Friday, January 18, 2019

Making a Difference!

As a person who taught for over 30 years and got to a point where I had a Master's degree plus well over 60 graduate hours I both feel blessed to have that background and grateful that it led me to a path of teaching. That being said this path may not be suitable for many young people.

I believe it is critical that a school sees to that its students get a well rounded education of the highest quality. This is far more important than touting the fact that 80% or 95% of its students went to college or went into farming or went into the military. All of these career parts are valuable and serve our country well but they aren't the end well of a person receiving a great education.

Part of the strength of our country relies on different people making a difference by living life to it fullest, taking care of those who they care about, earning a living by engaging in something that makes them happy and allows them to make a positive and profound impact.

There's more than one way to get this done and a great public education allows this to take place.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

More Harm to Education

Yesterday I lamented the loss of 'elective' courses. Well friends, this is done at the peril of everyone. There is at least a two general reasons why it's foolish to harm the electives. One has to do with the value of the electives, the other with respect to the harm it causes our country.

It is well documented that a child's growth is aided substantially through Music and the Arts. Like climate change this is no longer up for debate. So limiting or eliminating such programs goes against the very mission of education.

Raising a child, preparing meals, being able to do some essential work around your home and more are also critical tangible skills and they are tasks that an individual learns in school. We don't have to hire people to do such work. They are skills that schools have been long been adept at providing. Again, bidding good bye to these programs makes no sense.

And why is this taking place? Is there really too little money in the midst of a relative economic boom? Or is the obsession that everyone goes to college a driving force? We will tackle these questions and examine the harm caused to our country by putting valuable 'elective' programs on the chopping block.

Those in charge might well want to take stock of what they are doing!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hurting Education and Harming Students

The long standing tradition of public schools offering a broad and inclusive curriculum has long been undergoing a wreaking ball. Like a building being dismantled so to are we witnessing - I hasten to add - the harm being done to our students and the entire education system. Don't take my word for it, take a look at the trend.

Forty or fifty years ago we had strong tech programs throughout the country. I live in the Chicago area and we had 4,000 students at Chicago Vocational. Even larger numbers of students attended Lane Tech. You could find this same attendance pattern at other schools throughout urban and rural America.

Just two days ago the Ames, IA school system announced that they would no longer offer Family and Consumer Science classes (formerly Home Economics). Ames also happens to be home to Iowa State University which offers one of the best FACS programs in the country.

This is but a tip of the iceberg!!! And all of this is taking place when the citizens of the country are asking where are the carpenters, the mechanics, agriculture workers, the welders, the seamstresses, the plumbers, the cooks, the electricians. Of course that only a part of the problem. FACS and other so called 'electives' are the very courses needed to survive.

Do I think we are heading in the wrong direction in many respects? YES, sadly yes


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Questions for New Governor and Mayor

With JB Pritzker taking over the Governorship and a new Chicago Mayor due to be elected this spring there are some pressing issues and concerns that need to be tackled in partnership with the board and other education constituents.

For one, the 5-year moratorium on school closings is up and a report conducted by CPS indicates a good number of schools are being underutilized. Will the new leadership view this as a reason to close additional schools? While they are examining at this possibility, what will they do with schools that are overcrowded. And there are schools that ARE overcrowded.

Another possible front burner issue deals with the recurring concern expressed by many residents of the city who want to see an elected school board rather than one appointed by the mayor. Will the new mayor even tackle this one or ignore it?

The Chicago Teacher's Union pension shortfall is bound to gain some attention. How will this shortfall be addressed by the new city and state leadership?

Not that it's likely to come up but it remains a possibility. Will the new Mayor of Chicago keep the current CEO, Ms. Janice K. Jackson? This hasn't been brought up to my knowledge but time will tell.

Stay tuned,

Monday, January 14, 2019

Integrate the Arts

The most recent article in ASCD deals with incorporating the arts into the regular school curriculum. The article makes it clear, as almost Arts advocates have been saying for years, that arts integration can most certainly improve student social-emotional learning and ones attitudes toward the arts. 'A recent meta-analysis of arts integration research as seen through ESSA found that the arts have a statistically significant effect on student achievement (Ludwig, et al., 2017).'

So the issue isn't about the importance of the arts, the concern is about how to implement them into the regular curriculum if the arts are separate courses. Sadly, for many, the obstacles can and are daunting.

What the teachers and advocates of the arts see as the problems include; not enough funding, those who will implement the arts feeling that they lack arts expertise, too little planning time to implement the arts into the curriculum, fear of the unknown and more.

If the above problems, and others, can be overcome then the potential to bring the arts into the regular then great things will take place.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Poverty's Ugly Face

Whether its Buffalo seeing its steel industry eviscerated, Rochester facing job losses at Kodak and Xerox or Syracuse losing much of its Carrier production, the results are always the same...people out of good paying jobs and the growth of poverty. We all know that when a person loses his/her job it affects the entire family.

I can spend time talking about the so called 'blame game' but I'd rather focus on how to forge ahead until some good paying jobs for a large swath of society ever re-emerges.

Many people are working tirelessly to combat the effects of poverty. Some, like Schools Count Corp., are helping children in financially strapped areas. Others provide meals to those without the resources/funds to purchase food. Still other charitable people and NGO's are striving to aid the impoverished who need medical attention.

All of these effort are noteworthy. But from my vantage point there has to be a plan/structure that combines the above entities and other initiatives to fight the effects of poverty. Said in another way, we need to find a cohesive plan that addresses all of the issues that affects people suffering from all the crippling effects of poverty.

Until then, we'll just keep helping the kids.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Poverty Hits Rochester Hard

Rochester, New York once had 60,000 Kodak employees. It was a thriving company just as was Xerox. Earlier this year Xerox closed ist downtown campus and Kodak has seen it best days given the fact that the company went bankrupt in 2012.

For those who wonder why 50% of the Rochester school children between the ages of 5 and 17 are living in property one needs to go no further than examining the cataclysmic downturn of these two companies. Jobs are Kodak and Xerox provided employees with excellent paying jobs.

That meant that families, including school age children, enjoyed good living conditions; access to healthy food, good housing, great health care, plenty of job benefits, excellent schools and much more. Much of this is now gone in part to be replaced with lower paying service jobs.

No wonder many in Rochester are reeling.


Girls Singing at IMN

Classes Singing at IMN

IMN School Opens

Driving into Port Au Prince

IMN School Welcome

Tour of IMN School

IMN School