Tuesday, May 5, 2015



                                                                  By "Gutsy Teacher" Dawn Hoagland

American public education is open to everyone--Ideally it develops the unique potential of each child...

Education "reform" is encouraging the proliferation of charter schools which are known for rejecting some students. Privatization has resulted in schools that are not open to everyone. They judge. They skim. They select. They have zero tolerance. They are not forgiving.

This is a slippery slope that will halt the growth that we have experienced in this country so far. America was founded on the idea that every individual is created in the image of God and has intrinsic value. Special needs children are embraced by God but rejected by charter schools.

The Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…"

It is this concept of mankind that recognizes individuality and freedom. Who has the right to judge a small child in terms of potential, or future abilities, or value to school and community? We no longer give tests. Tests determine academic achievement. Now we assess students. Assessments assign value. Who defines value? Some bureaucrat in Washington? Frightening!

People reflect God by being creative in some way. There is no generic creativity. You have to be creative in something. To discover what that something might be for each individual should be one purpose of education. Schools should offer children exposure to different disciplines, including specific vocabulary, tools, and instructions. Curtailing art and music programs to make more time for English and Math is silly.

Who on earth decided that it would be a great idea to stop treating students and teachers as unique individuals? Outcomes based education, which is what the Common Core is, requires teachers to teach the same aligned curriculum so that students can answer test questions to prove that they have met the standards.

So-called education of this sort does not consist of learning lessons from history, discovering truth and beauty or exploring one’s unique talents and motivations. Let’s call it what it is: indoctrination and suppression of individuality. Reformers aim to homogenize people so that they can think and act the same way.
People are not the same. There are so many variations of abilities, motivations, aptitudes, levels of effort, and natural inclinations. Why do we want to suppress all of that wonderful diversity and potential? For efficiency?

We had been doing a relatively good job of developing potentials for many years despite the efforts of the change agents. It was the obsession with testing and federal mandates brought in by No Child Left Behind that delivered the fatal blow to our schools.

The automated workplace and digital recordkeeping have eliminated many U.S. jobs. It is up to our children to invent their own future by using their imaginations and creativity. They need to develop that entrepreneurial spirit that will help them create something useful to do for themselves and mankind. Standardized tests don’t identify or encourage imagination or creativity.

Surveillance, forced compliance and data collection are the tools of dictators. Common Core has brought these things into our schools. Get them out! Those things crush creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit.
China has a homogeneous population. There are no Steve Jobs in China. Professor Yong Zhao, author of World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, suggests that just statistically, since China has four times the population of the U.S., it should have produced four Steve Jobs by now. Where are they?

Professor Zhao thinks the creative Chinese babies have been suppressed by the communist regime. However, China has great test takers. For decades, they beat U.S. students every year on the PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment) and the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.)

All of a sudden this fact that has existed for decades has become a "Sputnik moment" for President Obama. It has become a "wake up call" for Arne Duncan. It has become a national security issue for Joel Klein at the Council on Foreign Relations. Actually America is an anomaly.

U.S. students perform poorly on PISA tests but have loads of confidence. The U.S. is the most prosperous nation on earth. PISA is a dumb test that doesn’t correlate with success or prosperity. High PISA scores actually correlate with lack of confidence, lack of enjoyment and mediocrity. Reformers want to bring PISA to every state. Can’t we learn from China? No innovation. No patents. Just great PISA scores. Who cares?

In The Wall Street Journal, Jiang Xueqin, the deputy principal of Peking University High School, lamented that high PISA scores were the result of sacrificing independence, curiosity, and individuality. China does not celebrate its high scores. The Chinese people know they are meaningless.

Meanwhile American education reformers are trying to emulate Shanghai. Marc Tucker is president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. His latest book is Surpassing Shanghai. How silly is he?

The Common Core is an indoctrination program that crushes a student’s creativity and eliminates a teacher’s professional autonomy. It is a system suited for a communist country, not a constitutional republic established by men who feared God and had respect for humanity.

Stop the education bills in congress right now. They will bring congressional authority to Obama’s illegal Executive Orders that have sanctioned the surveillance and data mining of our children. Stop expanding charter schools. No taxation without representation. No way ESEA!

Restore professional autonomy to teachers. Give control of public education policy back to our locally elected school boards. Throw out the Common Core. Dismantle the cradle to the grave data collection system. End this national nightmare now. Nothing good can come of it.

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