Thanks to Monte Tatom, I am able to share the Twitcast of my presentation to the Administrators PLN at the 2015 ISTE Conference, Beyond TPACK and SAMR: Introducing trudacot to teachers. The video is less than 6 minutes. Happy viewing!
The lives of black Americans are better than they were half a century ago. The humiliation of Whites Only signs are gone. Rates of black poverty have decreased. Black teen-pregnancy rates are at record lows – and the gap between black and white teen-pregnancy rates has shrunk significantly. But such progress rests on a shaky foundation, and fault lines are everywhere. The income gap between black and white households is roughly the same today as it was in 1970. Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, studied children born from 1955 through 1970 and found that 4 percent of whites and 62 percent of blacks across America had been raised in poor neighborhoods. A generation later, the same study showed, virtually nothing had changed. And whereas whites born into affluent neighborhoods tended to remain in affluent neighborhoods, blacks tended to fall out of them.
This is not surprising. Black families, regardless of income, are significantly less wealthy than white families. The Pew Research Center estimates that white households are worth roughly 20 times as much as black households, and that whereas only 15 percent of whites have zero or negative wealth, more than a third of blacks do. Effectively, the black family in America is working without a safety net. When financial calamity strikes – a medical emergency, divorce, job loss – the fall is precipitous.
And just as black families of all incomes remain handicapped by a lack of wealth, so too do they remain handicapped by their restricted choice of neighborhood. Black people with upper-middle-class incomes do not generally live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000. “Blacks and whites inhabit such different neighborhoods,” Sharkey writes, “that it is not possible to compare the economic outcomes of black and white children.”
Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. Now we have half-stepped away from our long centuries of despoilment, promising, “Never again.” But still we are haunted. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.
The high point of the lynching era has passed. But the memories of those robbed of their lives still live on in the lingering effects. Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert past, a delinquent debt that can be made to disappear if only we don’t look.
Be sure to read the whole article at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631
Will Richardson said:
Sure, the CCSS wants to promote and measure critical thinking skills. But the CCSS wants that to happen in the context of contrived situations within an increasingly irrelevant curriculum that most kids don’t care about and will forget as soon as the test is over. Applying those “skills” to the complexities of real life situations doesn’t much transfer if you don’t care about what you’re thinking critically about in the first place.
Give kids the freedom to make “informed decisions” about things they care about, real things in the real world, things that probably aren’t in the standards or on the test, and we’ll get a lot farther down the road to preserving what’s left of this experiment in democracy.
Mike Crowley said:
Teachers are being judged and schools rated based on test and exam results. How many kids are getting into Yale and Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge, we are perpetually asked. I have yet to be asked, how many of your students go to the college that is right for them? … how many are pursuing their passions? … how many are leading happy, fulfilling lives and believe that the curriculum was relevant to their daily, real-world challenges? No, we rarely ask the right questions.
Pernille Ripp said:
I declare myself a reading warrior, and I believe you should as well. No more reading logs to check whether kids are reading. No more levels used to stop children from self-selecting books they actually want to read. No more timed standardized tests to check for comprehension. Being a fast reader does not mean you comprehend more. No more reading projects that have nothing to do with reading. No more reading packets to produce a grade that stops students from talking about books. No more rewards; prizes, stickers, lunches with the principal. We cannot measure a great reader by how many pages a school has read, so stop publishing it. Don’t publish your test scores. Don’t publish your AR levels. Publish instead how many children have fallen in love with a book. How many recommendations have been made from student to student. Publish how many books have needed to be replaced because of worn pages. Publish that, and be proud of the teachers that dare to speak up to protect the very thing we say we hold sacred.
Be a reading warrior, because for too long we have hoped that the decisions being made are always in the best interest of a child when we know at times they are not. No child is helped when we protest in silence, when we protest in the teacher lounge, or in our homes. We have to find the courage to speak up for the very students we serve. We have to practice being brave. We have to allow students to read books that they choose, to give them time to talk about their books rather than fill out a packet, and to allow them to self-monitor how much reading they are doing and then believing them when they tell us their truth. It is time for us to stand up and speak up. It is time to take back our reading instruction and truly make it about what the kids need and not what others tell us that they need.
Today is Dangerously Irrelevant’s 9th birthday. That’s a long time in blogging years (sometimes I feel ancient even though I’m not that old yet). Most of the educators whose amazing voices inspired me in those early days are no longer blogging. A few of us continue to write and, of course, new voices have joined us. And left us.
Over the past nine years I’ve learned some things about blogging specifically and about social media generally. Here are a few random thoughts that strike me this morning…
- The death of the comment. Blog comments used to be the ties that bound us together. It was not uncommon for us early education bloggers to receive dozens – and occasionally hundreds – of comments. That deep, rich discussion was exhilarating and spurred us to think and write even more. Today we’re lucky to get a few tweets. The growth of different writing and sharing outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Medium, tumblr, YouTube, etc.), the overall greater number of voices that have diffused online mindshare, and the rise of both shorter-form feedback mechanisms (likes, tweets, shares) and large, well-funded corporate and/or group blogs all have reduced the on-blog interactivity that many of us individuals used to see. I don’t lament this state of affairs since my work is arguably shared more than ever but I confess that I remain extremely grateful for every comment that I receive and do my best to respond to as many as possible.
