Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ed Beat: PBS on Poverty/School Relation; Charter Rebuttals; Zombie Functionalism; Textual Rubbish

Poverty Is The #1 Impediment to Success in School: The socio-economic status of a student's family is by FAR (on orders of magnitude) the largest determinant in the achievement of ANY student on the standardized exams which more and more determine success in school. 

Family SES accounts for just about 65% of the variance in scores on standardized tests. The zip code in which the child lives exerts a more significant effect on performance than does IQ. Poverty is the KEY consideration in evaluating school performance.

So, good on PBS for bringing their powerful spotlight to bear on the problem of poverty in schools and its effects on kids' growth, development, and success.

Watch Poor Kids on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

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Charter Facts Rebut Hype (Via Americans United For The Separation of Church & State): Charter schools in Washington, DC, the ONLY federally mandated system of it's kind in the country, show no better results than "traditional" public schools. Plus, the funds appear to be unaccountable, and many parents are using the funds to send kids to religious (Catholic) schools.
Congress allocated $20 million for the D.C. voucher program for this year, The Post reported, and since 2004 the federal government has set aside $133 million for the program. Students who meet the household income requirements can receive about $8,000 per year for elementary school and around $12,000 per year for high school. And yet, the schools are not accountable to the taxpayers who are forced to fund them. No government official has say over the curriculum, academic quality or management of the schools.
And (just to make shit interesting) the name of former DC schools chief, the feculent and failure-ridden Michelle Rhee, is being bruited as a possible replacement for the detestable (it works both ways!) Arne Duncan, Obombster's asshole, hoops pal, if he steps aside from the DoE post.

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Zombie Functionalism and the Return of Neo-Instrumentality in Education

As If I were NOT going to respond to that title!

Not only is the attack on public education one aimed at destroying teacher unions and the public commons in general, but it is also an attack on what is to be taught in classes, the actual methods of instruction, what students are to be thinking about and the educational theories behind a ‘neo-functionality’ that reduces students to mere depositories of pre-masticated thinking."

The attentive among you may detect echoes of the liberationist pedagogy of Paolo Freire, resonances of Freirean rhetoric and passion, in Danny Weil's prose.
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It's In The Book: Every good teacher will tell you that a dictionary doesn't DEFINE a word, but presents the most common usages. The textbook, like the dictionary, does NOT "define" knowledge, but presents the most common, most agreed upon versions of events and content. High school textbooks SHOULD be read the same way, but they're not.

Folks fight over the contents of books because (it is justifiably assumed) these will be the only guided encounters with these facts that the average student will ever have. So it matters what is included and not included in discussions in the text of significant matters. Connor Friedsdorf of the Atlantic chose to examine
"The American Vision by Professors Joyce Appleby, Alan Brinkley, Albert Broussard, James McPhereson, and Donald Ritchie. It's one of the most popular American history textbooks aimed at eleventh grade students. As I understand it, the 2003 copy I hold in my hands would've been used in a typical classroom for five to eight years. In other words, this is the American history book that shaped a lot of the young people who've recently joined the ranks of adult society, or at least eligible voters."
His general findings from the presentation of "History" in the text:: the threat of terrorism can be eliminated, the Patriot Act was not controversial and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

No, really!
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