We’ve only just begun to Build

It all began with a plan. Those of you who know me I am big into plans…

 I set up all the accounts myself  on the Reactiongrid website.  student 1, student 2, student 3 ect. I used the school initials as the last name. That way the Admin’s would know right away they were students. I also put our building plan up on a prim. A map a plan.-You know the best laid plans of mice and men??

 

.  The next step was to have them download and configure the Hippos viewer. What a huge mistake. I have never had so many people asking me questions at exactly the same time. What a headache and never again.! Add to the fact that just kept clicking next-next-next… And not reading a darn thing and I be t you can guess who had to go back and redo everything. It would have been much smarter to have it all set up for them.  

 

 

The next few days I trained the leaders for each group and tried to keep them all  from crossing the sim boundaries and crashing the sim. They really loved flying which can be an issue with two kids flying against each other.  I think the only way I made it through that first week was the fact that Kyle of Chris were right there resetting things as the kids crashed them.  I am hoping that they were laughing at the kids, I know they encouraged me through those frustrating early days, and I so owe them for those early, early weeks. .

 

Things got much better after the team leaders were trained, behavior guidelines discussed for how to act as “a Mini Me, and frankly when I took away flying. Oh we had our moments like the kids playing trap the teacher in a prim. My little cartoon figure must have been tired as it raced to escape being caged.  After a bit of well deserved play we set up guidelines. Only one student ended up sitting out building. He insisted on sneaking on to account he wasn’t assigned to and making the biggest prim possible and then smashing it into the other avatars. He did however get a great change to improve his typing sdkills while the rest of his group built.

 

 

****Next post more about the Avatar  Bill of Right and how we organized the actual build.

The Start of Virtual WOrlds Project

Oct 31, 2009

 

Well it’s the end of October and I really need to find a way to challenge these kids and get them to work together. 8th grade is a tough year and they are so critical of everything and everyone. I think I am going to use Virtual Worlds as a way to get them to work as team, communicate and encourage each other. Since the 3rd grade are working on a Pioneer village as part of their Social Studies, I think teaming the 8th graders uop with them should work. I set up an account on the Rg and have been popping in and out working out school house.. The tools are very similar to SL.

 

Well I took the plunge paid the 50 set up fee and 25 dollars for the first month via the internet on pay pal. Now I wait to have it all set up. I am either crazy  or     

 

 

November 6th

After going in for a couple of Days I found Chris. Apparently the island got set up but they forgot to tell me. Chris was great came  over and helped me teraform. I gave her a picture of the State of Michigan and waving her magic wand over the computer, the land was transformed into the shape of Michigan.  Rebecca and I spent the next couple of days pulling up land to make  Wisconsin. We both learned some important lessons. Do NOT fly over Sim boundaries. Better to work slow and careful. Reduce the  pull on the server by having a low strength.

 

The RG people were so good. I think we crashed the  Sim like 4 times a day this week. That was with us working and not the kids. I need to get better at this before I let them all loose.  I am working on a simple welcome center. On Michigan. It is coming along. When I get frustrated I just delete it all and start over. Becca is working on her building in Wisconsin.

 

 

November 15th

 

Met Trevor and several others on the RG. I am linking to them in tweeter. Not ready for Skype yet. I did purchase Second Inventory so at least the things I made in Sl I can bring over. Meerkat. It takes a while but getting my own hair back felt well great. I never realized how tied I had become to my little mini me in Second Life.

 

I haven’t crashed the server in days and the School House and Welcome Center are up. Tonight I set up the accounts.  And we dive in next week.  Wish me luck

 

**** The next post I will try to retool and make some sense of. I was  writing dailiy and the ups and downs are noticable so I will try to make it understandable when I post it here next.

Mini Me’s in the Virtual World-Intro

About a Year Ago I was introduced to Second Life. I was in awe of how this interactive Cartoon Environmnet could simulate or replicate complex problems in the Real World. However just like the Real World Sl had some not so savory places, and you would be amazed at how slezzy a cartoon character can look.

