve been.  This willful blindness to what his comfort has cost others is unfortunately typical of much of the american middle-class.

Others here have pointed-up the “threat” that a truly alertand informed populace represents to the plutoligarchy that is more-and-more willing here in these latter days to reveal the iron fist with which they prefer to “govern” the lesser breeds.  Their perennial rule of fear has once again mestasticized into one of its periodic reigns of terror, only this time they’re not even bothering to disguise its wanton ugliness from their hapless subject/citizens.

From here in Indian Country it is plain to see that the privateering classes have no interest in investing anymore in those “untermenschen” who hold no significant potential for adding anything to any corporate bottom line.  Millions, even billions of tame two-leggeds are being effectively written-off as “surplus,” and will be rubbed-out of existence en masse just as soon as it becomes practicably possible to accomplish it.

Anyone who doubts this dire “scenario” is still lost in the kind of allamericandreamland people like ardee mistake for the real living world.  Meanwhile, their owner/tormentors see disease, famine, ignorance, and war simply as “profit centers” in the global gangbanging operation most of its half-witting victims continue to idolize and defend as “civilization.” 

The “schooling” scam has always had as its purpose the production of “human resources” designed to be as expendable as the captive critters upon which they themselves so slaphappily feed.  Us human beings thrive as free wild persons living in the Tiyoshpaye Way….our natural organic form in the Great Hoop of Life Herownself.  This “Western” civilization, in all its means and methods, is just another megadeath-trap.


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By Teacher in LAUSD, June 27, 2007 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
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No, I never implied that the kids are unteachable or should be discarded.  And yes, most teachers in inner city schools face a multitude of these type of students. 

All I am saying is that the challenges go way past the current debate.  And that most policymakers and pundits don’t know what they are talking about. The problem is not necessarily with our schools, but with our society.  Until a holistic approach is taken, and one that includes teachers, parents, and students in the decision making process, not much will change.

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By ardee, June 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

#81809 by Teacher in LAUSD on 6/27 at 11:32 am
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Dear Teacher, Do you mean to tell me that all who attempt to teach in inner city classrooms face numerous students like the one you describe? Are you making an unstated commentary on those who live in poverty and neglect? Do you infer that they are unteachable and should be discarded?

I have never taught in an inner city environ but I have lived in several very poor neighborhoods and worked with my fellow residents in voter registration drives, in the creation and staffing of child care facilities and been just plain neighborly.

I am also aware of the many success stories of folks born into dire poverty, into drug ridden housing projects and made decent and successful lives for themselves. Most had teachers who cared and who fought to educate their students despite the problems.

I do not seek to criticise I only ask for clarification. It goes without saying that teaching in a wealthy suburb is easier than teaching those for whom survival is a struggle, whose life experience differs dramatically from the teachers own and whose students have parents who are often absent or work so damn hard that they simply cannot instill the values of education we who escaped such poverty take for granted.

Your job is undoubtedly a great challenge, but who needs good teachers more than those you teach daily?

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By Teacher in LAUSD, June 27, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
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We can theorize all we want, but let me give you just one example of what the real world looks like (and this example is not an exception, but in the inner city it is often the rule):

A particular 7th grade female student of mine cannot sit still in any of her classes, yells out, harasses other students, never listens, always talks, needs to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, and defies instructions and consequences.  This behavior occurs daily and in all of her classes. When I call her guardian (an aunt) she tells me that her mother drank and took drugs during the pregnancy and that the she doesn’t know what to do with her either.  Numerous calls and meetings have produced no change in behavior and our school’s counseling and psychological services, which are limited, have also produced no change. 

Obviously, a teacher is limited here no matter what statistics and research say about teacher quality or expectations.  A teacher who has many of these types of students in a classroom of 35-40 students is often too busy putting out “fires” or trying to get at least the majority of the class on task and learning to deal with this kind of behavior. 

We can talk about school structures and policies and congressional acts and money, etc., etc., ad nauseam, but the everyday lives and realities of students, teachers, and parents is what needs to be addressed. 

How many policymakers, pundits, academics, or complainers about our educational system have spent any REAL amount of time in classrooms in the inner-city?

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By kikz, June 27, 2007 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
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want to know why the education system functions as it does?  failure by design…
read free online and in entirety:
John Taylor Gatto’s
“Underground History of American Education”

excerpt; chp 8, Plato’s Guardians
But of what lasting value could controlling topical overproduction be—addressing it where and when it threatened to break out—when the ultimate source of overproduction in products and services was the overproduction of minds by American libertarian schooling and the overproduction of characters capable of the feat of production in the first place? As long as such a pump existed to spew limitless numbers of independent, self-reliant, resourceful, and ambitious minds onto the scene, who could predict what risk to capital might strike next? To minds capable of thinking cosmically like Carnegie’s, Rockefeller’s, Rothschild’s, Morgan’s, or Cecil Rhodes’, real scientific control of overproduction must rest ultimately on the power to constrain the production of intellect. Here was a task worthy of immortals. Coal provided capital to finance it.
Nothing posed a more formidable obstacle than the American family. Traditionally, a self-sufficient production unit for which the marketplace played only an incidental role, the American family grew and produced its own food, cooked and served it; made its own soap and clothing. And provided its own transportation, entertainment, health care, and old age assistance. It entered freely into cooperative associations with neighbors, not with corporations. If that way of life had continued successfully—as it has for the modern Amish—it would have spelled curtains for corporate society.

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By ardee, June 27, 2007 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

#81540 by Muldoon on 6/26 at 12:50 pm

I would never presume to tell you what to do. I would, however,note that the blindness and arrogance of this Paolo person shows in every paragraph and makes conversation impossibly awkward. That he failed to respond to a single point and instead engages in a repetitous rehashing of what was already stated ad nauseum, combined with an almost pathological fear of the government noted by a constant distorting of fact resulted in my decision to ignore his utterances.

