Monday, April 7, 2014

complacency etc

(First, an unrelated blurb....yes I've been out of the blog world for some time, but still fighting the fight for education. I'm attempting to get back to blogging, despite technical difficulties without an actual computer)
Complacency should be a sin. Why has education gotten to where it is?  Complacency, blind trust, ignorance. For right now I will focus on blind trust; however, I feel the three terms often intertwine.<br>

Parents in general have blind faith in the school system, and I can't blame them. Teachers are indeed knowledgeable professionals, often with more know-how of child development and learning theories etc than parents...I mean, that is why theyare teachers and why we trust them educating and caring for our children. The teachers though, have their hands tied and are just the lower rungs in a top down, factorh model system. Speaking up, going against the tide, gets you at worstfired and at best, one who necomes victimizded,  dreading every day at work. I should know. But more on that in some other post But this does beg to question why so many teachers tote the line and promote bad practices and embrace them. I don't want to "diss" my fellow professionals but I musy ask, "why?" Whydo you emnrace and promote common core? Excessive standardized testing and teaching to the test? Treating children like prisoners or slaves? Do you ever atleast think, "wait a minute, this isn't right"? But I digress

Ungil I know the naswer I can only guess. Perhaps they too have blind faith. Faith that these curriculums and procedures and codes are what's best for students pecauze someone with a title behind their name ("expert") said if is "right" for the school environment. Perhaps pare ts trust teachers who trust administrators who trust think tanks, corporations, government officials that dictate what happens in theclassroom.and simce we aren't literally imbeciles,totally illiterate, unable to care for ourselves, we all blindly believe the system is working. And so it goes on.

 (Please ignore my many typos. On my tablet, backspacing to edit often goes beyond haywire and I can only see 75% of the line of text I type and no more)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Speaking Words of Wisdom Let Them Be

Sometimes as a mother, I feel like the worst mother ever. In a world of hyper-uber-super moms, with their iphone calendar booked with soccer games, princess parties, art classes, and mommy and me events; their facebook statuses chock full of pinterest ideas like a realistic 3-d Spiderman organic gluten free homemade cake, a early learning phonics game using play-do and guaranteeing reading proficiency by age three, and daily science project-meets-craft reminders, it is no wonder I feel like crap. I'm the mom who is lucky to remember to get out Valentine's cards. I don't have a daily schedule of fifteen minute increments and activities.

And then...I found this article about learning and said, hallelujah! It made me think in terms of this blog and all that is education as well as into my own child rearing.

Sure, my son has yet to make hand-print turkeys or baloon string art and he isn't in pee wee sports even if he is nearly age three.

I let him play. I thought perhaps I was the worst mom ever for merely giving him tons of praise, love, snuggles, and unstructured play time. I mean, according to his IEP, he needs to know and label 7 body parts not 5. According to TV, with commercials like, he should be reading by now. Oops.

But look at "uncivilized" societies. Go into the Kalihari bushmen tribes or Amazonian tribes and watch the kids. They don't have pee-wee football, early reading tablet apps, structured play groups, or a curriculum. They simply learn by playing, mimicing, doing, interacting.

My son does just that. Sure, I pay attention and interact....but I more just,,,facilitate his discoveries. Sometimes he surprises me and does things completely self-taught. He can operate apps and netflix movies on an android tablet, windows computer, Wii, and Xbox console. He can draw and place his masterpiece as a desktop image. He can take photos of monochromatic themes around the home....I found on my iphone camera, monocromatic images- a yellow wall, a blue wall, a brown tile, an orange blanket, a red shirt, the black of a room with the lights turned off, the white of a lightbulb. I didn't teach him these skills. He self taught through trial and error.

Let Them Be part II

I loved this article but still wonder...can everything be self-taught? You cannot build a home without a foundation and you must know how to build a foundation first.

I just can't quite believe a child, at, say age 5 can self-educate all the way into a productive adulthood. You need basic math skills and reading skills.

But then- wait. I taught myself to read. My mom read me books daily from birth and I first learned by memorization; "the cat in the hat" was exactly that because I memorized that exact page, but then, I could identify the words the, cat, in, hat outside of the book. I learned hat made, well, the h-a-t sound so b-a-t must be bat. In first grade, I got to sit out of the learn to read lessons and got to go to the 5th grade classroom and pick out books to read.

But still...I think there needs to be some foundation and learning of that foundation.

