Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Education under siege

Linda Darling-Hammond recently gave a rousing commencement speech at Columbia University's Teachers College:

We live in a nation that is on the verge of forgetting its children.
The Unitrd States now has a far higher poverty
rate for children than any other
industrialized country (25 percent,
nearly double what it was thirty tears ago);
a more tattered safety net-- more who
are homeless, without healthcare and
without food security; a more
segregated and inequitable system of public
education (a 10:1 ratio in spending across the country); a larger
and more costly system of incarceraion than any country in the
world,including China (5percent of the world's population and
25% of its inmates), one that is now directly cutting into the
money we should be spending on education; a defense budget larger
than that of the next twenty countries combined; and greater
disparities in wealth than any other leading country... Our
leaders do not talk about these things. They simply say of poor
children, "Let them eat tests...." Meanwhile, the profession
of teaching and our system of public education are under siege from
another wave of scientific managers, who have forgotten that
education is about opening minds to inquiry and imagination, not stuffing
them like so many dead turkeys-- that teaching is about enabling
students to make sense of their experience, to use knowledge for their own
ends, and to learn to learn, rather than to spend their chidhoods
bubbling in Scantron sheets to feed the voracious data banks that
govern ever more decisions from the bowels of the bureaucracy.
These new scientific managers, like those of a century ago, prefer teachers
with little training-- who will come and go quickly, without costing
much money, without vesting in the pension system and without raising many questions
about an increasingly prescriptive system of testing and teaching that lines
the pockets of private entrepreneurs.... And the new scientific
managers cleverly construct systems that solve the problem of the
poor by blaming the teachers and schools that seek to serve them, calling
the deepening levels of severe poverty an "excuse," rewarding schools
that keep out and push out the highest-need students, and threatening
those who work with new immigrant students still learning English and the
growing number of those who are homeless, without healthcare or food
security. Are there lower scores in under-resourced schools with high-need students?
Fire the teachers and the principals. Close the schools. Don't look for supports
for their families and communities, equitable funding for public schools or
investments in professional learning.... Take heart in knowing that the arc of history is long, as King noted, but it bends towards justice. And take pride in
knowing, when the work is challenging and setbacks come-- as they must when
anything important is happening-- that you are building a better future for every child and family and community you touch.

Good public school teachers are already fighting the good fight across the country. Let's hope that those who heard this fine address will go forth and do their part.


tbelwin68 said...

Ulysses, you should check out this film when it comes out:

cranstonista said...

That line, "not stuffing them like so many dead turkeys," is priceless!
Thanks for the post, Ulysses

Underground Politics said...

I tried talking about the US test rates when it came to other countries and how they're beating us. My classmates started going on about how suicide rates are higher over there or something. I still haven't had a chance to look into it but all it comes down to is that there are other countries in the world where their students are testing better than our own.

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