Today's is about how ruthless competition among schools and putting extra stress on students is the key to success for children:
In the course of admitting he didn’t have a good reason for taking a good school away from kids in Harlem, Mayor de Blasio said that to fix a “broken” city school system, we have to “shake the foundations.”
Today, some 1,500 students and teachers from Success Academy charter schools will be doing that at the Armory on the Hudson. They are holding a giant pep rally as they head into next week’s tests. It’s called “Slam the Exam!” And it’s a terrific example of how to “shake the foundations” of a public-school system mired in low expectations and even lower performance.
This Empire is centrally organized, overly bureaucratic and failing 85 percent of our black and Latino students.
Yet it has its defenders. Look at Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. She’s already made clear charter children are not her concern. So what does she tell principals of the children who are her concern? Not to go overboard on “test preparation.” Hmm. Wonder if that’s the approach in Singapore or South Korea, whose students score well above ours in reading, math and science.
Fariña worries about “stressing” students. She should go to the armory today. These kids believe they can compete with the best of them, and that tests give them an opportunity to prove it. So their approach to testing is simple: “Bring it on.”
Then there’s Mayor de Blasio’s idea of shaking it up, which is to take away good schools for kids if they are charters and keep failing schools open if they are traditional schools. That’s the instinct of the old guard who put teachers union above student performance.
The mayor complains about competition. But competition is the key to shaking the foundations. Because charters are showing kids can learn, and in so doing, deprive failing public schools of excuses. And they invite comparisons important to parents.
Our students need more of this, no matter how much the Empire of the mayor and his schools chancellor may strike back.
I figured when the Post published the story a few days ago about Farina talking about the rash of suicides that has struck New York City school students the last seven weeks, they would look to use her statements against her.
And they are - they're mocking her for worrying that the current system is "stressing" students, that she should instead be teaching these kids the kind of "grit" and "determination" the Success Academy students show while trying to "Slam the Exam!"
The sociopath who wrote this editorial clearly does not understand that teaching kids to divorce themselves from their feelings and use external events and extrinsic motivation to get through works to make for a good and healthy life in the long run.
Neither does Jeb Bush, who defended the Common Core this week by railing against people who worry that the current battery of education reforms isn't healthy for children.
The refrain from the reformers is always the same here: "Screw what you think or feel, do what you have to do to succeed the way we tell you to succeed!"
One of the reasons we have such a screwed up culture these days is because so many people are divorced from their inner selves, so many people are leading lives of distraction and isolation, alone with their technology and their material things.
This is the sort of culture sociopaths like Jeb Bush and the Murdoch people like because it keeps them in the money, everybody playing on their field with their rules, with competition and materialism the highest order of the day.
One of the best lessons we can teach students these days is to be able to judge if they want to live by these rules the Bushes and their ilk make for them or if they want to find their own way in life, find their own sources of value and beauty.
I dunno, might be the Jesuit education I received as a teen, but I come from the school of education that looks to teach kids to have the confidence that they can find their own way in a society and a culture that is clearly troubled and getting worse by the year.
I'm not a big fan of teaching them to "slam the exam!" or telling them to get some "grit" to outcompete everyone else.
According to the sociopaths at the Post, that makes me a bad educator.
I'm supposed to be teaching children to "slam the exam!", to learn "grit" and "determination" to succeed no matter the cost.
But looking around at what is left of our dying ecosystem, deteriorating economy and dreadful culture, I think we need to find a different way for education going forward that emphasizes collaboration over competition, intrinsic motivation over extrinsic, and new ways of looking at ourselves and our world that take into account not just the material but also the emotional and, dare I say, the spiritual.
How's that for "shaking the foundations!"?
Oh and about South Korea and their terrific education system?
It leads the world not just in test scores but also suicides of children and adults.