So while I took my kids on Virtual Field Trips by Way of the classroom projector-My finger was never far from the off switch. However traveling through the blood streaming, showing engineering components in action, walking through history showed that the potential was there for education.  All of this presented a challenge. One of the best parts of SL was the able to use the 3D CAD tools to create the actual cartton world that residents lived in. This was of course banned to students under the age of 18. If you had a ton of funding you might be able to get an island  on the teengrid-but you still couldn’t have your students visit any of the educational builds.  So for me Sl became a venue for professional development, networking an an odd virtual field trip here and there.second_life_logo

Then along came Openism and ReationGrid. This was a virtual environment build for business and educational training. While very young in development and not as stable as SL I dove in. I purchased an island for 25 dollars a month and set up students accounts. I kept a journal along the way and will be sharing the pitfalls and triumphs as I experienced them. So those of you who follow this you will be able to see how I set it up, how I managed it, all the mistakes I made and be able to view the finished work of the kids.  I will attempt to clean up the posts and put them in Order from October -December when the kiddos finished. Since My second group is now underway, I finally feel ready to share.  So pop back in and follow along as I tell you how 8th graders and 3rd graders worked and played together with their Mini Me’s on the RG (What they called Reaction Grid).

reaction grid

Technologies Potential for Learning

  Executive Office of the President Department of Education

 A New Foundation for 21st Century Learning Education Technology Investments in the 2011 Budget

Highlighting the role of technology in educating the next generation. The strategy outlined the role that educational  technology could play to improve our quality of life and establish the foundation for the industries and jobs of the future. For example: 

 Online learning can allow adults that are struggling to balance the competing demands of work and family to acquire new skills, and compete for higher wage jobs, at a time, place and pace that is convenient for them. It can also improve access to a quality education for students in underserved areas.  Digital tutors can provide every student with immediate feedback and personalized instruction, providing them with the information needed to diagnose and correct errors, and providing challenging instruction.  Digital learning environments can generate a large volume of data that, if analyzed properly, will support “continuous improvement” by providing rich feedback to learners, teachers, curriculum designers, and researchers in the field of learning science and technology.

As Technology teacher there is much to love in the above statements-but there is alway cause to be careful. A video tutorial cannot look into a students eyes and tell if they are havig a bad day or not. We still need those wonderful teacher USING technology  as a tool to teach.  Lets not allow the human touch to be removed from education simply because its cheaper.

Rebublicans/Democrates and Education

Does anyone besides me remember a campaign promise to get ride of NCLB? The Republican’s promised us accountablility and reform with NCLB-we got additional paperwork-teachers forced to teach to tests and Science and History losing out to increase Math and Reading scores.

The only thing I can agree with Sec. Duncan on is the need to increase the number of days in the school year. Let’s get honest this has not been done because there is an entire industry build on tourism, camps, and lessons that some people can afford to purchase. IN some districts this has been addressed by adding intersessions. The interesting thing about the intercessions is that they allow teachers to teach like they used to-using creativity. Teachers love them and so do the kids. Follow ups on this type of project based learning shows BETTER retenion.

It is interesting to note ” Republicans were among the first U.S. politicians to propose significant federal aid for education. But by the 20th century, the party had shifted its position to a general skepticism that at times gave way to limited support. Even at the times when backing limited aid, though, the party retained its stipulation that in administering the aid, the federal government must in no way interfere with state and local control of schools. ” These were the days I was a republican.