Maybe have the early primary grades be a mix of tons of play (something we rid of in schools with NCLB and Common Core), expressive creativity (the arts) and unstructured exploration...with a drop here and there of structured learning. As children progress in their years in school, their own self-taught learning takes priority, where the teacher merely facilitates, observes, guides when asked. 

Think about skills you know and use, and knowledge you know and use. Think, how much was 100% taught, half taught, or self taught? Sure I learned gerunds from a teacher but grammar and sentence structure understanding came more through exposure to all the reading and writing I did. I learned from drill and kill, the names and orders of service of our presidents, but I knew little to nothing about the founding fathers until I read, on my own, founding documents and biographies. 

Anyway... what I glean from this article (yet I went off on a tangent) is that a lot of learning is self taught. It works best with one's frame of reference to self teach. It's an organic evolution of learning.

Common Core advocates might read this article (yep referencing it here, again)  and say, "exactly!"  And that's how Common Core brainwashes you. The buzzwords and ideas indicate self-learning and exploration, discussion and discovery, yet they are framed around standards and assessment-bound skills. The idea of self-learning cannot exist within a defined unmovable structure. Instead, you just teach an entire class to look at 3x+ 5y= 24 and say "hey first graders, go at it!" when three children are able to self-teach and figure it out and ten are thinking about drawing a realistic replica of the 3-d perspective of the playground, ten more want to learn how to play the drum solo of that #1 song they love...

The Common Core idea of group work and figuring and constructing knowledge still ignores individual differences, abilities, desires.

It also assumes every child must learn skill A,B,C and D in that order and by age 10 or else. It ignores the possibility of learning E or ф or A,D,C. 

Our structured learning blames everything on poverty or teachers, when children in dire poverty can learn to run a laptop. Because they aren't expected to learn A,B,C and merely construct A,B,C because gasp they are curious- something our education seems to kill.

People are not standardized

I was trying to figure out, from my post Taking Back My Own, why I still felt uneasy after posting it and getting all my feelings and thoughts out. Last night, it hit me as an epiphany.

Our children are not standardized. I have said many times, you can not use quantitative methods for qualitative data. People are qualitative. Saying everyone, at, say, age 30 will have two kids, a sports car, 2,000 square foot home, and earn $ 90,000 a year as an accountant, is really the same as saying every child in 5th grade will plot a simple equation on a graph, or, in my case, every two year old will know 7 body parts.

You can standardize machinery or a process but not peope!

Sure, if a graduation senior in high school hasn't a clue how to punctuate a sentence or multiply 3 x 1/2, you havea problem. But to say that child must perform those skills proficiently at an exact age ignores child development theory. Sure we all reach a skill at around the same window of time, but that's just...that. There are anomalies who are still "normal" and the like.

And standards are arbitrary.

For child development under age 3, my child is supposed to go up stairs alternating feet or else it indicates a problem. Sure, he can gallop, skip, throw over and underhand, kick and aim a ball with his toes and side of his foot, but he doesn't alternate feet so there's a "problem".

Sure. he cannot point and name 7 body parts (sorry folks, only 5) but he knows all his colors and can actually not just count to ten but count items up to five, as in one cheerio, two cheerio... but again he is "behind".

He is still learning boy vs girl so yep,, you guessed it, he is behind. But this arbitrary "benchmark" ignores the fact that he can operate the wii remote, xbox remote, and my husband's tablet to operate netflix. He chooses the movie he wants and can fast forward to or replay a favorite scene. Instead of thinking inside the box and clicking the back button to return to the main screen, he fast forwards the movie to the end so it returns to the home screen. He can also open a drawing app on my nook, draw an image, and save it to the desktop, something I even struggle with.

But you know, because some yahoo decided some weird benchmarks, my kid is "behind".

Sure. If he can't walk, he is behind. That's a given. But since instead of pointing when someone says "show me the picture of the doggy", he pants and licks the picture and barks, that's "behind" even though not only did he point (well, with his tongue) he imitates the animal's behaviors.

When I was a young child, I had an IQ test and tested 137. The assessor said my score was surely higher but he could only give me the 137. See, I have horrid vision (my worst eye is 20/1000!) and so my hand-eye coordination was "behind". So when doing the IQ tasks, the assessor could see my mind at work, my eyes staring at things, I'd even say what I was trying to do but my hands fumbled or my lack of depth perception meant I grabbed the wrong item. So I scored lower than I could have. I SAID what needed to be performed but since it sometimes took two grabs to grab an item, that meant I was "slow". Because the test specified "grab..." not "say..."

