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  1. FREEDOM

    March 17, 2013 by Tunya

    Today freedom has different enemies.

    It must be fought for in different ways.

    It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.

                                                   – John Holt (1923-1985 home education pioneer)

     


  2. starting from scratch — what ?

    December 18, 2014 by Tunya

    Starting From Scratch — Just Another Education Ploy?

    Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, in recent meetings in Missouri regarding Ferguson said he was exploring how education can help improve conditions. This indicates that Washington was getting the message that perhaps school problems might have contributed to the incidents, turmoil and protests.  Not the least of these reports must surely have been this one from Deborah Andrews, which triggered some shame and blame in the highest corridors of power — Blacks locked out of reading  http://www.examiner.com/article/ferguson-facts-all-ignore-blacks-locked-out-of-reading

    Pointed out in her article is the glaring statistic that while 50% of white students read at the proficient/advanced level, only 15% of black students achieve that level.  No need to wait, she says — at least start now with improving the reading levels without having to wait for some inquiry commission to report back in Sept 2015!

    Duncan sees restrictive school zip codes as a problem, wants more  Early Childhood Education (ECE) and wants to start “from scratch” to build better relationships between police and young people.  http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2014/12/17/education-secretary-visits-ferguson/20519791/

    While I see the question of zip codes as a huge problem that displaces parents from making choices for their kids — a consumer issue — I do not see ECE as helpful in its present guise (too loaded in favor of provider benefits). I do think starting from scratch is a good strategy, not just for relationships but also for education as a whole. Now, where did we hear that before?

    Jeb Bush, in a November speech to the 2014 National Summit on Education Reform, said:

    http://dailysignal.com/2014/12/17/jeb-bushs-common-core-problem/

    *** “Even if we don’t all agree on Common Core, there are more important principles for us to agree on. We need to pull together whenever we can. It starts with a basic question: If we were designing our school system from scratch, what would it look like?

    *** I know one thing: We wouldn’t start with more than 13,000 government-run, unionized and politicized monopolies who trap good teachers, administrators and struggling students in a system nobody can escape.

    *** We would be insane if we recreated what we have today.

    *** So let’s think and act like we are starting from scratch.”***

    Briefly put, this is the current school system baggage he wants to leave outside the discussion room:

    √    1) Government-run; 2) Unionized; 3) Monopoly; 4) Politicized schools (GUMP)

    Oops!  It seems Bush forgot the parents who are also trapped in these GUMP schools!

    Left-out parents and consumers need to reclaim education for children. How can we customize for the needs and talents of children without parents involved? How can we be sure any new approach is NOT just another stall to keep the status quo — keeping the self-serving and political producers who through incrementalism and permeation (Fabian socialist methods) have evicted parents from their primary role in education? 

    The most promising development in reclaiming who the proper drivers should be in education is the work behind Education Savings Accounts (ESA) as in Arizona and Florida.  Dare we ask the parents in Ferguson if they would take a 90% education dollar and go shopping for their children’s education?

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/09/these-lucky-parents-get-to-control-their-kids-state-education-money/

    [This essay was published on the Education Consumers Clearinghouse listserve 18 Dec, 2014.]

     


  3. Education Savings Accounts Are “more” fair

    December 16, 2014 by Tunya

     

    [CBC had an item about a new facility — over $28 million to help address some of the needs of autistic students in BC. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/28m-autism-centre-supporting-families-breaks-ground-in-richmond-b-c-1.2874777?cmp=rss  Of course, some people feel this disproportionately favors those close to Richmond and the Lower Mainland.  I though I would introduce the topic of ESAs that would, IMO, be a more fair way to help all those who qualify in that category.]

     

    MORE Education Choices Are Needed For All Children & Families

    Here is Pieceful Solutions School in Arizona designed for autistic students — http://dailysignal.com/2014/12/15/educator-using-savings-account-provide-tailor-made-education-student/

    There’re two stories here: First, a successful school for autistic children — privately run since 2008.

    Second, the financing is mainly done through a scheme in Arizona of public money going directly to parents to choose the educational programs they see fit for their child. 

    The Arizona program, Education Savings Accounts (ESA), has been in place since 2011 and trusts parents will use the money in their accounts wisely.  It helps parents choose and helps enterprising people start needed schools and services.

