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    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. Public Education is an Absurdity — what parents need to know

    November 15, 2015 by Tunya


    [ ABSURDITY — illogicality, ridiculousness, nonsense, folly, stupidity, foolishness, silliness, idiocy, irrationality, incongruity, meaninglessness, anomaly, daftness, senselessness, ludicrousness, unreasonableness, joke, preposterousness, farcicality, counter productivity, craziness ]

    Finally, after 50 years in the pits of education reform, I’m writing a book (I think). Always wondering what title or theme would be best. Today, it kind of came together. This video of a recent graduate of our North American high schools is significant. Demands for free college, forgiveness of student loan debt and $15 hr wage for campus workers . . . makes one wonder just what public schooling/college is hatching.

    Combine this presentation with a growing interest in home education and we can see where an impatience is growing about the dubious legacy we are leaving future generations. Costly absurdities — economic, psychological and psychic illogicalities — are becoming intolerable.

    Eventually, with helpful input, I hope to get 101 absurdities. Today, I’ll note just 5 to start:

    1 Of course, the foremost absurdity is thinking that parents can do something about our public schools. We’re supposed to have local control. But, we all know “the system” has it’s own agendas and is not very responsive to parents and the needs of children. See my list of books that promise parent effectiveness in school matters —

    2 Compulsory attendance at public schools as state mandate is under increasing dispute. Yes, private schools are an option, but for many it is not economically feasible. The titles of two recent books are telling: “International Perspectives on Home Education – Do We Still Need Schools?”, and “Education Without Schools”. See a review of the second book here: Note chapter five comment — how a “conversion” from institutional schooling provided a parent tremendous relief and “an eureka moment”.

    3 Experimentation is always open season with no restraints or protocols in public schools. Why, even the education literature has much to say about public schools being vulnerable to a “lunatic fringe”. This is something about which a whole book can be written, but just go to Google Scholar and put in the term “lunatic fringe progressive education”.

    4 21st Century Learning is the latest fad to enter school systems. Here is one recent video that captures the absurdity of Modern Educayshun — (Read the publisher’s comment about his intent and how this production has struck a chord all over the world. If this is happening everywhere, is it any wonder that Education Savings Accounts is an appealing alternative? More on ESAs later.)

    5 It is heartbreaking to hear teachers say how much they like children, like to teach, and how they see their work as “a calling”. Yet, because of the progressive ideology that has been embedded in most of the systems teachers willingly persist, or submit to coercion, to avoid teaching all children to read by proven methods (phonetically). Especially where there is proof of causality: The school to prison pipeline shows that at least half of prisoners lack proficiency in reading. This is willful harm. Professional teachers need to commit, sincerely and with training, to the principle: “First, do no harm.”


    [pubnlished on SQE, 20151115]

  3. nothing you can do to “fix” schools

    November 14, 2015 by Tunya

    What YOU Can Do To Fix Education — NOTHING !

    Magically, by reading a book, you will be able to help your child in school. Or so you’re told.

    Have you, as parent, been able to really, really help your child? Few have. Most haven’t.

    Here are just 13 books that promise much:

    1. Why Johnny Can’t Read, and what you can do about it, Rudolf Flesch, 1955
    2. The Literacy Hoax, the decline of reading, writing, and learning in the public schools and what we can do about it, Paul Copperman, 1980
    3. How To Fix What’s Wrong With our Schools — A Toolkit for Concerned Parents, Bertha Davis, Dorothy Arnof, 1983
    4. School’s Out, The catastrophe in public education and what we can do about it, Andrew Nikiforuk, 1993
    5. Beyond the Classroom – Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do, Laurence Steinberg, 1996
    6. Why Our Children Can't Read and What We Can Do About It, Diane McGuiness, 1998
    7. How to Get the Right Education For Your Child, Malkin Dare, 1998
    8. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It, Kelly Gallagher, 2009
    9. Stop Beating the Dead Horse, Why the System of public education in the United States has Failed and What to do About it, Julie L. Casey, 2010
    10. What's Wrong with Our Schools: and How We Can Fix Them, Michael Zwaagstra, 2010
    11. Betrayed, how the education establishment has betrayed America and what you can do about it, Laurie H Rogers, 2010
    12. Teacher Proof: Why research in education doesn't always mean what it claims, and what you can do about it, Tom Bennett, Jul 12, 2013
    13. Raising Kids who READ, What Parents and Teachers Can do, Daniel T Willingham, 2015

  4. Flight From Education Accountability

    November 2, 2015 by Tunya

    Flight From Education Accountability

    Teacher unions are the “protection racket” grown up to shield the public school trade from judgment.

