May 03 2012

Arizona Continues its Extremist Behavior

by at 4:24 pm

Gov. Jan Brewer’s racist behavior continues. She plans to eliminate Latino music from the airwaves:

 

http://www.freewoodpost.com/2012/05/01/arizona-bill-will-ban-subversive-latino-music-from-radio/

 

 

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Apr 25 2012

Education Reform or a Lifestyle Reform?

by at 1:12 am

We often talk about what education should look like. Philosophers, education advocates, students and professors are constantly come up with radical and creative ideas about how education can be engaging, effective and enjoyable for students. Throughout this semester we’ve created and looked at existing models of education that would create ideal education systems. Everything from the way teachers teach to what teachers teach, the way punishment is dealt with, the way schools are racially segregated or the way that people approach power in general has been discussed. We were talking about the desegregation of public schools during the civil rights movement in one of my other classes and my professor brought up a really good point. She asked, “Why would anyone think that schools are a good place to desegregate if no other place had been desegregated yet?”

Looking at the way that schools often reflect the outside world, I started to ask myself the same question. Why should we try and implement things like fairness councils, the ability to choose what you want to do, the building of emotional intelligence or economic integration of students when these things are not reflected in actual society? For example, if adults cannot work out their issues through the implementation of restorative justice, why should we expect children to do so? I guess this goes back to the argument of whether or not we must change our schools to change our society or whether we should change society in hopes that schools start to reflect the social change. Realistically, it is easy to teach kids things because they do not have a concept of established norms. Once they grow older and they see that what they learned in school does not reflect the outside world, they may change their attitudes towards certain things. However, the real problem here that no one ever really seems to address is how to teach those who are teaching. We talked about how in school there should be more discussions about race. But how do we expect these conversations to occur when most of the teachers in the public education system are from a generation where race was a taboo subject?

I think at this point we’ve all come to the consensus that the education system is not fair. But why would we expect our education system to be the epitome of fairness if this is not reflected anywhere else in our society? Without addressing this greater issue, there is no possible way to come to a proper solution. It’s like people are trying to pump air into a flat tire without stopping to notice the other three are deflated. Without looking at all aspects of the issue, the car will never move forward.

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Apr 24 2012

Why not US?

by at 10:54 pm

The way Charlie and I got around to stumbling across PISA comes full circle to the question: why isn’t the United States adapting to the changing needs of society?

By looking at vocational school and technological schools in the United States, and the success they achieve, I started wondering why systems like these weren’t instituted in other parts of the United States.  One resource mentioned that in Finland, 45% of all students attend some sort of vocational school at the age of 15.  These programs can involve anything from business to hospitality to cosmology.  Not only do they then have an educated generation, but also a skilled generation, individuals that can do something besides read a book.

Finland’s successful program is only reinstated by the PISA test, that shows Finland as one of the top three performers.  The students are able to perform well on an exam that supposedly tests for critical thinking skills and the ability to think in possible scenarios.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that is related to what they are teached in school.

Of course, changing every American school into a career or vocational school would be expensive.  That doesn’t mean education reform has to be out of the question.  The great thing about the ten videos is that they highlighted ten different education reform methods.  Finland invested in teachers.  Brazil in successful schools.  Portugal decreased the number of learning centers.  Korea is going electronic.  Germany is centralizing the curricula.  10 possibilities that have seen improvements in less than eight years.

So, why not the United States?

The optimistic would say we’re trying.  So then how come we haven’t seen any improvements?  Are we too large?  China succeeded.  Are we too economically diverse?  Germany succeeded.  Are we too stuck in our ways?

Likely.

As mentioned in class, many of the most successful reforms happened to be Asian tigers, or countries that recently have reformed many sectors, including economic.  The willingness to change could be a big factor in why or why not a country can reform education.

Charlie brought up that the United States has been on top for a while, and despite declining education levels, has managed to stay there.  So where is our motivation for change?  Unfortunately improving knowledge for the sake of our future will not be an apparent issue until it is said future.