    And, ESAs allow parents to shop and choose independent, private programs that will cater to their child’s needs and talents.  http://jaypgreene.com/2014/09/04/esa-parents-increase-the-bang-for-the-education-buck/

    And here is a short lesson on why we need more parental choice; and why parents need to actively promote choice for all students — Give Me A Choice

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoP4P7SJgFo

    Florida is the second state in the USA that has recently approved Education Savings Accounts.  Of course, in the overall matter of choice, there are a good number of States that have voucher programs where public money goes to the school of choice, private or public.  And let’s not forget Alberta has had charter schools (public schools without school board or union prescriptions) for 20 years  — http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Alberta_charter_schools

     

    [This is supplementary to the above.  My post to CBC story was posted one day, deleted the next. I checked submissions policy and found I had too many links, so I shortened the story.  By the time I tried again, comments were closed.  So I hunted for the story elsewhere:  Here is it on Global News — http://globalnews.ca/news/1730011/ground-breaking-ceremony-to-be-held-for-a-new-autism-family-centre/   This is my amended post to this media.]

    MORE Education Choices Are Needed For All Children & Families

    Here is Pieceful Solutions School in Arizona designed for autistic students — http://dailysignal.com/2014/12/15/educator-using-savings-account-provide-tailor-made-education-student/

    There’re two stories here: First, a successful school for autistic children — privately run since 2008.

    Second, the financing is mainly done through a scheme in Arizona of public money going directly to parents to choose the educational programs they see fit for their child.  They get 90% of the amount their child would pull if he was in a public school and categorized for special funds.

    The Arizona program, Education Savings Accounts (ESA), has been in place since 2011 and trusts parents will use the money in their accounts wisely.  It helps parents choose and helps enterprising people start needed schools and services.

    In some cases parents can use the funds to customize programs for their child from a wide variety of services, therapies, talent development, etc. — far beyond school or tutoring programs.  Here is another video on ESAs in Arizona —   http://jaypgreene.com/2014/09/04/esa-parents-increase-the-bang-for-the-education-buck/

    This facility in the Lower Mainland for autistic students is a step in the right direction.  But, for families unable to access this resource, or with other developmental issues besides autism, perhaps they can explore through their associations and more lobbying of government how ESAs could be developed so that parents can shop in their local areas for resources or even enable new customized services and education to be created. 

     


  4. Australia & reading wars

    December 13, 2014 by Tunya

    [published in Invisible Serfs Collar on topic — Rejecting Reading to Avoid . . . ]

    Polarization Defines The “Reading Wars”

    It’s a persistent annoyance that educators divide so readily into opposing camps.

    This certainly does not happen in any other field where practitioners call themselves “professional”; Medicine, Engineering, etc. seem to have evolved standard practices, which on the whole govern their behavior with their clients.  Why is Education so different?  Probably, it’s not a real profession?

    At any rate, the Reading Wars are again flaming — this time in Australia.  

    Education was an election issue during the campaign after which a new Coalition government was elected last year, replacing Labor. The National Curriculum was seen by many as having been unduly shaped by Fabianism — an active movement aimed at bringing about socialism through gradualism and permeation.  Julia Gillard, once an Education Minister and then Prime Minister of Australia, was a member of the Fabian Society.   

    The new government launched a Review of the curriculum and produced a Report in August 2014.  Among the headlines were these two:  “Australia to require the phonics method” & “Education minister orders universities to teach phonics or face losing accreditation.”

    It wasn’t long before divisions and cleavages sprang to the  fore from activists within the education field. 

    As one who has long been baffled and exasperated by educator lack of agreement on standard practices and the dumping of methods, which do work, I think a close look at the dynamics as playing out in Australia would be very revealing.  Especially for those of us who see political groups using schools as fronts for their agendas.

    Let’s just look at one example:

    Here is a critique from a prominent teacher educator and a prolific writer of papers and books on Literacy — from a critical theory point of view (ie, leftist) — Direct Instruction is not a solution for Australian schools  http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=439

    Right away the author, Allan Luke, mischaracterizes phonics and direct instruction as “operant conditioning” and “deskilling” of teachers.  It didn’t take long for some commentators to strongly object: 

    –  Having had my mind poisoned against DI during [teacher training] I never considered it until I searched for evidence for what worked with children for whom nothing seemed to work!

    – Direct Instruction does not deskill teachers.

