All Articles Tagged "education system"
Viola Davis is no stranger to playing controversial roles.
While it was her role as Aibileen Clark in The Help that garnered her an Oscar nomination, her role, as well as the film in general, caused quite a stir in the black community for its Disney like portrayal of race relations in the 1960s, particularly that belonging to black maids and their white employers. Now, Davis now finds herself under scrutiny again for a her role in a new film called Won’t Back Down, which also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter and Ving Rhames.
In the film, which has a release date of September 28th, Davis stars as school teacher/single mom, who teams up with a bartender/single mom, to tackle the monumental challenges of fixing a crumbling inner city school. In the trailer for the film, we see Gyllenhaal angrily pontificating over the need for change after her daughter, who we learn can’t read, is seen crying in the school’s broom closet after being punched in the face by a teacher. Not sure what Viola’s plot points are, as the trailer doesn’t focus much on her grievances, other than being sidekick to a feisty, motivated white woman. But this film is said to have been inspired by a true events and we get to watch as these two lead the charge against an entrenched bureaucracy to takeover a school through a fictionalized version of a parent trigger law. These laws, passed in 2010, give parents the option to petition to overhaul the staff in an underperforming public school and turn it into a charter school.
The film has the same sort of David versus Goliath feel good education stories we come to be fond of over the years. Movies like Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver and Dangerous Minds largely appeal to us because it gives us hope that the answer to poverty and rampant violence in some of our poorest urban communities comes solely in the form of high educational standards and tough as nails, overly-devoted teachers, who are not only willing to buck the system but stand in as absentee parents to these wayward children as well. As such, it should be hit. However, despite the feel good nature, the film is also being heavily criticized for allegedly pushing an anti-union, pro-charter school agenda.
Some critics have complained that the film is a cloak its anti-teacher, anti-union slate, particularly highlight the films focus on “parent trigger” laws, which has been used to replaced unionized teachers with non-union charter schools. Such laws have been passed in several states, including California, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana with more states considering their adoption. Moreover, the film itself is produced through partnership between 20th Century Fox and Walden Media, a subsidiary of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which in turn is a subsidiary of the Anschutz Company. The Anschutz company is owned by Philip Anschutz, an oil-and-gas billionaire, who has donated money to Americans for Prosperity, a right wing, anti- union, anti-environment regulations, anti-Obamacare (among other things), political advocacy group founded by the Koch Brothers. Besides Won’t Back Down, Anschutz is also behind the 2010 film Waiting for ‘Superman,’ a documentary called by many educators as inaccurate propaganda meant to push a pro-charter school agenda.
According to Parents Across America, a pro-public school education group, these parent trigger legislations are part of a larger pro-school privatization model legislation, written and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). For those unaware, ALEC is federalist and conservative lobbying group, which pairs corporations with legislators for the creation of model bills. Portions, if not all, of these model bills have found themselves the basis of actual state and federal laws including various school privatization acts, voter ID laws and Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine laws, which were hotly debated in the Trayvon Martin killing.
Black and Latino students may be getting less critical, but helpful, feedback from teachers than their white counterparts, a new educational study indicates.
“The social implications of these results are important; many minority students might not be getting input from instructors thatstimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement,” study researcher Kent Harber, a Rutgers-Newark psychology professor, said in a press release.
This positive bias in feedback to minority students may be contributing to the achievement gap between white and minority students, a stubborn national problem, Harber said.
The study “tested” 113 white middle-school and high-school teachers in two public school districts, one middle class and white, and the other working class and racially mixed. Both are located in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area.
Get the rest of the story at BlackVoices.com.
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If there was ever a reason to start taking lottery pools at your job more seriously, the winning pool of two Baltimore teachers and an administrator should be proof that you can’t miss out next time.
The three educators stepped forward on Monday to collect their winnings, but did so anonymously: they wore sweatshirts, gloves and hid behind one of their checks. I guess they were smart enough to realize that the minute they let the world know who they were, the sooner the “world” (and all of its many cousins) would want to get broke off too.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the individuals aren’t planning to spend their new millions on extravagant and wasteful things. After taxes, all three winners will attain $35 million in the next few days, which they plan to use on sensible things like new homes, investments (BORING! I’m kidding…), a European vacation, and probably the best idea: a college fund for one of the winner’s children.