Then in 1985, after Reagan’s first Secretary of Education, Terrel Bell, resigned, conservative William J. Bennett took his place. Bennett announced that he would use the post as a “bully pulpit” to push conservative policies and values. Bennett argued for a Western Civilization-based core curriculum and against multicultural programs. Suddenly the influx of religion-I am Catholic-and it was clear it was HIS religious views! The first Bush advocated institutional competition among schools and adequate training for entering the job market. President Bush also renewed the call for a tuition tax credit. Ok it seemed like we were back in the realm of reality…

Then the elections of 1994. Republicans gained control of Congress, and quickly set out to slash funds from various education programs, arguing that the government’s deficit necessitates cutbacks. Republican Representative Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” further targeted education and job training for budget reductions as Congress and the Clinton administration fought over balancing the budget. Now the far religious right seemed to be in firm control. Education regained a bit of funding under Clinton but was left in the dust as he focused on saving his own job. Enter the second Bush (Did I mention I liked his father better) and real person in charge his VP. No Child Left Behind fully entrenched the governent into the education process taking away any sense of local control and basically assumes that all children were alike everywhere! The party of limited governent became the party Of BIG HUGE GOVERNENT and BIG BROTHER. This for me was the last bullet I was going to bite and left the party. Okay there was the Patroit Act and failure to grant civil rights that also pushed me out of the party.So here I am a girl who lives in the town that gave us Gerald R Ford now a Democrat. I never thought I would see the day that the Republican party was all about more government!

Now we have a newly elected Sec of Education who agains wants to increase the role of the Federal Government. Sec Duncan…wake up!!!!! Everything you are suggesting has been done under the Republicans and failed.

Here’s a new approach-Let’s get rid of all the huge administrations in public schools. Let’s run them more like the private schools who do not have all the layers. Have a few teachers do double duty as the curriculum experts, bump their pay and get rid of the overpaid leaders who sit in offices, hold meetings, go to conferences and issue orders from on high. Teachers are not Mommies-we are professionals. We need discipline restored to the schools. Since more testing and more restrictions has not worked-how about letting the teachers take a crack at fixing things???

Schools out-Planning is in!

Today is the second day of my summer vacation…and my thoughts turn to education. Okay, maybe I’m a teaching junkie. Without a classroom of kids-how do I get my fix? Trust me it is not going to happen watching the Board of Education Meetings. There is no place where teachers seem to be so completely devalued right now as in the district I work for. Can you believe they are actually replacing Alt. Ed teachers with Novanet? A board member actually said that the software is “high qualified.” hmmm….It is Not reading the Education Secretaries cluess drivel. Instead I turn to my PLN and check out the twitter tweets to read, reflect and ponder.
Twitter
A few realities-teaching will never get me a bonus check…not an end of the year thank you gift-heck this year I was not even handed a copy of the yearbook that I produced! Frankly with my computer skills there are jobs where I could make much more money with my computer skills. Still I teach…Still I plan…I ponder…I explore…I dream! I guess as a teaching junkie it is simply a part of me.
>
Summer is a chance to actually think about how I would change education-or given a clean slate what would I like to see education look like. My thoughts turn not to the new technologies I love instead I reflect back on the one-room school house. By its very nature the multi-age nature of the room required collaboration. The world was their classroom-projects abounded-by the very nature of classroom/school instruction had to be differentiated. What I dream of is a school/learning center where content rich instruction is a spring board to help teach kids to be problem solvers, and to frankly construct big questions. Less about tests-and more about learning. Replacing entitlement thinking with service based pnderings. To become more child centered we must also become more honest with parents. Bullying, and bad behavior has no place in a learning environment. We do the children no favor when we make excuses for them! Praise is earned through efforts. Too often we deal with those children we want to save, and the many we fail to see-are lost. In many districts it is these children that leave us-because we have failed to meet their needs. How much time do we spend with each student? Let’s shift our thinking-equal time for all.

