Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Demise of Public Education

From time to time during my tenure in public education, I would receive emails or documents on theories or notions about what might be wrong with American education. Each new idea usually was accompanied with the perfect solution for our educational crisis. Each few years seems to hatch a new and bullet-proof plan to fix public education. Most notably, for example, has been the Federal Government's "No Child Left Behind" Project.
Most recently, in response to "No Child Left Behind", I received an email from a good teacher and friend of mine, who shared the "Blueberry Story". Essentially this metaphorical account, unlike industry and businesses akin to ice cream manufacturing plants, stresses that educational institutions cannot send back a bad batch of blueberries. The schools have to take all the kids along with all their limitations, disabilities and dysfunctional family situations. And they have to meet the harsh standards of "No Child Left Behind" with that "batch" of kids. No sending them back.
I responded that I liked the story, but I felt the problems in public education were much worse than just having to work with a diverse group of students with all their problems and distractions. I offered to share my views on American public education if she cared to listen. She emailed back that she would like to hear my take on that. So, the following rant is my spin on what is wrong with our schools today.
The demise of public education has been carefully and systematically orchestrated since WWII by a small group of extremely powerful men who control our government. These individuals are not necessarily those who make our laws, but rather those who, loyal to their own globalist agendas, lurk behind the scenes to bribe, coerce, lobby, and or even threaten our governmental officials in the Senate or House of Representatives. They are backed by trillions of dollars of money, much of it scammed from the American taxpayers through the Federal Reserve Banking System. Their power is enormous and their presence is ubiquitous. Presidents Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Garfield, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all tried to warn us of their ominous and dark presence. In fact, in 1963, President Kennedy announced that he was aware of a secret plot by the world elite to enslave every man, woman, and child in America. And he vowed to expose this plan. He was assassinated a week later in Dallas.
If we have awakened from the stupor of TV, video games and sports, we can clearly see from alternative news outlets, that we are moving steadily towards a world government, the treasonous dream of corrupt elite like David Rockefeller, and cabals like The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, and The Bilderberg Group, which incidentally is meeting in secret, with police protection and under media blackout, this week, (June, 09), in Athens Greece to plan the next phase toward world domination. The swine flu hoax, monetary manipulation of the stock market, forced inoculations, control of the food supply, and other "conspiracies" designed to scare the hell out of the public, cripple the U.S. economy, and render us into third world status are all pieces of their masterful mosaic of world control. Historically, however, the paramount nemesis blocking their globalist plot to enslave mankind has been a Constitutional Republic called the United States of America, the last stronghold of democratic ideals, free speech, and the best educational system in the world. Our nation has served as the beacon for liberty around the planet and a thorn in the side for the forces of tyranny.
Key to the demise of the United States has been a plan to destroy true education of our youth. The "globalist" thugs, originally acting through David Rockefeller and the Department of Education have purposefully attempted to undermine, water down, compromise, and render our educational system second rate though a gradual dumbing down of kids and expectations for once high standards. As a result, kids now learn to work for the "collective whole" instead of individualism. Academic achievement among kids is not valued nearly as much as athletic prowess. In fact, high achievers are now nerds and snobs in the eyes of many of the more accepted mediocre students. Children are taught to get along, be cool, and not question authority. Competition has been reduced to working in groups where the best kid often does the project and all the kids get the same grade. Grading has been gelded for the rising numbers of students with "special needs" who get special treatment and easier tests. Often "special needs" mean they have an attitude or emotional problem, or they are among the increasing numbers of Asperger's children. Many students are on medication, which usually means they have special needs. This adds a tremendous burden on classroom teachers, who must adhere to each student's IEP or 504 Plan, with depleting help from classroom aides due to Federal cuts to education. Discipline has weakened in public schools due to threats of legal suits from parents. The teacher is guilty until proven innocent is now the status quo. This trend, however, has been evolving for 40 years. It is no accident that we are on overload with kids with ADHD, kids with Asperger's Syndrome, Oppositional-Defiant children, or a cadre of other childhood DSM-IV diagnoses, mainly because of the drug companies push for more vaccines, misuse of prescription medication, and the government's effort to fluoridate our water supply. As a result of the dissolving home life, kids turn to gangs, and families become dysfunctional families. Add single parent and broken homes, disenchanted youth who are turned off to education but turned on the 100 channel TV, video games, cell phones, rap music, drugs, and sex, and you have a dream fulfilled for those who seek world domination in the wake of a fallen educational system.