We live in trying times to be sure. Our democracy is under attack from an agendised and ruthless administration, the middle class shrinks daily and our leadership is uninspired to say the least. What we need least of all is a nutjob gnawing at the very foundations of that which makes this nation so special. Time spent arguing with this sad little person is time away from serious discourse about real issues.

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By JGW, June 27, 2007 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
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Ms. Scranage’s article is timely.  If (1) the money being used for charter schools and private school vouchers were given to public schools, and (2) if teachers in public schools were given the freedom afforded by charter schools, and (3) if the class sizes were small and the students cherry-picked like charter schools; (4) public school teachers also would be producing amazing results. 

Repeated studies have shown that class-size is the most significant predictor of student success for at-risk students (it’s not as important for more privileged children).

People forget that many charter school teachers were former public school teachers who left because they realized they were unable to really teach the children and they wanted more freedom to demonstrate their own gifts. 

In my district, teachers now have to mainstream kids who have disabilities.  This is a serious problem, since many of these children are unable to even keep up while the class moves at an average pace.  Some even have one-on-one tutors in class with them and still struggle.  Parents want their special needs children to mainstream, but at what cost to other students and to the common good?  So public teachers who work with under-privileged children operate under strict regulations, in over-crowded classrooms with an eye on standardized tests that really don’t measure fairly among students with different attributes.

Children come to school from families with substance abuse and violence and they need to find stability and personal attention.  They are traumatized and not always ready to settle down and learn.  They frequently are sleep-deprived since they live in a state of chaos. 

We’ve known for a long time that exception reporting doesn’t work. It’s been dropped in most workplaces. Instead we measure current ability, set individual goals based on learning needs, and then evaluate progression.  Standardized tests will never really tell us how well students with challenges will do.  It’s just a source of frustration for them and teachers, as teachers spend excessive time teaching to the test instead of teaching critical thinking skills.

Of course, George Bush and his ignorant anti-science croneys don’t have a concept of critical thinking—or teaching.  Our children suffer for it.

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By Paolo, June 26, 2007 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

Muldoon and Ardee,

My, my, my! Refusal to continue a reasonable discussion indicates your arguments may need reinforcement.

Espousal of my view is a “rant?” Wow. I don’t think I “ranted” at all. I simply put forth my own views.

By the way, I think what we have is called an “educational system.” I’m not sure “educatory” is a word.

The reason you characterize my viewpoint as a “hate filled screed” (I used not a single hate-filled phrase) is that you cannot answer my arguments in a logical manner.

Muldoon, it is true, as I acknowledged, that the educational “system” (such as it is) has improved recently as a result of the fact that parents can, on their own dime, set up schools according to their own principles. Trouble is, they are still forced, on threat of fines and imprisonment, to support a “public” school system that they cannot in good conscience support.

Regarding “accreditation,” I think it is largely a scam. Harvard neither has nor seeks “accreditation.” This scam is largely used to give the illusion of quality education by jumping through certain educationist hoops. I don’t think it is necessarily valuable. Ask Harvard.

Regarding religion in schools. This is a good example of the inherent contradiction in “public” schools. I have no problem—absolutely none—with parents choosing to educate their children in a particular religion, be it Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, or any other religion. Of course, public schools cannot touch these subjects, though many parents regard religious schooling as an indispensable part of a quality education.

“Public” education inevitably is education by pressure group. There is little in the fields of history, science, or any other important subject that is not open to debate. I say, let schools diversify and offer different views on the issues in education, rather than offer the typical, bland, pre-digested, committee-approved education offered today. 

You see, much in education is a matter of opinion. There is no such thing as a single, perfect, “best” education. And even if there were, the government educational bureaucracy is the last gang I would expect to be able to discover it.

Again, sorry you have chosen to leave the discussion. Your anger is very telling.

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By Muldoon, June 26, 2007 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment
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You and like-minded friends are already free to create your own educational system; there’s nothing stopping you for from doing this. True, in order for your school(s) to be accredited, your students would be required to meet to standardized levels of achievement; however, if accreditation doesn’t matter to the parents of your students, and they are willing to financially support your version of education, go for it.

As an aside (and here I’m only referring to those people who insist that we must put religion back in the schools):
There is a good, pragmatic reason why religious indoctrination is not allowed. Schools are funded by taxpayers of many different faiths as well as by taxpayers who subscribe to no religion whatsoever. You can bet the ranch that Protestants are not going to be willing to fund Catholic religious training for their children (and vice versa), that the fundies will insist upon a literal interpretation of the Bible and toss evolution from the curriculum, that Mormons will want some inclusion of the Book of Mormon, and then there’s the Koran, the Torah, and so on and on and on. Wotta a kettle of worms that would open up.

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By ardee, June 26, 2007 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

I wish I could parse this in a more polite fashion but I simply have no ability to disguise the nonsense that you posit as fact. Your rant is filled with mixed metaphor and indicates strongly that you havent a mastery of the libertarian philosophy, or at least cannot articulate it well.

You leap from an acknowledgment that citizens are free to explore many alternative sources of education for their children directly to a hate filled screed about the evil government and its forcing of education upon us, a cartoonish and quite incorrect view of reality.

As a citizen of this nation you have an obligation to it, and it has an obligation to you. You seem to me to be rather childishly confused about your own debt to a society that provides essential services and also provides a climate in which business is able to flourish , people are employed, products are ensured safe, foodstuffs as well, infrastructure is maintained so you can drive on good roads etc.

Yet all this passes you by like a summer breeze and all you can repeatedly rant on about is some mythic and evil educatory system that exists only in your own mind I fear. Many, many children successfully navigate our public schools, go on to higher education and fare well. That there is room for much improvement, especially as Bush has helped make inferior an already struggling system, is moot. Your sophomoric solution is none whatsoever, not once have I read an alternative only some boogey man under the bed type of illogic.

