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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. Illiteracy Issue — again

    August 28, 2015 by Tunya

    Time To Re-open The Entire Illiteracy Issue — AGAIN

    For those of us who LOVE reading — for pleasure and for knowledge — these are trying times.

    Already, there is an URGENT call from homeschool families who have lost homes due to wildfires.  The call is for donations to help them reestablish their libraries, amongst other help needed.  These are people who depend VERY MUCH on reading for education of their children.

    Sorry, for going off tangent.  I mean to very briefly talk about the significance of Sam Blumenfeld’s long life, and contribution to the field of literacy, and the sadness about his passing.

    Being involved as a “consumer” (parent, citizen, taxpayer) of education for over 45 years, and wondering why “the system” DID NOT WANT the consumer closely involved, my awakening to this frustrating circumstance came from reading Sam’s writings.  He opened my eyes, mind and heart to the underground, the underbelly, of the public education system.  Some revelations:

    1. The public education systems (internationally) are political, with both power and ideology agendas
    2. Economics and the exploitation of the field by vested interests, publishers, professors, etc. is rampant.
    3. Literacy, or the ability to read is not about being functionally literate to make logical sense of the world — NO, literacy has become a tool for people to become CONDITIONALLY literate to be able to change the world to one of social justice and equity.
    4. Etc.

    Of all the reading I have done to try and find the one best source to help break “the code” of this imposed exploitation of the public  — the who, why, how — Blumenfeld’s books are the snappiest, most insightful.  If you can find “New Illiterates and how to keep your child from becoming one” — read it.  In 1973 he had broken “the code” of how “whole-word” got started as a new reading “movement”.  It was always meant to be for DEAF children who could not hear sounds.  But, politically it was adopted as a method for all children, and still plagues us to this day.

    PERHAPS the best starting point is to get his latest book, issued just a few months before his death — Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America's Children. 

    Read the 30 plus reviews first and let’s read this together. 

    Maybe we can wrangle this beast down.  Why do we still talk about one in seven, or one in four, or whatever, of our children being “functionally illiterate”.

    That is unacceptable.  Maybe EXIT from “the system” is really the ONLY way to avoid this issue.  Hence, homeschoolers or Education Savings Accounts so parents can choose the schools they need..  Let’s talk!


  3. Education BIG SHIFT – to consumer side

    August 13, 2015 by Tunya

    Education Ground Shifting — Will It Be Rescue & Salvage OR INNOVATE? *** √ ***

    The big shift as I see it is towards consumer-driven developments in education. AWAY from system needs, priorities, rent-seeking, elite capture, behind closed doors collective bargaining, language changes, subversive behaviors, etc., etc. Flipping the system to favor teacher driven agendas is not going to work in mass education systems. —

    School-based management doesn’t have much interest now. Educator career ladders will only work in a tightly managed mass-production government civil service system. —

    AND, ironic for me to say, these developments toward customer satisfaction have little to do with any real pent-up demand from the consumer (families) NOR any parent movements. I, having worked steadfastly for the parent voice in education decision-making for the last 45 years, can say it’s not due to any of my efforts or that of like-minded advocates. Except, my involvement in home education movement, little else has stuck. (PS: HE, another essay to come, has had significant effect on these new shifts of mind and behavior.) —

    NO, it’s raw economics that’s driving new ideas and new ventures. Not the least of the reasons for Nevada’s near-universal Education Savings Account plan was its state budget problems. To fulfill the constitutional mandate to educate the young the state would have had to build tons more schools and hire many more teachers. Instead, they decide to release state funds (note: federal funds excluded) to parents to seek education where they can find it, and upon satisfactory quarterly reports, will continue to access their accounts.
    Kansas has just signed a waiver bill to keep its public schools running in dire teacher-shortage, but by loosening the teacher credentialing procedures. Non-licensed personnel will be able to operate in areas belonging to the Coalition of Innovative Districts. This is to provide for flexibility in hiring and meeting the needs of students.…/state-board-passes-controversial-lice… —

    The BIG SHIFT is that governments are seeing that constitutionally — they are obliged to ensure education of the young — but that they don’t have to PROVIDE it. —

    To provide, produce,coerce the actual education (schooling) can be seen in TWO elementary radical ways: 1) it’s government indoctrination; or 2) it’s welfare assistance with government workers doing the work.



  4. Education Savings Accounts – ESAs

    August 11, 2015 by Tunya


    Denationalization — THE REASON To Flip The System

    Just received my copy of the book being discussed — Flip The System: changing education from the ground up.  A quick skim tells me there is a FEAR going round — that the education system is itself shifting — and teachers feel their safe haven in public schools is being threatened by “denationalization” ! ! ! !  

    Here is a closing statement from the two authors, Evers and Kneyber:

    “ . . . more and more states are losing the ability to control their education systems — something we can refer to as denationalization.”

    That’s much more accurate than calling what’s happening as “privatization” !

