Tag Archives: Public Schools

A $40,000 SUV: the Natural Choice for a Dying District

11 Aug

Sometimes you need to search for the incredulous. Other times, it hits you in the face.

A news article I just stumbled upon could have been found on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Titled “DPS’ chief Roberts defends purchase of $40,000 SUV with district funds,” I doubled checked my news source. Yup. Detroit Free Press. Doubled checked the acronym. Yup. Detroit Public Schools.

The same DPS that is $327 million in debt? The one that’s closing half its schools? And what about that new budget?

Oh, that’s right. When the old guy failed to resolve the $327 million in debt in five years, we (or should I say the Honorable Governor Snyder, who took away Michigan citizens’ voting power)  replaced him with a guy who talks about $40,000 SUV’s as if every man, woman, and infant baby in Detroit could purchase one.

“”I’m driving the heck out of it.”

Haha! You’re a funny man, Roy Roberts!

There she is, Big, Shiny, and Oh-so-necessary.

Roy Roberts and his jocular manner regarding his new purchase with district funds reflects on his ability to act as DPS’ “Emergency Financial Manager.” The lone wolf (dare I use the word?) with ALL THE POWER thanks to Snyder’s new law. Did I mention he’s an ex GM executive? Oh, and his measly contract of one year only allows him a salary of $250,000.

How strange.

For more info on Michigan’s latest snake:

“Roy Roberts New Financial Manager For Detroit Schools”

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A Student, A Person, Not a Number

8 Aug

Woo-hoo for local news! I’m all about it and the most recent is sent to me from my mom via the Escanaba Daily Press (check them, out, they’re alright).

However, the most recent local news is somewhat… depressing. Are we surprised?

“With the state’s unemployment rate stuck in double digits and school districts struggling financially, even experienced teachers are finding themselves out of work. ”

Well, let’s be a downer. As a soon-to-be graduated pre-service teacher, I’m not finding that news particular uplifting. But what media organization reports anything positive? It seems, in the modern world, that positive news is for saps.

Yes, unemployment is up. Yes, teaching jobs are shrinking. But we buck up, we get on. The real alarming news is the following:

“Since peaking at 117,973 in the 2004-05 academic year, the number of public school teachers in Michigan has shrunk by nearly 9 percent, a loss of about 10,000 jobs, according to the Center for Educational Performance and Information. That number tracks the 8 percent drop in public school students, to 1.56 million, that Michigan has seen over the past five years.

Why is the percentage of public school students dropping? Could it be that we’re opening our doors wide open for private education ventures, closing hundreds of districts, and closing networks to the public sector?

Dear Michigan,

Stop telling your citizens and public employees they’re not worth a damn. Fund public schools. Don’t close them. End of story.

Sincerely, Much Love,

A Student, a Person, Not A Number.

Thanks to the Daily Press (and Mom!) for the great article.

Getting Involved: Fixing the Ineffective Classroom

18 May

Heavy Duty.

Baaaaaaaad teachers. The media’s all about it. And as parents, educators, and college students, so are we. There’s much talk about tenure, unions, and how to get the bad teachers out. Michelle Rhee’s firing of roughly 1,000 teachers during her 3 & 1/2 year tenure in D.C. wasn’t exactly popular, further proving how important it is to have strong, research based criteria in determining what constitutes a bad teacher and the legitimacy behind the firing.

There is no doubt that some teachers need to change their tactics or retire from the classroom. Teachers are frustrated with the poor performance of colleagues; after all, who likes to bust ass at her job, performing at a high standard while her co-worker sits in the next cubicle and twiddles her thumbs, receiving the same pay and benefits? Continue reading

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

Wisconsin: The National Uproar and the Rolling Stones

4 Mar

The longer the Wisconsin fiasco is dragged out, the further the issue moves from the heart of education: the kids.

Governor Scott Walker recognizes there needs to be drastic reform to the education system. However, the governor is looking at the issue from a purely financial standpoint: he needs to cut the budget. Those employed in the public school systems also recognize the need for education reform: they work daily under laws and legislatures that are failing to improve public schools. However, both sides are so caught up in their rigorous political agendas that one key element is being forgotten: the kids in the Wisconsin public schools.

Let’s face it: bargaining rights, pension payments, health care, and Scott Walker’s bill have nothing to do with the actual education (i.e. improving the achievement) of Wisconsin’s kids. These components of the great Wisconsin debate have everything to do with the politics of education. We have Republicans and Democrats doing what they always seem to do best: rigidly advocating the agenda, regardless of the cost. 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

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/