Admit it Liberals, You Hate (School) Choice

I think it’s really sad that some people only want to fund public education for some kids in only certain public schools, but not other public schools or any other workable educational options.

Why the discrimination people?

My Facebook friend, Nate Spencer says it’s about “money and power. Those other schools don’t tend to be NEA shops. Kids first indeed.”

I keep thinking that “money and power” are becoming old saws of late, Nate. Do you suppose there are other reasons? The “power” part I get… but I think it’s about the overall power that is derived from keeping a monopoly alive so that it feeds the millions of people that feed off of it. Only this monopoly doesn’t make a few greedy capitalist industrialists powerful, but rather several unions, contractors, suppliers, bureaucracies, workers, etc. etc. etc.

The Government Education Complex (read more about it on this blog: The Government Education Complex Defined) is the monopoly that uses taxpayer dollars (money taken by force) to keep itself alive via a political construct called districts. School districts are like mini fiefdoms, that require funding, not directly from the community they serve, but from the state and the federal governments, so that they can perpetuate themselves.

Over a century ago it was decided that taking our money by force through taxation in order to pay for the schooling of other people’s children is a good thing. It has been ingrained in our psyche that only public schooling is something worthwhile, and worthy of paying for with our tax dollars. But unfortunately for the Education Complex, along came a few different models of learning that happen to work better than the old factory school (districts) model and parents are now making choices, rather than abdicating their choice to the one and only government school closest to them. (Or in some cases, a non-local school that the government buses their children to because they determined some diversity quotas must be met.)

NOW… it’s suddenly not the right thing to pay for educating ALL children. NOW we should only pay for the kids who attend DISTRICT public schools. Not just ANY public school. Charters, and other options, you see, threaten the monopoly (and let’s face it.. the unions too; but that’s becoming an old saw as well.)

I guess all I want at this point in the debate is a little intellectual and moral honesty. If you are a Liberal and you believe Public Charter schools are all bad and shouldn’t exist because they are “pulling, stripping, stealing” money away from the district public schools, then pretty-please agree to the following… at least in principle:

1) Public School funding is really about funding “certain” children and not all children. IF you want to choose to go to a public school — ANY SCHOOL — that isn’t unionized or operates in a manner other than in a politically controlled district using master contracts that citizens can’t approve personally, you should have to pay for it yourself, just like all the other “rich” people who pay for private schooling. Your tax dollars can’t go to private schools or non-district schools. It hurts our old district schooling system too much and it hurts the children left in the poorly performing schools when you take your money and children out of the system. These systems must be fixed, no matter what the cost; even if it cheats some children out of a decent education.

2) Yes, yes, yes… I agree that charter schools are really public schools. I’ve been using the “charter schools aren’t public schools” and “charters get to pick and choose their students” lie because it furthers my agenda, which again, is the following: MY district school deserves taxpayer money before OTHER public schools and other educational choices receive money. The end justifies the means.

3) I realize that poor and “at-risk” children also might have parents who want to take advantage of charters or even vouchers. I feel for them. I really do. I’m a Liberal after all. We really really feel for these kids. That said, I have to admit that even though these options might in fact help these poor and disadvantaged students, it might actually hurt MY school district, therefore I can not support even poor and disadvantaged children receiving taxpayer support for THEIR choice to leave their assigned school district. It puts too many other kids at risk. And besides, how can we be sure the parents of poor and at-risk kids know what they’re doing? They can’t possibly know what’s best for their child’s education. They aren’t the professionals.

4) I’m still for choice!! I just have to look out for MY CHOICES first. You know what I mean? Therefore, I will work hard with my political friends and lobbyists in the statehouse, paid for with donations from my union dues, do make sure that all workable educational choice and reform ideas are aborted before they become viable law. I will, though, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, stop blaming Bush and NCLB for all of the problems we have today with our public school districts, especially with the prospect that Obama’s Race to the Top plan will be NCLB on crack!!

SEE!! That wasn’t so hard, was it? You really can be a pro choice Liberal and at the same time, deny ‘certain’ children their right to a good education of their parents’ choice. And people will probably still like you.

Admit these things, my liberal friends, public school district apologists and opponents in playful and philosophical discourse and I bet we can start to have more honest conversations about the future of education reform.

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Learning Burnout? How About Schooling Burnout!

Please welcome my friend and SkippingSchool’s guest columnist, Linda Dobson. You can read more of her great work on homeschooling and learning outside the box of public schooling on her blog: Parent at the Helm.

Is Your Child Fired Up – Or Burned Out – On Learning?

