“Of course, no matter how innovative our schools or how effective our teachers, America cannot succeed unless our students take responsibility for their own education. That means showing up for school on time, paying attention in class, seeking out extra tutoring if it’s needed, and staying out of trouble. And to any student who’s watching, I say this: don’t even think about dropping out of school. As I said a couple of weeks ago, dropping out is quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country, and it is not an option – not anymore. Not when our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past thirty years. Not when high school dropouts earn about half as much as college graduates. And not when Latino students are dropping out faster than just about anyone else. It is time for all of us, no matter what our backgrounds, to come together and solve this epidemic.”

These remarks were made on March 10, 2009, by President Barack Obama during his speech “Taking On Education”. I especially appreciate these remarks because they more accurately portray a realistic plan for a resolution to some of the challenges that  face students in urban schools.

Although I am certain that this is not a unique perspective, prior to the speech I had never heard it verbalized so clearly. This was the first time that I had heard someone speak about the active role that students have in their own education. In the past, the responsibility for educating students was placed squarely on the shoulders of teachers. If the student did well, the teacher merely did their job. If the student failed, the teacher failed to do their job.

This view challenges the outdated passive role of students as learners. Students are not empty vessles that teachers pour knowledge into. Students are unique, thinking, feeling individuals who come to us with a variety of skill levels and needs. As such, they do have a responsibility to themselves and their education.  They do have to show up, they do have to pay attention, they do have to ask questions, and they do have seek help when they don’t understand if they are to take an active role in their education.

This is not about blame. This is about the cooperative responsibility that students and teachers must share if teachers are to be successful as educators and students are to be successful as learners. We all have a part to play in the resolution of some of the unique challenges that face both student and teachers each day in the classroom. We must work in concert to ensure that teachers are providing students with the skills that they need and that students receive the necessary tools that will allow them to become thinking, productive citizens of the world.

To read the speech in its entirety go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/03/10/Taking-On-Education/

 This article, even though short, has really opened my eyes to a new way that could reform urban education. There are factors such as social, political, economical, and racial issues that surround the achievement gap present in many urban schools. This article touches on the suggestion that future teachers need to be taught and trained how to teach in real life situations such as urban environments. There needs to be a partnership between the univerisities and colleges that are training future teachers in which they prepare them to teach in real life education school systems and stop just training them with the traditional middle-class, everything is so lovely, public environment.

This made my mind turning as I have not really thought  about changing teacher-prep programs to help deal with urban education issues. Programs are now infusing more diversity issues as America is a big melting-pot of diverse students and learners. But, in a way I see how teacher prep-programs do cater towards training future teachers for the perfect job environment. I think that altering teacher prep-programs for the students who want to teach in an urban enivronment could be useful. However, I think since urban education is in such a bad state as it is in now that including more real-life situation aspects and teaching environments to a teacher pre-program would have positive results. I think that changing the teacher-prep programs seems to always face opposition. I can see how reforming the teacher prep programs to tailor towards urban, inner ciy and poor students, could change the course of these types of education systems. Urban schools need highly-qualified and compasionate teachers for the students to start triving in those environment. Read this website and see if anything sparks into your mind about changing teacher preperation programs to help urban schools.

http://www.ur.umich.edu/9899/Jan25_99/urban.htm

 

This is a great interactive interview type speech by Thomas Sowell that address what has become of the public education system in America. This video is a must watch for any person involved in public education.

Sowell believes that funding, even though may play a part, is not the main factor for the inequalities that exist in our public school system. Standardized testing as well as other testing scores are based on performance. What is performance suppose to be compared to? Why is this the case all all children perform differently and not the same as another? Performance based assessment is ineqaulity when comparing schools from different socialeconomic status.

Grades, yup there important, but how does a teacher decide who gets the B, C +, or A-. Teachers hold so much power in our education system as they rate the performance on their students. The grading system differs from teacher to teacher as well as school to school. How is this grading system equal or legitamate?

Sowell discusses the “teacher shuffel” in America.  It is cheaper for schools to keep moving teachers to different schools than to down right fire them. These bad teachers goes down the list of schools and end up in urban and inner city schools. Why are we having bad teachers teach our students in America that need the most help in their quality of education??? There is no reason for bad teachers to stay in the public school system period.

