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Destroy the Free Will! or Hitler’s Take on Education

19 Sep

I think everyone who reads my blog knows by now that I am anti the national education movement. I do not believe in national standards, federal control, or politicians (businessmen?) who have little to no experience in the field telling us how to run our states and classrooms.

Ahem.

I am going to share with you, dear readers, yet another interesting find in the national education movement – this one has to do with Nazism.

“… the new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will in the soil which it undertakes to cultivate, and produces on the contrary strict necessity in the decisions of the will…”

That line is a direct quote from Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation. Fichte is suggesting a new order of education because the old order is just not working (hmmm, sound familar?). The old order of education sought to “at most only exhort to good order and morality” (i.e. teach the kids what is a good, moral choice and allow them to make the choice). Fichte suggests crushing free will – note that he uses the word “destroy” – and replacing it with strict necessity in the decisions of the will.

Fichte. Maybe he got used. Or maybe he was a crappy philosopher.

Fichte was promoting Nationalism in the face of foreign invasion (the Napoleonic Wars), so the circumstances were a bit different. However, extremism is still extremism, and I can’t find myself agreeing with a modern nationally controlled education system. Fichte goes on:

“…(as) national education is concerned, we are firmly convinced that, especially among the working classes, it cannot be either begun, continued, or ended in the parents’ house, nor, indeed, without complete separation of the children from them.”

Oh, is that because working class people are too stupid to let their children be properly educated? They would probably teach their children the awful values that accompany a working-class life. Damn those hard-working, inadequately compensated working class parents. Damn you.

Hitler capitalized on nationalistic writing to form organizations like the Hitler Youth. Currently, businesses may be capitalizing on schools’ failures to meet AYP (No Child Left Behind – arbitrary federal law?) to make profits. School is not a business.

While America is not yet tearing children from their parents and educating them in private institutions, I must ask We the People to consider the consequences of moving toward a rigorous national curriculum in collaboration with privatizing education. The function of today’s schools is to help the growth of the individual, to make students conscientious thinkers, and above all, appreciate free will by the ability to make intelligent decisions (i.e. SMART consumerism! Responsible usership!). Schools and teachers want kids to do amazing, incredible things and to pursue their dreams successfully; support your local, public schools. Help reform them – vote. Get involved. Support learning for all students; public schools offer this gift.

Know what you’re buying BEFORE you buy it. Canned curriculum, federal standards, privatization of schools, and teachers without rights just may not be the trick to fixing education.

Activism takes root early – keep your voice! Make it heard!

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Rick Perry, You Go Back To Class

9 Aug

Translation: “Stop profiting with our education. Our dreams don’t belong to you.”

I just heard about the protests in Chile. Guess what SECONDARY students are protesting?

You got it. Privatized education that was instituted in 1973 under the REIGN OF A DICTATOR. Hmmmm…..

Read the article HERE.

Photos courtesy of this cool site.

Ricky Ticky, you better listen up! Thanks for the love, Chile.

Fast Moves with Fast Cash: the New Cure-All for Education!

3 May

Just don't read the small print.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pairing up with the Pearson Foundation to fund a new curriculum for schools! Yee-haw!

The project will develop a comprehensive, 24 course curriculum in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The curriculum will, of course, follow the Common Core Standards and include digital resources, tools for professional development, and (get ready for this!) pre-fabricated assessments. How wonderful!

Of course, only 4 of the 24 courses developed will be offered for free. Continue reading

The Sweet, Sweet, Unrelenting Cowardice of Politics

7 Apr

Ah, Michigan. You swell and break my heart.

The Detroit Public Schools system is officially undergoing reconstruction. Called the “DPS Renaissance 2012 Plan” (It must be because we’re returning to a “Golden Age” in education), the plan will affect 45 schools. The ideal, according to Robert Bobb, the city’s emergency financial manager for DPS, is to see all 45 of those schools converted to charters. However, Bobb notes that if only five or six schools convert, the plan would be a success.

Detroit, since 2005, has seen a rapid decrease in population and has in turn, has closed 130 schools. This leaves us with 142 open, underfunded, overpopulated, overstretched schools. Robert Bobb is right. Something needs to be done.

