The Future Of American Education

?? - posted on 09/24/2010 ( 14 moms have responded )

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I posted this on a couple other debating forums, but I thought I would post it here too. Wondering what you all think of the merging of Democratic with Republican in the attempt to better the future of American education.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Shock...

Waiting For Superman ( http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/ ) is a new documenary "about the state of public school systems in America, told through the eyes of five hopeful students. Each is eager to get an education, but in a system riddled with ineffective teachers, staggering dropout rates and schools that are literally falling apart, the odds are more than stacked against them."

The show on Monday led to many responses from viewers. Saying everything from they had no idea it was that bad, to blaming teachers, unions and parents. But everyone, in their own personal way, was fired up.

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Viewers-R...

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says the film Waiting For "Superman" reminds him of a "Rosa Parks moment."

"When the country looked at Rosa Parks and looked in her eyes and saw her tremendous dignity and saw her humanity, the country was compelled to act," he says. "When you look at the eyes of Anthony and Daisy and the other children in this movie and their parents and their quiet desperation and how much they want a great education and how they know they may be denied that opportunity, it compels all of us to act with a huge sense of urgency. You cannot watch this movie and stay on the sidelines."

Secretary Duncan says education is the key to a better economy. "We used to lead the world in college graduates. Today, we're ninth," he says. "We have to drive reform."


"I would like to say to everybody who thinks, 'My kids are doing okay': This is your country," Oprah says. "When other kids in your country aren't doing okay, eventually your country won't do okay."

Oprah spoke with Bill Gates on her show on Monday, today she was talking to Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker.

Many parents want a great education for their kids, Mayor Booker says, but it's not always in their control. "We should not live in a country anymore where your destiny is determined by how much money you have in your pocket, by what zip code you were born in or by the pick of a [lottery] ball," he says.



For months, (Democratic) Mayor Booker has been working with (Republican) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to put politics aside and help turn around the failing schools in Newark.

"What I'm committing to is changing the schools in the city where I was born and spent the first years of my life," Gov. Christie says. "Mayor Booker is going to be the point person, our lead guy in Newark in helping to develop this entirely new plan of how to reform the education system in Newark and create a national model. I'm in charge of the public schools in the city of Newark as governor, and I'm going to empower Mayor Booker to develop that plan and to implement it with a superintendent of schools that we are going to pick together."

For his part, Mark is investing in these leaders to initiate change. "I've committed to starting the Startup Education Foundation, whose first project will be [to set up] a $100 million challenge grant [for Newark]," he says. "Every child deserves an education, and right now that's not happening."

Mark says he chose Newark because he believes that Mayor Booker and Gov. Christie can deliver on their promises. "Running a company, the main thing that I have to do is find people who are going to be really great leaders and invest in them," he says. With this grant, Mark hopes that his partners in this project will have the flexibility they need to implement new programs and turn Newark into a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.

Now that this partnership is in place, Mayor Booker says the next step is to get the people of Newark involved. "Nobody gets a pass. We need to take leadership from parents, from teachers and from students themselves," he says.

Though a plan hasn't yet been formulated for exactly how the millions will be used, the three critical focuses must be to support teachers, design systems of accountability and support schools of excellence, Mayor Booker says.

Another challenge will be to restore hope to the children of Newark, Gov. Christie says. "What's going on in a place like Newark is we have violence and we have drug use," he says. "Children don't believe tomorrow can be better than today because we've robbed from them their education."

Mark Zuckerberg also wanted it noted that he initially wanted his participation in this plan to be anonymous. With Oprah, the Mayor and Governor's assistance, he agreed to come on the show and not be anonymous with his addition to this plan.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan then said that he commends those 3 men for their work. He says that if Newark can succeed, the rest of America can succeed.




What do you think of all of this? I encourage you to read the links I posted - what I have posted are snippets of the whole story that shows the general picture of what was discussed, as well as some [minimal] of my own commentary of what I saw on the show.

Do you think America will be able to put politics aside for the well being of future education? Do you think that the parents, teachers or unions are to blame more so than any other aspect? Do you think it's as big of a problem as it seems to be, or bigger?

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Gianina - posted on 09/26/2010

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Mary, Teachers may think that they are getting 'shit' pay but lets not forget about the excellent 'benefits' they receive. Look at the other type of jobs,where 'cut pays' are implimented and not great benefits.



My parents in-law and sister In-laws are in education...My father In-law was a teacher/principal/workshop coordinator etc... and he complains how teachers are not motivated enough to 'update' their skills. Now this may not apply to ALL teachers, just to some.

Check out the NJ Gov. Christie reply to the teacher. Ignore the tone between Gov. Christie and teacher...instead please listen to what he said about the facts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkuTm-ON9...

ME - posted on 09/26/2010

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I am an educator, my parents were both educators, my grandmother, 3 of my great aunts, 3 of my uncles, and 3 of my 4 siblings are educators...SOOOO...I'm pretty sure that I'm biased about public education and teachers unions, but I also have REAL information about them, and not just what I've heard people say or what I've heard on Oprah...