 

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Apr 24 2012

Education in US

by at 5:30 pm

From todays readings, videos, and presentations I have gained a new sense of reasons why Americas education system is the way it is. My main reason for seeing thing this way was the video on PISA and the discussion we had in class following it. It is interesting to see how these other countries that have been far behind the United States are rising above us educationally. It is also interesting to see that the states that have implemented this PISA testing are the one’s succeeding and surpassing us. This brings me to wonder why it is that the United States has not strayed away from state testing and attempted to implement a standardized regional test. It would make sense that with our diminishing education system and our drive to continuously be the number one country in the world we would work harder to compete with other countries educationally but that seems not to be the case. I believe for one, America has not implemented this form of testing because we as a country are afraid to fail therefore we limit the chances we take, especially with education. I also believe that Americans still have this belief that our country is way ahead of others when in reality many other countries are catching up and when it comes to education they are surpassing us. Our countries lack of seeing the greater problem in this is what is going to lead to the down fall of America at the hands of education. I believe this will happen because education is the basis for all thriving societies and if our nation continues to let the children of other countries surpass our children then the generations to come will not be able to uphold the status of America which eventually will lead to other overpowering us and taking our place. Although America is a lot larger than many of the other countries that we have seen are benefiting from this PISA testing I still believe that the creation of a nation wide test rather than state test will be beneficial. This will be beneficial because just like in the other countries it will influence us to educate our children at the same level. I also believe that this will be beneficial for the states because it would give us a better sense of who is excelling and who is not if everyone is graded based off of the same testing scale. Although this would be a very big change I believe that the future of education deserves a try with this new testing system and maybe in trying the states could develop a way to alter it and make it work and benefit us the way it has benefited other countries so we can bring our education systems beck up to the top and have a chance to remain at the top when it is time for future generations to take over.

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Apr 23 2012

Bilingual Education: Accommodate the students, not people’s biases

by at 8:46 pm

Earlier this week, I read an article that details the way in which the state of Texas leads the country in dual-language programs. The idea behind this form on bilingual education represents an opportunity to “accelerate learning and close achievement gaps” in school districts. It is common in Texas for students to grow up in Spanish-speaking households and dual-language programs aim to help these students transition into English speaking classrooms. Over the years, however, states like California have taken different approaches to adopting bilingual education as part of their curriculum.

As I read about this Texas movement, I reflected on the video Alberto and Jessica presented in the last class about ethnic studies. Arizona legislature goes out of their way to ban subject areas that can potentially serve to the greater intellectual growth of students overall. This form of biased and ignorant intervention in education only places limits on the type of knowledge student should acquire. As a society, I believe we should continue to open up areas of study and not limit ourselves to what some may deem “unnecessary”. We should advocate for school districts to enable students to decide themselves the areas that will essentially stimulate their intellectual curiosities.

Looking at the way legislators have treated bilingual education, it seems that individuals have treated this method of learning with ignorance and not a belief that represents growth potential for students. Students in bilingual education often become the target of biased and negative opinions. When defining ESL or bilingual education courses, it is important to note these students as English language learners and not as a learning disability. Unfortunately, several individuals at the legislative and local school district level have unfairly limited the opportunity to further develop students’ curiosities.

In 1998, California banned the use of bilingual education and cutting these resources placed students in classes that held them back even further. I recall attending dual English and Spanish reading and writing sessions during my first years in elementary school. Children in that area grew up speaking Spanish at home and using that existing knowledge to learn English made the transition easier. Specifically in my community, parent involvement was much higher in the earlier years of their child’s education because they could easily understand the material in Spanish. As soon as the law took effect, students did not have that facilitated transition to English and fell back even further in reading levels. Parents were immediately not able to easily work with their children and students often gave in to their frustrations. Dual-language learning does not just represent another subsection of education, but rather another form of inspiring learning through means already familiar to students.

In class, we reflected on McLaren’s Critical Pedagogy where we assessed the school, family, and community as main sources of cultural capital. We recognized that students also learn from sources outside the classroom though experiences may vary depending on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds. However, actions that limit the access to bilingual education work against this philosophy. Such legislation prevents students from using the Spanish language they already know to acquire new knowledge.

When making education policy, we should remain advocates for the student and the type of academic material that will inspire that learning as opposed to making decisions that accommodate our personal biases. Personally, I view bilingual education as a unique opportunity to become bilingual and knowledgeable about more topics in different languages. Speaking two languages fluently places students at a greater advantage long-term for closing the achievement gap and even in reaching higher education.

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/03/04/texas-leads-nation-in-bilingual-education/?intcmp=related

 

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