League of Women Voters Launches Education Blog

To Educate and Inform on Issues Relating to Public Education

Introduction

Our blog is a tool box. Make it work for you. Here you will find data, studies, and perspectives that inform the discussion about school choice. Send stories of events in your state. Tell us about studies that clarify issues. Do your own studies. Use the information you find here to advocate for League positions.

CONTACT us by email to send posts.

COMMENT by pressing the 'Continue Reading' button and scroll to the space provided.

CLICK THE PICTURES on the banner to see the FEATURE STORY and UPDATES for local ED TEAMS, LEGISLATION, and LAWSUITS.

VISIT THE COMMITTEES. You will see the latest on national school reform issues. Learn about school and teacher ACCOUNTABILITY, CURRICULUM issues, LAWS, MANAGEMENT practices, FACILITY issues, and VOUCHER concerns. We will post questions of the week about the hot topics. Participate through our contact icon.

STUDY THE RESOURCES. Here you will find sources of information. They will grow with your help. Use the Search bar to locate categories of resources. Write articles and make fact sheets for your own groups. Send what you create to share with others.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG TO RECEIVE EMAIL NOTICES OF NEW POSTS.

Recent Posts

Click to View and Comment

New:

Stop Scapegoating Teachers and Public Schools

I attended a talk last night by Mary Dalton, the author of ‘From Heroes to Hacks: The Disturbing Rise of Bad Teachers on Television’. I learned some things.

Understanding the subtexts of programs we watch on television, helps to explain how the attack on public education gained credibility. Professor Dalton briefly described the shifts in decades from the 50s to the present in the focus of television sitcoms:

1950s…’Our Miss Brooks’ was the beloved, caring, ethical, and yes, white female teacher.
1960s…almost an utopian view of achieving racial and social equality
1970s…a classless society e.g. The Paper Chase
1980s…meritocracy where anyone can succeed
1990s…Teachers are real people with complicated lives of their own e.g. Hangin with Mr. Cooper who was gay.

Then, at the turn of the century, changes in educational policy were reflected in a serious downward spiral in how teachers and schools were depicted. This, Professor Dalton believes was not accidental. Season 4 of ‘The Wire’ was one example. The teacher was a failed policeman who became a good teacher but was underpaid and worked in an overwhelming environment. His experience in the classroom reflected social and political issues in a drug infested culture. ‘Mike and Molly’ was an even more stark and dark characterization of a teacher who exhibited over the top behavior and was fraught with problems.

These media depictions were inculcated in how the general public viewed public education….not their children’s schools but those other schools out there.

Questions from the audience probed how bad vs good teachers are now defined. Dalton responded with examples from the programs ‘Insecure’ and ‘Speechless’. A good teacher is caring and often depicted as a person of color who is an outsider, not an experienced teacher. Principals are depicted as bureaucratic.

In her response to a question about hope for a change in public perception to one that is more balanced and less stereotypical, Professor Dalton suggested that these trends shifted like a pendulum. As the mass of bad characterizations increase, their validity becomes questionable, and the public begins to push back.

I asked if there was any evidence that the return to normalcy was beginning and cited the film ‘Passion to Teach‘ that was recently released. The only cracks in the armor, however, seem to be in the depiction of non-profit charter schools as ‘good charter’ and those other profit seekers as ‘bad’ charters. At least charters are no longer uniformly good and public schools uniformly bad. The needed critical mass of outrageous assertions and depictions has not accumulated, but perhaps there is hope. We need a relentless drum beat.

Kuddos to the two University of Florida graduate students who organized this symposium. You can read their article in today’s Gainesville Sun here.

Florida Supreme Court Declines Palm Beach Case Against CSUSA

OK, it is up to us. The Supreme Court declined to hear a case against an unwanted CSUSA charter school in Palm Beach. The school board’s frustration was not with charters. Rather, it was with CSUSA’s proposals to open unneeded charters to openly compete for students. One proposal was to open a CSUSA charter across the street from Royal Palm Beach high school. Then, CSUSA submitted two more proposals, and the district went to court. The Court decided not to decide in spite of widespread opposition in the community.

Clearly, the Florida legislature and the State Board of Education are deaf to the destruction of our communities and the impact of poor fiscal policies on our educational system. Their choice policy simply ensures that no segment, public…charter…or private will have adequate funding. Thirteen districts, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange and Alachua among others have now joined forces to sue the State over the legislature’s seizure of control of local school district authority. More are in the wings. This is not over.

We need a change in approach to choice. We have to examine the policies of who we choose to represent our views in the legislature. If you need more information about CSUSA’s for-profit management style, see the PACT. We have to help others understand that not all choices are good choices.

Bash Schools or Build Democracy

The October Atlantic reports on the war on public schools. We know this war. The strategy is changing, and this is a good thing. The reform mantra that school achievement has declined, teachers are inadequate, unions protect mediocrity and school choice (read privatization) solves all problems has become hackneyed, if not outright false. The Atlantic article raises a much different and more fundamental concern. The attack on public schools reflects the emphasis on individual rights as opposed to the collective good. This is an age-old theme in America. It waxes and wanes, but the stakes are high.

The author cites the political theorist Benjamin Barber’s warning: “America as a commercial society of individual consumers may survive the destruction of public schooling. America as a democratic republic cannot.” Why?

Our schools integrate diverse groups from widely ranging backgrounds into our civil society. They learn to be ‘American’. The public schools give all of our people a stake in the future of our democracy. School choice, however, is further segregating our society and creates more enclaves. The impact on our communities is being felt. We no longer teach civics, and fewer young people participate in voting.

In some countries, the population disengages in their political system. When this occurs, the whole process of negotiation among citizens to resolve problems disintegrates. A good analysis is offered by Harry Boyte, Co-Director of the Center for Democracy. He says “Politics is how diverse groups of people build a future together”. This is the message that will determine our future. We have a choice. We can build or divide our schools and our communities.

Making a Difference

At today’s legislative delegation hearing, all Alachua County government entities…cities and county commission spoke in favor of supporting our public schools.

At tonight’s school board meeting, the members voted to join the lawsuit against HB 7069 that wrests control from local school districts. Members also voted to put a half penny sales tax initiative on the ballot to help our school facilities. The legislature is putting all responsibility on local communities while they want to take all control away from them.

We will fight to take care of our children and our schools. We will support our school board in their efforts to do the same.

Categories

Previous Posts

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

JavaScript

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,618 other subscribers

Follow Us!

Follow me on Twitter