By Linda Dobson

I can’t say why, when, or how it happened, but it did. At some point after compulsory schooling began a mere 150 years or so ago, our society accepted it as perfectly normal and natural: Children hate going to school. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the school culture itself enforces the notion with an unwritten rule that those who are smart and/or enjoy classes are geeks, nerds, or just plain weird.

Then there’s that compulsion feature itself, compounded by No Child Left Behind’s focus on test scores. How often does the situation in learning coach Jennifer’s home play out across the nation?

“Three years ago Bethany couldn’t wait to go to kindergarten,” Jennifer remembers, “and she thrived. But within the first few months of first grade her attitude began to change. At first she just complained that she had to go to school, but by third grade she actively fought it.” Exasperated, Jennifer was unsuccessful trying to talk with Bethany, so she turned to the teacher.

“It happens all the time,” the teacher told Jennifer. “She’s burned out.”
Burned Out on Learning

“How does an eight year-old ‘burn out’?” Jennifer asked.

“There are a variety of contributing factors,” the teacher confided. “For some kids, we move too quickly and they can’t keep up. For others, the opposite is true; they get bored and tune out. Some don’t really wake up until after they’ve been in school for hours, while others get distracted while trying to keep childhood energy in check enough to sit still. Some don’t see a purpose, and still others just plain aren’t interested in what I’m talking about. Try as we might it’s impossible to be all things to all children, and we lose some along the way. For what it’s worth,” the teacher added, “Bethany is extremely bright and creative. That’s how we lost her.”

“Lost her?” exclaims Jennifer. “My baby had months to go in this woman’s classroom and she considered her ‘lost’? I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry in my life, and I vowed then and there to change burned out on learning to fired up at home.”

__________
“By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children’s later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences.”
__________

So what did Jennifer do when she didn’t want to lose any more precious family time together to school-related activities? Especially when she was unable to take complete educational responsibility through homeschooling?
Being Your Child’s Learning Coach Can Help!

In the warmth and comfort of home, she became Bethany’s learning coach. Instead of acting as just another in a long string of teachers, drilling the multiplication tables or quizzing her child on a long list of dates related to the Revolutionary War, Jennifer focused on three elements vital to academic success that aren’t addressed in crowded (or even many uncrowded) classrooms.

• One-on-one attention

• Basic learning skills the child may apply to any area of study

• Educational customization based on learning style, innate intelligences, and interests

Researchers, too, are noticing the results of facilitating learning in lieu of teaching. In 2002, the University of North Florida’s Rebecca A. Marcon reported on a comparison between three diverse preschool models. The first was child-initiated, including lots of free exploration of interests. Next was the academically directed approach, focusing on early curriculum material. The third was a “combination” approach. Marcon writes, “By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children’s later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences.”

From The Learning Coach Approach: Inspire, Encourage, and Guide Your Child Toward Greater Success in School and in Life by Linda Dobson

Read Linda’s companion article: “You Can Help Your Child Learn: The Learning Coach Approach” on her blog: ParentAtTheHelm.com. You can also find her books on Amazon.com.
Linda Dobson and family began their homeschooling journey in 1985. They were having so much fun together that she wanted to share news of this educational approach with as many other families as possible. She co-founded a local homeschooling support group that now offers support and learning activities to a growing membership. She helped found and for the first two years served as coordinator of the New York (State) Home Educators’ Network. Upon creation of the National Home Education Network (NHEN) in 1999 she served as its first public relations advisor as a media contact providing reporters, journalists, and researchers with background information and interviews. She was also Homeschool.com’s early years’ advisor.

Rhode Island School Fires Everyone!

This is what should have started happening years ago under NCLB.

All teachers fired at R.I. school. Will that happen elsewhere?

Nothing much more to say, other than to comment on how dorky one poor teacher’s sign looks:

Rhode Island teachers picket after being sacked. You just don't do that to "family" do you?

“OUR STUDENTS?” Let’s just dispense with the shallow and sometimes scary idea that our children belong to the state? They don’t. Ask any public school student if they think of their teachers as family, and I don’t believe you’ll get answers worth putting on picket signs.

These are union teachers and they’ve been part of this failing school system for years. They have only themselves and their union reps to blame, if THE PEOPLE aren’t happy with their work product.

The union is apparently still trying to make sure they can keep the new school union:

The Obama administration is “pushing the envelope” more than would be traditionally expected by a Democratic administration supported by unions, Mr. Domenech says. But, he adds, there are also efforts under way for state superintendents and union representatives to reach some compromises for revising union contracts to support school improvement.