I can no longer waste my time on this subject with one who has obviously not mastered it and can only repeat the same silly stuff. I apologize for my rudeness but your debating technique is as insulting as you no doubt find this post. You ignore points I raise and only repeat or rephrase the same stuff, but I become tedious, so goodby and good luck with your theories. I will, of course, refuse any further dialogue, especially and sadly, because you seemingly have none to offer.

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By bjtoada, June 25, 2007 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment

You can measure up and down, throw in millions of dollars, and spread the blame all around. The children NEED responsible parenting, decent food and the same bed to sleep in every night. That’s the bottom line.

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By Paolo, June 25, 2007 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment


Of course you are right that we are unlikely to reach any sort of meeting of the minds.

There is another fundamental difference between us. I advocate a system in which you are free to join voluntarily with like minded people to create whatever type of school system you like best. The only tools you and like minded people have to create your system is persuasion.

You, on the other hand, advocate a system in which you and like minded people determine what you think is best in schooling. Then, you use a third party to use force to make people pay for your system, whether they support it or not.

Philosophically, I believe no good can come of this use of force. When you start from the premise that force is correct in human affairs for whatever cause you deem to be good, inevitably the results will be unfavorable. This is the fundamental problem with forced, taxpayer funded schooling.

Public schools, as we both acknowledge, ruined an entire generation of Native American victims. You say this is yesterday’s news and is no longer relevant.

Because the mandatory youth indoctrination camps (quaintly called “public schools”) can no longer FORCE parents to send their kids there, the problem is indeed lessened. Nonetheless, Native American parents who want a specialized education that emphasizes their culture, language, and religion will not be able to find it in a public school. The same goes for orthodox Jews, Catholics, Muslims, and Christians. Yet, they are all forced to pay for a system they do not endorse.

You say I don’t endorse the system Madison and Jefferson advocated. I feel that I do, and you don’t. The Constitution, as written by Madison and Jefferson (and others) puts strict limits on the powers of the federal government. The ninth and tenth amendments further clarify that the government only has the powers specifically enumerated (mostly in Article One, Section 8). Anything beyond this is unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the Constitution is dead, since both liberals and conservatives feel free to ignore its clear language whenever they feel like it. Bush is a particularly bad example of this tendency, but Democrats are almost as guilty. As things stand now, our masters in Washington feel nothing is “off limits” to either legislation or executive orders. Tyranny may be just around the corner, my friend.

Thanks, by the way, for maintaining a civil and intellectual tone to your postings. Glad to hear you had a good fishing trip.

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By Trigger finger, June 25, 2007 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment
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Another problem with kids dropping out is when they reach the age 10 or so, are in middle school, they look around and realize they are already more intelligent than the President of the U.S. They wonder, why do I need more education, it’s time I get into politics?

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By muldoon, June 25, 2007 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
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One of the great values of public education and a fairly standardized curriculum is that, regardless of our diverse social, ethnic and/or religious backgrounds, it provides the glue—a common lauguage, a shared knowledge of history, science, literature and the arts, and (hopefully)an understanding of our Constitution—that holds us together as a nation. For this reason alone (yes, of course there are many other reasons), it is vital to the health of our demoncracy that public education be preserved, protected, and adequately funded.

NCLB is designed to siphon students from public education by imposing impossible standards that simply cannot be met. Unlike private schools, public schools must take everyone: children with severe learning disabilities, children who cannot speak English, children with severe emotional and/or physical handicaps. Schools with large numbers of such children are required to meet the same standards as all other public schools. If they fail to meet the “standards” established by NCLB, these “failing” school are required to issue vouchers to enable parents to transfer their children to other schools, including private ones. The kicker here is that private schools do NOT have to take every child who applies; their teachers do NOT have to meet the same educational standards as public school teachers, their students are NOT held to the same NCLB requirements. Yet now, under NCLB, via the voucher system, they are in effect being tax payer funded.

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By GW=MCHammered, June 25, 2007 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
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It’s more than just an education conundrum; it’s a great social ill.

With the long-squeeze on wages, over-financed college tuition, skyrocketing health care costs and over-inflated home prices (oh, and that little thing called War), most kids sense how out of whack we are… all they gotta do is look at the over-stressed, highly-medicated adults around them. Is it really any surprise that high school dropout rates run between 30 and 50%, 1100 college kids commit suicide each year, and childhood obesity/diabetes/psychopathy rule?

Where have all our great thinkers gone? They are absent.

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By docadams, June 25, 2007 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

It would be nice if someone actually took the time to look at some data.  Percent on school lunch and results on standardized tests are tightly correlated, leaving only about 20 percent of the variance to other factors, such as teacher’s school settings, etc.  Of those factors, teacher turnover is one of the most important factors and that is determined by (1) the teacher’s competence in classroom management (different colleges of education are the culprits here), and (2) the administration of the school itself, which leads to poisonous organizational cultures in many places.  In order of priority then, we should reform the colleges of eduction first, focusing on classroom management, and de-certify underperforming administrators.  Then we could focus on the underlying issues related to poverty and education.  After all, the number one predictor of a student’s educational performance is that of the parent.

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By Roberta, June 24, 2007 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment
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For test scores to have risen under such circumstances suggests this teacher understands her students potential for achievement regardless of the constraints placed on her by the system. We obviously need more teachers who are concerned with their student’s achievement. Public education had its issues prior to the inception of “no child left behind”. However, instead of addressing the problems within, the federal government (both Republicans and Democrats) developed and implemented a program which generally avoids the issues. As is often the case in politics the impression is of greater important than the substance, of course it is our children that suffer. Ultimately, we all suffer.

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By ardee, June 24, 2007 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

Paolo in Wonderland….:smiley:

You are correct about the native american in part, I have a grandson who is Red Lakes Chippewa so I know a bit about the subject…but we are speaking about the twentyfirst century here and this is simply not relevant.

