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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 46,179

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Whatever it takes.

I certainly wish we focused more on student needs and less on tests, teacher bashing, privatization, etc., and I've been saying so since before the public education attacks went national with NCLB, let alone RTTT.

Whatever it takes.

Let me tell you what it "takes" for just a few of my students this year, and they are not outliers:

Student # 1: Please give him a place to live; a safe, clean, warm place to go home to each day where he can keep his things without losing them, have a decent meal, a bath, and get a good night's sleep. Clean laundry would be good, too.

Student # 2: His case worker is searching for his 8th foster home in 3 years. Let them find someone who will keep him, in spite of the difficulty and stress he brings to their lives, because he's almost out of time. He's been diagnosed with a bunch of stuff, and classified, at the age of 11, as a budding sexual predator, following in the footsteps of the abusive father he was taken away from way too late. If he's not going to grow into an abuser or spend his life behind bars or both, someone has got to quit pushing him away and be there. NOW.

Student # 3: His parents are divorcing, and his mom has announced to him that she's glad to be free, and never wants to see him again. His dad is overwhelmed, angry, and lacks parenting skills. He cares, but doesn't know how to provide the kid with stability, with that combination of love, patience, structure, and firmness that he needs right now. The kid is deeply angry, lashing out at the world, and is also on the more extreme end of ADHD.

Student # 4: A nice kid, a loving, if somewhat chaotic and scattered, family; he is smart, funny, fun, and lost in a cloud of disorganized confusion. He can't ever find what he needs. He walks down the hall with an armload of unorganized stuff, leaving a trail of papers, pencils, etc. behind him. This is not an exaggeration. He gets out of his seat every 2 minutes, on average, because he just remembered something that has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever he's supposed to be working on. He doesn't remember anything he's been told, even when he's been told every day for a month, until you tell him again, and he says, "Oh, yeah." He doesn't know which side of his paper is the front side, or what a margin is for, or how to write on lines.

Student # 5: A wonderful, engaging young man walking to the beat of a different drummer; reasonable intelligence, but completely uninterested in anything remotely academic or intellectual; has mastered the art of escaping into his fantasy world in any setting, while looking like he's engaged in whatever he is supposed to be doing. Will good-naturedly spend a little time on a task if I sit next to him and talk him through it, keeping him out of his own world and trying to learn, but only while I'm there totally focused on him. As soon as I move onto another student, he is "gone" again.

Students # 6, 7, 8 and 9: Drug babies raised by grandparents. Not related; 4 different sets of grandparents. Severe problems with focus, organization, and the ability to llisten, read and communicate clearly in spoken or written form.

Student # 10: Dad has never been in the picture, wasn't interested in being a father. Mom was more interested in partying, and dumped him off at her parents, never to be heard from again. He's spent the last 6 years being shuttled from one family member to another, NONE OF WHOM WANTED HIM, and moving from school to school as his living circumstances changed again. He's a nice kid. He's lovable. I don't know why his family doesn't love him, but this kid needs some therapy and a stable home.

Student # 11: Suffers from chronic depression; divorced parents are too busy fighting to get him the help he needs.

Student # 12: Doesn't eat at lunch because parents don't send her with food or money. Doesn't eat breakfast at home, either. I keep her supplied with "snacks" that I allow anyone to eat in class.

Student # 13: Suffers from anxiety disorder that severely impacts her ability to function academically. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I spend copious amounts of time "conferencing" with mom about it, and mom is usually crying and/or ranting, because her anxiety levels about the kid are more extreme than her daughter's. Mental health services are not included in the families insurance.

That's enough to go with; I could list a whole lot more. Whatever it takes: Where's the food, the stability, the love, the counseling and therapy, and the smaller setting with more one-on-one support that these students need?

I think calling people trolls

without naming names is chickenshit, myself.

I also think acting like an enraged middle schooler on crack, spewing hate, poor spelling, lots of ugly names, and way too many exclamation points, is a juvenile, tasteless, and clueless way to make a point which mirrors the worst of the freepers, tea partiers, and right wing "morans" that this site is supposed to oppose.

If you have a problem with something someone posts, why not say so to them, directly, countering their position with evidence and logic? Why "sneak up on" them with personal attacks?

Not only do I have friends who are Republicans,

I have friends who aren't human.

Some of my best friends aren't human.

I have friends who are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents. Christians, Jews, Muslims, athiests, pagans of various sorts, agnostics...even skeptics. All races, many cultures, many creeds.

Friendship is a positive human characteristic. There are so many destructive human characteristics, all based in hate, fear, and greed. I don't want to feed the worst that people are capable of, so I do my best not to indulge in hate, fear, and greed.

It seems like so many LIKE to hate. They CRAVE hate. They are addicted to hate. When one source of hate becomes socially or politically incorrect, they find other ways to hate.