Four words: I Hope They Fail. It’s interesting that under an unprecedented pile of support from unions (mostly SEIU but certainly the NEA put a few tens of millions into getting Obama elected) the administration is seemingly allowing this sort of thing to happen. What gives?

My theory is that there will be a few more of these massive school reorganizations and just before the majority of the public begins to think they can start doing this to ALL their failing schools, and just before the unions start calling for nation-wide strikes, President Obama will come to the rescue.

Or… not.

Could it be possible that our president WANTS people agitated to the brink of civil unrest? If you read “Rules For Radicals” (the playbook for the Obama administration) then all of this pressure, unrest, and confusion makes perfect sense.

Who Is The Target?

As we see a few more of these mini revolts peek into the news, remember the big picture. Who is the target? Quoting from “Rules For Radicals”:

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’…

“…any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When you ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’

What does this mean? If, ultimately, parents revolting against compulsory state schooling are the targets (And why wouldn’t they be? They are the ones who are not forcing their children to go to school and feeding the schools with tax dollars!) then it seems logical to create situations whereby parents grow more and more agitated. To the point of revolt. THEN is when the target will be frozen. PARENTS will be the “bad guys.”

If a few union teachers lose their jobs in the process of the ultimate goal… so be it.

BbB


Homeschool Truants in the Crosshairs

ILLINOIS, INDIANA, MICHIGAN — The year 2010 is going to be the year of “The Hunted Homeschooler.” Some cities are considering new curfew laws, supposedly to counter truancy, but in practice, they will be used to harass homeschoolers. Some cities are just outright picking targets that they know aren’t really homeschooling, and nailing them. (I wonder how they know that education isn’t going on? Read more for my theory.)

My friend, Sue Ryan at Corn and Oil has been writing about what has been going on in Illinois this month, and combined with what we have been discussing here in Indiana and in Michigan, it almost appears like an all out frontal attack on homeschooling.

We need more regulations!

Homeschoolers are unaccountable!

Parents who didn’t fill out an attendance record are educationally neglecting their children!

Parents are skipping school and ‘saying’ they’re homeschooling!

I’m sure there are more.

Conspiracy? Nah. But while I won’t give it that much credit, I do believe that what is going on of late is a result of the practice I’ve called, “Public School Excommunications, or Ex-schooling.” Public schools, in the desperate need to reduce the dropout rates among students (including those who are not old enough to legally drop out) have found that by encouraging parents to simply “say” they are homeschooling, both the school and the parents can conveniently get rid of a mutual problem.

We can all blame NCLB all we want, but the fact is, no matter what was required of public schools to meet the federal demands, teachers and school officials all across the country did everything they could, to either dumb down the requirements so more kids could ‘appear’ to pass, or they sabotaged their classes to prove the point that the Republican’s plan for school reform wouldn’t work.

Part of the sabotage plan (I would argue) was to indict parents for not holding up to their end of the bargain to educate their children after (school) hours. Stupid kids aren’t the schools fault… it’s the fault of parents who don’t appreciate education the way they should. The battle of who’s schooling whom stays on cruise control until those stupid public schoolers get too hard to handle and control; then it’s time to get rid of the problem.

It’s like a getting out of school free card!

The solution is obvious! The school gets rid of a child that doesn’t want to be there and is likely acting out in disruptive or violent manners (not to mention purposely tanking his or her state mandated tests) by forcing the parent to leave the school in the only legal way possible — they are forced to transfer out of public school to a private school. And since they can’t afford a private school, they are told their only choice is to homeschool.

It’s likely the parent is already frustrated with her child’s behaviors, and double-frustrated with how the school handles and miseducates her child. What concerned (or even neglectful) parent wouldn’t be glad to get out of the cycle of  abuse and punishment inflicted by government schooling on her child?

There are questions that need to be asked of every parent from here on out that is accused of “pretending” they are homeschooling:

  • Did you recently decide to homeschool, or have you been doing it for a long time?
  • Why and when did you decide to leave public school to homeschool?
  • Were you told that you were required to homeschool?
  • Were  you told that if you didn’t, CPS would be called on you?
  • Were you informed of the legal requirements to homeschool, or do you feel you were just tossed out?
  • Did you look for local and statewide resources for help, once you decided to homeschool?
  • Would you have rather gone to another school, if you had a choice?

These are the first questions reporters should be asking when they come across cases like this. But instead, we are going to get more and more articles indicting non-homeschoolers for no other reason than NOT going to a government school.

Therefore, this will be the year of The Hunted Homeschooler.

BbB