Yet, there is a glimmer of hope from a few who stand against this scheme to undermine education. On November 14, 2008 Ron Paul said in a New York Times interview: "First, the Constitution does not authorize the Department of Education, and the founders never envisioned the federal government dictating those education policies. Second, it is a huge bureaucracy that squanders our money. We send billions of dollars to Washington and get back less than we sent. The money would be much better off left in states and local communities rather than being squandered in Washington. Finally, I think that the smallest level of government possible best performs education. Teachers, parents, and local community leaders should be making decisions about exactly how our children should be taught, not Washington bureaucrats. The Department of Education has given us No Child Left Behind, massive unfunded mandates, indoctrination, and in some cases, forced medication of our children with psychotropic drugs. We should get rid of all of that and get those choices back in the hands of the people." This is a tall order for a country that has been slipping into ignorance for a long time. But, there is always hope in our future if we can awaken our youth to rise up and demand to know the truth about their country.
Yes, the "Blueberry Story" says a lot. We can't ship them back. We have to somehow address the problem, but we first must fight a few more enemies such as denial, ignorance, and apathy - rampant and pervasive. Our world ranking in education certainly is evidence of that. We certainly have a long row to hoe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New York Works Hard to Keep to Keep Education Funded

Though states across the nation have been suffering from budget cuts and loss of funding, New York is doing its best to keep its school art programs alive. In 2009, New York City schools surpassed previous years in arts classes available, and more students enrolled in these classes, according to the Department of Education.
Despite the number of art classes currently offered in New York City schools, the district has dedicated a smaller portion of their budget to art education, reducing the expenditure on the necessary supplies by 63%. The ability to maintain a lively arts program regardless of the budget cuts becomes more necessary every year, as New York can expect almost $200 million dollar cuts in the future, as reported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the annual study of arts education.
New York has fostered pride in their schools by assigning grades to schools in the district that meet expectations, earn positive reviews from students and parents and assign budgets wisely. Grades are based on testimonials from students, parents and teachers and a variety of other elements. The grades are posted on the school's website, and principals are judged according to the success of their school and the efficiency of their work. Mayor Bloomberg approved the controversial rating system, arguing that the ratings maintain credibility.
Despite the growth of the arts programs, more than half of New York principals are claiming budget cuts as an impediment to a more vibrant arts program. Less than half of middle schools meet state standards for arts education and only 8% of elementary schools are reaching expectations. However, this still represents an improvement, as the previous percentage for elementary schools was only 4%.
Budget cuts are growing by the year. There will be a two and a half percent cut his year, and twice as much the next year. Educators and administrators need to fight to keep their programs strong. Some economists have suggested putting aside money for the arts in particular, as the current policy of allowing principals to choose the levels of funding has failed. Many schools ignore their arts program in favor of tested subjects, like English and math.
Reaching across the map, in the last year, more than half of American states have announced that they will be slashing budget allowances for education. Maine has reduced funding per student by approximately $140, as has Florida. Maryland, Massachusetts and Nevada are limiting their gifted and talented student programs, which will stop music education. These states are also expanding their budget cuts this year with even further proposals. Colorado and Idaho are reducing overall funds to public schools, meaning that districts will be cutting funding to arts education.
California, like New York, is looking at huge education cuts in the upcoming year. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed over four billion dollars in educational cuts to a state that has already been limiting funding to its schools. Administrators are expecting the limits on class sizes to be done away with, block scheduling forbidden, and sweeping job losses. Arts programs in Californian schools are as good as forgotten.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Few Words on Educators in Career Transition

Educators are people with Intestinal Fortitude
. They are people with courage and perseverance to stand up in front of a group and speak to them with authority; not everyone can do that. Persistence, too, is a quality that is characteristic of Educators. They learn early in their profession that it is important not give up on people, but instead set clear goals and make every ounce of their energy available to others in order to help them reach those goals. Educators are also extraordinarily perceptive, trained to listen, to be sensitive to the reactions of others, and to gain feedback as to whether or not their message gets through. If the cliché is true that 90% of the problems of most businesses could be solved by better communication, then people with those skills would be in demand ... and they are! You can find them leading programs within businesses and as public relations specialists and "change agents".
Here are some other perspectives on Educators:
Educators are disciplined organizers who must learn early on in their careers to manage their time and that of others, wisely. Although their classroom hours may be structured for them, all that they do in the preparation and creation of new approaches and the monitoring, et al is performed in an unsupervised environment. This means that they have to set the structure themselves, on their own time, and maintain the discipline required to keep at it. Have you ever known an Educator who does not have strong scheduling, planning, time management and administrative skills? Just to be minimally effective requires careful planning as to course content, materials to be used, pace of learning, plus the optimum mix of role playing, testing, lecturing, drill, and more - very similar to project managers in business and industry.
Educators ARE project managers - and good ones too! They HAVE to be in order to get through the day, week and year. They are normally assigned duties beyond the classroom: Parent and teacher meetings; conferences; professional development workshops; associations meetings; coursework; and presiding over one or more student activities. It is left up to them to provide the organizational structure, goals, milestones for progress, and they are the final authority on matters that might be in dispute. At the same time, they have to understand group dynamics, build consensus, and enlist/enroll others to contribute so that they get the most out of the raw enthusiasm and talent that their students can bring to an activity. Too, it is they who see that things get done and the objectives are met, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and minute-by-minute.
