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Posted by on in Education Policy

soap box derby car

We have tied to explain the problems of equality and equity and opportunity dozens of ways. Here's one you've probably seen many many times:











 
 
I'm going to offer another metaphor today-- the soap box derby.

Let's imagine two racers approaching the starting line. Our two young divers are seated in similarly-built cars, made well enough for the race. The race down the hill begins at the starting line, but before they arrive at that line, anything goes.

Chris's car is carried to the starting line, and there Chris sits, waiting for the flag to be waved, at which point Chris will take off the break and let gravity move the car down the hill.

Meanwhile, Pat is lined up further in back of the starting line. Pat has family there, too, and when the flag waves, Pat's family will push Pat just as hard as they can.

A few seconds later, we see the two cars on the hill. The race has begun. Pat is out in front, going far faster than Chris. But when someone among the spectators complains that the race is not fair, the reply they hear is this:

"It's perfectly fair. Look-- they're in equal cars, on the same hill, each one steering and driving their car depending on nothing but their own skills, reflexes, talents and abilities. If Pat wins, that must be because Pat is a better driver, and Chris would be better off building a skill set and becoming a better driver than worrying about. Because right now, on that hill, they are perfectly equal."

We could make the metaphor more complicated, give Pat and Chris different vehicles to represent various obstacles Chris brings into the race. But here's the thing-- even if Chris has just as good a car, is just as strong and sharp, works just as hard at driving, history is still on Pat's side. Everything that happened before the starting line was crossed makes a huge difference.

Research tells us over and over again that families of origin make a huge difference, that history stacks the deck before a child even crosses the starting line. We also know that how our society functions makes a difference as well (I might expand the metaphor by adding that Chris is stopped by police every ten feet down the hill).

I'm not arguing for inescapable destiny. I'm not saying that children who are born poor or raised poor are doomed, their fate set in stone, nothing we can do about it. There's plenty we can do about it. There are soooo many things that we can do in school to help boost up those racers who didn't get the extra push to start, and we should be doing every single one we can think of, because success is attainable for every child who walks through the school door.

But we can't do anything if we don't understand the situation. And if we are looking at the two racers on the hill, saying, "Well, they're totally equal with the same resources and situation, so I guess Chris just isn't trying hard enough," then we don't understand the situation, and we won't find the solutions we need.

 

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Posted by on in Education Policy

Let me admit...

Before I start I want to readily admit that there are far more than three things wrong with our current educational system. The three reasons I'm about to discuss are the ones I think are most detrimental to the success of our schools in this country.

Things that matter but won't be discussed

I can tell you right now that none of these things have anything to do with funding, politics, or the zip code that you live in.  All of these are things that have effects on education and its success, but I would like to focus on systemic, instructional, and conceptual issues that exist at the school, district, and national level. These are key thing that are, in my mind, possible to change with the right commitment.

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Posted by on in Education Policy

When I send my children to school, I imagine that I am sending them into an environment where caring professionals are encouraging and challenging them to learn new ideas and engage in new experiences, anxious to open my kids' eyes to new possibilities. I am counting on teachers to provide understandable connections to what the kids already know and help them create a bridge to their future studies. Fundamental to the teachers' efforts, I imagine, is an overarching concern for my children's well-being.

So I confess I am baffled by the silence from teachers, when it comes to the health risks caused by daily classroom screen time.  I would have expected educators to clamor for more information, call for medical and scientific support, and rush to mitigate the situation once they learned that daily use of digital devices poses serious health risks to their students. But that hasn't happened, despite all the media attention and medical research that has recently been made available.

And the research is clear: daily computer use damages children. Myopia tops the list. The USC Roski Eye Institute, in its largest and most recent myopia study, showed that daily screen time is the likely culprit for childhood myopia doubling in our country.

Retinal damage (which can lead to macular degeneration and blindness) is next. Prevent Blindness America and voluminous medical researchers report that children's eyes absorb more blue light than adults: the damaging HEV rays go straight to the back of a child's eye.

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Posted by on in Education Policy

 No harrassment

Hands Off! Title IX

Keep your hands to yourself, the first rule we teach our preschoolers is a good start.  Manners and appropriate behavior have to start somewhere.

I read a shocking article about Title IX I couldn’t wait to share, not another minute. This is a shorter post than usual, as the author really puts it together for us.

As a Principal and when I taught school administration, the first tenet was to ensure a safe and orderly environment. “Duty to Protect” was clearly stated in the California Education Code and I took it seriously.

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Posted by on in Education Policy

 
preschool clipart23 1024x186

 

 

 

I love teaching every grade level! Each is unique and has its own challenges. At the moment I am focusing my attention to preschool. The kids are simply a riot and if you need a jolt of joy, join the fun.

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