You posted something that is, however:
“One advantage of a free society, in which parents would be free to choose the education they deem best, is precisely that there would be no need to cram people from diverse cultures into the “Americanization” meat grinder. If Apaches wanted to establish an Apache school, teaching their culture, language, and customs, they would be free to do so. Jews should be free to establish Jewish schools, Catholics their own schools, and so forth. All on their own dimes, forcing no one besides themselves to pay for it.  “

Paolo, all you stated above is reality, one can, by showing means and methods educate ones kids in a religious school, in a cultural environ, at home, wherever. One simply must meet minimum standards, for the protection of the child and one can homeschool or whatever.

Where we differ , I suspect, is in the role of government as aide or enemy. I see that government is charged with the duty to assist every citizen and you see it as its current incarnation, a harmful and incompetent entity.

When your house is on fire you do not hesitate to call the fire dept., a public service, paid for with your taxes, and run by a government. Same with police, same with the roads you drive on, built and maintained by govt.The workplace is safe because a govt agency is charged with keeping it so. The air you breath, the water you drink, the food you eat is supposedly made safe and clean and healthy by government. That it is not because of an administration that is highly dishonest, highly partisan to profit at all cost, not because government is the enemy.

I understand that we will not reach accord here, our differences are fundamental and the walls between us unbreachable. I trust what Jefferson and Madison wrought, you do not.

Oh and I caught about 30 Shad, had a ball, and thanks.

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By Margaret Currey, June 24, 2007 at 11:01 am Link to this comment
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I was born in Phila. Pa. the public schools were in bad shape, when these people migrated to the area of New Jersey known as south jersey, the peope moved because of the school system, their children who attended public school were three years behind the school they went to, some went to summer school those who could not afford this, well the kids just fell through.

The city of Phila. had great Catholic schools and those children got to stay in the city and get the better jobs, because employers hired these kids first.

Now New Orleans is doing something of the same and they call them Charter schools which help the affluent and leave the poor behind.

And so called educators blame the teachers, the poor expecially those who come from a one parent family, the earner of the household comes home, has to prepare dinner, and then if there is any energy left, make sure the children do their homework.  Unfortunately the Bush plan will not help children read faster all they wanted was a plan to be able to get into the high school records and get the unachievers into the Army or Reserves, then this same president says he is against stem cell research, and as one senator from Washington said (he was a Republician) these cells cannot reproduce beyond the preti dish, because to have completion they need a “MOM”.  End of story.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 24, 2007 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Our ed. system is based on fear.  Parents don’t dare jeopardize their kid’s potential to go to college, get a great job and move out of the house.  Ramming stuff down kids throats isn’t new; been around since the time of the ancient Greeks.  There always has been a “body of knowledge” adults think “educated people” should know and what is taught now has, largely, grown out of that tradition.  Add in high tech stuff, some technical skill stuff, sex stuff, bullying stuff, and other timely stuff and you have your basic ed.  If a parent or a municipality said to a kid, “go ahead, do what you want, learn what interests you,”  it would entail a risk few are willing to take with their kid’s future, even though it could turn out to be the best way for a kid to develop his/her mind.  The corporate world is counting on parents to keep the worker pool producing and parents are glad to do that because they don’t want their kids sucking them dry forever.  None of this, most people understand, has much to do with education.  We ought to take it for what it is, realize that any real positive change doesn’t fit the function and let it go at that.
    One more thing, not everyone has the potential to be a “great thinker” and it’s not realistic or even fair for people to criticize public schools for their failure to make that happen.  I see it here all the time, like, if schools and the gov. would just do what the commenter thinks they should, every kid would turn out to be a genius or at least wouldn’t be an idiot.  What we might expect is that almost every learner might pick up reading skills and the desire to read more.  Don’t forget the bell curve.  The brain pool in this country, I bet, is every bit as formidible as that of other dev. countries—smart people are pretty evenly distributed throughout the world—not necessarily because of ed. systems, maybe despite it, but because of IQ and environment, especially early childhood.  Early childhood ed. is one way to offset negative pre-school experiences, especially for kids in poverty.  So, it turns out, then, that all this BS about schools and teachers is pretty much political and demagogic.

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By Paolo, June 24, 2007 at 8:56 am Link to this comment


“The problem with Libertarians, who Thom Hartmann calls conservatives wanting to smoke dope and have sex, is that they believe that, sans any governmental monitoring or controls, all people will be charitable, kind, loving and giving.”

Wow—where did you get THAT idea?

Libertarians understand that not everyone is “charitable, kind, loving, and giving.” (However, charity does tend to increase when a society acquires wealth. Before you can give it away, you have to have it, you know.)

A lot of people, however, do possess those fine characteristics. In a free society, charitable causes would find ready sources of funds. Not surprisingly, wealthy people, because they have the means, tend to give a lot more to charity. This doesn’t mean they are any more “loving” than poor people: it just means they have the capability.

Here is a question to ponder: does an organization, simply because it has the title, “government” automatically thereby qualify for sainthood, becoming “charitable, kind, loving, and giving?”

Who is being naive here?

Governments historically have done a terrible job at being “charitable, kind, loving, and giving.” Government is a force-wielding institution; its tools are guns, incarceration, and warfare. I would argue that you cannot “force” someone to be charitable. I also doubt the charity of people who crow about how “charitable” they are with other people’s money.

In a free society, you (the individual) would be free to choose which charities you want to support. You would also have the right not to engage in charity at all, if that is your personal choice, given your circumstances (should someone making minimum wage be forced to engage in charity?).

Governments possess no special wisdom at deciding how to distribute charity. In fact, governments tend to spend way too much money “studying” the poor, rather than helping them. Also, governments tend to turn poverty-stricken people into a permanent underclass, hooked on to the welfare teat, rather than encourage people to get off welfare as soon as possible.

