Toward a better society.....

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2006
Toward a better society.....
13
Sun, 07-22-2012 - 1:48pm

I thought this was an interesting article.  Something merely talked about in politics but certainly doesn't mean it's not critical to the discussion.

snip:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/20/just-society-civic-virtues

"Today, most of our political arguments revolve around welfare and freedom – increasing economic output and respecting people's rights. But a just society requires something more: reasoning together about the meaning of the good life. Whether we're arguing about financial bailouts and bankers' bonuses, or the growing gap between rich and poor, or how to contend with the environmental costs of economic growth, questions of justice are bound up with competing notions of civic virtue and the common good.

In 2008, Barack Obama tapped Americans' hunger for a public life of larger purpose and articulated a politics of moral and spiritual aspiration. During the first year of his presidency, however, he has found it difficult to translate this politics of aspiration into governance. So, as frustration with politics builds on both sides of the Atlantic, it is worth asking what a new politics of the common good might look like. Here are four possible themes:  Citizenship, sacrifice and service, The moral limits of markets, Inequality, solidarity, civic virtue, A politics of moral engagement.

If you click on the link it will further explain what each of the themes cover.  

 

Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Re: Toward a better society.....
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 9:48am
Nope, nice name but not mine.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2006
Re: Toward a better society.....
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 10:15am

<<I saw that the "great teacher" really was great...at reading a script. When the script failed, she became a witch...not the kind of thing i wanted for my son. >>

It's really sad when a teacher is rated great because she can read a script but hasn't a clue how to teach.  This is what we call education reform!

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2006
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 10:21am

A glimpse at our future in education?  Also, whose pulling the strings behind education reform....follow the money trail.....

snip:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/online-schools-score-better-on-wall-street-than-in-classrooms.html?pagewanted=all

"Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll.

By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers.

Agora is one of the largest in a portfolio of similar public schools across the country run by K12. Eight other for-profit companies also run online public elementary and high schools, enrolling a large chunk of the more than 200,000 full-time cyberpupils in the United States.

The pupils work from their homes, in some cases hundreds of miles from their teachers. There is no cafeteria, no gym and no playground. Teachers communicate with students by phone or in simulated classrooms on the Web. But while the notion of an online school evokes cutting-edge methods, much of the work is completed the old-fashioned way, with a pencil and paper while seated at a desk.

Kids mean money. Agora is expecting income of $72 million this school year, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total anticipated revenues of K12, the biggest player in the online-school business. The second-largest, Connections Education, with revenues estimated at $190 million, was bought this year by the education and publishing giant Pearson for $400 million.

The business taps into a formidable coalition of private groups and officials promoting nontraditional forms of public education. The growth of for-profit online schools, one of the more overtly commercial segments of the school choice movement, is rooted in the theory that corporate efficiencies combined with the Internet can revolutionize public education, offering high quality at reduced cost."

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 12:27pm
One of the problems, the bugbears of the whole reform effort, is the concept of "grade level". For example, I came from the era when kids were expected to know their letters by the time they entered first grade at age six, but reading instruction was started from the beginning by the first grade teacher. In my town now, kindergartners must know 200 "sight words" before they can be promoted to first grade. Yet...research tells us that developmental readiness for reading happens between the ages of four and ten, with the median age being seven (second grade)...with many visually oriented kids of normal ability (not dyslexic) becoming developmentally ready to begin reading instruction at ages 10-12. So...obviously if we're requiring five year olds to begin reading when less than half of them can actually accomplish it, three quarters of the class will not be reading "up to grade level" by the end of the year...that's many hours spent in the Resource Room and drilling to fail at a task that would have been easy if they had been allowed to wait a couple of years. Or more. One town in my former state was quite proud of its algebra curriculum that started in second grade. That's great...except that symbolic math is not accessible by many people until they undergo the brain changes associated with puberty...fifty percent of kids are algebra ready by 16...the others manage to pass at that time because so much of the grade is based on non-mastery factors like having a neatly arranged notebook and turning in (not necessarily completing) all of the homework sets. Of my adult friends, hardly any (except the science/math geeks) have fond memories or even any working knowledge of algebra or other higher math. So...in our "race to the top" with "no child left behind" (unmedicated?) we throw all our energy at core subjects, taught to children who are not developmentally ready to master them...is it a surprise that we can't not fail at it?
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 12:49pm

