Allen. With regards to your question, what are the reasons for the basic failure of education today, there are several.
Recently I have put a few of my comments on my website detailing my thoughts on these matters as well as spending five hours last week with a senior editor from Time Magazine from New York. He asked me practically the same type of questions that you asked.
The number one and foremost reason is that the ivy tower elites, the educrates have taken the educational control away from the teacher and given it to those that he teaches, the students.
The second reason is the ridiculousness of our education college’s where they constantly teach that every child is an individual and then give every new teacher a stylus book and tell them to teach according to the calendar. You must teach such and such on such and such a day in such and such a way.
Third, we have taken the “privilege of failure” away from our students. In today’s educational soup everybody must pass. Nobody can fail. As you and I know some of the greatest life lessons that a person learns is through failure.
Allen, Keep the faith. I think we will prevail even though our nation is in a very precarious time.
From Matt S. 11/21/09
Russ, my neighbor mentioned you blog to me and I had to write to thank you. One of my favorite memories of Dearborn High School is walking into the office to speak to an administrator about some now forgotten issue. Seeing all the administrators scramper to hide in their offices. God forbid they should have to talk with a parent. Then hearing this big booming voice "Welcome to Dearborn High School how are you today?" My twin boys (class of 2006)were not your students (our loss) and my girls got to DHS after you retired (class of 2010 and 2012)but you greeted me like an old friend and made me feel welcome. Thank you!
Dearest Administrators, Teachers, and Media,
How do we teach our students to be critical thinkers and lifelong learners if as educators we only present one side of a controversial issue? On Monday, November 17, 2009, Fordson High School students were asked to write a letter to their state rep addressing funding cuts. They were instructed to “…[draft] a letter to our state legislators and Governor Granholm asking them to restore public funding”. They were also provided envelopes to send them in and addresses of their state representatives.
Students were not asked to analyze the current funding crisis, propose funding solutions, or identify and refute an opposing viewpoint- all of which is required on the Michigan Merit Exam Essay. Our students’ inability to recognize an opposing viewpoint is one of our greatest challenges. Instead of encouraging higher level critical thinking, our students were instructed to take only one position and write a 5 paragraph essay on only that viewpoint. We are directed to teach numeracy yet not a single budget figure was provided for analysis. Furthermore, the prewriting persuasive writing planner asking students to identify an opposing viewpoint would have simply confused the students because opposing or alternate viewpoints were not even mentioned in the prompt.
Contrary to popular opinion, many of our students will end up being Republicans who favor minimal government intervention and are fiscal as well as social conservatives. After completing budget and ideology tests, many of our students’ identify as a Republican or Centrist, not as a Democrat. Some students might be in favor of a voucher system so they could more easily afford tuition at any local private school. This is an increasingly popular thought in light of Fordson’s regressive Adequate Yearly Progress Status. Others may demand the state government to fix the budget crisis by any means necessary, especially after witnessing budget mayhem at the Federal level.
Some students who identify as Independents are usually in favor of a very responsive government, one that fixes fiscal problems as they arise instead of after they are created. They are in favor of an arbitrary approach, one that circumvents bipartisan gridlock.
Fordson High School will never accomplish the goals of creating lifetime learners and critical thinkers through manipulative, one-sided, liberal biased activities. Pushing personal and political agendas may be popular, but as a preferred method of instruction, it is definitely not right. Widespread lack of voter participation is due to a lack of information and choice. By not providing relevant information and encouraging opposing and divergent thought, our school system severely hurts future voter participation through one sided politically biased activities.
- A Concerned Fordson Teacher
Over the years I’ve watched our government, universities, and educational bureaucracies put out test after test with the idea to improve the standing of American students. Well let me tell you, it’s not working!
Educational bureaucracies keep dumbing down the tests so that the student’s scores look better and better for all of the people who are involved in education. Therefore, they can nod and say, “Look we are doing such a good job teaching.” Well, my response to that is phooey. They are not doing a good job.
Education needs a total overhaul in this country starting by giving power back to the classroom teacher and less power to the bureaucratic wonks working in Michigan and Washington D.C. Educrats only seem to be interested in making more work for the teachers and creating more forms for teachers to fill out. So there is less and less learning time between the teacher and the student. Let teachers teach their subjects the way they want to teach it. And even let them fail a kid when that kid is screwing up.
Let teachers teach and then we’ll find out whether a teacher is good or bad.
If teachers are doing a good job then give them a raise and when they fail fire them.
So if you want to play the test and mark game then let everybody have a shot at marking one another. Therefore, maybe we should think not only of giving marks to the students, but to school administrators and the educational bureaucrats in Michigan and Washington, And while we are at it we might even want to give grades to the parents. Yes, parents. How about that?
Please, let’s all wake up to the absurdity of all of these silly tests that are only being given to prove that some PhD has found a topic for their PhD dissertation. By the way PhD stands for Piled higher and Deeper.
Wake up America! American Education is failing!