    – . . . mountains of research show DI to be effective when implemented well . . . DI is simply sound instruction.

    – Every year I present lectures to teacher education students and find that they are already indoctrinated with the mantra “constructivism good, direct instruction bad”. When I show them the results of these meta-analyses [Hattie], they are stunned, and they often become angry at having been given an agreed set of truths and commandments against direct instruction.

    – I am sick of DI being labeled as a right-wing conspiracy and watching failing students just getting failure as an education.

    If we could just untangle this enigma — find the real reasons for withholding proven reading methods — then maybe we can get back to teaching children, all children, the basic skills they need for fulfilling educational experiences.

     

     

     

     


  5. Teacher union influence in politics

    December 11, 2014 by Tunya

    [Tom Fletcher, legislative reporter wrote about the dubious value of school boards under influence of teacher unions. http://www.sookenewsmirror.com/opinion/283099621.html   Protest letters cam in from a teacher unionist and trustee, denying this influence.  http://www.surreyleader.com/opinion/letters/284782871.html  I wrote:]

     
     
     
    Teacher Unions In BC Shape Education Politics & Trustee Elections

     

    When Tom Fletcher writes his reports for the Black Press newspapers he does so from a provincial and general perspective. What he says may not ring exactly true in each area the newspaper publishes. What he says about teacher union involvement in trustee elections does generally apply. He says: “This has been going on for so long in B.C. it is seen as normal.”

    One of the worst examples occurred in 2008 when Victoria teacher union actually proceeded to obtain signed pledges in return for financial support. Burnaby teacher union followed suit with a list of 10 pledges they wanted in exchange for their support. Here are some of those “expectations”:

    – work to prevent privatization of education

    – elimination of standardized data collection (FSA)

    – support the Charter for Public Education

    – promote social justice and equity 

    – support teacher professionalism

    – are willing and able to speak out publicly on these issues

    http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2008/10/08/burnaby-teachers-want-a-commitment-updated/

     

     

     

     
     

  6. Frustrated ! Education Behemoth unchecked

    December 2, 2014 by Tunya

    A new reader comes to the blog — Invisible Serfs Collar http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/structuring-minds-and-hearts-to-quietly-gain-power-to-act-directly-on-the-individual-citizen/and is dismayed by the difficult reading. My reply below. She says:  

    "I have never been angrier at someone attempting to write about such an important subject. I will blame you for every child subjected to Common Core and destroyed. If you wrote better, more people would understand what is really happening."

    So Frustrated!

    I see what’s happening.  A client has been directed to the blog for some help on the topic — lurking dangers in 21st Century education, or something like that — whatever. 

    The blog posts may be frustrating because they are part of a long conversation that has been going on for a number of years.  And, some familiarity with the book — Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon — is a plus.

    The client so anxiously and enthusiastically wants to embrace the knowledge.  But, it takes a while to get the substance and significance of the message.

    Granted the writing is nuanced, to put it mildly.  An obsession with all the complexities of a seeming conspiracy and the implications for mankind does not make for easy research.    What is being tracked is a movement that is slick and stealthy — a lot of coded language, backroom planning, coercion, and haste.

     For example, see the title of this book often referred to by Robin — Guided Evolution of Society, Banathy, 2000.  Doesn’t that sound like deliberate manipulation of man’s journey?  Robin goes so far into her probing that she does not just stay on top of current developments. She actually checks the references, credentials and favorite heroes of some of the current leaders who both write and provide “training” workshops in transforming communities and schools.

    For example, one of the scariest “heroes” of some of these leaders is A N Leontiev who wrote texts in the 30s in Russia on the steps to take in transitioning to “socialist, communist society”.  Imagine my alarm when someone in my neck of the woods (Vancouver, Canada) is starting up a service to bring forth community round tables for consensus-building and whose references include academics who participate in studies of Leontiev!

    Yes, it’s frustrating to see no blueprints arising from Robin’s writings.  But through following her revelations I was able to twig on to this “community organizing” coming to my neighborhood!  Will be watching.

    There is much pent-up demand out there for clear and straightforward analysis and especially, for guidance as to WHAT TO DO. 

    JoeJoe:  If you are into school reform, think of the 100s of books along this vein — What’s Wrong With Schools And What To Do About It.  Have any of these done any good?  The main thing they do is cause the system to close ranks even tighter against the reformers and parents.

