Ratliffs: The Rotary 4-way test vs. school vouchers – Longview News-Journal: Forum

Vouchers are one way in which public education is under attack.  Don’t like your public school?  Get a voucher worth $X,XXX and take it to a private school or charter school.  Every dollar taken away from public schools weaken them.  Click the link below to see an argument against vouchers from a Texan who cares:

Ratliffs: The Rotary 4-way test vs. school vouchers – Longview News-Journal: Forum.

Millionaires and Images

The cover story of Time Magazine’s November 3, 2014 issue was titled “ROTTEN APPLES.  IT’S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO FIRE A BAD TEACHER.  SOME TECH MILLIONAIRES MAY HAVE FOUND A WAY TO CHANGE THAT.”

I came away with two realizations after reading the article – one person with lots of money can change public education and images are as powerful as words.

I had heard something about the California ruling of Vergara v. California in which a judge had struck down California’s teacher tenure.  What I didn’t know is that Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch orchestrated the lawsuit.  Time quotes Welch’s pronouncement on education, “It’s failing, and it doesn’t want to acknowledge that its’s failing, much less do anything about it.”  Welch put his money where is mouth was in 2010.  He hired a legal think tank to define the legal theory behind the lawsuit.  Then he hired a public relations firm to drum up supporters (and more money).  Welsh’s team then went out and found kids who were willing to bad-mouth their teachers in court.  After a two-month trial, Judge Treu’s decision sided with Welch’s team – that bad teachers are bad for kids, so get rid of tenure.

I like images as much as words.  The Time cover is a picture of a courtroom gavel about to smash an apple (the symbol of American public education).

Inside, the two-page introductory spread (above) shows four apples – three ripe and one rotten.  Are one-in-four teachers “rotten”?  That’s what the image implies.

Of course the court case in California will continue up the legal ladder for awhile.  In the meantime similar lawsuits are starting in New York, Connecticut, Oregon and New Jersey.  See what one person with deep pockets can do?

Starting Point

Last weekend I attended my alma mater’s homecoming football game and celebrated my 40 years in education since graduating from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).  It was great to be back on campus, to walk across the Diag, visit Couzens Hall (where I first met my wife), and enter the Big House with 100,000+ fans.  I told myself it was time to start writing that blog I’ve been talking about for the past 2 years.

Where does one start a blog?  Why does one start a blog?  I suppose there is a blog out there that answers those questions.  For me, I feel a need to defend public education.  Public education is under attack and nobody seems to care.  The criticism of schools and education are so prevalent that we don’t seem to even notice them anymore.  And who is out there defending public education?  I don’t see myself as a superhero defender, but one who wants to engage others in a conversation about how to defend public education.

I’ll finish this first post with a quote from A Nation At Risk (1983).  Here we are 31 years later and its message is even more compelling:

     Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur–others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.
     If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.

Let’s begin a conversation about the attacks on public education. You have to know how you’re being attacked in order to create an effective defense.  I live in Illinois and will report on attacks happening here.  Please share news of attacks from where you live.