Yet here enters a popular controversial education debate: the rise of charter schools. The topic is called a controversy for a reason – the public, the pundits, and the politicians have NOT found common ground on the issue.

Perhaps the biggest issue surrounding charter schools is the fact they use monies from public education funds to support a for-profit business. Continue reading

Social Reform in Education: the Skinny on Race to the Top

27 Feb

Race to the Top. These words have infiltrated the news, our schools, the president’s speeches, and created controversy across America. In homes, high schools, universities, and political sessions, Race to the Top is a hot topic. Scalding hot.

As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund was established to help improve public charters, high schools, and universities. Let’s consider the numbers of the fund for just a moment.

The total monies of the fund amounted to $53.6 BILLION. Out of the $53.6 BILLION, roughly $48 billion of the money was given to state governors. The remaining $5 billion was allocated for what the public knows as “Race to the Top”. Enter the controversy. Continue reading

Gainful Employment, Pell, Federal Regulations We Should Have, and Federal Regulations We Don’t

20 Feb

Yesterday, the House added an amendment to a bill that blocked efforts to regulate for-profit college programs. The big debate stems from the right to “gainful employment” in higher for-profit education. What is “gainful employment?”

Gainful employment is the promise to a student who has attended an accredited university program that the training received at the university will adequately prepare to student to enter the workforce (i.e. the promise of competitive job opportunity so the student can pay off thousands of dollars of debt).

Because federal funds are used to supply students with grants to attend colleges, for-profit or not, some citizens and officials are concerned that many for-profit colleges draw out the training programs or offer bunk programs to attract students to the school in order to receive funds. The concern is what happens to students once they leave these programs; are they actually qualified for the workforce?

The regulations on for-profit colleges regarding gainful employment aim to reduce waste and abuse in the for-profit education system. Some of the regulations include requiring colleges to disclose factual graduation and job placement rates of each eligible program (an eligible program can receive federal funding), ensure that only eligible students receive federal funds, prevent misrepresentation of programs by college recruiters, and require states to enforce existing laws that obligate the states to approve and monitor post-secondary programs that receive federal aid.

Here is a link comprising a summary of regulations on for-profit colleges regarding gainful employment (and 13 other issues) as proposed by the Department of Education: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-track-implement-gainful-employment-regulations-new-schedule-provides-

Those opposing the regulations claim that putting regulations on for-profit college programs will prevent students from receiving federal funds, and therefore prevent certain sects of people from the right to better job opportunities (i.e. a degree).  However, those supporting the regulations state that the regulations will do the opposite by protecting students from fraudulent programs that leave college graduates unqualified and sacked with debt. This all has to do with the taxpayers money. How are federal funds being spent?

To me, it seems logical that anyone receiving government funds should face certain regulations. The government is not only giving money away in the forms of grants, but also offering federal loans: federal loans are not grants. To protect taxpayers, there should be certain requirements to receive federal grants. These requirements should be regulated. To protect students, college programs should be clean, efficient, and prepare the student for the workforce in a timely manner; this way, the student isn’t loaded down with thousands of dollars of debt with no way of procuring a job.

However, there is an aspect to the federal funding of colleges that is more ridiculous than all the politics involved with this single issue.

The Pell Grant. What a wonderful, wonderful thing. Pell Grants provide multitudes of students who normally would never have the opportunity to attend college to receive degrees that provide better jobs, better incomes, and better quality of living. Pell is a laudable effort to improve the socioeconomic status’ of low income students everywhere. However, there is one problem with Pell.

Under current guidelines, undergraduate students working toward their first-time Bachelor’s degree can receive the Pell grant for 16 full semesters as long as they meet the income and program requirements. This is EIGHT years of undergraduate college. Eight. I completed my bachelor’s in three and one-half years. Allowing students to receive federal funds for eight years to complete one degree is absolutely ridiculous.

If the government wants to cut the budget (in addition to protecting taxpayers and students), perhaps we should restrict Pell Grants to five years of funding, or perhaps even six for the struggling student. Students can receive up to $5,000 per semester with a Pell Grant.  If each student were receiving maximum funding and the government reduced the years of funding from eight to five (and for the sake of numbers, we are assuming each student receiving a grant continues schooling for eight years), this would be a savings of $30,000 per student. Considering that most colleges boast that the majority of enrolled students receive federal aid, we could imagine a reduction in the budget deficit. Or who knows. Maybe not.

