Friday, September 10, 2010

And the beat goes on . . .

We are gearing up for another year of school.  Binders, folders, spirals, pencils, rulers, hole punch, lunch box, water bottle, and zip stick.  While these are the "things" we need.  There is very little talk of what we want.

I hope that we want an educated populous who can question ideas,  beliefs, and values.  I want my child to understand that going to a public school means that he should be expected to learn, engage, dialogue, question, experiment--all in the 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, 9 of 12 months of the year.  I also want him to find friends who will have his back, practice his violin, and discover something new that rocks his world.

There is so much chatter about teachers, placements, homework, and standards.  Yes, we need to come to a common agreement about what children should learn, and when, but when standards drive the creativity and experimentation that used to exist in the classroom, we have completely lost what it means to learn something.

Working together, deconstructing knowledge, making mistakes, and risk-taking are completely absent in the current public school model.  Yet, when was the last time you learned something new, didn't make a mistake, explained it in written form, and then judged by what you knew?

Unfortunately the teachers are represented by a union whose model is grossly out of date and lacks any creative young energy (sorry Harvey) when advocating about compromise, concessions, and compliance.

We have a district who grossly overpays their top administrators and steals the life and dedication to educate from their teachers, custodians, resource teachers, school nurses and psychologists.

I live in a city that builds "vanity schools" which carry the names of "important" people, or schools that can be written up by some educational researcher about a model that was started by some overworked teacher, or schools whose budgets are decimated because the 1000+ kids in South Central--who have at least one parent in the jail system--can't get counseling when they bring used syringes to school to play with on the yard.

My child is fortunate, I am his advocate in all aspects of his education.  I speak English, I am informed, and I am knowledgeable about the public school system.  I have had the extreme pleasure of working with caring and exceptionally talented teachers and administrators on his behalf.

But what about the countless other children who attend the same public school district whose parents are not native English speakers, or who work 12-15 hours a day--seven days a week, or the parent with a physical or mental illness, or just the parent who has given up?

What happens to this child?  Who is their guard dog?  Who goes to bed at night worried about their education?  Did they understand the classroom instruction?  Was the lesson coherent?  Did the child stop worrying about their parent at some point during the class so they could take in the material?  Were they teased because their clothes were not "cool" enough?  Did they feel alone, confused, silenced by a chaotic life?  Did they worry that their friends would find out they live in their car?  On the street?  In a shelter?

I guess I want to know  . . . who gets them ready for another year of public school?

Selected Headlines from 2010 about LAUSD.

The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools cluster, scheduled to open this fall on the site of the former Ambassador Hotel, was built at a cost of $578 million, or nearly $140,000 per student seat.  It is the most expensive public school ever built in the LAUSD, and may be the most expensive public school in the country. 

For the Food Network's Easy After School Snacks - click here.


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