Living in Michigan and watching Detroit die- it is clear that the work world of the future will provide very little stability, and very few will hold one job for 30 plus years. What will work look like in the light of this huge shift ? From a manufacturing base to and informational society? Can we incorporate the new technologies to help us or will end up digitally connect yet alone? I read the Time article with a mixture of anticipation and fear.”According to consulting giant McKinsey & Co., nearly 85% of new jobs created between 1998 and 2006 involved complex “knowledge work” like problem-solving and concocting corporate strategy. Job opportunities in mathematics and across the sciences are also expected to expand. The U.S. Department of Labor spotlights network systems and data communications as well as computer-software engineering among the occupations projected to grow most explosively by 2016. Over the next seven years, the number of jobs in the information-technology sector is expected to swell 24% — a figure more than twice the overall job-growth rate. ”

In this new society is there a place for everyone? Let us not develop a society of geeks verses service clerks. In this picture where are the artists, the musicain, the writers-those people who add to the texture and beauty of the society. To this end I propose a more open ended view of learning. Yes we must engage students and challenge their minds-but we must also impart that everything will not be entertaining nor easy. Multiply choice tests that students store in short term memory simply do not help built the cognitive schema needed. Not all students are internally motivated, there are indeed conditions that educators cannot control that impact learning. There is no one size fits all system for education and learning. This is why tests fail to give us a good measurement picture. Instead, a project, a work of art, something constructed, planned built-give us insights. I found that allowing students to actually construct test questions lead to better retention that any one student who took the test. The schema behind what they choose as important, the reasoning behind the answer choices-the place where intellect lives. Just as animals adapt to their enviroment we to much adapt our instruction, our learning, and our visions.

The Final 4

For educators this is the final 4. Those last weeks of school before the children have vacation. If we are lucky we may get a few weeks off as well. More than likely, most of us will be “in school” ourselves, attending webinars, and classes. The ending of one school year does afford one an opportunity to look back, reflect, take stock, and do a little self reflection.

This past year was a mixed bag of both personal and professional challenges. One of the goals I set for myself this past school year was to set up a personal learning network, and find out what other educators were doing around the country and the world. This past year I was happy to be team leader for the MI Champions project in my school. I was honored to have a student article and a profile published in the MACUlL journal. I was thrilled to be able to present at the MACUL conference in Detroit, and got to meet in person several people I knew through MACUL SPACE. I had several articles published in England through Ictopus, and kept a professional blog on Edublog and Macul Space. I enjoyed meeting with Mark R in early August and he allowed me to use a great new tool called Curriculum Crafter. I managed to get a simple webpage on the GRPS website so the Shared Time Program has a presence there. I won the MEMIC grant and was able to buy two GPS devices for geo caching. I even sat on the unions executive board, since we are 2 years without a contract. My classroom wiki at http://computerkiddoswiki.pbworks.com grew as a resource and at last count had over 30,000 guests and was viewed from more countries than I care to count.. This past year I blogged, I twittered, kept a group calendar on Learnport, and have even attended professional development in Second Life.

 

<
One of the most exciting developments was meeting Prof Nyhoff from Calvin College. He visited my school and yesterday I had the opportunity to take my 7th graders to Calvin. The kids got to see how computers were used at the college level, play in VR, meet the professor who wrote the book on Learning Alice Programming, saw a “Super Computer”, meet with the Art department to see Digital Photography, and Set design. Hats off to Prof Nyhoff who is working to reform education, increase students interest in Computer Programming and is building bridges from the college environment to the K-12 world.

 

This past school year my 2nd grade students created a collaborative wiki using a virtual Flat Stanley, my 7th graders created a Treasure Island wiki, and my 8th graders began blogging. We build virtual bridges and then models using gumdrops and tooth picks. Students at various grade levels programmed in Squeak, Scratch, Alice, Logo, and HTML. We created animated features, used the computer in digital photograph, drew in Google Sketch up and Anim8or, created podcasts, photostories, scrapblogds, and voice threads . We researched, we collaborated, and we published. I spent way to many after school hours donating time to create “the yearbook” In giving the students zero hours before school and giving up my lunch hours for study hall, left me drained at the end of the day. Teaching 8-9 classes of 45 minutes each is likely enough. Finding balance is a new goal yet to be achieved. I would like to try using a green screen next and would like a Bluetooth tablet or interactive whitebard. However I remain determined to not let the lack of resources limit the opportunities for my students. It is such a wonder to have so many free web based tools.

