by Rudy Garcia
If I believed the establishment press, the politicians and the education conglomerate, I am one of the unclean, even though I bathe daily. I am one of the guilty, even though I pay my taxes and don't run stop signs. I am one of the problems, even though I go to work every day, work until I'm too tired to do more, and put in unpaid extra hours on weekends.
I rank only as medium among my colleagues, some of whom will go to early graves because of their commitment to teaching America's children. But the dialogue on the problems in education centers greatly on how teachers are the problem, especially in educating the children of the poor and working class.
Of course I don't fall for the teacher-problem propoganda. I ignore it to keep myself centered on the children's needs. And I don't hear much from colleagues about what the propoganda does to them. It's sort of an unspoken rule that we teachers avoid discussing what the political climate in this country is doing to our hearts, our sense of self-worth, our estimation of whether our country wants or needs us. To touch and share that subject might open our hearts too much. And--though not in my case--the underlying hurt is best kept hidden so we can all keep on.
Budget cuts, teacher layoffs, slashing of teacher benefits, school closings, privatized charter school take-overs of our neighborhoods, and increased class sizes are constantly in the news because, we are told, after bailing out the banks, mortgage companies and brokerages, there is no money to bail out children, especially the less prosperous.
Of course there is money in the vaults of the richest country in the world. It's just being used elsewhere. It's always been there--for the bailout of the 1%, for the senseless wars and for segregating the minorities into prisons and barrios, at least until the gentry desire the barrios.
The reality that the U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that finances public education by neighborhood instead of nationally, keeps our unfair system in place. It has been that way for too long for many Americans to demand another way. Until that is changed, all the debates about budget cuts and how to close the achievement gaps are relatively useless. And our teachers will just have to keep their hearts closed and struggle on.
Below are excerpts from a study of how local funding of public schools is increasing the education gap between the 1% and the rest of us, particularly the minority poor who I work with. You can go here to see the full article. And if you can read and understand it, there's no need to thank a teacher. We don't do what we do for the recognition, nor for our average salaries. What you can do is thank your lucky stars you at least were born before average, locally funded American schools were replaced by below average locally funded schools.
"A study has dug deeper into the value-added system [of education]. Professors Xiaoxia Newton of UC Berkeley and Linda Darling-Hammond, Edward Haertel and Ewart Thomas of Stanford have analyzed how ethnicity, English language ability, poverty and parental educational levels impact students’ classroom performance."
“The achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is roughly 30-40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier,” Reardon wrote. At the same time, he said, “the gap between the rich and the poor has widened significantly, particularly among families with children.”
"The New York Times story cited a study by professor Meredith Phillips of UCLA showing that by the time affluent children start school, they have spent about 400 hours more than poor children in literary activities. All told, affluent children before the age of 6 have spent 1,300 more hours than poor children in places away from home, day care center or school. These places include shopping malls and museums."
"The unfairness of our economic system is a central point of the Occupy Wall Street movement."
For a deeper discusson of questions raised in that article, you can also:
Go here for Lessons from the New Corporate Schooling
Here for Testing, Privatization, and the Future of Public Schooling
Here for Militarism and Education Normal
And here for The Culture of Poverty Reloaded
Es todo, hoy