Archive for October, 2006


School Violence

This just in: George Bush thinks that school violence is a problem. Though the No Child Left Behind Act has certainly contributed to the problem because students are bored with practicing for standardized tests that they never pass in classrooms that are incredibly overcrowded. They deal with bullies that the schools can’t get rid of and teachers that are sometimes underqualified, especially when the No Child Left Behind reading program is largely scripted even though many of the classrooms that need them most don’t have enough books to enable students to follow along. And with all of this, Bush feels that it is the job of the teachers to instill character and moral values (and wedgies) in their students as well.

Not once did he mention the PARENTS, who are not only responsible for their children’s lack of moral values and educational drive in the first place, but who do not notice when their children take weapons to school (or when they are taught to ATTACK intruders rather than run from them). Why would they? Most parents don’t even check their kid’s homework anymore. This is obviously a ploy to win votes for Republicans in the next election, but I really hope it doesn’t work. Teachers don’t need side arms and body armor. They need books, supplies, and students who come to school prepared and ready to learn. But no politician is going to say to the public, “Control your own kids, and education will improve.” Instead they blame school violence, bullying, and underqualified teachers.


Reading First, Learning Last

The Reading First initiative had only one purpose – to improve literacy in our nation’s schools. It’s difficult to believe that the program, which has spread nearly 5 billion dollars over only 1,500 school districts (apparently many of them in Missouri) could have done so little to reach it’s goal. It’s obvious that this program was designed to help friends of the Bush administration make money. A majority of the 4,800 Reading First schools have chosen one of the five or six top-selling commercial textbooks, even though none of them has been evaluated against a control group or proven to be effective.

Reading First (which has not promised scientifically-based reading instruction as promised)was the Golden Child of the NCLB Act, but, as with many other programs led by the Bush administration, it has been riddled with corruption. The program administrators have refused grants to schools not using the pre-approved method, direct instruction, which requires the use of Reading Mastery (by McGraw-Hill) and focuses mostly on phonics rather than the whole language approach. Reading specialists from state to state, by the way, have seen that instruction is MOST effective when it combines the two. Reading materials were to be reviewed by a panel appointed by the government (of course, many of whom where chosen for their pro-direct instruction status), and anyone wanting to use or promote other reading programs was discredited. In fact, two of the programs excluded from the Reading First program (Success For All and Direct Instruction Full Immersion) have the highest effectiveness rating.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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