He Didn't Just Really Say That?!
This past year I had a conversation in a place to remain unnamed with a state official to be unnamed. He came up to me after I presented about empowering children to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and well-equipped to make our world a better place. Yes, I believe children can do school work worthy of a global stage! This person, I'll call him Dr. Smith, basically said, "You don't really believe educational policy makers want American citizens to actually think, do you? Don't you suspect the nation could become ungovernable if people actually started thinking critically."
I suspect I was so caught off guard I probably gasped.
Against that thought: I'm trying to unbury myself this week. In catching up with my RSS feed aggregation, I came across three interesting things to share.
Thing #1 on YouTube
Go read Gary Stager's article "School Wars" in GOOD Magazine?
Here's a sample:
The tragedy of No Child Left Behind, and the private and public efforts to undo its damage, is that not every child is given the chance to achieve her full potential in a caring, creative, dynamic, and intellectually rich environment. And in the absence of ongoing classroom innovation and grassroots advocacy, NCLB has taken over.
These days, anyone who attended school is an expert in education and everybody has a plan to “fix” the public schools—the philanthropist, the businessman, the bureaucrat, the politician. For ages, business leaders and politicians have wanted to privatize the entire system and let the marketplace sort things out—as it did with Enron, Chinese pet food, or oil prices. Now, they’re taking control of schools through philanthropy. Parents of means, meanwhile, are opting out in record numbers, sending their children to private schools, or charter schools, or are homeschooling them. Indeed, as the federal government has steadily eroded public support for the public school system, through propaganda and failed policies, children are the collateral victims. The winners of the school wars remain uncertain; the losers can be found in almost any classroom.[From School Wars - Practical Theory]
Thing #3 from Doug Noon at Borderland, When the Levee Broke
Doug always makes me think. His post, linked above, is too long, too rich, and too thought provoking to merely excerpt. Educators really need to read it. Well everyone does, actually.
I have always wondered, sometimes aloud, "How on earth can private, corporate, for-profit business do public education better than the non-profit sector?" In my thinking, the minute you introduce profit into the model, something that could have benefited students has to go. Public education is already resource starved. Doug's post begins to pull back the curtain to explore and expose this very question against the backdrop of New Orleans in a post Katrina world. I was schooled to think "government of the people, by the people, for the people..."
I suspect that schools fail our communities when policy fails and people are powerless to affect a correction of policy and its actualization! American education needs deep, fundamental change at the policy level--a complete overhaul. We need to get in touch with our soul. Can such a thing happen?