The challenges in my personal life were equal to that in my professional one. My husband finally got a job he loved and was plagued by headaches so severe he missed a lot of work and was let go after 6th months. The doctors are still trying to find the source of the headaches and mood swings, and continue to try different medications. My daughter totaled her car, but was fortunate to have only minor injuries. I am still dealing with a root canal, just need to get fitted for the cap. All way to expensive for words. Y car needed a new transmission and still needs more work done. My hopes of returning the school for a PhD are on hold once again. With so many jobless in the state I am happy to have a job. Grand Rapids Pubis now the record for the lowest paid teachers in the KISD. We are also plagued by a group from Muskegon called the EAG who is not shy about their desire to “break” the union. I moved my youngest ADD child to a private school with smaller class size.. We have 2-3 hours of homework each night, and the finding the money for the tuition is difficult-but the school has been working with us. I never lost the weight I wanted too, and there were many days I needed more time, or spent too much time at work and too little time at home. The one constant in the world of technology is that there is always someone who needs help with something. My hair dresser has given up on me-too many cancelled appointments as I ended up dealing with one crisis after another at school. . Right now the dreaded m.exe virus is haunting the systems and so far nothing I have tried as worked. Help arrives on Monday.

So overall I did the best I could at both home and school with the resources I was given. There is much more to look forward to next school year. Maybe I will even lose the weight I want to.

NECC

One of the challenges of working for a urban school system is the lack of funds for conferences and sraff developmenr.  Very ironic when you realize that these are the kids that have little or no access to technology at home and the only place where they are exposed to 21st century Skills is at School.  Since we have worked 2 years without a contract and 3 years without a raise it has gotten to be increasingly more difficult to stretch the dollars on the home front-so even tthough technology integration is my passion-NECC attendnace is not a possibility without a miracle.

In an attempt to give the miracle a helping hand I applied at the Microsoft site. Microsoft is giving away 5 scholarshops to NECC. So maybe…? I have never been to the nations capital so being able to go to NECC would be a real thrill.  But I am a realist as well, so I will be looking into the opportunities to attend in Second Life and through Eluiminate.   

In any case, change is education has become critical.. Our economy  is changing from manufacturing base to a glonal community where information is becoming the new currency. This is going to require schools to step up and use technology tools to teach children. engage them, and prepare them for jobs in the new economy. We are3 going to have to use the resources we have smarter, ask our teachers to do more if we are to reach our children and prepare them for the future. Education is critical factor here.

Year in Review-The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Innovate – Changing from static learners to collaboration

We have been sitting students in rows, talking at them,  making them memorize.  We talkàthey memorizeèwe test àrepeat.  Areas the students memorized well in became their career, If they were not good at memorizing-off to the manufacturing jobs they were sent. Research and studies for years showed this was not the best way-yet we continue to do more of the same. Teachers were told to do more hands on learning, more projects, more higher level thinking skills, but at the same time prepare the kids for paper and pencil exams, with school funding and their jobs on the line. Incorporate technology into instruction-but make it difficult to teachers to use the technology by locking down the machines, and blocking, blocking, blocking content . While the potential is there for technology to reach students that have been underserved-those resources need to be user friendly for the instructors. We still need those trained teachers in the computer labs to teach and engage both the students and the educators, in technology use. But then there are the yearly budget cuts.  Those who legislate require more and most tests- children’s scores used to measure teachers effectiveness.  We have longer school days, more school days and somehow think more of the same will lead to a different result. We have a new Secretary of Education that thinks more the same is the recipe for success.  Putting all these pieces together it is easy to understand why  teachers become discouraged. They are being asked the equivalent of running and standing still at the same time.

 

 How many great minds have been wasted because they were perceived as not smart=simply because they learned in a different way? How many students have we lost to boredom? How many great teachers have we lost because they could tolerate the low pay and long hours, but the not the lack of respect for the profession? What happened to  students who got all A’s?  Many struggled to get and keep a job because they lacked the ability to work well with others, and felt entitled to the same special treatment they got in school as the “A” student.  Once in the work world there was no longer a parent to run interference for them, and responsibility fell on their shoulders like a ton of bricks. Since jobs don’t test every week-the expectation was for these graduates to be to apply the skills they learned. Again a huge discontent between what school were teaching and the skills that are needed for success. Everyone can agree that change is needed. Some want to peel off the good students and create a separate system of “Charter” schools-the separate but equal philosophy.