    Robin unearths so much darkness that it is with some dread, no doubt, that she proceeds.  What is so extraordinarily astonishing is that she still persists in digging away, despite the nasty stuff uncovered.  This is what she says: I try to bring sunlight to the issues.  It’s the best disinfectant I can think of.

    I know it’s frustrating not to see one killer cudgel that will slay the common core monster.  But, it’s disintegrating even now in large part due to terminal internal faults and critiques such as Robin’s.

    Perhaps the best introduction to this conversation is to read all the Reviews in Amazon.com on the book.  I agree:  More clarity is desirable and some have complained about the style but not the content.  If a new, updated issue were to be published with a comprehensive index, I would gladly buy another copy.

    JoeJoe: Please give it a try.  We need more people with eyes-opened-wide!

     


  7. Education system neuters reforms

    November 16, 2014 by Tunya

    [ Yet another effort is made to teach READING to students for success in school.  The saying goes:  Learn to Read by end of Grade Three — then Read to Learn from Grade Four onward. It is a lamentable frustration to parents that this is not a priority for schools in general.,  This post to Society for Quality Education describes the effort and below is my comment.  http://www.societyforqualityeducation.org/index.php/blog/read/reading-intervention-model ]

    BEWARE:  Education System Swallows Reforms

    This essay is NOT to diminish or dampen enthusiasm for this Reading Intervention initiative in Wisconsin.  Good intentions, good people, good funding, however, do not necessarily result in enduring results over the long haul. 

    The Reading Wars have been around a long time.  So has the mortifying knowledge about the Matthew Effect — illiteracy at an early age has a downward spiraling effect on students whose failures compound toward unfulfilled lives and even criminal records. 

    The Reading Wars are political, not pedagogic, and some time in the future — despite tons of books and articles on the topic — the agenda issues will be revealed.  So far there is no definitive answer as to why this feud continues to spoil good education practice.  This RTI (Response to intervention) research project is favoring phonics as the preferred approach.

    As far as the school to prison pipeline this is also addressed by this project whose funding agency stresses the loss to productivity of illiterate citizens.

    Why do I show concern for this project?  Mainly because it is yet another research project — added to the tons of other previous research efforts — that stands to be neutered or absorbed by a performance-averse education system — a system which cares more for its own survival than what’s good for the children.

    I am hoping that written into the plan— in black and white in a prominent place — are the expectations for this program’s survival and succession once the professional consultants leave.  Thanks for the link http://rti.dpi.wi.gov/ but I see no prospects for long-term commitment.

    By way of cautionary tale, I add this story from the book, “Getting Schooled” by Garret Keizer — {quotes and paraphrasing]  *** The author’s wife, a highly trained special needs teacher, was involved in an enthusiastically supported, well-funded, project to build special facilities for treatment, classes, parent programs, service agencies, and offices for specialized personnel. . . . a ‘one-stop shopping for parents in need of broad-spectrum services, a cafeteria, activity rooms, cushioned playground’ . . . volunteers worked around the clock, community involved . . . ‘reporters came to snap the pictures . . . ‘A new day dawned.  It would be a short one.  You can build a school from the ground up, but the directing destiny will always move from the top down.  You can say ‘the kids come first’ till the cows come home, but in practice the kids come fourth behind the administrators, parents and teachers — or fifth, in a dairy economy, behind the cows. Within the space of about three years a new superintendent relocated his office to the building. The social service agencies vanished . . . at least one treatment room was rededicated as a space for obsolete computer equipment . . . ‘the spacious ‘gross motor room’ was commandeered for district-wide principals’ meetings . . . ‘ [few remembered the original project] ***

    Best wishes and Good Luck with your wonderful research study which promises so much good!

     

     


  8. Public Education is “performance-averse”

    November 13, 2014 by Tunya

    [To Jay P Green blog Nov 13 on New Yorker article — Better All The Time: how the “performance revolution” came to athletics – and beyond]

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/10/better-time ]

    Teacher Training Is A Key To Societal Benefits

    It wasn’t the “performance revolution” which produced such enormous benefits for Finland. Nor was it competition from other countries for markets. It was the notorious reputation Finland had for being the suicide capital of the world. The incidence of teen suicides was particularly troubling.