Regarding the quip about smoking dope and having sex. I’ve never smoked dope in my life, and I am the happy father of five great kids. Libertarians do believe, however, that individuals have the right to make choices, good or bad, about such issues as dope and sex.

Again, to keep postings short, I’ll stop here for now.

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By Trigger finger, June 24, 2007 at 8:23 am Link to this comment
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You don’t have to be a high achiever to work at Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Burger king or Target or at any other job that will be available in a few years.  These Drop-outs and the “new” Mexican Americans will all be managers at these places and making $12,000 a year when the college grads come looking for a job in 5 - 10 years.  Then we’ll see who the smart kids really were.

Thank you Reagan, Clinton, the Bush with brains and a special thanks to the DUMB one, and lets not forget the senile ones, Weed, Kenedy, and Mcane. What a country they have put together at the urging of their corporate bank rollers.  We would have been better off with a family of Pigs running the country for the last 40 years.

Stage 1. The Age of DRUGS 1960-1989
Stage 2. The age of GREED 1990-Current  
Stage 3. The age of STUPIDITY 2000-2008

History will show that these three seemingly harmless little stages destroyed America!

We’re almost there folks.

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By Paolo, June 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment


Ah! I knew my post would draw at least some response.

You make the point that one purpose of schools is to “Americanize” people into our “melting pot.” Historically, this approach was used to convert Catholics to Protestantism during the great immigrations of the 1890’s. Catholic children were taken, by force, from their homes and subjected to this propaganda, prompting actual riots. This relates to the “know nothing” gangs of New York and New England, who distrusted anyone but white Protestants.

Another example of the effort to “Americanize” a recalcitrant minority was the case of American Indian children, who were taken by force from their parents, forbidden to speak their native languages, forbidden to practice their religions, or wear their native clothes. Their hair shorn, deprived of all the benefits of their culture, these poor kids grew into adults who suffered from fantastic rates of alcoholism and criminality.

One advantage of a free society, in which parents would be free to choose the education they deem best, is precisely that there would be no need to cram people from diverse cultures into the “Americanization” meat grinder. If Apaches wanted to establish an Apache school, teaching their culture, language, and customs, they would be free to do so. Jews should be free to establish Jewish schools, Catholics their own schools, and so forth. All on their own dimes, forcing no one besides themselves to pay for it. 

One of the worst aspects of our corporate, centralized, bureaucratized educational system is precisely that it presumes to determine a one-size-fits-all, monolithic “education” that is appropriate for everyone.

Liberals, who call for diversity, should know better. We don’t accept the notion that there is one “best” car, one “best” brand of bread, or one “best” shoe, and force everyone to buy them, whether or not they like them. The same principle applies to education.

In the interest of keeping posts short and pithy, I will respond to some of your other points separately. Hope you have a wonderful fishing trip!

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By Sang Ze, June 23, 2007 at 10:38 am Link to this comment
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Our educational system is a mess. Things might be different if education and educators were respected in this country as they are in other nations in which I have taught. Unfortunately one finds education derided almost daily by our politicians as well as in our media and entertainment industries. Guns and violence are taught as the best way to solve problems while Intelligent and well-reasoned debate is ignored. We laud, honor and reward our athletes at the same time we vilify those dedicated to the teaching profession. We no longer teach our young people to think. I guess we fear they might well bring about change.

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By Paul A. Moore, June 23, 2007 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
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For some time now, big city mayors have been seizing control of their public school systems. Control by one individual is the preferred model of the corporate interests seeking to destroy the public schools and privatize education in the United States. For one thing mayoral dictatorships do away with those pesky democratically elected school boards, which focus all their attention on the schools. And when the mayor faces the voters, moves to dismantle the public systems can be obscured among the myriad of urban problems facing the people.

Soon after Mayor Richard Daley seized control of Chicago’s public schools he instituted the “Renaissance 2010” program. Daley closed inner-city schools, disrupted nearby schools with a sudden influx of new students, refurbished the closed schools and turned them over to one “Education Maintenance Organization” or another. Using this method of operation Daley has moved scores of once public schools into private hands.

Soon after Mayor Michael Bloomberg seized control of the New York City schools in 2002 he began parading former corporate CEO’s without a whit of education experience into top administrative and policy positions. From their high places in the system former Bertelsmann, Inc. CEO Joel Klein, retired General Electric CEO John “Nuetron Jack” Welsh, the man who nearly wrecked Covad Communications Robert E. Knowling, Jr., and today the former president of Edison Schools, Inc. Christopher Cerf have taken turns tearing at the fabric of the city’s public schools and promoting the charter school movement.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his public school takeover plan from a charter school gymnasium. Under his plan, “The elected Los Angeles Board of Education would be relegated to advocating for parents, ruling on student discipline and preparing annual reports on schools.” Meanwhile a CEO appointed by the mayor would actually run the public schools. In the case of Villaraigosa the pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing was headed up by Marcus Castain from the Broad Foundation. Billionaire Eli Broad’s deep pockets have funded a relentless attack on urban public education now for four decades. (Fran Zimmerman, San Diego school board member, told the LA Times about Eli Broad, “he’s dabbling in social policy with all his money, and affecting change with it, but it’s not necessarily good change, and it’s not really school reform. It is basically a business agenda for reshaping the public school system.)

Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has recently executed a takeover the District’s public schools. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were by his side in the effort. Of course the Gates’ biggest concern is plying every U.S. student with an Xbox and a Zune for the sake of Microsoft Corp. profits. Then training young people in places like India and Taiwan for high tech jobs at low wages.

Washington D.C. has a higher concentration of severely poor people than any of the 50 states (10.8% of residents). No mayoral control or $12,000 in per pupil spending is going to change that crushing reality.

