Monday, March 08, 2010

A corrupt system

An email from Scherie Gaitor of below

I find it to be highly interesting in that you highlight the philosophical corruption of the education systems within the Western world. I come from a long line of educators. My grandmother was a teacher who had her own preschool. My aunt and mother are educators, who unfortunately have lost their jobs. My mother, trained as a high school business teacher was laid off last year. The school was ran (or not ran) by an incompetent principal who was arrested for beating his girlfriend. No, he was not fired, in fact he kept his job and pretended like nothing ever happened. By the way, this whole event was covered in the local newspaper.

My mother had to deal with unruly students. Her authority, as well as other teachers at this school was undermined by the domestic abuser principal. But, the superintendent of the school district got a $35,000 bonus!! Even though he retired from another school district, somewhere in Ohio from what my mother told me. For the record, this superintendent did nothing regarding the incompetent, woman beating principal. My mother told me that none of the students respected him, although he tried to present himself as being "cool". He was regularly referred to as the "wife beater".

I wanted to direct your attention to an article about the Detroit Public School System. I have to say that when I read this article, I thought it was a joke. The school board president is a functioning illiterate. Link here

My mother's job search has been unsuccessful. She wanted to be a teacher because she thought she could impart knowledge. The corruption runs deep throughout the school systems in the United States. I believe it's inherent in government schooling. I don't think my mother understands this. She is still a supporter of public education. She lost her job because she lacked seniority. The certification process is a big joke. For the record, my mother already has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. She wasted two years and thousands of dollars in loans. Yet a man like Otis Mathis, who can't even write English is a school board president?

I apologize for this long email. I just had to get it off my chest. I'm 32 years old and I am concerned for the future of the U.S. and for the West in general. We have lost the real meaning of Western culture. We all benefit from the trappings of Western society. But how in HELL can we maintain it if the intellectual framework has been deliberately destroyed. Are we following in the foot steps of Ancient Rome? I'm still trying to answer that question.

Simptums of D-Troit Publik Edjecashun

Here's a new slogan for Detroit public schools: get an education or you'll end up like, well... like the president of the city school board [above].

It's bad enough Detroit's schools are currently graduating a pathetic 1 out of every 4 students. But now, the Detroit News is wondering what kind of example the public school board's leadership is setting when it sends out emails like this one:
Do DPS control the Foundation or outside group? If an outside group control the foundation, then what is DPS Board row with selection of is director? Our we mixing DPS and None DPS row's, and who is the watch dog?

And this one sent to supporters just a few days ago:
If you saw Sunday's Free Press that shown Robert Bobb the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, move Mark Twain to Boynton which have three times the number seats then students and was one of the reason's he gave for closing school to many empty seats.

The author of these emails is DPS board president Otis Mathis, a life-long resident of Detroit and public secondary school and higher-ed graduate. Mathis acknowledges he's a "horrible writer," but shouldn't a lack of basic skills like writing disqualify someone to lead the city's board of education?
In another city, these revelations might be grounds for disqualification. But Mathis is liked and defended by many of his peers, who cite his collegiality, lack of defensiveness and leadership as more important than his writing skills.

I'm sure Mr. Mathis is a likeable guy. However, his is just one of many cases in the public sector where standards have been thrown out the window. Why is it consistently ok for quality standards--the same standards demanded by the private sector--to be ignored in public positions?

Would a publication like Townhall (or any other that took itself seriously) ever hire me if I actually wrote in language like that of the title of this post? Why then would it be ok for the public education system to--a system the nation regularly relies on to EDUCATE our children?

And shouldn't the president of the board set some kind of personal standard for public education? It'd be like having a manufacturer who has no basic knowledge of his company's products. Public or private sector: we need to demand standards of quality!


Villaraigosa shocked at celebration of O.J. Simpson, RuPaul, Dennis Rodman at L.A. Black History Month

I doubt that the teachers intended to make a mockery of black history month -- though they did, of course. I suspect that it was the work of far-Leftist teachers who really do think that O.J. Simpson and the others are good role models

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed shock over allegations that three teachers at a South Los Angeles elementary school encouraged students to celebrate O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul during Black History Month. The teachers have been suspended as the L.A. Unified School district investigates. According to officials, children at Wadsworth Avenue Elementary School were carrying pictures of the men at a parade Friday on the school playground.