    Deliberate and vastly improved public education was the main approach adopted. Along with augmenting other social services, teacher training became a high priority for longer and more concentrated training. Each graduate was skilled in identifying and addressing special needs. About 25% of students are at one time or other receiving specialized, customized education assistance.

    This New Yorker article — Better All The Time: How “performance revolution” came to athletics – and beyond (Nov 10, 2014) — is really, bottom line, about teacher training. Yes, it’s a long article, with most of the content about athletics, then somewhat about manufacturing, then at the end is the QUESTION. “What are the fields that could have become significantly better over the past forty years and haven’t?”

    The author, James Surowiecki answers: “In one area above all, the failure to improve is especially egregious: education.”

    It’s teacher training where the author would recommend the application of insights gained from the sports and manufacturing fields. The very nature of sports — highly competitive — lends itself to application of skills mastery. Competition, choice and reliability were the leading factors in improvements in consumer goods — cars, TVs, etc. “Lemons, for the most part, have become a thing of the past,” says the author.

    Not mentioned, but certainly known by the readers, is the fact that many legal actions for “wrongful deaths”, for example, were also a stimulus for improvements as well as Nader’s book, “Unsafe at Any Speed.”

    What’s to be done about education? Unfortunately, we have no Nader. The closest we’ve seen was an article by Nat Hentoff, a long-time writer for the Village Voice who wrote: The Greatest Consumer Fraud of All, Social Policy, Nov/Dec 1977. He proposed the usual, obvious, intuitive solution — consumer/client/parent power and suits for damages. Of course, those in the education reform cause know the fierce opposition to that approach. And, we know how the “floodgates” argument has been used to quash malpractice suits.

    Furthermore, the education field has become not just any field of endeavor like sports, manufacturing or medicine but a conduit for political transformation of society. Leaders of this intended transformation in the teacher unions and university teacher training faculties strategically oppose any drift away of their captive consumer audience.

    We are awaiting a Review of Teacher Training in Australia. When a new conservative regime took over from a Labour government two reviews were launched. The one on the Curriculum is now being examined and we’re expecting the second soon.

    Australia is a highly politically polarized nation and feathers are starting to fly. The curriculum review had two controversial commissioners in charge — of course, seen as government messengers. Interesting that Kevin Donnelly, one of the two, had this to say about Australia’s teacher training just two years ago: “Many of the academics involved in teacher training have never been classroom teachers or worked in schools. Many are also committed to a cultural-left, progressive view of education that uncritically celebrates fads like open classrooms, critical literacy and personalized learning . . . students are often indoctrinated with ineffective theories like constructivism . . . much of the theory in teacher education is postmodern, neo-Marxist, politically correct and new-age.”

    http://www.educationviews.org/an-interview-with-kevin-donnelly-how-good-is-teacher-training-in-australia/

    In my opinion, North America will find relevance in both reports.

     


  9. Parents: 3rd Force in Education

    November 8, 2014 by Tunya

    [Society for Quality Education has been posting excerpts from the book, The Teaching Gap, (Stigler, Hiebert) and below is my comment.]

    Parents:  The THIRD FORCE In Education

    Every time some new eye-opener appears that claims some magic bullet to improve teaching, parents will sigh and exclaim:  “Why don’t they just teach?”  They may even say: “ Why, even Johnny asks why he should go to school because the teachers don’t teach!”

    So much is already proven (evidence-based it’s called) about effective learning and teaching it becomes a huge puzzle why there is so much toying in the education industry.  If styles do differ between cultures but the outcome is there — an “educated” student — why does it matter?  The bottom line is that knowledge can be transferred and skills can be developed and positive social behaviors can be acquired — if the expectation is clear and enforced.  By whom?  By the client, the parents who are the primary pivot in this enterprise. 

    For too long, parents have been seen as the “enemy” of the system.  Please, don’t say this is exaggeration! Just Google “parents enemy schools” and you’ll get 1,000s of entries.

    An active third party is actively resisted by the two main forces in education today — the ruling government and the powerful teacher unions.  Even while there may be appearances of disagreement between the two, let’s not for one moment think their behavior is not mutually beneficial.  Each party benefits from labor peace.  It’s the client — the parents and their children — who are left out of meaningful participation.

    The book, Parents and Schools: The 150-Year Struggle for Control in American Education (Cutler) outlines the struggle parents have had, and always ending in their involvement in terms conducive to the system, not the other way around.  Our democratic beliefs say otherwise, but the system contrives to make convenience for itself as the priority. 