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By ardee, June 23, 2007 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

To have students sitting silently listening to a teacher talk, or instruct, or lead in useless activities is a parody of real education.  It is right for the middle ages - not for a “free” people.

John, Is this really your experience in school? I certainly hope not and suggest it might be more an urban myth than a reality. Granted the NCLB mandates have deprived teachers of opportunities and students of exposures but , having 11 grandkids in school currently, and fourteen overall, I see a marvelous experience for my kids. Do we need to make things better, of course we do, always we should strive for imporvements.

While I am leaving very shortly for a fishing trip I did not want to ignore your input but cannot give it the depth it deserves. Our difference is so fundamental as to never having a hope of a meeting of minds. I see government as a necesary tool of our society, I see public education as both a standard which makes for a healthy nation and as a protection for children, it is also a place in which all cultures become Americanised, a great melting pot if you will accept my stolen metaphor.

The problem with Libertarians, who Thom Hartmann calls conservatives wanting to smoke dope and have sex, is that they believe that, sans any governmental monitoring or controls, all people will be charitable, kind, loving and giving. I point you to the actions of our current administration and their campaign funding buddies in business. Our EPA is toothless, our water and air grow more polluted, worker safety is far below former minimum standards, public education suffers as already mentioned. I see no churches picking up the slack on clean environment, I see no great outpouring of money or concern for the returning troops deprived of proper medical care, I see the grand libertarian scheme as inate selfishness coated with an imaginary but sugary topping of “dont worry all will work out without our evil government”...

Sorry Paolo, I am certain you are a sincere and well intentioned person but I aint buying into what is basically a “get your hand out of my pocket, screw the poor, the disadvantaged, the children and everyone not me”. Government is, as our founders intended, a guarrantee of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is supposed to safeguard the general welfare. I suggest you reread the Federalist Papers and the entire Constitution and then get a large dose of compassion. Sorry for the brevity and cursory answer but my rods and tackle box are stowed and the fish are (hopefully) hungry as heck!...see ya Monday evening latest….

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By Paolo, June 23, 2007 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Paul A. Moore commented:

“From the world’s richest human being Bill Gates to the world’s most powerful corporate entity Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation to the billionaire mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, the enemies of public education can dip into a bottomless well of money to execute their mission.”

Seems to me this is an example of the pot calling the kettle black. The public school system, completely dominant in the field because it is tax-supported, “can dip into a bottomless well of money to execute their mission.”

Per-pupil expenditures per student in Washington, DC are now over $12,000 per year per student. This is hardly an example of starving out the poor public school system. Yet Washington DC has an abysmally poor educational system.

The budget of the (unconstitutional) Department of Education matches or exceeds the profits of many large corporations. Again, “a bottomless well of money to execute their mission.”

There is a profound difference, though, between the way businesses make money, and the way the Department of Education makes money. A business cannot hold a gun to anyone’s head and force them to buy its product. The Department of Education, through taxes, can and does.

If you really hate, say, Wal-Mart, you can refuse to shop there. If you really hate, say, the Department of Education, you still have to “buy” their products. The alternative is to go to jail.

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By Paolo, June 22, 2007 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment

Ardee commented:

“Vouchers are a neoconservative ploy to prop up religious schools using taxpayer dollars, competely unacceptable. If you want to give your kid a religiously biased education you are free to do so, but not with my money! Same with Homeschooling, imo, you are certainly free to do so, on your own dime and with governmental protections for the child.”

My—where does a libertarian begin?

Vouchers, I agree, are a terrible idea—but not for the reasons Ardee would put forth. “He who pays the Piper, calls the tune.” In other words, once we accept government “vouchers” for private schools or home schools, we accept the government overseeing how those dollars are spent. That is, we allow government to demand “accountability” (which means: a demand that we teach the way they want us to teach, and teach the things they want us to teach).

Ardee said, “If you want to give your kid a religiously biased education you are free to do so, but not with my money!” I agree! And Ardee, THE EXACT SAME PRINCIPLE APPLIES TO “PUBLIC” EDUCATION!!

If you want to send your child to a school system in which teachers qualify by passing hour after hour of mind-numbing, useless “credential” requirements—go ahead!!! BUT DON’T MAKE ME PAY FOR IT!!

Maybe you’re beginning to see the libertarian light.

Regarding homeschooling: home schoolers (I am one of them)have labored for decades, asking for no public support, yet at the same time BEING FORCED TO PAY for a “public” education they do not endorse or use! Ardee, that is phenomenally unjust! Do you not see this?

Home schooled children are, by just about every study that’s been done, high achieving, well-rounded, and well-adjusted. They force no one to help pay the frugal costs they accept in educating their own children at home.

The best “system” of education is NO SYSTEM AT ALL. Parents want what is best for their children. In a free society, they would be free to choose to home school, to use a religious school, or use a secular school. There need be no use of force in cramming some individual’s idea of what constitutes a “good” education down everyone’s throats.

In the interests of keeping my postings short, I will stop here, though I’m sure there will be much to respond to as time goes on.

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By John Hanks, June 22, 2007 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment
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John Dewey summed up his idea of a good education as something that occurs in a good middle class home.  He is still right.  Discourse leads to a ready mind.  Reading leads to a full mind.  Writing leads to an exact mind. It was true during the Elizabethan era, and it is still true now. 

To have students sitting silently listening to a teacher talk, or instruct, or lead in useless activities is a parody of real education.  It is right for the middle ages - not for a “free” people.

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By ardee, June 22, 2007 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

#80368 by Douglass on 6/22 at 4:05 am

Presidential candidate Ron Paul wants to repeal NCLB and reduce the power of the Dept. of Education. The federal government’s only business in education should be to protect the right to education and prevent discrimination. Ron Paul will give the power back to the states, districts and schools. His education bill proposed to the House in 2001 called for a $3,000 tax benefit for parents to spend on their kids education, letting them choose how their children should be educated. It also offered a well-deserved $1,000 for teachers.