- Lack of attribution. My stuff gets ‘stolen’ all the time. I had a dustup last year with a very prominent writer / speaker whom I discovered had used my material almost-verbatim in numerous paid presentations and a published book, including proprietary material for which I had gotten special copyright permission to use. There was no possible way for the use to be accidental since it was clearly modified ‘just enough’ in a few places to be slightly different. We had a few exchanges on the matter and I moved on. On a smaller scale, I see things that I have said or written all over the place, often without attribution or credit. So I was sympathetic to Shelly Sanchez Terrell’s recent post calling out a prominent online educational leader for improper attribution (and Doug Peterson’s excellent concurrence). This individual is fairly notorious for playing fast and loose with attribution so it was good to see the person being called to account. Shelly was kind enough to do it anonymously – even though the person didn’t necessarily deserve it – and I’ve already seen some attempts by this individual to both remedy the specific instance in question as well as be more thoughtful in general. Personally, I decided long ago not to worry too much about this (with the exception noted above), figuring that I had bigger things to worry about than whether a few of my ideas and statements – which I want out there floating around – were properly attributed. That’s a personal decision and I completely understand others’ desire to take a different stance. Hopefully we all will remember the importance of proper attribution and will model for other educators and students this important linchpin of the Internet.
- What’s important. Voice is important. Passion is important. Authenticity is important. Helpfulness is important. Trust is important.
- Kindness. Despite almost a decade in this social media space, I continue to be astounded by the kindnesses that educators extend to each other on a daily basis. Our sharing, our support, our willingness to lend a helpful hand or a critical eye or a sympathetic shoulder… all are commendable. Despite the occasional hiccups and bumps in the road that inevitably occur, our online sharing and connection spaces generally are serving us well. Keep learning from, helping, and encouraging each other!
- Refusal. Numerous educators still refuse to participate in our online, networked communities of practice, even as lurkers. The belief that one can be an adequate educator these days without tapping into the vast resources that are being shared by role-alike peers continues to confound me. A few magazine subscriptions that rarely get read, the occasional conference, and usually-useless professional development sessions are insufficient for the demands of our times. We must do better at getting our refusenik peers on board.
I continue to be grateful daily for this blog. It has opened up uncountable opportunities and I have learned incredible amounts from our dialogues and resource sharing. Thanks for all that you contribute to this online space. Thanks for being loyal readers. And loyal commenters. 😉
My newest article is out. This one is about some general guidelines and principles for school districts to consider as they formulate their social media policies. A segment is below. You can read the full article online or in AASA’s School Administrator magazine.
Consider your tone. Districts everywhere are doing everything they can to put digital tools into the hands of students and staff because of the powerful learning opportunities that they enable. And then they usually create policy documents that hector and admonish youth and educators about all of the things they shouldn’t do. Tone is important. You don’t want to undermine your own efforts.
Consider what policies of empowerment and encouragement might look like versus districts’ typical lists of No’s and Can’ts and Don’ts, particularly if you want to encourage innovative, technology-using educators to work for you instead of someone else.
Don’t be agoraphobic. Humans are inherently social and we make meaning together. Connection to each other and the outside world often is educationally desirable. The learning power that can occur in environments that are “locked down” less tightly is vastly greater than those that filter or block outside experts, communities of interest, or other classrooms.
Imagine that you are a policymaker who is generally anti-government, anti-union, and pro-privatization. Public schools conflict with all of those, don’t they?
So you’ve got a challenge. Citizens and communities generally like and strongly support their schools. Somehow you have to create a narrative over time that erodes citizens’ support for public schools and counters their incredible historical legacies of college and career preparation, citizenship development, cultural socialization, economic opportunity creation, and facilitation of intergenerational income mobility.
Here are some things that you and your like-minded colleagues might try to do:
- underfund schools so that they can’t keep up with operational costs, will struggle to meet educational mandates, and will have to reduce personnel (bonus: fewer union members!)
- maintain claims about ‘fiscal accountability’ and future revenue concerns, even when they require ignoring strong revenue generation and projections
- reduce existing revenue streams in order to bolster claims of fiscal hardship (bonus: less government!)