A good article on gainful employment from the Huffington Post:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11050/1126585-84.stm

Info on Pell:

http://www.bmcc.cuny.edu/finaid/grants/pell.html#16

http://www.westminstercollege.edu/financial_aid_undergraduate/index.cfm?parent=4210&detail=7018

Privatization and Commercialization of America’s schools; it’s a damn good thing Michael J. Connelly is not a Beelzebub

15 Feb

It must have been a future CEO who first looked at the public education system and thought, “There’s a way to make money here, I can feel it…”

The privatization and commercialization of education to create a profit generating system is ludicrous. It is now a fact that children in public schools are being targeted while in school by marketing companies to increase corporate and school revenue. In addition, “both educators and corporate managers are attending conferences to learn how to increase revenue from in-school marketing for their schools and companies” (Spring 211). Not only are children being targeted for physical advertisements, but they are also being persuaded to offer personal information so advertising companies can tailor their product to individual students. It is unclear if students are being guided by educators; however, it is fact that “students in classrooms are being offered incentives to enter personal data – names, addresses, information on personal habits – which will then be sold to advertisers” (Spring 211). This is a huge problem; it is a form of exploitation of our youth; for advertising companies and most especially school systems to target youth while they are attending a mandatory public institution leaves the students no choice as to the solicitations to which they are exposed. We are bombarding our youth with image and money; this is what we are teaching them, and we are selling them short.

The privatization of schools to create for profit systems is another large scale problem. The union report perhaps says it best: “Education is not simply another economic good or service. The learning of a nation’s children is of concern to the entire nation. And while business can and should play a role in education, communities and the school boards that represent them must retain control over the future of America’s public schools “ (Spring 204). Education cannot be reduced to a consumer good; this takes the focus off the education of the students and places money at the heart of the matter. When profit is the primary concern, consumers are bound to lose. If we consider the idea of a school system as a business, education as the output (product), money the mover, and student the consumers, just as corporations take shortcuts in production and regulation, so would the students find their education replete with cheap substitutions and gaping holes. When it comes to corporate style business, what is less expensive wins, and it is at this cost that the consumer often loses.

On the other side of the debate, however, we have the words of Michael  J. Connelly, chief executive officer of Mosaica Education (a major for-profit education company): “There are people who don’t believe there is role for private business in public education. And for those people, we are going to get the word out that we are not Beelzebubs. This is not a satanic plot to destroy public education” (Spring 203). This is very strong speech for one who feels he is not guilty of anything but enterprise. To use the biblical words of “Beelzebub” and “satanic” creates a strong emotion in the reader, and leaves an immediate impression. His speech is too caustic and focused on the defense of Mosaica to convince the reader that the company places education at the forefront of their mission. It would seem, almost, that Mr. Connelly’s largest concern is defending the profit made with private education, and not proving how private education can benefit students and community.

The final issue I’d like to touch upon involves private education companies and the No Child Left Behind Act. In accordance with NCLB, failing schools must be completely restructured. Any state can choose to establish a working relationship with a for profit private education company to provide education services under NCLB. This essentially means “that profits earned (by private companies)… will come from the federal government” (Spring 206). In 1992, the states of Massachusetts and Colorado took a step further and passed “’charter school’ laws that permit states and school systems to award contracts to… private contractors” (Spring 206). This is a huge problem. Whether or not the average taxpayer agrees with for profit charter schooling, our tax dollars will be going to private education companies’ bottom lines. This means that private companies are essentially allowed to make a profit off government money, our tax dollars.

The privatization and commercialization of public schools is a topic to keep at the peak of the education debate. The quality of the education of our future generations depends upon good decisions being made at the political level. It’s a damn good thing Michael J. Connelly is no Beelzebub, or America might have something to worry about.

Source: American Education, Joel Spring, Thirteenth Ed.

More Information on Mosaica:

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2010/04/mosaica-education-inc-and-lack-of.html#comment-form

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-based-companys-plans-437390.html

http://mosaicaeducation.com/