The GOP Hates Children

The AHCA will be devastating for children, families and the elderly in so many ways. It will make it harder for people like me, who have pre-existing conditions to get healthcare. It will kick millions- that’s millions of Americans off their insurance, including children.

But that’s not all.

The AHCA also cuts over 800 billion in funding for Medicaid- that’s more than a 25% cut. It would also impose a “per-capita cap” on funding for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly — a dramatic change that would result in the reduction of a myriad of services- including special education.

On average, school districts get more than 4 million dollars from Medicaid for special education services annually. Without this funding- all the services that help students with disabilities- from physical therapy, to occupational therapy to counseling could disappear for millions of children. At my Title 1 school, almost 20% of students  receive Special Ed services.  They NEED these services in order to learn and become independent, successful adults. This is not something extra. (Unlike Mar a-Lago visits- THOSE are extra)

So not only are Republicans destroying healthcare for 24 million Americans just so they can claim a legislative “win,” but also, they’re drastically shrinking services for the most vulnerable children in our schools.

And the GOP wants to massively slash taxes for corporations while cutting services for MY students?

You’ve got to be kidding me. 2018 started yesterday.

Education advocates, teachers, administrators and parents should ALL be up in arms about this bill. I don’t care who you voted for. This bill hurts ALL of our children.

Rise up.

 

 

 

Notes from the “Uncounted Underground”

“Ask a teacher how they feel — any teacher, every teacher. At first, the responses might shock or surprise you, may even sadden you, and will hopefully lead to outrage.”

This is a must read:   “Uncounted Underground of Teachers” , from Valerie Strauss at the  Washington Post. Teachers are outraged, but the vast majority are afraid to speak up.

This is why I write, and also why I write anonymously. I am afraid too. The climate in education today is not one that encourages dissent.

I know almost all of the teachers at my school share my frustration and heartbreak with each new mandate. We also share a deep love of children and profound joy in those rare moments when we ditch the script and real teaching and learning happens.

Teaching is a political act- we are shaping minds, hearts and the future. The values we communicate matter, and when we’re forced to test and punish, to follow a script, and value data and compliance above all else our work has far reaching political and social implications.

But not only are people afraid to speak up, they don’t have time or energy. Teaching is all consuming, you eat, sleep, dream your kids and their crises.  There are days when I don’t sit down once from 7 am to 6 pm. But with ESSA and a ruthless reform movement, if teachers don’t speak up soon we won’t be teachers for much longer.

 

Personalized Education is a Scam

Personalized education is code for students sitting in front of computers programmed according to their level in math, reading etc. This kind of “education” is great for tech companies, but research shows it is not so great for kids.

My experience proves the same: all my “high achieving students” spend their weekends at museums, parks and zoos, in art classes or building structures at home. All the kids that spend their time on a DS, computer or staring at the tv are the ones with delayed language development, non-existent problem solving skills and poor self control. My main goal every day is to level the playing field with lots of messy, hands on, interactive learning experiences and an emphasis on interpersonal skills.

Learning is a social process and relationships between students and teachers are the basis for all real learning.  Children learn by doing- with their bodies, their senses, their voices and with each other. This is not my opinion, it is proven by decades of research.

Computers are fine and can be a useful tool for skill building, research and  creating student materials. Pencils are also useful for learning, but no one is saying that they can fix everything missing in education.  There should be computers in classrooms, but they can never replace teachers and can never replace the social, active and sensory experiences that constitute real learning.

I’m glad I have a computer in my classroom, but if I had to choose I’d take scissors, glue, and construction paper any day.

http://dianeravitch.net/2015/12/12/leonie-haimson-did-mark-zuckerberg-make-another-mistake/

ESSA and Teacher Training: Disturbing Indeed

It makes no sense that in the midst of a national obsession with teacher quality and “accountability” the new ESSA law makes it easier to become a teacher.

From the Washington Post: ” Provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs such as those funded by venture philanthropists.”

Apparently, accountability and teacher quality are only important when you want to bust up the teacher’s union and fire all those lazy tenured types. But when it comes to who we certify in the first place, we revert to the idea that anyone can be a teacher as long as we hand them the right script. However, any real educator knows that teaching is an art and it takes years of reflection and experience to refine your practice.  If we actually cared about students succeeding, we would make sure only qualified teachers made it in to classrooms.

I know people who “graduated” from TFA , Relay and Teacher U, some of the non-profit charter indoctrination camps that pass for teacher training these days. Every single one said that their “training” was useless. Some refer to it as brainwashing. And guess what, many of those people are not teaching any more.

If reformers actually cared about teacher quality and all students succeeding they would mandate that every teacher get a masters degree from an accredited institution with a balance of theory and practice, including at least a year of student teaching or other experience in the field.

Imagine if the government decided that doctors don’t have to go to 4 years of medical school anymore to practice.  Instead a bunch of venture capitalists can put them through unregulated, non-university programs for 6 months and then send them out to heal the masses. People would be outraged, as we should be. Moreover, white upper class people would make sure they were treated by the real doctors.

The white privileged elites in private schools and in demand public schools will always have qualified teachers from Bank Street, or Harvard or Teacher’s college. It is and will continue to be the low income students of color who are being taught by unqualified, brainwashed 23 year olds who will inevitably leave the profession after a few years.

Every student will not succeed until as a nation we learn to respect teachers as professionals, not technicians. Qualified and empowered teachers make for qualified and empowered students. Until we realize that, no amount of legislation will undo the damage done by Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/23/gates-foundation-put-millions-of-dollars-into-new-education-focus-teacher-preparation/