 

Project based learning challenges students=but also parents who  need a new understanding of assessment.  Universal Design for Learning does stretch every learner but makes it difficult for parents to understand how a student working on what they think of, as an easier project can get an A, while their child got a B+.   I still stand by the notion of giving students choices. I also think that there is way too much emphasis and pressure on grades. The challenge to change really lies in convincing the parents and Politian’s,  who really run the schools that there is a better way. Then getting them to trust the process —HUGE GOALS

 

Gripes and Brags
Reflecting back as the school comes to a close, it was a mixed bag of wonderful innovation and challenges. In my second year at a new building I have worked hard, challenged myself and my student’s and have been pleased with the results. We have  used C.A.D. (Computer Assisted Design) programs, written digital stories, create slide shows, made movies, created wiki pages, blogged our thoughts  in response to literature, programmed in Scratch, Alice, Squeak, and HTML. Students have review using MS Office, made stop action animations, worked with stop action animation, and explored digital photography.  Over all. a positive experience engaging student learners. While not everyone loved everything, I feel that each student picked up some necessary and essential skills.

 

 Yet ,as any educator knows classroom management remains an important  part of teaching. What remains as a frustration is the lack of parent understanding in redirected student behavior.  I try to have the students reflect on their behavior, write a note to me explaining why they did what they did. Then having students go home and report that –they did nothing wrong and the teacher doesn’t like them.  It amazes me that parent’s can announce so boldly that “I believe my child and not you” Why would I possibly: pick on a group of children”. It’s not like any of us want to disciple, it is just part of the job. Children have not changed so much= but parents have. The same parent who doesn’t come to conferences- appears weeks later to complain about a B+ on a report card.   We take the advice of doctors, lawyers and even the cable repairman=but not educators. I really do have the best interests of my children in mind-allowing them to get away with bad behavior really does them no good in the end.  Unfortunately most of us only hear from the few parents who complain and not the many that are happy!

 

So…this year… It was a mixed bag. I take consolation in the two grants I won, the designation as a MI Champion, and the amount of positive feedback I get from my peers on Classroom 2.0, MACUL Space and Twitter. I remind myself that 2 parent complaints out of 408 students isn’t the end of the world.  Social networking has created a community of educators and for the first time we are out there supporting each other and learning we have much in common no where we live or teach. So our hope for change rest on the possibility that together we can do more!

Open Letter to Secreatry Duncan

First I have to confess I did vote for Obama, so my dissappointment in the statements of the New Education Secretary is leaving a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

“Secretary Duncan also noted that the budget overview includes a $500 million grant program for a new federal-state-local partnership to improve retention and graduation rates, particularly for low-income college students. Funds would support research into what works to help increase college completion.” Wow, didn’t that sound good?

Unfortunately, the stimulus money is earmarked for professional development and equipment. This is happening at the same time that districts are forced to increase class size, pull computer/media specialist out of the Literacy Hub of the school, and place just one more hoop out there for classroom teachers to jump through.

My school district recieved a bond issue and grant to improve the schools and many of our buildings have wonderful state of the art computer labs. The only problem is-no one uses them. When teachers try to use them they are so locked down that they are not even able to run updates for Flash, Adobe, or Real Player. So the teacher prepares a lesson at home checks the links, and then after logging all the students on with the individual passwords the districts mandates, finds out the the sites won’t run at school because install updates requires “administrative rights” that the teacher doesn’t have. Add to this the fact that she had checked the site at school the week before and you can see how easy it is to discourage teachers from incorporating technology.