I think this whole movement against educators in this country is astounding and disgusting...It is true that unions protect a few bad teachers...but they protect WAY more great teachers...Teaching is a difficult and thankless job, the pay is for shit, the hours are long, the amount of work that comes home with teachers is often overwhelming, the requirements that teachers must meet (classes, projects, standarization of curriculum) over the summer are always UNPAID and occasionally must be paid for by the teachers themselves...

Theresa also has made a very good point, teaching is incredibly difficult, and there are an unbelievable number of "hats" that teachers must wear...we cannot expect them to be perfect at all of the things they are required to do...

Finally, the "teaching to the test" crap is not the way that ANY teacher I know would run their classroom...it is what is required of them by the government, by state agencies, etc...Teachers allowed to be creative and thoughtful and to instill creativity in their students could do far more amazing work, but we don't allow them to...we cannot blame teachers for what we are forcing them to do!

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ME - posted on 09/28/2010

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I'll probably see it...I think that any public school that was allowed to begin creative initiatives catered specifically to it's populace would improve. Most public schools aren't allowed to do this...

LaCi - posted on 09/28/2010

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I really want to see waiting for superman.

In regards to education, I think politicians pretend to care about education, but the only ones who may actually care are our local politicians. I think at a federal level education is a minor issue. They'd like us to be just educated enough to be useful, but not educated enough to realize that we're constantly being fucked.

I think everyone is to blame, but most importantly parents are to blame. When a child has the interest and motivation in their own education, which starts with the parents, then they will find a way to seek knowledge. The internet is free education. Most of us have internet access, at the very least at public libraries. If the school isn't up to par the parent needs to supplement that. "If the system fails you, don't fail yourself." In the end though, everything comes down to the individual.

?? - posted on 09/27/2010

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Oh and I'm not sure if I said it wrong, I just wanted to clarify - the $100 million came from Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook, not Bill Gates.

?? - posted on 09/27/2010

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Would you watch the documentary "Waiting for Superman" ? Do you know about his [Geoffrey Canada] school in Harlem? A huge thing that sticks out to me is in the past 2 years, 9 out of 10 of his students have graduated and gone to college.

http://www.hcz.org/ Harlem Childrens Zone;


In 1997, the agency began a network of programs for a 24-block area: the Harlem Children's Zone Project. In 2007, the Zone Project grew to almost 100 blocks. Today the Children's Zone® serves more than 8,000 children and 6,000 adults. Overall, the organization serves more than 10,000 children and more than 7,400 adults. The FY 2010 budget for the agency overall is over $75 million.

Over the years, the agency introduced several ground-breaking efforts: in 2000, The Baby College® parenting workshops; in 2001, the Harlem Gems® pre-school program; also in 2001, the HCZ Asthma Initiative, which teaches families to better manage the disease; in 2004, the Promise Academy, a high-quality public charter school; and in 2006, an obesity program to help children stay healthy.

Under the visionary leadership of its President and CEO, Geoffrey Canada, HCZ continues to offer innovative, efficiently run programs that are aimed at doing nothing less than breaking the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families it serves.

All HCZ programs are offered free to the children and families of Harlem, which is made possible by donations from people like yourself."

If more people adapted his way of teaching / running a school / ideas of education... if public schools were set in motion to follow the same idea that his school uses, do you think there would be a possibility of that same 9 out of 10 students graduating and going to college in other areas of the country? Considering it is HARLEM where his school is located, could other districts follow the footsteps of G. Canada's Harlem Childrens Zone?

ME - posted on 09/27/2010

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I think 100 million dollars will have a great effect on the school district it's given to, and I think that Bill Gates is a great man, but his money is only going to help SO MANY kids...We do not know if their involvement will start some kind of cultural change here, but that is what we actually need. The climate of anti-intellectualism in this country encourages children not to care about their educations, and in some cases, to see education as harmful to them (or, even worse, as merely a way to make money in the future). My college students have been offended by the idea of studying Socialism, Communism, Islam, and other philosophies based on nothing more than what they've heard about them...I mean, walk-out-of-my-class-angry about READING NEW IDEAS...this has to be starting somewhere, coming from somewhere. Our cultural climate here is encouraging it, and it's spreading like wildfire...In addition to this fearful, hateful, uncritical attitude regarding anything new, there is an astonishing gap between kids who go to school in poor communities, and those who go to school in wealthy communities; the way that we fund our schools has a lot to do with this (as does the cycle of poverty, racism, and classism in relation to education over generations)...I teach kids who are the product of schools in the slums of south Chicago...it terrifies me...They cannot read or write above a 5th grade level (on average)...which makes it incredibly difficult to teach them Philosophy. But, what is even worse, is when rich kids come home from their big universities and take my summer courses; they are light years ahead of my typical students...meaning that the disparity is quite wide, and seemingly growing! I think the problem is HUGE...I don't know how to solve it...I wish I had a better answer...