Standardizing our children ignores what they CAN do and points out what they CANNOT do.

This is a problem with NCLB and Common Core. A child might find circumferences of items for fun at age eight, but because they cannot do base-ten subtraction with blocks, they "fail". They internalize their failure, and might end up finding no joy in circumferences because it isn't valued by the school. They may learn to hate learning and feel they are stupid. Is this what we want for our children?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

system reboot, taking back my own

I naively walked towards the abyss with the greatest of intentions, and as my feet touch the edge and the earth crumbles beneath my feet, sand pouring into the pits of hell, I realize my grave mistake and slam down the reboot button. Please oh please oh please work, I cry in despair, cursing myself for my decisions. Shoulda' known better. But  I will stop blaming myself and simply hit REBOOT and take back my child from the abyss.

My dearest son has hearing loss from ear infections (not 'permanent" but he has never had full hearing) and thus a speech delay. I recognized it at almost age two and was the pro-active rockstar of a parent, getting him help right away, in his early most formative years.

It took a half a year navigating red tape to get any help, but now he has an early intervention teacher, an awesome lady who I have nothing but kind words for, who shows up 2 - 3 times a month at our home to do developmental activities with my son. I can't say it is or isn't helping but he enjoys doing puzzles her so I am happy.

Until now.

I have to tell her soon, "it's not you, it's me and we're over" and I mean every word.

My son is lined up for an IEP through the county and school district and can attend pre-school (at age 3!) every day, half day, for FREE. How awesome is that?  But I have put thought and research into it and I am becoming "that parent", that does NOT get their child special ed services. After all my efforts and good intentions and desire to help my son, I am taking back my child before it is too late.

If he goes on an IEP and thus into that pre-school, I must fill out district enrollment forms and connect that data, and his IEP, with his health records. With P - 20 and the 400 data points of Common Core and a human capital management big Brother world occupying that abyss, which is reality, I am saying f$#^ no and removing my child.

There is no way in hell I am having his work place or college know and discriminate against him or give preferential treatment because he had an IEP. He will not be pigeon holed and sent on a specific, less-than academic pathway via social efficiency because of an IEP. Sure, you might say, you are a wacko and this could never happen. But I have done my fair share of research and all the data will exist so that all there is left to do is a click of one button and bam! Discrimination for life. I have worked with school data systems extensively, so when I say I know, I know.

I am taking back my child and will give him the special services he may need at home, away from prying eyes.

I thought at first, sure, I will just decline most info/data gathered and let my son attend pre-school. I wll demand upon entrance to kindergarten that his IEP NOT follow him. Problem solved right? wrong.

Did you know the districts have their cumulative record, the paper one (now often digitalized) and ANOTHER SECRET FILE?!?!?!?!  The speech therapist said sure, I can demand his IEP not follow him in the cum' file but the district has "other files" that follow him. She did not know the specifics but assured me they exist for each child.

I am not even putting him in pre-school or on an IEP because of the P-20 SLDS tracking system. How my son acquired speech at age 3 is no one's flipping business but mine and his.

I hate myself for even putting him on an IFSP. Stupid stupid me, the IFSP was my ticket and paper trail into the abyss. I hope a full system reboot and removal from the system will erase my trail permanently but I know there will always be a trace, somewhere. I had the best of intentions and screwed up. But can you blame me? I merely wanted to help my son, my world.

disclaimer: I still support IEPs for many kids. Just not my own.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

pass the barf bag

External Locus of Control

I made myself sick today. I found out P - 20 isn't preschool-20 (college) as I thought. Oregon, Michigan, Kansas ( and likely every state) have websites about P - 20 which state it is prenatal - college. Yes, prenatal. To quote,
"p 20 is a cradle-to-career approach to education recognizing that education does not start and end at the classroom door". sugarcoating here, they overtly mentioned a government sanctioning of cradle to grave control.
Here I thought all along, phew I have my kiddos until pre-school or kindergarten. I have them for their most influential formative years, go me! Take that, government! My dreams were shattered today. No longer are my children my own, but part of the state, parens patriae, the idea of the state as parent, since, apparently, these elitist experts know best. No more mommy knows best...this world is too "complicated" for us simple folks, an idea dating back to the Utopian goals of the Progressive Era and the notion of social efficiency.

