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If we are going to have national standards in education

by: teacherken

Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 06:11:42 AM EST

then something that should be included, for teachers and administrators, as well as students, are these words:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.

They were written by Robert Jackson, as part of the opinion of the Court, in the 1943 (note the date) case of WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL. v. BARNETTE ET AL., 319 U.S. 624.   And recent events in a school in the DC suburb makes it clear why everyone should know about this case.

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Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality

by: teacherken

Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 05:40:02 AM EST

When teachers are forced, against their better judgment, to focus on teaching test content to the exclusion of almost everything else, I can only conclude that the high-stakes testing movement nourishes totalitarian regimes.

If the title did not grab you, I suspect that if you really care about what is happening to American public schools, that quote should get your attention.  It is from the introduction to the final book by the late Gerald W. Bracey, taken from us too soon this past October.  

This is a book that will give you all the ammunition you need to oppose the so-called reformers who, despite their professed best intentions, are destroying American public education.  

The book has an additional subtitle, Transforming the Fire Consuming America's Schools, which makes clear Bracey's opposition to much of what has been happening in the past decade or more.  I invite to you come with me on a further exploration of the book, and of Bracey.

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This is personal

by: teacherken

Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 22:11:22 PM EST

although perhaps not in the sense that some may expect.  I cannot help that.  As I write this, 2 days before Christmas and one day before the historic vote in the Senate, I am in a somewhat reflective mood, fed in part by jotter, or rather, his daily listing of diaries.  Jotter includes top ten lists from the previous two years ago, and that led to my rereading two things I have written in the past few years.  

Two years ago today I wrote It's not the stuff of which dreams are made. in which I explored how the dream of generations of most Americans that their children would live better than they did was being - or already was - lost.   That is almost a year before the final financial meltdown of 2008.  And in rereading the diary and the comments, I encountered a reference to one of the more cogent diaries I have written, Teaching is my essential political action.  Rereading those two diaries, at the same time as I am reading David Plouffe's The Audacity to Win cause me to step back and reflect.  This diary is the product of that reflection.

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Stacking the Deck Against Kids

by: teacherken

Sat Nov 28, 2009 at 08:15:08 AM EST

crossposted from Daily Kos

The American economy is broken, ruined by the greed and irresponsibility of fabulously wealthy corporate chieftains and their shabby acolytes and enablers in government. While Wall Street is handing out billions in bonuses, American families are struggling with joblessness, home foreclosures and rampant debt. The economic woes are exacting a fierce toll on family life, and children are taking a big hit - emotionally, psychologically and otherwise.

The quote and the title are from this column by Bob Herbert.   Read it.  

Then we can talk.

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Creating a Democratic Learning Community

by: teacherken

Mon Nov 23, 2009 at 05:37:34 AM EST

is the focus of a new book by Sam Chaltain, National Director of the Forum for Education and Democracy.  Sam previously worked with the First Amendment Schools Project, an experience that helped shaped this book.   He is also founding director of the Five Freedoms Project, which is a community educators, students and citizens committed to First Amendment Freedoms, democratic schools, and the idea that students should be seen and heard (and of which I am a member).

American Schools:  The Art of Creating a Democratic Learning Community has a Foreword by former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - herself long committed to a revitalization of civic education  - and is valuable both as something to read to provoke one's thinking, and as a resource for further exploration of the topic, especially for anyone concerned about preparing our students to learn to be citizens of a democracy.

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