27 November 2013

Please Mayor DeBlasio... Please Governor Malloy... Please Governor McAuliffe... Please...

It is time to stop the abuse of children for profit. I cannot say it any more clearly than that.

It is time to stop the abuse of children for profit.

Perhaps, if you are an American political leader, say a President or something, you personally have not walked through enough schools and watched enough children...

...though I suspect that Mayor-in-a-month DeBlasio and Governor Malloy and Governor-in-a-month McAuliffe all have in recent years. And so, if you walk through those halls, you know what we've been doing to children, you know the harm we have been doing to children, over the past 30 years, and especially the last 15, and especially the last five.

We haven't just been making children cry. We haven't just been scaring them. We haven't just been stealing their resources to enrich a few adults. We have been limiting their educations, and thus, their opportunities.

What is the definition of child abuse? I'm not going overboard here to suggest that the policies promoted by ALEC, Pearson, the Gates Foundation, and implemented by Arne Duncan, Mike Bloomber, Jeb Bush, and others do indeed constitute emotional and psychological abuse and denial of equal opportunity.

The testing which has destroyed our schools, and which has crushed the spirit of our children, and which has wrecked, in many cases, our children's love of learning, has no actual validity... it measures nothing of consequence. The imposed, even scripted (in New York City's case), curricula of the Common Core and its relatives, does nothing to build an educated society, but rather, limits the engagement and interest and intellectual diversity of our children. The attacks on those of us who are "different" - especially those of us who are dyslexic and ADHD (I'm looking at you, Common Core advocates and Virginia leaders) - are cruel and in my mind, constitutionally unfair.

Now what should school look like? This isn't rocket science Mr. Mayor, Governors. We know that first, we need to engage learners. Unengaged learners are, definably, not learners. Second, we need to toss our "grade level standards," and every test which goes with them, out the window. Grade level standards are designed - from the very start - to fail children, not help them succeed. They are based in the absurd fiction that all humans learn all things at the same rate. And that fiction is why those who created grade level standards and age-based grades at the start, did so in order to flunk out 80% of children before ninth grade began (five part series).

Ninth Grade English learning plot development

Then we need to Universally Design our schools, so we are assessing - and yes, we are smart enough to assess without bad tests - abilities and capabilities, not disabilities and human differences.

Through contemporary technologies and loads of free software choices (consider just the Freedom Stick Suite, it's free), with One-To-One computer initiatives based in student choice, with contemporary learning space design, and with teacher professional learning aimed at the creation of creative, informed, empathetic professionals. we can - we have proven that we can - develop schools which maximize the potential of every child, and that we can do that without breaking any banks (the savings on Pearson et al will get us half way there, the stopping of worksheet printing will generate the other half of the money we need).

Third Grade Writers

So this is a desperate plea to our leaders. New leaders and continuing leaders. Let's put a stop to more than a century of Industrial Education. Let's stop treating our children as the raw materials ready for the "value added" assembly line which will turn them into identical widgets for jobs which no longer exist. Let's stop assaulting our children with tests which do not help them learn and which do not help us help them learn.

Let us remake education as something humane and holistic. As something inspiring and committed to real human development.

You are leaders, please, lead. Starting right now.

Sixth Grade Writers
"Schools should be factories in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products. . . manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry." - Elwood Cubberley's dissertation 1905, Teachers College, Columbia University

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." - Woodrow Wilson at the University of Virginia, 1905, and in various other addresses

"Richard Allington, a professor of education at the University of Tennessee and one of the country's most recognized experts on early literacy, calls the accommodation [use of Text-To-Speech technology for dyslexic students] "cheating." - EducationWeek
 - Ira Socol

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