After the big lottery on March 30, a woman by the name of Mirlande Wilson, a single mother of seven kids who played the lottery in a pool with her McDonald’s co-workers (but bought extra tickets for herself, alone), tried to claim that she was a winner. Then she wasn’t so sure if she was, causing a great deal of stress for her co-workers and lottery officials. In the end, she wasn’t the winner, we all learned the importance of making photocopies of the tickets we buy in pools, and these three winners shared a good laugh: “They were humored by it,” says Maryland Lottery Director Stephen Martino. Now that the three winners from Maryland stepped forward yesterday, and the winner from Kansas stepped up last week, the last
baller winner from Illinois is the only person left to come forward.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Maryland winners are two women (one in her 20s, the other in her 50s), and a man (in his 40s), and before winning the lottery, each were said to have been working second jobs to pay the bills. Now that they don’t need a second or primary job, I’m wondering if they will chuck the deuces to their education positions? I love the kids just as much as the next person, but with $35 million??? Geez…I think I’d already be on my way to backpack through Europe. Congratulations!
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by R. Asmerom
Florida is the latest state to set its eyes on reforming the teaching industry. It recently voted to abolish teacher tenure and link pay of new teachers to student performance, further advancing the argument of market enthusiasts that a system that complements the for-profit model is best.
As much as we extol the virtues of capitalism, the United States, like all other countries, is a hybrid capitalist and socialist economy. But looking ahead, it appears that social services may take on the front of money-making businesses. The inefficiency of government run institutions has been criticized for many years but it is just now where we’re seeing a concerted effort to reform government owned institutions – public schools being the main targets. But can we guarantee that moving towards for-profit models is a win-win?
Nancy Schimmel, former school and public librarian, says that the market approach to education is shortsighted. “There was a time when people started publishing companies because they loved books. They published enough blockbuster mysteries and romances so that they could risk publishing a new author, or a fine writer with a small following, now and then,” she said. “Now publishing companies have been bought by conglomerates and every book must look to be a moneymaker. Teachers must be allowed time to nurture the people like Albert Einstein, for instance, who are late bloomers and don’t do well in school and whose test scores wouldn’t raise the class average. Students are not identical widgets to be turned out at a factory.”
The DMV, the post office, and other government-owned institutions that have service-based, rather than merit-based, protections for their employees are known for their bad and slow service. For free-market enthusiasts, these institutions evince the flaws of a socialist model. Global business consultant Kathleen Brush believes that an incentive based system is essential to promoting productivity.
“There is a reason why many protected workers are known for terrible service,” she said “Sure, you will find protected government workers that will work very hard, but this is inconsistent with incentives that are in place which have a dramatic effect on human behaviors.”
Education will continue to be a delicate matter in the country. The shift to incentive-based models for teachers just may produce higher test scores amongst students but no one knows what that will mean for the quality of education. Furthermore, recent findings show that the difference between the haves and have-nots is increasing in America, in correlation with the decrease in labor unions. Only time will tell if an increasing market-based approach will produce the results that conservatives and other reformists have promised.
Today, for the first time in three years, the NAACP will begin their three-day national education summit in Raleigh, NC to address the problems within the nation’s educations system, particularly as it relates to re-segregating schools.
It’s a fight the civil rights organization is no stranger to since they have been advocating against segregation since the passing of Brown v. Brown. The flames were ignited within the last year as the organization brought attention to re-segregation activity in schools in the South, especially in North Carolina. This confirms a January 2009 report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA that stated 40 percent of Latinos And 39 percent of Blacks now attend segregated schools, in which 90 to 100 percent of students are non-White.
Schools rely on code words, such as forced busing and neighborhood schools, to push segregation. According to NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, 40 years of research proves that re-segregation is in opposition to equal education. “We can prove that statistically—in North Carolina, there are 44 failing high schools where the graduating rate is less than 50 percent,” he explained. “With re-segregation there is underfunding, high teacher turnover, high suspension and low graduation rates.”
