We've heard a lot about school reform over these last twenty years, but what is school reform? To hear the left describe it you would think it was about EDUCATION.They started with a report, "A NATION AT RISK" (supposedly our schools were SO BAD that the WHOLE NATION was at risk), which was put out in the early seventies. This report, that I'm sure our buddies on the left wrote, eventually got them the Federal Department of Education in 1979.By the early nineties, under the Clintons,they came out with Goals 2000 which became what the people in education call the "standards movement".As usual, this huge master mind to control society, was called "States initiatives". Many people happened to notice that coincidentally, all the state standards were the same!!Hmmm- I wonder why they were all the same? Were they being directed by a central authority? The answer to this question is that OF COURSE THEY WERE. Speed forward to today- now we have "Common Core", and once again the radical left is calling this a "States Initiative". All the states got together and just wanted the same thing. REALLY? The states didn't write any of this- they just aligned their state standards to what they were told to do from the ACHIEVE organization in Washington that wrote all this.But the real question is, is school reform about REFORM OF SCHOOLS or REFORM OF SOCIETY.
Until George Bush came out with No Child Left Behind, there wasn't even any testing attached to school reform. I remember a principal from Butte who interviewed for the job of superintendent in Helena. She told the story about how her school in Los Angeles was receiving awards and accolades as the TOP SCHOOL- until No Child Left Behind came along and they actually tested the kids- uh oh- they were last ACADEMICALLY!! So, No Child Left Behind at least put some accountability into this wonderland of social programs- and boy did we here about it from the left- they hated those tests!!I have news for them- THEY AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN YET- COMMON CORE WILL TEST UP TO 7 TIMES A YEAR AND THESE TESTS WILL BE USED IN PART TO EVALUATE THE TEACHERS!! But back to our question- what is school reform REALLY about?
If you want to improve academics you pick the best program possible and spend the most time possible teaching. Our kids are out of school today a lot. They have FOUR DAYS off of school here in Helena every year just for teacher "training" and our superintendent is planning to have more time off so that teachers can do HOME VISITS!! When students are in school they are often off to cook or ski or go bowling or serve at the food kitchen or eating breakfast in class or leaving for programs like BIG SISTER BIG BROTHERS or THE PEAK PROGRAM(which lives on special interest grants and TEACHES THOSE SPECIAL INTERESTS TO THOSE CHILDREN!! WHAT A DEAL- THE LOBBYISTS THROW IN A FEW BUCKS AND THE KIDS LEARN ABOUT CONSERVATION OR WOLVES OR BISON OR WHATEVER THE SPECIAL INTEREST WANTS THEM TO BELIEVE!!.) Back to the question- why are we doing all these things that take kids away from academic achievement when we are reforming education? Is school reform REALLY about education or is there another agenda.
Our school board here is very emotionally enamored with THE WHOLE CHILD CONCEPT. By this they mean mental health and home visits, and free food all day long, and physical health ( the comprehensive health program which starts sex education in Kindergarten), and much more. Kids are taken away from their studies for their Adopt a Species program and Artists in Residency which come in for at least an hour a day for a week, and the Myrna Loy fundraiser assembly their parents have to pay for, and their exercise programs and fun run, and "Manners" programs which have clinical social workers taking over classrooms a half hour each week to talk about how students must relate to others (facial expressions and so on), and then there's the MBI program which has assemblies and songs all about behavior, and of course the DARE officer which starts his work in Kindergarten and comes in for one half hour a week for many weeks. This is only some of it- I watch the schools very closely and even I don't really know all the things they are doing that take kids away from studying reading and spelling and math and grammar.
Is school reform REALLY about GOOD EDUCATION or is it about the REFORM OF SOCIETY FOR SOCIALIST THOUGHT AND ATTITUDES? I think it is the latter. The new CENTRALIZED CURRICULUM, COMMON CORE,WILL NOT USE BEST TEACHING PRACTICES.This program requires, and is training teachers to do, COLLABORATIVE TEACHING OPEN CONCEPT LEARNING. This kind of teaching is for socialist connectivity- not for kids to learn and achieve the most academically. Best teaching practices, as I have mentioned on this blog before, are direct instruction techniques that are efficient, direct, and tried and true.The people that want "WHOLE CHILD CONCEPT" will say that you can't teach children if they are hungry or have emotional problems. That's probably false- though children who are happy and fed will do better- but the thing is - OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT HUNGRY AND FOR THE MOST PART ARE HAPPY CHILDREN!!
So,school reform is taking students away from academics and has caused huge declines in student achievement, along with causing the alienation of parents who have been taking their children out of public schools in droves.Some people ARE drinking the water and are turning to the schools to feed their kids and mental health them- but the truth is, our community has mental health services for those in need and the people who do "mental health" services in school are not qualified to do it,in addition there is free food outside of school if you really are that desperate that your children are starving.
The whole structure of public schools is failing as these socialist types attempt to use them to change society. Our public schools built this nation but they are in trouble now. You can't wash the baby and cook the dinner in the same sink- our schools can't be all things- they need to do one thing well-TEACH ACADEMICS. There are many new possibilities and we need to explore these- Our Superintendent of Public Instruction is NOT THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Money for children's education should be available for charter schools, private schools, digital academies and whatever kind of learning institution that will provide the very best academic instruction. Competition will force our schools to get back to the business they are hired for, BASIC ACADEMIC EDUCATION.School Reform has not been about good schools, it has been about reforming our society. The problems in our society have not been eleviated by these reformers.Let's kick out the socialists and put our education money back to work giving our students a fair chance at really competitive first rate EDUCATION!!