It's even worse when a good teacher is squelched because she refuses to teach the script. The excellent teachers at my kids' elementary school used to complain about having less and less time to work on creative things because the volume of material the kids were tested on increased each year. Pretty soon, even the good schools find themselves using scripted lessons because it nets them higher scores on state standardized tests.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2006
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 2:31pm

I also find this trend disturbing.  I'm not convinced that some of these rather expensive programs and the people who designed them understand anything about childhood development, nevermind, much at all about best practice.    

The primary grades piloted this new math program with some push back from teachers and parents to no avail. The program requires kindergarten children to fill in missing addends in a workbook by midyear.  Many of the children are still learning basic number skills like number identification and how to count.  Many are still in the pre-operational stage of learning and are not ready to developmentally understand missing addends.  It's illogical but yet we are required to do it.  Then you have children at the end of the year that become frustrated with math.  It's really quite tragic.  This is not a race to the top.

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2006
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 2:42pm

Yes, it's all about test scores and we no longer can see the forest for the trees.  

I know an excellent veteran teacher who retired early because she was told she could no longer teach by theme.  She was an award winning educator that did an incredible job educating children using a multitude of experiences across subject matters and it was taken away.  We now have cookie cutter teaching at the expense of creativity and imagination.  I can't imagine what her face would look like today if she was told to read a script.  She left in time before our new transformation into revolutionary teaching.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 10:02pm
Sorry. We used to have a regular poster here, drank tea, lived in Canada. I miss her often quirky wit.

Jabberwocka

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-1999
Sat, 07-28-2012 - 8:43am
Why require teachers to have a Masters degree if all they are going to do is read a script??

It's the McDonaldization of education. Ray Kroch's genius was turning the dinner business into a repeatable process that could be done by the lowest skilled worker. He no longer needed trained cooks. His processes enabled him to hire low paid, unskilled labor to create the same product over and over with the same results in thousands of restaurants across the country.

And we all can taste the difference between the McDonald's hamburger and an individually cooked burger made to order in a nicer restaurant.

So in order to create efficiency, we are sacrificing quality in education. Isn't there a Kurt Vonegut short story about his?
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2006
Sat, 07-28-2012 - 1:29pm

Yes, whenever you hear conversations centered around teachers and degrees it usually is coming from some libertarian think tank because their belief is basically anyone who can raise testing scores can teach.  Of course, they don't talk about other things critical for educating the next generation because it purely centers around teaching to a test which is "skill" based.  Anyone can use a scripted curriculum (with fidelity-meaning not having to think) because many of these libertarian think tanks believe is it is the curriculum that is "teaching" the students and not the teacher (hence:  scripted program).  Rather pathetic and also very telling. Tragically,  it's our entire society that will pay the price. It also goes back to the question about what public education's role is in a society.  Also, another question that should be asked should be "will reading scripted programs teach all children those specific skills during a specific time period with absolute success"?  Naturally, when it suits their need, they will be the first to blame the teacher when a child fails such a scripted approach.  It is paradoxical thinking at its best and this is what teachers are now being assessed on and perhaps a means to be compensated.  Perhaps, the best teachers that can cheat the system will be the winners.  I see lots of proof that teaching to a test has brought out the worse in human behavior around the states in both charter and public schools.  Again, another tragedy which may lead us once again toward moral hazard.

"In a speech at an American Enterprise Institute forum on Wednesday, the secretary of education, Are Duncan, said state and local governments should rethink their policies of giving pay raises to teachers who have master’s degrees because evidence suggests that the degree alone does not improve student achievement. The remark was part of a speech about ways lawmakers can use current budget shortfalls to make public schools more productive. " http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/duncan-rewarding-teachers-for-masters-degrees-is-waste-of-money/28478

Depends what encompasses "student achievement" but that is the big elephant in the room for these people who are now trying to control education policies.

 

Pages