But segregation is only one roadblock on a complex journey to education reform and equality. Barber says the NAACP considers at least eight things that are critical to reform: stopping re-segregation and promoting diversity, equity in funding, high quality facilities and leadership, high quality teachers and smaller classrooms, parental and community involvement; a focus on math, science, history and reading, and addressing the disparities with minorities in graduation, suspension and drop-out rates.
“We need to treat the sickness for the system,” said Barber. “Re-segregation works against holding all those things together.”
Yesterday, the Washington Post posted a “manifesto” from over a dozen public school district superintendents about what they feel should be at the heart of reform for the nations’ 97,000 public school districts.
Touting the need to shed entrenched practices, which have held the education system back, the education professionals wrote that two major reforms need to happen to ensure student achievement: first, more charter school choice in neighborhoods with failing schools and, second, the need for performance based evaluation of teachers.
In other words, those teachers, who perform well, are rewarded financially while those teachers who fail to ensure student achievement are shown the front door.
On an interesting side note, one of the many signers of this “manifesto” is Michelle Rhee, soon-to-be-former D.C. Schools Chancellor and current face of education reform in America. For those unfamiliar with the name, you might recall Rhee from her role as a shining example of education reform in the documentary, “Waiting for Superman” or her appearance on last week’s Oprah, in which Winfrey hailed her as an education warrior.
Rhee, who got her start in education as a Teach for America teacher in the Baltimore school district, is founder of the New Teacher Project, which is a non-profit organization that has assisted school districts with its recruiting and training of new teachers. Through the success of that program, Rhee was tapped by soon-to-be former Mayor Adrian Fenty to replace chancellor of D.C. public schools Clifford Janey.
In her tenure as chancellor, Rhee became one of the most polarizing figures in the city, drawing praise and ire for the negotiation of teacher’s contracts, which basically exchanged tenure protection for performance base bonuses for performance base bonuses. She also became notorious for laying off 266 teachers in budget reductions and labeling many of the discarded teachers as pedophiles and physically abusive.
With 59 percent of white voters in the last election believing D.C. public schools have improved over the past four years while a combined 56 percent of African Americans believing that public schools were unchanged, if not worse than before, it should come as no surprise that Rhee would be the one of the main reasons behind Mayor Fenty’s termination in the last election.
And it should also come as no surprise that Rhee would sign off on a manifesto, which not only values teachers as resource commodities but also ill-conceivably places them at the cornerstone of any reform efforts. There are many more infrastructural reasons why public school education in American is a dismal failure, none of which were mentioned in the piece.
And even the most dedicated and best trained teachers among us will still fail at the goal of educating children if issues such as the imbalanced student/teacher ratio per class and antiquated curricula continue to persist throughout the public school system as well as the over-reliance of standardize testing, which often restricts teachers on how and what they can instruct.
The most ironic part of this manifesto is that Rhee, along with the 15 other education professional signers, whose sole job is to improve the public schools system are urging parents to jump ship in favor of charter schools, which often rely on non-unionized (and sometimes unaccredited) teachers, student selective practices and for-profit business models to ensure above average achievement.
As the chancellor of D.C. schools, Rhee sought out funding through private foundations of many corporate partners including Walmart, Inc, to help finance the performance based raises and bonuses for D.C. teachers she had instituted. In a speech given before the D.C. primary elections, Rhee said that she had planned on using similar performance based evaluations to determine whether or not a teacher would maintain her job.
There definitely seems to be a for-profit agenda underlying most of what is being touted as education reform in this country and there is no doubt that Michelle Rhee is happily the face of it.
As students run with their parents to the nearest stores for school supplies, a looming issue regarding the education system persists. Recently the federal government came through with $10 billion to revive thousands of teacher positions previously eliminated. Although Democrats are hopeful that the funding will balance the cutbacks made by several states, many are still skeptical.
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Now that the kids are out of diapers, there are some tough decisions to make. Public schools are okay, but there are also some great Catholic schools in your city. And although you’ve considered them in the past, looking at the post-recession cost mixed with the taint pedophile priests may have you leery.