Unfortunately most of the teacher on the elementary level (in my district) are using technology skills to grade their report cards- (with a lag time that is frustrating and no rights to go back in and correct typing errors) ,and use programs such as Exam Review and other programs to do data analysis. If all you ever are taught to do with the computer are record keeping and data warehousing activities, you can see how technology is simply not getting to the kids.

I was at a meeting yesterday with a group of college professors who are concerned that the amount of students seeking a Computer Science degree has dropped 45 % in the last five years. According to this group,the students that the colleges are getting are ill prepared for advanced computer skills, and often cannot test out of very basic office functions. So much teacher time is now spend on testing, assessment, and data research to meet AYP and MEAP that we somehow managed to suck the creativity right out of the teaching process. All of this paper work and additional testing has done nothing to raise scores-it has stressed out teachers and students, with discipline and hands on learning have suffering as a result.

“U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday that $100 billion in federal stimulus money for schools will save thousands of teaching jobs and promote education reforms. ” Except that with curent budget cuts my district is telling us it will simply reduce the number of cuts necessary and to expect a class size increases. After working 3 years without a contract and no cost of living increases, the district now wants to take away our PPO health care. I am not sure how this plays into Secretary Duncans vision of recruiting more and better teachers.

Recently Duncan told the students: “I fundamentally think that our school day is too short, our school week is too short and our school year is too short. You’re competing for jobs with kids from India and China. I think schools should be open six, seven days a week; eleven, twelve months a year.”Duncan reportedly expected the students to react to his comments in a negative manner, but AP writes that the teens simply gave him “bored stares.”

You have to love the honesty of teenagers. Does he actually think that more of the same thing is going to change education? And here’s my big question….Why doesn’t anyone ever ASK the teachers what they think needs to be done to improve education? You would think that these share holders might have something to add to the conversation! I have to agree with David Warlick on this one: “The two statements, attributed to the education leader, not only make my blood boil — but they are simply “Dead Wrong!”

According to David,”Arnie Duncan was nominated to the Secretary of Education post by President Barack Obama in mid-December last year, and smarter men than me immediately called foul (See Gary Stager’s “What Do Arne Duncan & Paul Bremer Have in Common?). I wanted to give Duncan the benefit of the doubt, but all doubt’s gone now. We’ve gotten no where and we’re going nowwhere, especially if we are going to extend the sentencing of our children.” You can read his entire blog here.

Just in case he is actually interested here are the issues as I see them. I know ..I know -who am I ?? Just a 20 year veteran educator who believes in education and wants to see REAL change occur.!

1. Discipline-allowing students to get away with almost anything in order to stem dropout rates is a receipe for disaster. A respectful attitude is required in the work place and should be demanded at school as well. Classrooms cannot solve the issues of poverty and crime. We should provide programs that address the needs of students without making an entire classroom a place where teachers can’t teach because they have to spend there entire time on discipline.

2. If you are going to compare-be fair– Inner City students that have attended 3 schools in one year are simply not going to do as well as any other student that has been able to spend an entire year in one building. Teachers have no control over housing and evictions, parents remarrying, and poverty that force children and families from their homes. Yet everyone loves to compare the test scores of these children who are just happy to have a home, with the priveldged kids in the burbs. Secretary Duncan also compares us to China where frankly they track kids. Here in America we strive to educate everyone-that is a good thing. However comparing our system which leaves no child behind, to a system that tracks children and only reports scores of the “Choosen” students is just plain unfair and misleading.

3.Testing Time deceases teaching time all those paper and pencil bubble in tests take time away from Project Based differentiated learning which all the experts and data support as the road map to long turn learning and retention of essential skills. Can you think of any job where you are tested 5-6 times each week? Neither can I . I do know that most peiople work in teams, on projects to get things done.

4. Seperate is Not Equal Creating another system of Charter schools seeks to do what busing sought to undo-segregation. Charter Schools that are often run by for profit companies, can expel students they do not wish to have and they are sent back to regular public school. Charter schools also do not have to provide special education services nor busing. How is this EQUAL?

I know my comments are likely to get lots of feedback- but here they are