Let me provide a disclaimer and interjection. I do not inherently see a problem with prenatal care and early childhood education. Our infant mortality rate and pregnancy complication rates are quite dismal for a first-world country. As a mother of two, I am all for prenatal care. As a teacher, I am all for early childhood education. During my first year of teaching, I found out that many kindergartners in my poverty stricken school neighborhood came to school utterly unprepared. Many had never used crayons or held a pencil. They had never even heard the ABCs and did not know their own name (often called mijo/a, baby, etc at home). I kid you not. These children are the most in need of intervention and the most targeted for such things. Therefore I wish to reiterate that I advocate prenatal care and early learning.

The Factory Model

But if history means a darned thing, this scares me... targeting the most at risk populations can mean they receive a stellar education that teaches them to think, ask questions, create, innovate, argue. Or it can teach them job skills like how to ring up a burger and fries and how to operate a vacuum, you know, skills that CC offers through the 70% weight of informative text in Language Arts courses.

The idea of scientifically managing the population to control them, as part of a Utopia, is hardly new. It originated in Prussia (see for background info on Prussia's influence on our education system) as noted at A concept called

"psychological parenthood" began to take shape, a radical notion without legal precedent that would be used down the road to support drastic forcible intervention into family life. It became one of the basic justifications offered during the period of mass immigration for a compulsion law intended to put children under the thrall of so-called scientific parenting in schools"

This idea that the families of the nation were ill-equipped to raise children; that scientific management thereof could save us, is prominent in the past and perhaps today.

in "Education for social efficiency: a study in the social relations of education" By Irving King (1915),

"It was devised as a means of insuring that the child should learn certain things which he would not be able to learn satisfactorily if he were left to pick up things for himself by imitation and simple contact with the life that was going on daily about him. As culture increased in complexity, more and more of the burden of education had to be shifted to formal agencies, specifically to the school"

From the same document,

"And this education must be largely wrought out through the school. The ideal of a social life adequate to modern conditions of living must take its place as an object of explicit and conscious training, just because it is too complex and difficult to attain in any other way"

For a nice outline of the Progressive Era and the influence on society and education, visit

As the Progressive Era rolled in, social efficiency reared its ugly head. I don't like using wikipedia as a reliable source, but instead of quoting ten separate sources to validate wiki, I will give you the wiki definition of social efficiency- I could not have said it better.

Social efficiency educators" such as theorists Ross, Bobbitt, Gilbreth, Taylor, and Thorndike were aiming to design a curriculum that would optimize the “social utility” of each individual in a society. By using education as an efficiency tool, these theorists believed that society could be controlled. Students would be scientifically evaluated (such as IQ tests), and educated towards their predicted role in society. This involved the introduction of vocational and junior high schools to address the curriculum designed around specific life activities that correlate with each student’s societal future. The socially efficient curriculum would consist of minute parts or tasks that together formed a bigger concept. This educational view was somewhat derived with the efficiency of factories which could simultaneously produce able factory workers. Critics believe this model has too much emphasis on testing and separating students based on the results of that testing.
Social efficiency keeps at it; A.H. Lauchner, a principal in 1951, said,

 "not every child has to read, figure, write and spell...that many of them cannot or will not master these chores." 

Meaning, why teach true academic curriculum to certain children to whom it would be a waste?

Okay so my point here is this, social efficiency used the "science" of test scores to drive curriculum to scientifically manage the populace, to determine which students were to be doctors and which were to be laborers. With the p-20 data tracking system, a student with behavioral issues, an IEP, low math test scores may be pigeonholed- on purpose- into becoming a manual laborer, even if their dreams and skills are in interpreting law or motivating students or what have you.

Sire, you say, this cannot happen. Or perhaps it is an old fuddy duddy idea that never came to fruition and never will. To re-quote one of my posts from this year,

"The workforce sector wants information about prior training in
high school and postsecondary institutions as a foundation for
working with both education sectors to address identified skill gaps
in the workforce, as well as to identify equity gaps with respect
to demographic representativeness by job category. Knowing the
education sectors’ capacity to respond (i.e., by increasing the flow
of graduates with particular skill sets) will also help the state decide
whether to invest in education to address skill gaps or establish
incentives to induce more workers with needed skills to move
into the state. Moreover, linking with the education sectors would
provide labor market analysts with a wealth of data that would be
useful for examining equity in employment."