?? - posted on 09/27/2010

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Do you think that this process - with the generous contribution of people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others - could be the start of a turn around for public schools?

The men have stated that their plans do include to address the crime and drug problems in communities as well as supporting the teachers and parents to step up to make this work.

Do you, honestly, as an educator, think that this could make a difference and be the start of a process that could spread across America?

ME - posted on 09/27/2010

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Jo...Sorry...I didn't just mean just "this" article and the stuff that Opera is doing. I actually really like the creativity involved in what's going on in the school she looked at, if public schools were all allowed such freedom to be creative, we would be much better off...There are a lot of people in this country right now blaming the teacher for EVERYTHING that is wrong with education right now...and if it's not the teachers, then it's the Unions...
BUT...it's niether of those things really (or at least that's not ALL that's wrong)...it's: Social, Cultural, and environmental; it's about the unfair/racist funding of our schools, it's about uninvolved parents, and it's about No Child Left Behind (The unfunded plan which is destroying our schools, thank you very much GWB); it's about teaching to the test (which is unbelievably stupid); it's about a miriad of things really...and as an educator from a family of GREAT educators, I have a really hard time listening to unappreciative Americans bitching about the teachers and the unions!

And...I don't really give a shit what Gov. Christie has to say to teachers who make very little money (my Mom's starting pay as a teacher in one of the wealthiest districts in IL was BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL)...so...no teachers don't HAVE to teach...we love it, we love kids, we love education; we WANT to do it...we just don't want to starve while we do it! I wonder if Gov. Christie would like to teach high school for 23,000 dollars a year, and be forced to pay for classes to update his certificate over the summer while he recieves NO pay and has work to do to prepare for the next term...what an idiot!

?? - posted on 09/26/2010

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Mary, how do you figure that *THIS* is a movement against educators? They say;



Though a plan hasn't yet been formulated for exactly how the millions will be used, the three critical focuses must be to support teachers, design systems of accountability and support schools of excellence, Mayor Booker says.



They're trying to HELP teachers, not go against teachers... are you saying that there is NOT a problem with public schools?



(I'm genuinely asking - I don't know the answers.)



From what I've read, heard and seen from different aspects, statistics, articles, studies, etc etc etc - including what the U.S. Secretary of Education said about once being #1 in the world for graduation, now being #9 and once being the last in the world for high school dropouts, now being in the top - that does say a lot to me. There needs to be change implemented somewhere.



They also commented that in this recession today, there are over 300 thousand jobs readily available, but can not be filled because citizens do not have the maths and science qualifications.



Granted I have no further knowledge of American education or public schools but from the outside looking in, I can see why these people are trying to gain the ground of support to help with all different projects ($100 million dollars to the public school system is a HUGE opening for change) how could this be a bad thing? If you're a good teacher (which I know, Mary, you are) you have nothing to fear, you just have support and the possibility of the thanks you should get coming from this movement. Unless I'm completely mistaken in what they are trying to accomplish here?

Gianina - posted on 09/25/2010

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OH Theresa, I totally agree with you... that is exactly my view of the whole education, and I believe that the Unions makes it worst.

I support Booker and Christie and truly believe that the Newark school model will be successful.

[deleted account]

I worked in the education system for almost 20 years. I worked my way up through the day care system, into the public schools and then to an administrative position. I gave it all up with the birth of my 1st child and I decided to open a home day care. Everyone thought I was nuts for giving up a "guarantee for life" job in the school system. But the public school system was not for me.



While I was there, I met some wonderful people. Some teachers and administrators were very forward thinking and had some innovative ideas. They were loving and caring and willing to devote their own time and money to teach the children in their care. Unfortunately, many more teachers and administrators were time-card punching, eager to get home, annoyed with the kids, type of thinkers. They were never happy with their salaries, how many training days they had or how many days off they had. They did the bare minimum with their students and they weren't even nice about it. Not only did their students feel uncomfortable, the other teachers felt uncomfortable. They always seemed bitter and angry and unhappy. Some of these teachers I felt should never have been teachers in the 1st place. Others I felt should have retired because it was clear they were "burned out".



To the defense of ALL teachers however, teaching nowadays has became a "jack of all trades" occupation! Students walk in the door starving! The last meal they had was the day before when they ate lunch at school. Students come to school unprepared (no homework or reports). They don't have clothing appropriate for the weather (including coats), They don't have supplies (notebooks or pencils). Don't get me started about the kids who are sick, hurt or have developmental problems that are undiagnosed or untreated. Oh, don't forget the kids that are dealing with issues at home like domestic abuse, sexual abuse and drug addiction. I haven't even started talking about the parents! That is too much to get into now! But my point is...teaching is not just teaching anymore! It is almost impossible to just walk into a classroom and teach. The quality of public school education is suffering and yes, I think the issue is worse than depicted from in the movie (from what I've seen). I applaud Booker and Christie! I think the Newark school model is a good idea. I wish them luck!

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