"I am shocked and outraged by the actions of these teachers at Wadsworth Elementary School," Villaraigosa said in a statement. "These teachers undermined the school's well-intentioned celebration, and they did so at the expense of elementary school students. Their actions were not only cynical, but did a terrible disservice to the students, their families and all of the teachers who work hard on a daily basis to build trust and a productive learning environment."

Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry said Supt. Ramon C. Cortines learned about the incident Tuesday and had the teachers, who are white, pulled from their classrooms for the duration of an investigation. The suspension is without pay for the first three days. "The superintendent believes there are better choices," Pollard-Terry said. Other students were carrying pictures of President Obama and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The teachers have not been identified and could not be reached for comment. District officials did not provide specific details about what the teachers did, saying the investigation was still ongoing. Some community leaders aren't satisfied with the suspensions and are calling for the dismissal of the instructors, who teach first, second and fourth graders. "I just can't fathom what these teachers were thinking of except to make a mockery of African American history," said Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

L.C. "Chris" Strudwick-Turner of the Los Angeles Urban League likened the episode to a series of racially provocative incidents at UC San Diego, where a Feb. 15 off-campus party mocked Black History Month. "These kinds of things build on each other," she said. "When something like that happens in [San Diego] and there is no immediate consequence, that emboldens others. That's why I was glad that LAUSD took them out of the classroom right away."

[Updated at 1:38 p.m.: Pollard-Terry said Simpson appeared on the approved list of Black History Month figures, which dates back to 1985. But the names of Rodman and RuPaul, among others, were added in pencil when teachers were selecting which prominent African Americans their classes would honor in the parade. The school principal did not see the list, which Cortines called a lack of oversight, said Pollard-Terry.]

She said the three teachers were believed to have suggested at least some of those names for the list.

The district dispatched a human relations and ethnic diversity team Wednesday to help the school prepare lessons that are "more appropriate for Black History Month," she added.

Strudwick-Turner said the Los Angeles Urban League has been told by people who attended the parade Friday that the teachers had been asked to instruct their classes on a notable African American and that they had selected Simpson, Rodman and RuPaul.

The mayor said in his statement that he hopes the situation will be resolved. "I urge the Los Angeles United School District to take swift and appropriate action with respect to the teachers involved. We cannot stand for such myopic behavior by those whom we entrust to teach and inspire the next generation," he said.


More class size nonsense in Britain

With good discipline even class sizes of 60 can be satisfactory -- except perhaps for the very young. See here and here and here and here and here

Thousands of primary school children are being taught in supersized classes of more than 40 pupils, according to figures. At least 210 state school teachers were regularly leading lessons of at least 41 children last year, it was disclosed. In addition, around one-in-eight children in England are in classes of more than 30, despite fears pupils struggle for attention in huge lessons.

Opposition MPs seized on the disclosure, saying that Labour had failed to keep a promise made in 1997 to significantly cut class sizes. It follows figures published last year that showed the UK had some of the biggest lessons in the developed world. Only six other countries place under-11s in larger groups, it was revealed. Pupils in eastern European nations such as Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Russia were among those enjoying smaller classes.

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, said: "It's shocking that there are thousands of young children being taught in these huge classes. "Massive classes are difficult for teachers to control and children who are struggling can lose out on the extra help they need."

Michael Gove, the Conservative shadow schools secretary, said: “Parents want schools built on a human scale where heads know the names of their children. “The Government has been going in the wrong direction.”

Labour introduced legislation in 1997 making it illegal for under-sevens to be taught in large classes. According to the latest figures, some 460,000 under-11s in England – one-in-eight – were taught in groups of more than 30 last year. Some 10,070 were in classes of at least 41 pupils, it was revealed. The worst area was Manchester, where 1,367 were in huge lessons, while 1,267 were affected in Stoke-on-Trent. Hertfordshire, Hull and the London borough of Merton also had hundreds of children in large classes.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "Over the last 10 years we have massively increased the number of adults teaching children. “Over 98 per cent of infant classes are under the statutory limit and the average size is 26.2. “We expect local authorities and schools to take their legal responsibility to limit class sizes very seriously. There can be no excuses for any infant class that is unlawfully over the legal limit.”


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