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August, 2013

  1. Effective Schools Checklist

    August 23, 2013 by Tunya


    Ron Edmonds of Harvard who put the term “Effective Schools” on the map with his speech “Some Schools Work and more Can” in 1978 said:

    “We can whenever, and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need in order to do this. Whether we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far.”

    EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS CHECKLIST (from the original work of Ron Edmonds, Harvard, 1978)

    ___ 1.  Instructional Leadership — Principal is an effective communicator (with staff, parents, students, school boards), an effective supervisor, & the instructional leader in the school

    ___ 2.  Focused School Mission — General consensus by the school community (staff, parents, students) on goals, priorities, assessment, accountability. The mission statement is published and reviewed regularly.

    ___ 3.  Orderly Environment — Purposeful atmosphere conducive to teaching and learning.

    ___ 4. High Expectations — Demonstrated high expectations not only for all students but also for staff as well. The belief is that students are capable and able to achieve, that teachers are capable and not powerless to make a difference.

    ___ 5.  Mastery of Basic Skills — In particular, basic reading, writing and math skills are emphasized with back-up alternatives available for students with special learning needs.

    ___ 6.  Frequent Monitoring of Results — Means exist to monitor student progress in relationship to instructional objectives (and results can be easily conveyed to parents).

    ___ Means to monitor teacher effectiveness

    ___ A system of monitoring school goals

    ___ 7.  Meaningful Parent Involvement — Parents are kept well-informed re: programs, goals, etc. There is ample opportunity for them to keep in touch with their child’s progress. They are consulted for feedback about the school and when changes are foreseen. Parent-initiated contact with the school is encouraged.

    ___ 8.  Avoidance of Pitfalls — Up-to-date awareness of good educational practice plus retaining currency in the field concerning promising and discredited practices.



  2. Teacher-Parents are hugely advantaged – unfair

    August 19, 2013 by Tunya

    Snarky Educators Who Oppose Parent Rights

    Ironic, isn’t it — that those who belittle parent choice are members of a class that benefits disproportionately from what the public education system offers.

    The special class of people, which benefits most from the offerings of the free public education system, is the insiders in the system — the teachers who are parents with kids in the system.

    Let me jot down some of the unfair advantages and privileges enjoyed by teacher/parents, who as insiders, extract what they need for their children.  Let’s be very mindful that in reality the public school system is a rationed service, with scarce resources, which simply cannot accommodate all the requests made by parents in general.  Here is how teacher/parents work the system — leaving your average parent in the dust!

    1   Teacher/parents know the language, the words, to use.

    2   T/Ps know how to navigate the system:  who to see, what to say, what to ask for.

    3   T/Ps know how to interpret assessments, scores and evaluations and know where their child really stands in grade level and expectations.

    4   If the student is behind in reading, for example, the T/P can make up the deficiency at home or hire a tutor for precisely what is needed.

    5   T/Ps are at an income level where buying extra tutoring is no problem.

    6   If the T/P’s child might be special needs a psychosocial assessment is readily arranged —  contrast with the often two-year waiting period for other parents.

    7   Once such an assessment is made, an IEP (Individual Education Program) is negotiated between school and parent, and here again the T/P is advantaged because of knowledge of the maximum that can be available.

    8   Once the IEP is in place, extra funding and resources are made available.

    9   If a T/P sees there is a poor fit between their child and a teacher it is relatively easy to switch teachers as again, the “insider” language is a bonus — knowing how to explain why the child would be better off in an “unthreatening” way that does not reflect on the other teacher.

    10   T/Ps feel keenly the urgency of child growth and development — he’s a child only once coming this way — and press their case with adeptness and urgency which in other parents would be seen as “pushy” or “helicopter parenting”.

    11   T/Ps are knowledgeable about the legalities of malpractice and can use this as background allusion to further press their case if needed.

    12   T/Ps are conscious of the safeguards that should be in place in cases of bullying, adoption of new untested programs or psychological invasions of privacy and know how to insist on safeguards or know how to exit from questionable practices.

    13   T/Ps know full well what is a healthy and productive learning experience and if all efforts fail know how to ride out a crisis and provide make-up solutions or antidotes at home. 

    14   T/Ps know that they are the client in a school situation when their child is at issue and know the routes, angles and procedures to follow if they meet with resistance instead of responsiveness and are not easily discouraged from pursuing their rights and entitlements.

    15   Frankly, T/Ps fully know parent rights in education and just don’t want them written down for other parents to know.

    So, Parent Trigger is one of the best things that’s happened to government public education in the last 150 years.  One just has to read the book — Parents and Schools: the 150 year struggle for control in American education by William Cutler — to know that any new gains in responsiveness to parents is significant in this field where producer capture rules the roost.

    Parent rights should be there — up front and center for all parents — not just those who have an inside track.  See Parents Rights & Their Children's Education


  3. Exits & Choices Needed When Oppressive “Education” Looms

    August 15, 2013 by Tunya

    Client Exit Really Bothers the Central Planners

    Of course, in free democratic countries, people are not physically compelled — other than in court-ordered situations — to do what is against their will. Oh —I forgot — taxes! Even “compulsory” public schooling can be bypassed by home education or independent school attendance.

    Anyway — about universal public education as a means to change the minds and hearts of people so that they are more compliant and governable — that is a go-ahead in schools adopting 21st Century Learning. (I was dismayed today to find in my local paper a prestigious private school advertising 21st C skills focus.)

    What we are gleaning today about the homogenizing 21st C Learning was foreseen 40 years ago when the “deschooling” issue was being discussed. I was in Mexico and heard Ivan Illich expound on deinstitutionalization and the need to retrieve individual responsibility from “disabling professionals”. He, by the way, was not keen on Paul Erhlich’s book, The Population Bomb (1968), or its predictions, or its coercive solutions.

    Illich called public schools a “false public utility”.

    An early school reformer, John Holt (How Children Fail), attended Illich’s Institute. Undoubtedly, Holt must also have recoiled from Ehrlich’s population solutions as he also deplored America’s authoritarian education. In one of his letters he wrote: “What scares me is the amount of Fascism in people’s spirit. It is the government that so many of our fellow citizens would get if they could that scares me — and I fear we are moving in that direction.” (Free Schools, Free People, Ron Miller, pg 89)

    Holt was one of the few counterculture people of the 70s who went on to develop something concrete and positive from this period. He went on to promote and support home education — the biggest alternative we have yet to organized state education systems of the world.

    However, who knows what lasting value there is to mankind to promote such alternatives? What’s the use? My jaundiced experience is that far too frequently critiques of the system only stimulate the establishment to produce more contrived ways to subvert and to keep seducing their captive audience. Using the cover of “democracy” the state and its hangers-on have become “predatory” as Revel explains in “How Democracies Perish”.

    So glad Robin has brought forward Jean-François Revel. This Revel quote clearly illustrates the dichotomy we are working with: “The inequalities within productive liberal societies are constantly subject to a mixing process and always in flux. In statist, redistributionist societies, the inequalities are frozen in place.”

    I interpret that this way — free liberal societies are dynamic and self-correcting whereas controlled socialist societies are rigid and require an “elite” to control and redistribute. Am I basically right?

    Are there others like Revel who can help us claw out of this self-subversion we are slipping into?

    Even researchers and PhDs are to fall into line. See “It takes a global village to develop the next generation of PhDs”


    [NOTE: The above essay was published as a comment on blog — Invisible Serfs Collar — — a site reviewing 21sr Century Learning and Common Corre Curriculum]