If an Educator fails to function well as an expert project manager and leader, the evidence is glaring and staring them in the face. A poor newspaper article, a yearbook that doesn't come out on time, a junior prom that flops, an art show with unfinished projects, an archaeology club with no field trips... lack of results has immediate and harsh consequences. When you think about it, time after time and year after year, Educators as a group do turn in outstanding performances in these many roles they are asked to fill.
Educators are also creative professionals. They continually find new and refreshing ways to present material and make it interesting. They are adept at thinking on their feet, solving problems, taking on new challenges and managing "surprises" such as the audience that looks for inconsistencies in an attempt to trip them up if can - it makes news.
Educators are Public Relations, Communications and Community Affairs professionals as they are regularly involved with group and individual sessions with parents/providers/administrators/unions/board members... Often different aspects of the community are touched by Educators' activities, thus tactful and carefully thought-out communications is a must. This has become especially critical in recent years as schools have been asked to take over more and more of the roles formerly filled by families and the community. For those who are creative and/or thrive on new challenges, it's a jolt of adrenalin every day.
Educators are Counselors and Consultants. They are expected to provide the psychological and emotional support that many of their students AND families require. They also counsel and consult with each other. This requires the qualities of a good listener, advanced communications skills, a person who gets beyond the symptoms to the causes, a perceptive person who is supportive, compassionate and bold ... all these come to the foreground in the Educators who function as counselor and consultant. And finally...
Educators are trainers, motivators and coaches too. They take bodies of information and then design and implement procedures to make sure that audiences (clients, classes, teams) absorb that information. But they do more: They teach people to think for themselves and to develop the skills they need to learn on their own. This creative group of leaders, public relations professionals, program managers and trainers instill a desire in their listeners to take an interest in the subject matter and to work hard at mastering it. When you consider that they do not always have a willing audience, and that the subject matter is not always of the greatest interest to the audience, their motivating feats can be appreciated more fully! They are what's more, the ideal trainer.
Many formal Educators are General Managers who have started and run small businesses during the summer. It makes little difference whether it is a concession stand at the shore, a landscaping or house painting company, part ownership in a local restaurant; a summer camp, a basketball clinic or running tours for students. In any of these businesses, they learn what it means to meet a payroll and what cash flow and generating revenue are all about; and they learn to deal with the pressures involved in making a profit. They understand the importance of systems to control operations, costs and quality, and tat of good customer service ... and "selling" too. They oversee operations, plan direction, serve as spokespersons, train and organize, recruit and motivate, and more. They know how to "act in the moment" and make adjustments when things aren't going as planned. These Educators also understand logistics and supply chain and many other aspects fundamental to running a business. In general, they can do almost anything good managers of successful small to mid-size businesses can do, and accordingly, for all the Educators who have run or helped others run businesses, there are tens of thousands of potential employers, and that include just about every small and medium-sized business in the U.S.
There you have it ... just a few words on Educators! Hopes this helps someone.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Real Effect of Federal Bailout Money on Education

The federal bailout allocated $150 billion for education - a 2-year commitment that should have doubled the current funding for local schools. While it would certainly be too early to notice significant gains in education, as new hirings and new investments would likely occur this summer, one might expect to see, at the very least, a static picture in light of the recent funding boost. But we see the opposite: schools are in a frenzy to keep their doors open, teachers are losing their jobs, and special projects are being eliminated.
So why, then, does the education system seem anything but static if there is so much money being graciously pumped into the system by the federal government? Why have California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Arizona announced profound decreases in education spending, despite receiving education funding relief from the bailout? Many states are following suit. In the midst of the boldest federal commitment to education since World War II, educators are running for the hills instead of celebrating.
The answer is as clear as it is upsetting: local funding for education is gone. The economic crisis has decimated state finances, rendering state budgets for education closer and closer to zero. The result is that the bailout money is unable to bolster education funding, and must be used instead to temporarily stop the bleeding. Pennsylvania's newest budget proposals are the most extreme, calling to replace all local education funding with federal bailout funding. Sadly, however, such proposals should not come as a surprise: local governments have more immediate needs, and any money available will be used to fill those needs. The old education funding is being reallocated to many other state programs that are not getting bailout assistance, including infrastructure initiatives, justice departments, and a myriad of specialty programs.
It's hard to be too upset about this seemingly unjust usage of education bailout money in light of these 'more pressing' needs. The real problem is what is happening to the power structure in American education: as local funding is replaced by federal funding, state governments are conceding control of their education policies to the federal government, a power shift that could strip local schools of their control of curriculum, mapping, and resource allocation. Whether or not such a power shift is desirable is a debate open to talking heads and casual readers alike, but its implications should not be ignored. Are we ready for a more centralized education system? Are we prepared for the federal government to dictate more education policy? Should we be alright with a more far-reaching national bureaucracy involved in our schools? Fire away.