Today I had an experience of a lifetime. On TED, ideas worth spreading, I heard Sir Ken Robinson speak about education. Dr. Sir Robinson believes that schools kill creativity. I could not agree more with what he had to say. What an exhilarating exciting speech this man makes.
The only other person in education who has moved me as deeply as Sir Ken Robinson was the author A.S. Neill who wrote a book called “Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing”, which effected my 45 years of teaching. Thank goodness for Sir Ken Robinson and Mr. A.S. Neill. There is still hope for education.
Please take the time and view this video.
June 29, 2009
The Honorable Governor Jennifer Granholm
Via Fax (517) 335-6863.
Good Afternoon, Governor Granholm,
If our children will inherit our legacy, then, we should do all that we can to insure that the legacy they inherit is better than we inherited from our parents.
The current economic crisis is not the making of the State of Michigan government. The economic crisis can be traced back to 1999 when the federal government loosened the criteria for home financing.
Our schools, like any business are faced with a myriad of laws and regulations that have to be implemented. Failure to implement these laws and regulations can have significant impact on the bottom line of the school district’s balance sheet. Dearborn is a leader in education initiatives and reform in servicing a diversified and needy student population.
Your predecessor, Governor Engler, set into motion the way the state funds schools. This funding scheme has been devastating to schools across the state. Over the last 8 years, my employer, Dearborn Public Schools has cut over 36 million dollars, laid off non instructional personnel and diminished the level of services that we can provide.
We expected the reduction in our per pupil state aid. So Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education has cut 11 million dollars in budget cuts for 2009-2010.
We have just been notified that there will be an additional cut of 7.8 million dollars. This represents 1,980,000 in State Aid by cutting $110 per pupil ($480,000 more than was figured) $5,800,000 in category 31A at risk monies and $1,600,000 in funding for the district’s Grant Start Readiness Program (GSRP)
This will virtually bring many of our Strategic Plan initiatives to a stand still. There will be catastrophic eliminations to programs and staff. With these additional cutbacks our district will need to eliminate programs and staff totaling $18,880,000 before the fall of 2009.
Letter to Governor Granholm
School Aid Cuts
June 29, 2009
We are the only district in the State of Michigan to receive such a disproportional amount in state aid cuts. We are already contribute approximately $15,000,000 of our tax dollars back to the state. Please consider the devastating impact that the loss of 20(j) and 31(a) funding will have on Dearborn Public Schools. At a minimum, Dearborn will layoff more than 200 additional teaching positions and severely curtail programs for our at risk students that will have significant long term on the level of social services provided by other state entities. Also, Dearborn will fall into bankruptcy because the school district can’t keep up with all the employee costs.
Leadership in good times is demanding. Leadership in bad times proves character.
Please reconsider these further cuts in funding sources for Dearborn Public Schools.
While the war in Iraq moves towards a conclusion and the war in Afghanistan becomes the main front on the War on Terrorism, thousands of enlisted military veterans from Michigan are looking for a college to enroll in and complete their degree.
Despite the opportunity for Michigan colleges and communities to take advantage of local service members coming back home with huge GI benefits, many of our best PUBLIC Universities are turning those service members away and making it clear their college credits are NOT welcome!
The University of Michigan Ann Arbor & Dearborn campuses, Michigan State University and Henry Ford Community College all refuse to participate in the Service member Opportunity College program. SOC helps service members, who frequently deploy without any notice to defend our freedom, keep the college credits they earn online or through CLEP tests while serving all over the world. SOC also gets the Universities to accept nationally recognized college credits that military service members earn through the course of specialized military training which is relevant to their degree.
Certainly, with tough economic times like these, communities like ours in Dearborn could use a "boost." The $86,000 for tuition, books and fees that the GI bill now provides, as well as the cost-of-living allowances that pump money into local businesses and real estate, all add up to a lot of money that COULD be coming into our community.
So the question is: Why aren't we doing it?
Please, call your state senators and congressmen and ask them why the universities YOU PAY FOR with YOUR tax dollars aren't supporting our troops. Enough is enough!
Good news! It seems that Pope Benedict XVI is recognizing the legitimacy of the Muslim religion. Two of the many great religions of this planet, the Christian and the Muslim worlds are being visited by the Pope. Realize that immigration is spreading the influence of the Islamic world.
Saying that, take a look at this video and understand that not all Muslims are terrorists and there is a peaceful side to the spread of Islam just as there is a peaceful side to Christianity.
Years and years ago, far - far away I was a video production teacher in Dearborn, Michigan and I asked why our students were not entering state and national science fairs.
Three of my students said, well we'd like to. So being the dumb teacher that I am, or was, I said lets try it. They went on and won different national and international science fairs.
Three boys you will see in this video are now college graduates, but their project lingers on. Take a look at this video and see what American kids are capable of if only we can give them an opportunity.
If you would like to read more info about this topic then you should get an interesting book called”The Hunt for Zero Point,” by Nick Cook.
russ gibb retired, but still proud of my students.
Video Courtesy of WDIV-TV Detroit