    Politicians and governments fail to use their powers for reform in favor of retaining the “status quo” — continued political funding from unions, “labor peace”, etc

    The media does stories — it’s not their habit in modern times to expose glaring incongruities.

    There is no other human service — medical, pharmaceutical, police, fire fighting, etc. — that is so evasive of accountability or “best practices”. Bad outcomes are not tolerated as they are in schooling. It is only education that is such a “Swiss cheese”, attracting experiments, fads and ideological programs.

    Why, even the supreme chief for international education standards, Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skill for PISA (Program for International Assessment) seems to have been cornered into a state of obvious appeasement to the anti-testing, anti- accountability crowd. See — “Schooling Redesigned”, OECD, Oct 22, 2015, where he argues that those who seek “robust scientific evidence” for new proposed directions will not be favored with any examples of “’proven’ or ‘best’ practices” (pg 5).

    The best hope is not to expect any of the culprits above to change but for consumers to themselves flee the system. Either home educate, where parents overwhelmingly use proven phonics reading programs, or choose a private school.

    Hopefully, in your child’s lifetime a new funding program called Education Savings Accounts (ESA) will arrive wherein parents get an account set up by the Education Ministry by which to choose services. Look up Nevada ESA. —What I Saw in the Schools, Sol Stern, 2 Oct 2015 ]

  5. Judgement harsher of teachers – James 3:1

    October 30, 2015 by Tunya

    Educators Dodging The Judgment Of James 3:1

    “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – James 3:1, Bible NIV

    In social media I have seen the occasional teacher mention that they are aware of the extra expectation of teachers — that judgment is justifiably harsher in this field than in any other. Yes, whether they mention James 3:1 or not, nonetheless, these few seem to be keenly aware of the extra responsibility as they deal with impressionable young minds.

    As I observe education trends internationally I see a decided move by education systems to inch away from accountability. As we head into more of the imposed 21st Century Learning “transformations” — involving such biggies as OECD, UNESCO, Common Core, OISE, etc. — we see the replacement of hard statistics with narratives, checklists and other subjective reports. This is to accommodate the shift away from hard skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic and knowledge to soft competencies as collaboration, creativity, etc. Is this shift away from accountability measures a consequence of James 3:1?

    One major way to sidestep accountability is sabotage. This has just been gloriously demonstrated in Ontario by timely organized teacher strikes that prevent some districts from doing standardized tests and certainly averting the calculation of a provincial score.

    The Windsor-Essex Catholic District Bd already has a math task force set up stemming from past concerns. The local newspaper reports: “ . . . the task force will look beyond the system and the country for examples of best practices.”

    Now, here is a hitch. The latest manifesto from the OECD — “Schooling Redesigned — Toward Innovative Learning Systems” — clearly states that this is “ . . . not a compendium of ‘best practices’.” And Andreas Schleicher himself, Director for Education and Skills responsible for PISA reports, an international benchmark setter for student achievement, says: “Some will call for a robust scientific evidence base . . . [but this report] avoids references to ‘proven’ or ‘best’ practices . . .”

    Furthermore, in the literature plugging this report is a testimonial from TUAC — Trade Union Advisory Committee to OECD, an interface for trade unions with OECD — “Teacher unions are, can and should be at the centre of creating the conditions for innovation.”

    Now, how do I feel about all this? After a half century of trying to be a good biological parent, and now grandparent, and after being told, interminably, that parents and the education system are two sides of the same coin, what can I say? Totally frustrated!

    I will simply ask: Why does the flipped coin always land with the producers on top and the consumers face down? Where is the justice for parents and their children in this equation? The only hopeful sign is to work for more options so that there is some relief and escape from such totalitarianism and accountability avoidance.

  6. beware! — community schools

    October 29, 2015 by Tunya

    How NICE WORDS Disarm Us 

    John Dewey in his march to transform education (and the world) in a collectivist direction used “democracy” as a convenient cover. His first book in this category, Democracy and Education (1916), was hugely popular in the English-speaking world and in the countries he visited, Russia and China. 

    “Democracy” was this nice, unthreatening concept that could lean in a number of directions and still remain the clarion call for reforms. In fact, Clarence Carson in his book “The Fateful Turn: from Individualism to Collectivism” shows how Dewey used the word “democracy” 30 different ways! 

    “Community” is another such nice, comforting word. And of course, it expands into “communitarian”, which is the term covering these devolution moves to community-based decision-making. 

    The movement for expanding community schools should be examined with sharp eyes. Sounding nice and comprehensive and even practical community schools could very well be a trap to further separate parents from their children and their responsibilities and duties to them. See: “Obama’s ‘Community Schools’ Aim to Replace Parents” 

    Just announced that Madison, WI will start implementing 'community schools' next fall.