Last post regarding Anthony Cody’s piece:
It is perhaps a basic truth that it is easier to tear something down than to build something new. This may explain some of the trouble reformers are facing. Our schools are flawed in many ways, and do not deliver the sorts of opportunities we want all children to have access to. Racial and economic segregation, inequitable funding, and the replication of privilege are endemic — though truly addressing these issues will require change that goes far beyond the walls of our classrooms. Corporate-sponsored reformers have blamed the very institution of public education for these problems, and have set forth a set of alternatives and strategies to overcome social inequities. Here we are a decade into this project, and the alternative structures are collapsing, one by one.
We cannot pass laws that declare others “accountable” for making sure 100% of our children will be proficient and act as though we have accomplished something. It is time to go back to basic premises, and in every community, ask ourselves what we want from our schools? How can we meet the challenge of educating all our children – not leaving any behind? The answers will not come easily or cheaply. But just as a previous generation faced the challenge of the 20th century Civil Rights movement, our generation must respond.
I believe there really is not distinction between tearing something down and building something new. You have to literally, tear something down in order to build something new. As I mentioned in a former post, What is antiquated about our schools?, we need to tear them down and build new models. Sometimes even actual, physical schools need to be rebuilt. Our schools were built hundreds of years ago for the purposes of “Americanizing” immigrants. We have made tweaks, but nothing substantially has changed. We have more research now on how students actually learn everything from the methods we use (lecturing is antiquated) to the times of day that students attend school and the school year calendar.
Honestly, some of the schools I have been in feel like we are warehousing children. That is not my intention, but it’s what it feels like when as a guidance intern I spend 30 quality minutes with a student and then are forced to send him back to the 5/6 teachers who don’t care and are not helping him learn. It’s like the law requires them to be here and so they are. But who is making sure that they have the teachers they need and the curriculum they need, the school climate and discipline and encouragement they need. It’s just not happening in enough schools. So yes, Please, let tear it all down and rebuild it. You can’t really rebuild a home with a shaky foundation or rotting walls….you need to just start over.
We have been pouring more money into schools (though I know it doesn’t seem like it). One of the reasons that teachers are such a hot button topic is because that’s where the bulk of the school department money goes. I’m NOT anti teacher (regardless of how many people like John Thompson insist it is so). I’m anti the people who work in in our schools who are not doing whats in the best interest of our kids. The especially includes administration. If I hear one more administrator say “Look at the great stuff we’re doing at the department” I’m going to scream because those “things going on at the department” hardly ever fully transition into implementation at the classroom level. But Administrators can’t admit that.
We absolutely need to invest in more community resources, more wraparound programs, we need to support the community organizations that are supporting our kids, we need to have more access to early education and pre-k options, we need to have more parent engagement & involvement. But we still need the best possible teachers and administrators and too many schools don’t have that. So please, while we are tearing it down TO build something new, let’s start with a clean slate that the administrative level too.