Another point that Sowell talks about is our American Universities, which he calls ‘International Univeristies’. Our nation’s universities are so well known around the world that it attracts numerous foreign students. But, our universities, wanting to be equal, accept alot of international students which leaves less spots for American students to the point it is very hard to even get into them. We are not investing in post-secondary public education in a way that supports are nation’s future. Our public school system all in all needs a total restructuring that hopfully the Obama administration can make happen.

 

 The No Child Left Behind Act is one of the most controversial topics and laws in current public school education. Do you know this act really involves? Do you know what real educators think of No Child Left Behind?

This video provides real educators inputs on No Child Left Behind. Basically, they do not like it and I do not blame them. Support for this act as been deminishing over the last few years since more and more details about the act have been assessed and criticized. How can this act of standardized and high stakes testing eliminate the achievement gab by it goals of 2014? The statistics show that this goal is not going to be reached.

But, is anyone thinking of the effects that these tests and ways of learning will impact students? NO. I know that I did not grow up learning to a test and using process of elimination to find all my answers that counted. Children need to use critical thinking and creativity not just learn elimiation process for an exam. These children will not be able to apply what they learned in school to real life as real life is not eliminating choices and filling in the most correct answer. How easy but boring would our society be? Our society would definatly not be ahead as the top powerhouse nation of the world if are society was mimicted by the ways we test our students. This whole process is messed up, we should be teaching our students to use their minds and not hinder their capacity of learning.

No Child Left Behind involves each school to report their scores in 37 categories. Each of these categories must be meet for the school to have the passing title. This is not how we should judge our students and schools as passing and failing. Teachers in this video want people of America to wake up and realize that education and learning in not done through filling in bubbles on an exam.  

clipart_computersWhat role will we, as teachers, play in Technolgy and Education Reform? Are we ready and willing to utilize all that technology; particularly the World Wide Web, has to offer in assisting us to prepare students to participate, compete, and thrive in the world today and tomorrow? What are our technological skills? Do we view computers and the internet as someone elses domain? Have we stayed current with technology? Can we navigate the Web? Do we blog? Do we Tweet? Do we even know the meaning of these terms? Do we care? If we do not not care, then we should.

“Technology is the core and essential to the strategies we are using to reform education.” This comment was made by Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the United States Department of Education while addressing a meeting of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.”

As reported by Geoffrey H. Fletcher in an article from The Journal, “Obama Administration: Technology at the Heart of Education Reform”,  He cited the four assurances that are at the core of ARRA educational funding-college and career ready standards, preK to college and career data systems, improvements in teacher effectiveness, and providing intensive support for low-performing schools–and said you can’t do any of the four without technology, especially helping students in low-performing schools.”

Flether also stated that Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer at the White House, said that technology in education is less about hardware and software and more about what we teach, the method in which we teach it, and professional development and support for educators.

If we ourselves are not technologically prepared, if we are not participating and contributing by incorporating technology into how we teach, then we will not be able to prepare our students to participate, contribute, and compete in the world.
If we are not preparing students to participate, contribute and compete in the world, then we are not doing our job.

Get connected.

To view the article in its entirety, go to http://www.thejournal.com/ArticlesTo view Obama’s America’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) go to http://whitehouse.gov/issues/education

Jonathan Kozol is an author who writes about his personal experiences within the American Public  school system. His newest book “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America” is a must read. This book brings to light the racial inequalities that still exist within our public school system.  He discusses how schools are still segregated by race as well as social class. The difference between the education that middle to upper class students receive in a suburban school and the education that inner-city and low social economic students recieve is huge. This book is based completely on his first hand experiences within over 60 schools in various states. Kozol provides a lot of comparisons between inner-city education and suburban education. He touches upon military recruitment in schools, No Child Left Behind, and racial integration. Inner-city and urban area teachers can relate to Kozol’s  “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America”, since they see what he talks about in real life on a daily basis.

Here is the link for his book review from Education Review- a journal of book reviews:

http://edrev.asu.edu/reviews/rev470.htm