- employ bait-and-switch funding mechanisms that supplant rather than supplement and/or disappear at the last minute
- ignore legal requirements to timely establish school funding levels that would allow districts to adequately plan and budget
- implement new, supplemental ‘bread and circuses’ initiatives (say, STEM or financial literacy) that distract the general public from the year-to-year erosion of base school funding
- give as little policy attention as possible to the known educational needs of students who live in poverty or don’t speak English as their primary language (and thus struggle academically), even as those student and family populations increase markedly within the state
- deflect the blame for your underfunding of schools by alleging schools’ inefficiency and superintendents’ mismanagement
- frequently change state standards and assessments and/or make them more difficult so that educators and students struggle to keep up and have less chance of hitting the moving targets
- use selective data (say, NAEP scores) to manufacture educational crises that feed your rhetoric of public school failure
- create school grading and ranking schemes that shame struggling schools, demoralize the educators within them, and alarm parents
- implement teacher evaluation schemes that are guaranteed to be unfair, demoralize educators, and confuse the public
- pitch tax credits and private/religious school vouchers or ’scholarships’ (‘money that will follow students in their backpacks’) to the general public as natural recourses to the failures of public schools
- write legislation that expands public school alternatives such as charters or homeschooling, particularly ones that can siphon funds away from public schools
- create double-standard school and educator ‘accountability’ provisions that apply to public schools but not non-public alternatives
- accept policy proposals, money, and political influence from seemingly anyone other than actual educators
- affiliate with anti-public-school organizations (say, ALEC) that will feed you ‘model’ legislation proposals, connect you with successful players and tactics from other states, and provide ongoing encouragement to stay the course
- hold yearly education summits at which educators can only listen passively to carefully-vetted speakers who feed your desired agendas
- publicly dismiss, disparage, intimidate, or try to silence educators, parents, researchers, and others who speak out against your policies
and so on, year-after-year, all under the guises of ’transparency’ and ‘accountability’ and ‘global competitiveness.’ Heck, you might even co-opt the journalists that used to ask tough questions about your educational policymaking (by, say, hiring them).
Here in Iowa? Checkmarks on all fronts, I believe (and we’re not as bad as many other states). There’s an evolving playbook out there, folks, and we’re seeing it being implemented in every state.
More of this to come in the years ahead… Do you care? If so, what will you do about it?
“We gave all this across-the-board money with no accountability and Iowa kind of stagnated while other states put a focus on things that increase their standards that improve their student achievement.” [Governor Branstad] has defended his veto of $55.7 million in one-time funds by saying the solution to improving student performance is not to simply throw money at the problem. He doubled down on that Monday, saying he prefers the state make more targeted investments in high-priority education programs rather than making a blanket allocation of dollars.
This is like telling a poor, unemployed person:
Hey, I know you’re barely getting by and don’t have enough money to live or eat but you’ve been living and eating for years with no appreciable improvement in your life situation. What you really need is some job training. So we’re going to cut back even further on your food and housing assistance in favor of some targeted funding for job training.
Governor Branstad is asking Iowa schools to choose between subsistence or improvement investments when, of course, they need both. Easily understood, but apparently not easily enacted.
How does losing 1,100 teaching positions make Iowa schools ‘best in America’ again? And when did basic, essential funding of schools become ’throwing money’ at them?
Image credit: ISEA
Like Kansas with its poor, Governor Terry Branstad wants Iowa schools to be more accountable for their spending of state dollars. Citing years of ‘across-the-board money with no accountability [while] Iowa kind of stagnated,’ he decided to teach our schools a lesson and took some of their money away so that they will learn how to operate more efficiently under austerity conditions, much like Greece and its European Union creditors. His theory of action is that by reducing school funding, Iowa ‘will become best in America again.’
It’s not that you don’t have enough money due to four historic years of inadequate education funding, it’s that you don’t spend it wisely…
I completely agree. I think we should start cutting the wasteful fat from our incredibly-bloated school budgets immediately. We’re already below the national average when it comes to per pupil funding but that is still too high. We can do better!
Let’s start with those useless administrators and their fat cat salaries. And of course those teachers that 1) hardly do anything, 2) join those damned unions, and 3) have huge salaries and summers off. Your district already is sharing a superintendent with two or three others? You’re already whole grade and/or teacher sharing? Your class sizes already are bulging at the seams? Keep trimming the fat… We can do better!
Next up: art, music… heck, any and all electives. Gone! Don’t you know how poorly Iowa is doing on NAEP reading and math scores? We need to focus, people! Along with our recess cuts, that’s more time that we can allocate toward scripted reading and math lessons and additional drill-and-kill activities. We can do better!
Let’s cut extracurriculars while we’re at it. All sports, all clubs, all leadership opportunities… Why are you angry? Have you already forgotten our quest to be ‘world class?’ Look, Asian students don’t have extracurriculars. After their school day they go to even MORE school, every afternoon, evening, and weekend. That’s whom we’re competing with these days. We can do better!
Now we’re getting closer to some real efficiency. But let’s don’t stop there! Let’s cut Social Studies. What? You think we want an active, engaged citizenry? NO!!! We want sheep who will passively believe whatever we tell them! And of course we’ll cut science classes. We have extracurricular STEM programs that will make up the difference. Plus we don’t really believe in science anyway…
Look, I know this upsets some of you. But it’s a tough road to becoming America’s best again, particularly since we have to face up to Iowa’s dire budget situation. We simply cannot be irresponsible with our taxpayers’ money. Plus we need hundreds of millions of dollars to give to companies so that they can create a dozen or so jobs. The solution to improving school outcomes is not to ‘throw money’ at schools. It’s to grade and rank them! Can we find ways to get rid of those pesky students with special needs? They’re expensive!!!!
[Or we could point the accountability arrow the other direction and hold our elected representatives ‘accountable’ for meeting the clear desires of Iowans for a strong education system and a solid future for our state. What will we choose?]