This document is a modern document, written sometime between 2009-2013, and it states that schools can increase the flow of graduates with certain skills. How might they do this? If society needs more engineers, or fast food workers, how will it "increase the flow" without either data manipulation (suddenly Johnny's test scores plummet and his education is individualized to send him into fast food) or using tracking to label students (everyone who struggled in science gets to work in fast f

Your Secret is Safe With me

Everyone keepos saying the data collected will remain anonymous, and will solely be used to improve prenatal care, career readiness programs, etc, But of course the data will be shared with any government organization or third party vendor or person in education (textbook companies, educational consultants) which will remain anonymous once out of the school level. Students will be numbered, data will be meta data, and it will be secure. (Just like our IRS records, social security info, etc which surely has never been compromised...ha ha).

"Anonymous" meta data is extrapolated from identifiable data, those "80% have graduated on time" had names and identities attached to them.  Collect some meta data such as addresses, parent's names, etc and enough datamanipulating can lead back to the student. Or, if anyone decides to be evil, a school official could leak identifiable student data, or how to access it (ie that student #642t50 is Jane Plain). But don't worry,,,your data is "safe".

Which leads back to social efficiency... had said,

Pearson will share data into the Learning Registry about many of their existing teaching resources including those that support CCSS so that they can be used n each students' personal learning path

Yep, right back to pigeonholing students in a certain direction as part of social efficiency, or as we call it now, human capital.  From we bring you,

The P-20 concept is a way of thinking and acting that promotes systematic aligning of multiple education, health, and social support resources to best advance human capital development from prenatal through postsecondary and employment, and on to sustained lifelong well-being...

See, my long-winded post does all come together right there. And it scares me. It is wrapped up in a pretty package- who doesn't want "sustained lifelong well-being"? But the question is, who decides what well-being means? Perception is everything and one man's well being could be another man's hell. Is the government's idea of my well being what I desire? Likely not, since obviously life- and my own well being- are "human capital" and must be micromanaged and decided for me.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

think inside the box

LAUSD recently spent $1 billion -yes, billion- on technology for Common Core, mainly in the form of iPads. Let's ignore the money spent that we don't have/could be better spent. Let's ignore Common Core and the snafu that is, for now.

After wasting/spending a billion, LA took back the iPads, sorry kids. Why?

the kids "hacked" the tablets to enable music streaming and social media, o.m.g. folks, how awful of them. The head IT dude (or dudette, gotta be p.c.) just changed the settings to block social media and music so all the "hackers" did (hardly hackers, a grandma or kindergartner is I guess a hacker) was change the settings in the control panel.

My first point here is, these same "evil hackers" are hiding their cell phones in their pocket, their textbook, under their desk and texting, twittering, facebooking discretely. Each child in a hoodie, or with head leaning into their arms, or hair brushed by an ear, is rocking out to their iPod. It is how this generation does things. Secondly, they are accessing these things because
a) they can multitask....remember back in our day, taking lecture notes while writing a note to your best friend and doodling on the margins?
b) your common core, scripted lesson sucks an they have lost all interest
c) you could do the work for them and they are so apathetic, they wouldn't turn it in...they will never do their work. Live with it.

So I say, let them "hack". It makes no difference.

Another point is is so "21st century" but schools seem stuck in the 20th century and heck even 19th, 18th..... while I love "real" books, pen and paper, technology is, as we know it, the "future". So let's embrace it. But technology and "21st century skills" are NOT virtual textbooks and tests. Sorry. You could accomplish the same damned thing with pen, paper,"real" books. Schools refuse to embrace real cutting edge technology because the first mention of cell phones, social media, live streaming music or media and they shut down. Kids cannot do those things, it is against learning,they isn't "right". So they continue using technology as if it were what we have already had,,,open your e-books to page 35 and take the multiple choice test at the end. Yet we spend a billion dollars to do what we already have in place.

How about we embrace all these banned things? You can save paper by having students instagram a pic of a worksheet to share with their workgroup via text messaging. You can use the virtual blackboard to host discussions. Skype experts. Network with up and coming poets, watch video clips. Store and access data on the cloud. Follow a politician's twitter account and blog about it. Skype the leading expert in physics for a q&a session. Really use technology for what it is, a newly fangled device to bring the world to your fingertips.

And please do not punish the "hackers" as they are the last bastions of free thought and innovation we have in a lock step one size fits all automaton education system. It is the rebels that make a difference and make history.