Politically, hate is celebrated. It's celebrated by the party faithful. It's celebrated at Free Republic. It's celebrated at DU.

I often hear political opponents referred to as "sociopaths," "psychopaths," etc..

I have to say that I think attachment to hate is a kind of mental illness.

I think hating others is one way weak, insecure people put themselves "up:" by putting other's down. It's an immature emotional response that evolved people work through in adolescence and leave behind when they become adults.

Or they should.

Seeing people as fellow flawed and beautiful human beings, having empathy for humanity, especially for their lacks, is necessary for personal evolution, and for the positive evolution of the species.

Friends? I connect with my friends through our commonalities, not our differences. I try to be sensitive to when it's a good idea to air differences, and when it's better to let them lie. I'm old enough to have been raised on this code: leave politics and religion out of social conversations. When it IS time to respond to someone who has political, religious, or philosophic differences, I've found that responding gently, respectfully, and leaving them with food for thought and no reason to escalate the topic is usually pretty effective.

Especially when we walk our talk for the world to see.


Young adults, like everyone else, don't need insurance.

Insurance costs money, but doesn't guarantee care. As a matter of fact, after paying the money for the insurance, there is more money to pay for actual care: deductibles and copays.

Nobody needs insurance. Insurance exists not to provide care, but to make a profit off of people's medical needs, and to maximize those profits by limiting actual care.

Everyone, including young adults need health CARE. Health care that is universally accessible, universally high-quality, and universally free at point of service, paid for entirely by taxes.

THAT's what every young adult, and everyone else, needs.

Public Education

I know this is not a big issue for DU, except when it's time to bash teachers or toss of a comment criticizing current reforms while racing off to discuss something more important.

Here's a video; a LONG video, which gives a clear accounting of the history of current ed reform, who is behind those efforts, how the new Common Core State Standards fit into those efforts, where the CCSS is going, and how it's affecting public education. The predictions for the future are particularly note worthy.

It's long enough; the introduction of the speaker takes the first 5:40.

I think anyone who wants to discuss the current state of public education from an informed standpoint ought to be educating themselves about the issue first; this video provides one source.

It ends with a message of hope that brought tears to my eyes; the idea that parents would finally begin to stand up, to be heard, to fight back against harmful reform instead of fighting us, the educators, means much to me. I'd <snip> the conclusion for DUers to read, at least, if I had a transcript, but I don't. I hope some will spend some time with this.


If that's "the purpose" of education,

then it's because the general public fucking ALLOWED it to become the purpose by enabling fucking corporate "reformers."

It's certainly ONE of the purposes of corporate education reform, the other being to privatize it in order to profit from the public money spent on education.

It's not the purpose of actual educators.

You want education to be about producing critically thinking, productive citizens? Put educators in charge of the system. Quit demonizing teachers, and quit participating in the destruction of the system by electing people who support corporate "reforms."

By "productive" citizens, I'm assuming you mean citizens that think independently and actively participate in their communities and governments, not productive worker drones.

It kills me to see the people that should be supporting and defending PUBLIC education propping up the ignorance and arrogance of this privileged little ass hat instead of attacking the source of the problem, not just with their voices, but with their time, energy, funds, and VOTES.

I left this up when I went to bed last night,

wanting to respond thoughtfully with a clear head. I don't know how clear my head is, although I'm sure it will improve as I finish my cup of coffee, but I'll give it a try.

I see more than two issues here.

First, there is private gun ownership. I agree with you about the gun culture; I think it is a bigger problem than the guns themselves. I also think, though, that there is a connection between the two. I'll come back to that.

The militarism of police departments etc....This is a concern. Any time there is abuse, it is a big concern. I think that there are dysfunctional people who, along with more altruistic people, are drawn to the authoritarian power an officer of the law carries, and that makes them dangerous. I think, as well, that many people who advocate guns for self defense also have that unhealthy need for power over others.

I spent a few days in my state's biggest city this summer with family from another state. They loved our city; one of the greenest and most liberal in the nation. They noted that, no matter what neighborhood we were in, commercial, industrial, poor working, higher-end entertainment, etc., they felt safe. This was different for them. They also noted that every time they saw a cop, he or she or they were interacting in positive ways with everyone; chatting with those waiting for a bus, with buskers, with the homeless, of which there were a few. Nobody tensed up around them. We saw them on foot, on bicycles, and on horses. Until one point, when we were waiting for the Max. There were two sets of cops; one across the rails and one near us. My family noted that the one near us, unlike everyone else we'd seen to that point, seem to be harassing a disheveled looking guy waiting for the max about something. I looked and saw: he was state police, not local police. Apparently, local police who spend time getting to know, and getting known, on their beat make a difference in how we see them. I think this concept is worth exploring and expanding on.