    Parents should and must take a stand so that their children benefit from systems paid for by the public purse in the lifetime of their children — not some utopian distant future when all issues tossed at them (poverty, class size, class differences, racism, etc.) are solved.  It’s the here and now that counts for this developing child.  Don’t listen to system proclamations.

    Read:  Liberals, don’t homeschool your kids (wait several generations for the system to get better )http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/homeschooling_and_unschooling_among_liberals_and_progressives_.html

    Some say there are no Parent Rights in Education.  There always have been rights, and we codified them in the 70s — what’s known, what’s good practice.  http://www.parentsteachingparents.net/2014/07/parent-rights-their-childrens-education/

    Go to my site http://www.parentsteachingparents.net/ and Search — parent rights.  Lots of articles.

    Australia has just finished a Review of their education system.  Big priority is improving relations with parents and services for parents.  The suggestion is to provide easy guides to what the curriculum is expected to do at each stage. 

    New Zealand has had 20 years of self-governing schools, with majority of parents on each school board.  This experience in self governance is a transferable skill to the rest of society.  NZ is tops of the chart on the CPI, Corruption Perception Index — that is, LEAST corrupt.

    See the Michigan story I posted in SQE on Ontario small communities.  Here is it that parents, who have homeschooled for 20 years, are now able to have co-operative mutual arrangements with public schools.

    It’s in the air.  Parents want IN in their lifetimes and their children’s lifetimes.


  10. TIME magazine helps expose education issues

    October 26, 2014 by Tunya

    TIME Article May Be The Trigger To Break The EDUCATION LOGJAM !

    We are just getting a little sniff of the STORM coming up.  The Nov 3 issue of TIME has not hit the stands yet. But, already the massive and powerful teacher unions in the US are starting petitions and boycotts against the magazine because of its upcoming cover story — Rotten Apples – It’s Nearly Impossible to Fire A Bad Teacher.

    Teacher unions in Canada are also getting nervous — and social media is abuzz on the topic. 

    I would suggest that long suffering parents and others frustrated by the public education establishment and its many abuses start cluing in to some of the controversies.  This may just be the best gift the public will ever have to shatter the myths and defenses of a system grown sour and harmful to the life chances of so many young students.

    Here are some of the SYSTEM’s excuses and countermeasures:

    – Due process is necessary to protect teachers.

    – Poverty, race, non-English speaking minorities are the reason for poor results.

    – Underfunding is the problem.

    – Weak-kneed principals are the problem:  a bad teacher can be fired easily.

    – Drop your subscription to TIME; refuse TIME in your library; sign the petition. [Kill the messenger!]

    Here is the opportunity for parents and others to ASK QUESTIONS:

    – How have teacher unions grown to be so powerful and obstreperous?

    – How have governments failed and allowed wholesale abuses to proliferate?

    – Why are parents reduced to fund-raising for schools instead of insisting on accountability?

    – How come curriculum is dumbed-down with social promotions and retreat from the basics with no commitment to even ensure learning to read is a priority?

    – How come “social justice” and collaborative competency and other social-emotional efforts are replacing the 3Rs?  Are the public schools really radicalizing students to feel so oppressed that they need to go out and “change the world”?

    – Why is the school system incapable of change?

    http://time.com/3533556/the-war-on-teacher-tenure/?pcd=hp-magmod    Is one in four a rotten apple?

    http://action.aft.org/c/44/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9270   Apology demanded by teacher union because teachers are blamed for problems in schools.

    Here is a challenge:  Use these three terms in a meaningful sentence relating to this school issue: Vergara, Berliner, Scott Walker. 


  11. Can a teacher “UNTEACH” ?

    October 23, 2014 by Tunya

    [The blog — Barking Up the Wrong Tree — published 10 points parents can follow to help make kids "smarter"  — http://time.com/12086/how-to-make-your-kids-smarter-10-steps-backed-by-science/  This was my comment ot our Canadian blog, Society for Quality Education.]

    Can A Teacher Really UNTEACH Reading?   Part I

    Here we have someone whose niche in life seems to be digesting research papers and distilling the conclusions for application to daily living.  This is his introduction:

    “Hi, I'm Eric Barker, the guy behind the blog. Barking Up The Wrong Tree has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine. You can email me here — ebarker@ucla.edu

    Yes, Eric, I’ll email you when I finish my essay and let me tell you at the start:  You sent me on a merry chase — full of anguish and angst. 