    So true.  Different models of education of the young are being developed and the Education Savings Account is one of the best, in my opinion, coming from a parent and grandparent.  Yes, better than charters, vouchers, magnet schools, etc., etc.  Please do check out this video which I link in this reply I just sent to Jay P Greene’s blog:

    ESAs — Education Watershed

    An hour spent with this video is so worthwhile.  The promise of meeting education needs of children in their lifetime through Education Savings Accounts in parents’ banks is so promising.  Hopefully we in Canada can keep pace with this far-reaching model.

    As policy analysts point out this is the smart phone vs. the rotary phone.

     The watershed analogy is quite correct and the speakers in this video show how this turning point, once established, is irreversible.

    • Unbundling the school system — services, subjects, skill-training need not happen in one building
    • Experimentation, innovation, diversity, leads to a natural evolution
    • Student progress depends on proficiency not compulsory seat time
    • Quarterly reports to monitoring agency checks authenticity of spending before next release of funds
    • Parents themselves start help lines re how-to, choices, and positive/negative reviews of products, services
    • The potential is there to meet disparate and unique needs of a wide variety of young students — special needs, Native Americans, low-performing schools, foster children, ESL, etc.

    Considering the projected financial cost-saving to states, plus superior education results and high parent satisfaction surveys, hopefully, this model will spread quickly.

    [published as above in Facebook, and Educhatter, and 2nd section in Jay P Greene’s blog]



  5. Discovery Math — Students Feel Stupid

    May 27, 2015 by Tunya

    “Math Sense” Makes You Feel Stupid — Oh, The Irony !

    Not just students feel stupid; parents trying to help with homework are made to feel stupid also. Two generations. What’s the game plan?

    Isn’t education supposed to make you feel capable? Not dumbed down? Not feeling stupid?

    And, let’s remember Daisy’s book — Seven Myths about Education — saying that much of 21st Century Learning is really about pushing an ideological bias into schools. These self-appointed 21st C reformers see their methods as a corrective to right wing and elitist culture. Really?

    Who can find the best description of what the New Utopia would look like if 21st C initiatives in Canada and Common Core in the US were fully implemented? What is the vision?

    Nonetheless: Here is a Report that should stop the Discovery Learning in Math in its tracks. See: Decline of Canadian students’ math skills the fault of ‘discovery learning’: C.D. Howe Institute


    – Canada fell out of the top 10 countries for math in 2012.

    – the curriculum balance should be tilted in favour of direct instructional methods, recommending an 80/20 split as a rule of thumb.

    – elementary school teachers in training should be required to take two semester-long courses at university in math with the aim of deepening their grasp of the concepts they will be teaching.

    – Provinces should also consider making elementary teachers-to-be write a test in that same content before they’re licensed.

    The comments are worth reading.

  6. Teacher “training” seriously challenged

    May 18, 2015 by Tunya


    I’m going to go out on a limb, and am open to corrections, but here are my views about a SOURCE of much of the education problems we discuss in Canada.

    1 The problem is with the Deans of Faculties of Education in Canada and their over-arching Manifesto — Accord On Initial Teacher Education

    2 All 50 Faculties of Education in Canada have signed this Accord.

    3 Developed in 2006, this is how the Accord is described in an abstract of an article by Alice Collins and Rob Tierney (then Dean of UBC Ed Faculty):

    The twelve principles advance values and ideals about the teacher as professional, life long learner and social activist; about the power of teaching and learning; about values of respect, inclusion, globalization and diversity; about collaboration with educational and public communities; and about strong content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.

    4 Principle #3 states:

    An effective initial teacher education program encourages teachers to assume a social and political leadership role.

    5 All 50 faculties include in their mandated or suggested reading materials — Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire.

    6 All 50 faculties do NOT teach how to teach phonics — an essential teaching skill in the tool kit of primary teachers.

    7 One in four Canadians is functionally illiterate.

    8 Rob Tierney, after a stint in Australian academe is back at UBC in the Language Division of the faculty. He is decrying the high burnout rate of teachers — 30% leave within 5 years. He suggests social workers “to help build better relationships between the teachers and the community they serve.”

    My Conclusion:

    a) Again — as is customary in a defensive education system — the blame on burn-out or anything else educational is placed on everything except the teaching “profession” itself and its trainers!

    b) There is far too much time spent on theory, philosophy and social activism instead of teaching the essential student learning skills of reading, arithmetic and writing that are the fundamental building blocks toward academic and aptitude development.

    c) There is much that is irrefutably known about good teaching (Hattie, Willingham, Lemov, etc.) that can be applied universally and today (as it is in many independent schools).

    d) What will drive meaningful education reform — presently in the grip of progressive, constructivist philosophy (which is not a science) — is NOT the system reforming itself (impossible) but for consumers, bolstered with choices and funding following the student, to become more informed and assertive of their sovereign rights.

    e) Seriously, urgently, review how 50 teacher training faculties in Canada contribute to or hinder our well-being. Add Myth #8 to Daisy Christodoulou’s Seven Myths About Education — Teacher training prepares teachers for teaching.

    The 7 myths are:

    1. Facts prevent understanding
    2. Teacher-led instruction is passive
    3. The 21st century fundamentally changes everything
    4. You can always just look it up
    5. We should teach transferable skills
    6. Projects and activities are the best way to learn
    7. Teaching knowledge is indoctrination