Monthly Archives: November 2012

It is time for an open conversation about education!

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Turning over public assets, disregarding teachers voices and placing products (tests) above all else is, from my perspective, misguided policy.

We all need to stop and think about what we want for our children and for all children and move toward a positive plan.  We all need to do more. More thinking together – more experimenting – more commitment to each learner learning!

AND I think, along the way, we may come to the conclusion that we need more resources.  We may need more resources: to true help children from birth to 5 years old to be nurtured and supported in their growth and development,  to help more students complete K-12 schooling and not drop out, to help families in crisis when children’s learning is threatened as a result of a disruption the family faces and so on.  Our society, all of us, need to make a commitment to the future that places the supported development of all our children as a priority.

I suggest that it is time to talk and listen to each other. It is time to open a national conversation.

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How did testing and accountability become the main levers of school reform? ~ Diane Ravitch

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We all need to stop and think deeply about what we want for all children.

I am convinced that the ‘easy answer’ of letting narrow products, “tests”, measure the value of schools to our society is foolhardy!  Further, I am convinced that our society needs to be investing in ways to improve education for all children.

Think about this: If you want to help children who are under weight and hungry – you don’t go out and focus on buying scales! 

We Have a Prosperity GAP!!!!

Yes, we talk about the many achievement gaps that exist in our schools.  We tackle these ‘gaps’ with rigorous effect.  And many learners improve and many learners do not.

Often the improvement is incremental as opposed to dramatic.  A given student or group of students in a specific subgroup improves from 39% proficiency to 43% proficiency and the improvement is acknowledged.

The biggest overall group of learners whose achievement lags is – children of poverty.   Thus, I suggest that when someone (politician, neighbor, work colleague, or friend) wants to talk about the failings of public education (public education is where the vast majority of our poor students are served) that we bring up the U.S. government census. According to the census data released in 2011 Child Poverty in the United States 2009 and 2010  American Community Survey Briefs:

More than one in five children in the United States (15.75 mil­lion) lived in poverty in 2010.

More than 1.1 million children were added to the poverty population between the 2009 and the 2010.

The 2010 child poverty rate (21.6 percent) is the highest since the survey began in 2001.

Children from all race groups were added to the poverty popula­tion since the 2009, includ­ing children reported as White (507,000), Black (259,000), Some Other Race (99,000), and children of Two or More Races (160,000).

In 2010, White and Asian children had poverty rates below the U.S. average. Other race groups had higher rates, including Black children (38.2 percent) and chil­dren identified with Two or More Races (22.7 percent). Poverty for Hispanic children was 32.3 percent.

The number and percentage of chil­dren in poverty increased in 27 states from the 2009 to 2010. In no state did the number or percent of children in poverty decrease.

Ten states had child poverty rates estimated at 25.0 percent or higher while only New Hampshire had a child poverty rate of 10.0 percent or lower.

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National Book Award for Nonfiction Goes to Katherine Boo

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Katherine Boo in East Lansing August 2012

Winner, Katherine Boo, the first-time author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers has written a captivating book.  It is a book about real people in the slums of Mumbai, India.  It reads like a novel and it is reveals the life paths of many individuals in a setting unfamiliar to most of us.

I highly recommend the book!

I had the good fortune to visit India earlier in 2012. The complexity of the challenges of the country became clear to me from my visit.  Then, coming back and reading this book amplifies my understanding of the complexity and humanity of the country.

Polymic reports, “Boo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter currently writing for the New Yorker, takes readers of The Beautiful Forevers inside a Mumbai slum for a story of a boy and the harsh and illuminating after effects of crime — or perceived crime. More broadly, it explores themes of inequality and the perseverance of families striving for something better. In her acceptance, Boo praised Shadid, who she described as also believing in the ideal that stories can be used to give voice to those without it.”

This website will take you to three NPR stories on Katherine Boo and the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers. http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/nprnews.php?id[146346989]=Katherine%20Boo

The following four blog posts are ones I have posted related to India.

http://gjennings.posterous.com/reflecting-upon-my-journey-in-india-and

http://gjennings.posterous.com/feeding-a-child-is-not-charity

http://gjennings.posterous.com/interdependence-is-and-ought-to-be-as-much-th

http://gjennings.posterous.com/india-what-the-citizen-have-and-dont-have