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March, 2013

  1. MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK

    March 26, 2013 by Tunya

     

    GETTING MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK IN PUBLIC EDUCATION

    If it weren’t for financial woes troubling our governments, we wouldn’t be getting so much pressure to reform public education.  So, despite whatever personal hardship we personally experience in economic downturns, we should be thankful that these realities force people to see how efficiently or poorly public money is being spent.

    Reasonable, practical people want hard data, not utopian or self-serving lobbies, to help guide decision-making for the 21st Century.

    It was in 1977 that Nat Hentoff wrote about the US public education system in this story in Social Policy — THE GREATEST CONSUMER FRAUD OF ALL  That was an era of Back to the Basics.

    It was in the 1980’s that New Zealand did an audit of education spending and found that 2/3 of the education dollar never reached the classroom.  They abolished regional school boards and devolved decision-making to school-based management at each school — accountable through their charters (contracts) to central government.

    Economies have their ups and downs and we are again into tough times.

    The education establishment — all the way from teacher training in universities to teacher unions to early childhood lobbyists — is now under the spotlight by governments and researchers.

    The big question is:  How can we get a better bang for the buck in education spending?

    Obviously, the establishment, the BLOB (Bloated Learning Organized Bureaucracy), is doing it’s best to denounce reform efforts.  Here are the unceasing complaints — social justice and equity will be compromised, poverty is the problem, we are underfunded, etc., etc., etc.  Add such labeling as neo-liberalism, privatization, deprofessionalization, and you’ve got the playbook of the educator body.

    Utah research findings by Martineau on the positive effect charter competition has on nearby public school performance is a great piece of good news. Competition and choice can actually have a positive effect on other schools in the pool. A rising tide lifts all boats!

    See — Nearby charter schools boost public school performance, researcher says http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865575865/Nearby-charter-schools-boost-public-school-performance-researcher-says.html

    These charters and other reforms such as Parent Trigger and tuition tax credits for private schools are legislature responses to parents who embrace the UN Declaration of Human Rights Declaration regarding parents right of choice in education.

    The “audit culture” so attacked by those of the BLOB mentality is, unfortunately for the BLOB, the way decisions are informed today.

    Regrettably, the resistance is still strong; the opposition is well-organized and well-oiled.  If there are good models that need adoption, such as the Utah charters or the New Zealand model, they are vigorously attacked.  The tall poppy — the New Zealand high achievement country — because its management model includes a majority of parents on their individual school boards, must be chopped down.  Teacher unions and principals associations don’t like this model.

    Here is speech just given to New Zealand principals by the Labour Party spokesman, Chris Hiskins.  They are the opposition party and against competitive models of delivery. Leading the charge against this 25 year successful model is massive “research” by Cathie Wylie which pushes for replacement of parent involvement by professional collaboration, professionals who know what’s best.  You know the spiel. http://chrishipkins.org.nz/?p=1036

    CONCLUSION

    As a parent involvement advocate for the last 40 years I do not see any sizeable improvement for meaningful involvement coming from the organized public systems.  Therefore, as consumers and biologically-duty-bound humans, parents must stay determined to seek options, which circumvent and exit when an established system becomes oppressive and harmful. 

    Legislators, using audit principles, are seeing the economic benefits of providing for choices for parents. They also recognize the human folly of usurping parental involvement in nature’s most imperative duty — education of the young.

    Freedom is a value unto itself. But in education, freedom it is a precious tool for truth-seeking.  Parents, regardless of any errors they may make, or regardless of poorer academic results that may pertain, will, in the aggregate, yield well-educated, functional citizens.  Citizens who respect freedom.

    Home education is an excellent strategy but not practical for many parents.  Thus, the choice movement advocating for vouchers, charters, tuition-tax credits, etc. should be supported,

     

     


  2. Sticky: 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)

     


  3. Preventing Harm and Educational Malpractice

    March 3, 2013 by Tunya

    Parents have an inbuilt biological instinct to protect their children from harm. When foreseeable physical harm presents itself, it is rather easy to step in — quickly.

    But when the harm may be psychological or academic or some other hidden type it is not easy to foresee ahead of time. Nor is it easy to intervene.

    It is in the education realm that parents need to develop more sophistication and alertness. Harms happen from acts of commission (things done) and from acts of omission (things left undone).

    It’s the things left undone in the education of children that is very troubling. Failure to teach fundamental skills of learning is one serious concern of parents whose children are not achieving according to expectations. Failure to diagnose learning problems that could be remedied is another concern.

    Legal actions are sometimes the last resort of parents who feel a child has been neglected by the school system. The high expectation of parents and taxpaying public alike is that these systems of public schooling have been set up with clearly understood expectations — education of the young in life skills to help prepare them for functional lives.

    When response to presenting educational needs are ignored or inappropriate a legal action may be used to seek remedy. These efforts have been largely unsuccessful because “the system” has been able to argue that some remedies are costly and would inflict financial burdens and would open the “floodgates” of litigation.

    The first such notorious case was the “Peter Doe” effort (1976) in San Fransisco. These were some of the claims:

    – general negligence to provide adequate instruction, guidance, supervision in basic academic skills

    – misrepresentation – falsely representing to Doe’s parents that he was performing at or near grade level

    – breach of statutory duty – not keeping parents accurately informed of educational progress

    – breach of statutory duty – revision of curriculum to meet the needs of individual pupils

    – breach of statutory duty – no pupil should receive a diploma of graduation without meeting minimum standards of proficiency in basic academic skills

    The $1million claim for damages and compensation was denied after many years before the courts.

    Ever since, parents’ rights advocates have been waiting for better results.

    More later about the successful Moore case (2012), the Matthew Effect in learning, bullying prevention mandates, and other legal overtures to move public education systems to greater responsiveness to demonstrated needs.

    Fiat justitia, ruat coelom. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.


  4. Are Teacher Unions A Small Or BIG Part Of The Problem In Education?

    March 1, 2013 by Tunya

    Internationally teacher union actions are plaguing parents and students who choose public schools. Following the stories, we see that much of the agendas, demands and tactics have similarities:

    – smaller class size
    – more pay, more benefits
    – more local control by teachers

    Yes, teacher unions share a lot of information in order to advance their cause which is two fold: 1) more protection and security and benefits for teachers, and 2) more influence in policy decisions, curriculum and social change.

    The first agenda item affects taxpayers as these demands are costly.

    The second is a political role teacher unions have been adopting ever more steadily — that is, changing society in the direction of forced equality or social justice as it’s called.

    Teacher strikes are a problem because they affect families. There are calls by citizens to get their legislatures to enact strike-free guarantees.

    Some people feel that mandatory union membership is unfair — that teachers should be able to get jobs regardless of membership. Right to work laws have been brought forward to respond. Some feel that teachers, as professionals, should belong to associations like doctors and engineers and pay malpractice insurance — not belong to trade unions.

    Because of international teacher union vigilance those jurisdictions, which deviate from the general government monopoly model of public education, hit their radar. Alberta, which offers many choices from which parents choose, is coming under increasing pressure to change. New Zealand, which has adopted school-based management for over 30 years, is attracting strong criticism because parents are actually involved in governing their own schools.

    Whole books — many books — have been written complaining about teacher union abuses. Here are just a few titles:

     – The War Against Hope: How Teachers’ Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education – Rod Paige

     – Schools in Jeopardy, Collective Bargaining in Education – Peter Hennessy

     – The Worm in the Apple, How Teacher Unions are Destroying American Education – Peter Brimelow

     – The Teacher Unions, How They Sabotage Educational Reform and Why – Myron Lieberman