A Teacher’s Perspective On School Reform

Current trends in education “reform” rely heavily on teacher-bashing, and on claims about the supposed failure of public schools that would put Chicken Little to shame. Wealthy individuals and corporate interests spend millions of dollars on media to denigrate public schools and undermine the professional reputation of public school teachers.

In an interview you did for Robin Shreeves, I read that you started The Grass Stain Guru because you are so passionate about the issues of unstructured play, connecting people with nature, and education reform. How does your blog address these issues?

Second, we need to challenge them on their issues — specifically the unsustainable public sector payroll, pensions, and perks. We can compete on these issues. Democratic policies have chased both union and non-union jobs out of this state for decades. Republicans need to let private sector union workers know that their public sector allies are directly responsible for chasing trade union jobs out of Illinois.

B. On-site interviews must be conducted by a panel of administrators and teachers with a wide-range of questions and situations that the applicant must be able to answer satisfactorily. No one should be hired simply because a reference person says that the applicant is ‘good.’ People normally give references who will give favorable comments.

Yes, the situation is miserable, no matter what area you live in. So it’s no surprise that the reports out of North Carolina are not good. The number of dropouts is increasing even faster than previously thought, with the number of dropouts during the 2006-2007 school year the highest in seven years.

So how does this relate to school vouchers? Well, as a school visionary for new systems of education the way I see it is that as things stand, those with wealth are able to choose how their children are educated while those without have to put up with what is available even if they just do not believe it is serving their children’s best interests. Since EVERY school in America is attended by members of the public, then every school is a public school. Why should we not have a choice about how our dollars are allocated? Why should only wealthy people get to choose, and why should the wealthy pay twice through property taxes and school tuition?

Learn some basic things with your kids about your local natural world. Discover where the creeks, wild areas and parks are in your neighborhood. Identify a few common local trees, birds, butterflies, and critters. Observe natural processes like erosion, why some plants and animals live and die, how living things interact with their environment, and weather patterns. Apply this learning to real-world classroom concepts.

A Teacher’s Perspective On School Reform

I took that same attitude into the classroom when i began to teach. When I gave homework, it was so the student could practice a new skill. If a student made an honest attempt to complete an assignment, and was unsuccessful, he/she could come to me. The parents and the child did not have to spend quality time at home frustrated as they all tried to figure it out.

Second, we need to challenge them on their issues — specifically the unsustainable public sector payroll, pensions, and perks. We can compete on these issues. Democratic policies have chased both union and non-union jobs out of this state for decades. Republicans need to let private sector union workers know that their public sector allies are directly responsible for chasing trade union jobs out of Illinois.

A movement has arisen in response, called No Child Left Inside; the allusion to education reform is no accident. Since then, experts have testified to Congress. Officials have passed resolutions, and shepherded national and state bills through the halls of government. Websites, books, organizations, coalitions and operations are out there. Now, what can you do?

Pick up some litter. In your front yard, in the vacant lot, at school, in the super store parking lot. It makes the place look better, it’s free, good exercise, and shows you care. You could work with the family, make a special project, or just stoop a moment along your daily routine.

Start early and make it a habit before you introduce TV and video games. Limit screen-time, including TV, video games, and computer. Trade some of their structured activities for free time. Appeal to kids’ natural interests (e.g. sports: try hiking or canoeing, science: try gardening or rock collecting). Model outdoor time behavior yourself and focus on fun!

Will these “reform” efforts help teachers connect with students? No. Will these efforts help instill the level of trust necessary to reach those hard-to-reach kids who already struggle? Of course not.

“At this time, the student Code of Conduct does not take into consideration a child’s age in a Level three offense,” read the statement from the Christina School District in Newark, Delaware.