Ultimately, it is parents and teachers who know what is best for their children. They have the sole right to decide how children should be educated. Teachers have spent four or more years studying education as well as their specific area of study. Politicians have not studied education and have no business dictating how it should be done.

Of course Paul wants to reduce the power of the Dept. of Education, he wants to reduce the power of every single governmental agency. Giving vouchers, which is the Paul plan without mentioning the word, has the effect of weakening one of the staunchest democratizing agents in our nation, the public education.

Vouchers are a neoconservative ploy to prop up religious schools using taxpayer dollars, competely unacceptable. If you want to give your kid a religiously biased education you are free to do so, but not with my money! Same with Homeschooling, imo, you are certainly free to do so, on your own dime and with governmental protections for the child.

Your straw man argument about teachers and parents knowing what is best for our children fails as the Dept of Education is comprised of teachers and administrators who were once teachers. We need a certain standard of education and cannot nor should not leave it to the individual parents or communities for that matter as we then have a mess and a lack of a system which strongly supports wealthier communities and leaves the poor undereducated. This is not my idea of a democratic process. Are you suggesting that those parents who do not believe in evolution are allowed to deprive their children of the knowledge thereof? Where does one draw the line, a flat earth? No science curriculum because fundamentalists dont believe in science? Absurd.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 22, 2007 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

This is about an extraordinary teacher, one of many in this country, who has risen above all the hardships in our public school system to get her students to learn.  The BIG PICTURE of Am. public education would change completely—for the better—if DC targeted education in poverty areas and didn’t let up until results were achieved.  It can be done.  There’s money to do it (half-trillion for Iraq war).  There are people to do it.  What there isn’t is THE WILL in DC., probably because of the general anti-poor sentiment in America.  Terrorism can’t and won’t hold a candle to the damage poverty will ultimately do in our society. It’s really quite like the general disdain people have for illegal immigrants.  The poor are simply looked upon with disgust and disdain, as liabilities, by those with power and wealth and it would be better if the former just withered up and blew away. If immigrants came here in suits, with a pile of money in their pockets, they’d be welcomed with open arms by both the gov. and the business community and the INS would look the other way.  The rich have got to give a little to the poor.  If they don’t, in the end, we’ll all be grovelling. I’m not religious, but I do think the meek will, ultimately, inherit the earth.

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By Mark in NY, June 22, 2007 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

Amen, Truthseeker.  The children of the wealthy elite will go to the “good” schools on private fortunes, and those relegated to public schools are prepared for their intended roles as the laboring underclass.  Public schools are allowed to founder deliberately, lest the commoners learn too much/too well and try to get above themselves.  That’s how it seems, anyway; I challenge The Powers That Be to demonstrate giving a damn, so as to dispel that impression.

Now, excuse me while I work the wrinkles out of my tinfoil hat.  wink

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By TruthSeeker, June 22, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

The government gets what it wants, and it clearly wants a dumbing down of America.  If it cared for its children, do you think the nation’s education system would be in the sewers? Yes, parents have a major share of the blame, as does teevee, but it is the state, and society, where blames ultimately lies.

For a wonderful article on the education system, I highly recommend “The Dumbing Down of America.” Very insightful read.


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By Dale Headley, June 22, 2007 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The “No Child Left Behind” fiasco was fashioned by men who know absolutely nothing about education.  It’s just another example of the Republican belief that there is no such thing as a complex problem.  Remember, 68% of these demonstrably ignorant men don’t even believe in evolution, or any other science, for that matter.

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By Chaseme, June 22, 2007 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John Leo, a columnist for the U.S. News and World Report, writes: “Study Indicates Pupils Do Well When Teacher Is Told They Do Well.  In 1965, Robert Rosenthal, a 34-year-old professor of social psychology at Harvard, reported after tests that rats performed far better when the experimenters were told, falsely, that the rats had been specially bred for intelligence.

  The same kind of rats consistently turned in poor performances when the experimenters had been told the animals were dull, he said.

Professor Rosenthal then began similar test on schoolchildren, with what he termed similar results. A random sample of first and second grade children at a South San Francisco elementary school, who it was predicted would make dramatic gains in schoolwork, actually made those gains, while the rest of the student body did not. Only the teachers and not the pupils or parents had been told of the predictions.

  Although, for ethical reasons, it was not predicted that any child would turn out dull, Professor Rosenthal believes that his tests provide important evidence supporting the common thesis that many children, particularly minority-group children, turn out dull because their teachers expect them to be dull.” Hence, NCLB and the constant pressure on the teachers to “teach to the test.”

If a school system uses negative undertones to describe their student population, it has no reason to exist. A school has the potential to become one of the most useful social-political instruments possible for dealing effectively with the problems of this country, as they presently exist. And, this is what frightens this administration.

If any publicly supported institution does not help resolve the problems we face today, problems as they really exist, why have it at all? If we rid ourselves of the institutions that keeps churning out materialistic, undereducated, and stressed out students, we will perhaps recognize where we failed.

Children usually modify their behavior in accordance with the expectations of their teacher. In other words, NCLB was created to negatively affect the teacher’s ability to teach. Therefore, the children generally change their perception of themselves and they will do so because their environment will have a negative effect on their purposes and assumptions. Ultimately, “dumbing down America.”

Therefore, I would say to bush about his NCLB, our public schools are not fast food restaurants; where the kids who come in are quickly dumped into a basket, dipped into a deep fryer for a short period and served through a small windowto a greedy, unhealthy and usually over weight customer. And the teachers are not guinea pigs, forced to change their basic aim for going in the profession, to meet the wishes of some right-wing conservative test designer.

These kids are free thinkers and need an environment to thrive and enhance their thoughts, not suppress them.