    A favorite blog, Society for Quality Education, just featured your “10 things that would make your kids smarter” and I immediately glommed on to #3 — Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read WITH Them.  I read the 7 pg article by the Canadian professors where you concluded that if parents were shown how to read intentionally to stimulate literacy, there would be lasting benefits.  The experiment was with parents of low income and low education and the remarkable benefits did hold for three years after this program ended.

    Simply put, the parents of 3-year olds were given 90 hrs of preparation in reading WITH, not TO their children and included 8 units over 3 mo and included such concepts as importance of play, counting, colors, and making letter-sound matches (decoding & phonological awareness).   Very impressive results, but I did wonder if this knowledge got any further than this 2008 article?  Haven’t heard of any follow-through.  Perhaps, I cynically speculated, that such research is swallowed up by an education system, which self-interestedly withholds information such as this, which would intrude on their turf.

    Then I was reminded of my own experience with my children. I remember so vividly being told NOT TO TEACH my children reading at home because teachers would simply have to UNTEACH and start over from scratch. 

    I think this research, which BTW is appropriately subtitled “Unlocking the Door” should get urgent attention and parents of all socio economic status should be encouraged to gain these literacy preparedness skills to help their children.  I am very concerned about the figures relating to illiteracy and the pipeline to prison correlation. The schools can be doing much more to ensure all students by the end of Grade 3 acquire this fundamental skill. However, there is still to this day this resistance by the teaching profession against using phonics as one method to teach reading, especially to that number of students who do not thrive under the whole language approach. 

    This weekend in British Columbia we are having a two day conference of Primary School Teachers featuring a Whole Language specialist, Regie Routman, as keynote and workshop leader.  775 teachers are attending, yet I see nothing in their program that encourages me that they care about that percentage of students who need the decoding phonological approach to learn to read.  People should really read what Alfie Kohn says about Whole Language and why he favors the “old-fashioned phonics.” http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/reading.htm

    I’ve just read new reports from the US that show that phonics is definitely one strategy to be used.  Here is some information about Oklahoma  http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/03/47/10347.pdf

    From pg 13 we see there is a dedicated READ program (Reading Enhancement and Acceleration Development) which includes “skill development in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension”.

    Perhaps this brilliant Mr. Barker could dig up some research which illuminates why the teaching profession is so politically bound to withhold a teaching strategy that would help a good number of students with their reading acquisition ? 

    Can A Teacher Really UNTEACH Reading?   Part II

    While I’m still in my anguish and angst mode while unearthing disturbing contradictions in our Canadian school system, I note that there is acknowledgement in the US that Literacy is important.  Here is an article from the Core Knowledge organization — New Leaders in Literacy  http://blog.coreknowledge.org/2014/10/22/new-leaders-in-literacy/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheCoreKnowledgeBlog+%28The+Core+Knowledge+Blog%29

    From the Early Learning Primer, October 2014 we read about the importance of Grade 3.

    *** Why third-grade reading proficiency matters

    The period between preschool and third grade is a tipping point in a child’s journey toward lifelong learning. During this time, children have to make a critical transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

    If children do not have proficient reading skills by third grade, their ability to progress through school and meet grade-level expectations diminishes significantly. While all areas of children’s learning and development are critical for school success, the predictive power of a child’s third-grade reading proficiency on high school graduation and dropout rates is startling: 

    –  Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school on time.

    –  Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade and also live in poverty are 13 times less likely to graduate high school on time.

    Society pays a high price for the nearly 1 million teenagers who drop out of high school every year through higher rates of unemployment, lower tax revenues and increased costs to the criminal justice, welfare and healthcare systems.

    MY POINT AGAIN:  Yes, parents should read WITH their children to help acquire literacy awareness.  Don’t listen to teachers who say they will have to UNTEACH.  And, if they’re not being taught reading in school, then, it is highly recommended that tutoring be privately bought otherwise life chances are seriously compromised without proper reading ability. 

    When we had our teacher strike in BC this September and parents were paid $40 a day to seek education elsewhere, many did send their kids to tutoring agencies.  I think that parents who have to buy tutoring for the fundamental skill of reading for their child should be able to charge their school district for a rebate!