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By Paul A. Moore, June 22, 2007 at 10:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As far back as 1950, the iconic University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman wrote in his book Capitalism that “The privatization of schooling would produce a new highly active and profitable industry.” Friedman is the ideological godfather of today’s assault on the public school system across the country.

From the world’s richest human being Bill Gates to the world’s most powerful corporate entity Wal-Mart and the Walton Family Foundation to the billionaire mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, the enemies of public education can dip into a bottomless well of money to execute their mission. They carry political leaders around in their pockets like so much loose change. The President of the United States and the governors of Florida, California, Texas and New York are just a few who belong to their “destroy disguised as reform” movement.

Our nation’s history recalls public education as a partner of the abolition of slavery in a grand post-Civil War experiment in expanded democracy. Their dream is to arrest and reverse this expansion. They are men unsated by billions in profits plying young people with X-Boxes, iPods, Big Macs, Air Jordans, cell phones, Sprite, MTV, and B.E.T. They want their cake and they want to eat it too. Their appetite includes the transfer of billions of dollars in annual public school funding into their own pockets. They will have a downsized and exclusive for-profit school system to train and educate only the children created in their own image and likeness.

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By JKoch, June 22, 2007 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe the only way to change educational achievement results would to transfer all senior administrators and supposed “super teachers” to teaching positions in the schools with the lowest scores.  Take all the junior staff and put them in the classrooms of the high scorers.  Discount all the idle (often bogus) credentials or certification used to calculated salaries.  Give all the teachers an aptitude and knowledge test, and fire the bottom 25% who cannot pass by the third time.  Bring in new teachers based on performance on the same test, plus performance during a 3 month “live” class training.  Raise the salaries of the good teachers by 25%, in exchange for an abolution of tenure or early retirement.  Finance schools by state income tax, rather than local property tax.

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By Shenlon, June 22, 2007 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find it fascinating that the blame for anything in education is placed squarely on teachers.  Do people realize that there are many other people involved when it comes to the education of a child?  Why can’t we blame lazy children who don’t care about their own education?  Why can’t we blame parents who don’t get involved in their child’s education?  Why can’t we blame school administrators who know nothing about education and are just being politicians?  Why can’t we blame politicians who know even less than administrators do about education and are only coming up with these programs to make themselves look good?

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By Akira_Maritias, June 22, 2007 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Has anyone been to a school lately? Follow an entire year of a child’s schooling. The teacher’s are forced to teach for the tests that the state makes them take. So, instead of learning, the kids are memorizing in an attempt to pass the tests. Most kids don’t remember what they learned from one year to the next. It’s all one big drive to ‘win’ funding. That’s a terrible method.

Could this work anywhere else?

Picture a hospital where you had to meet your quota of sick people treated or else not get paid. In short, you’d have to go out of your way to find ill people and somehow bring them in. It would be a difficult quota to meet as well.

Or, imagine a food store that has to sell a specific amount of every item in the store or else they don’t get money to order more food.

In short, it’s a ridiculous idea…and it goes to show why America is currently contending with third world countries on its’ education.

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By Douglass, June 22, 2007 at 5:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

NCLB federalizes the curriculum by connecting it to standardized tests created by a few private corporations. More time and effort is put into teaching kids how to take the tests than could be spent actually accomplishing the standards without the tests.

Assessment should be FOR education, not OF education. It should help teachers teach better, not punish them for not meeting a federally declared goal. Most of the factors that influence the test score are beyond the teacher or the school’s control, yet the act has the state and the school administration punish the teachers and the school.

NCLB is a complete federal government takeover of schools. It is unprecedented and extremely unconstitutional. Believe it or not, the solution to the problem is still in the Republican party…

Presidential candidate Ron Paul wants to repeal NCLB and reduce the power of the Dept. of Education. The federal government’s only business in education should be to protect the right to education and prevent discrimination. Ron Paul will give the power back to the states, districts and schools. His education bill proposed to the House in 2001 called for a $3,000 tax benefit for parents to spend on their kids education, letting them choose how their children should be educated. It also offered a well-deserved $1,000 for teachers.

Ultimately, it is parents and teachers who know what is best for their children. They have the sole right to decide how children should be educated. Teachers have spent four or more years studying education as well as their specific area of study. Politicians have not studied education and have no business dictating how it should be done.

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By TDoff, June 21, 2007 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

A major reason for the educational disaster in the US is the role model for children, the promoter of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ scam, George W. Bush.

‘Hey, man, why waist all that time in skool, stay ignerant and stoopid, and become prez’.

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By ardee, June 21, 2007 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

There is also a secondary goal, along with the fine assessment of NABNYC, of this pollution of the educatory process. In turning out a generation of students lacking the background necesary to an educated populace, a generation of “fast food workers” if you will, we become a nation more easily controlled.

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By NABNYC, June 21, 2007 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment

There was a reason that Bush gave this education reform law such an odd name:  the “Left Behind” books by the cultist Tim LaHaye which promised the readers that all the sinners would soon suffer eternal damnation because the end of days were coming.  In the “Left Behind” books, they claim that the good Christians will be lifted up to heaven - and that includes all children and even fetuses.  “No child left behind” is like a judgment-day promise to the cultists from the neocons.

The basic premise of the law is to set impossible testing standards and then, when the schools cannot meet their numbers, allow the children to transfer to religious schools paid for by me, the taxpayer.  This entire program is designed to help Jerry Falwell achieve his goal of having all children in religious schools.  It also helps the neocons meet their goal of eliminating all social services in this country, including public education.

George Bush presided as Governor over one of the worst school districts in the country.  His education bill is designed to destroy public education through the U.S., just as he did in Texas. 

Our schools definitely could use some help, but forcing teachers to teach to the test (which is exactly what’s happening) only teaches children to memorize, not to think independently.  Kind of like the Madresses in Pakistan.  Little citizens with no ability to think will most likely become Republicans, or at least that’s the way it’s been in the past.

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