I have a hard time working up a fear of the military state, even though I know it has happened, could happen here, and that we are exhibiting some of the same symptoms that allowed it to happen elsewhere. I DO think we ought to be paying attention, and acting vigorously and relentlessly to keep local law enforcement and militias in check. I don't really think that individual gun ownership is a way to accomplish that. First of all, individuals don't own, and I don't want them to own, deterrents to the kind of weapons the government has at its disposal. Second, I think that is more likely to increase the gun culture, and the culture and existence of a police state, with more acts of violence likely to occur.

I agree with your friends who believe that state violent identity is born from social violent identity. I'll use a familiar metaphor: the story of the two wolves that live inside of us. Who "wins?" The one that we feed. That's why gun ownership feeds the gun culture, even though it's the gun culture that is the problem. Violence feeds violence, war breeds war, fear tends to bring about the very thing we fear faster and more profoundly. This is why we need to be focused on non-violent solutions.

Finally, I'm going to leave the term "pacifist" out, because it comes with some assumptions and associations that aren't helpful. Like passivity, for instance. Non-violent struggle, as G_J mentioned, is not passive, and can be effective. He mentioned MLK, who got his ideas about non-violence from Gandhi. Both knew that the struggle is not without cost. One of the things that Gandhi supported was helping the oppressed by empowering them...not by saving them through force, but by teaching them how to use non-violent struggle to improve things for themselves. That's a much more nuanced, and, imo, evolved, way to deal with conflict than many are ready to understand or engage in. The bottom line, though, is that there are ways to address conflict without violence, and that's what I'd like to see the U.S. do, within our borders and in the international arena.

Neither war nor peace, but non-violent struggle:

From an essay by Gene Sharp discussing Gandhi's response to conflict.

Modern thought widely assumes that the peaceful alternatives to violence and war consist of negotiations, dialogue, diplomacy, negotiations, compromise, conciliation, and other tools of conflict resolution. Those are all good and useful tools in many situations and they need to be explored and developed further. However, that list does not include the full range of alternatives to violence. It does not give recognition to Gandhi’s views and experience in the development of satyagraha and the important wider historical practice of nonviolent struggle in social, economic, political, and international conflicts.

The article you posted does not even give recognition to those mentioned "peaceful alternatives." It assumes that "pacifist" = passive non-response.

Gandhi’s important contributions about how to deal with conflicts do not fit smoothly into established modern thought and practice. The
assumption usually is that in serious conflicts one ultimately must choose between surrender, using violence, and refusal to participate on pacifist grounds.

That's exactly what those supporting a violent response are saying.

Gandhi’s answer was to identify those conflicts where the issues are fundamental. Those are the conflicts when moral principles, human rights,and justice are at stake and when compromise is not possible or desirable. Then the primary task of the exponent of nonviolent means is to assist the oppressed people to become empowered by learning how to apply satyagraha, or nonviolent struggle, to change their situation, as Gandhi insisted.
Most Western conflict resolution advocates, pacifists, and peace researchers have not yet fully grasped this great contribution to the resolution of acute conflicts.

It's an interesting and relevant read.


Yes. And NO.

The key words being "the current system," which is dominated by corporate policies that are not educationally sound.

Developmentally, large classrooms with a lot of sitting and listening are not at all appropriate for young children.

What IS appropriate:

Learning through play. Developing fine motor skills with clay and crayons and paints, etc..

Abundant time reading with an adult, one-on-one and small group. Learning group behaviors like listening, taking turns...

Singing, rhymes, poems, etc..

LANGUAGE development: Actual conversations with adults.

Creating their own stories with puppets, toys, etc..

Learning one-to-one correspondence with concrete things...like the things they are playing with.

Building and making things.

Dancing, tumbling, etc...

Learning how to interact with other children in small, safe, environments with supportive adults.

All of that can be done by parents, and some do all or most. Not all parents do these things. Some children come to kindergarten without ever having read a book, without ever having held a crayon, without most of the developmental activities listed above that get them ready for academic learning. And, in the world of high-stakes testing, academics are there in kindergarten.

Not that children can't learn important academic skills in kindergarten; it's just that the rest must come first, and academics must be presented in developmentally appropriate ways.

It's not that children need to stay out of school until they are older. That's a dangerous thing to do, since most of the neural connections that they will need for academic learning are formed by age 4. They just need a system that supports the way they learn.

In the smaller picture, allow pre-school and kindergarten to be developmentally appropriate, and get as many kids there as possible. In the larger picture, dump the damned corporate model with the privatization agenda, and allow the rest of the system to be structured in healthier, more productive, more positive ways.

That's the beauty of humanity, Taitertots.

We can study brain development and learn something about how the brain functions and learns. We can look at a myriad of factors that influence how people learn and respond to their environment.

We can do so much, but the one thing we can't do, the one thing we will always fail at, is trying to standardize people. We're all different. When it comes to learning, we can identify things that work for most, but there is no one way that works for all. You don't have to learn like other people for your way of learning to be valid.

That's what brings the joy into every new year: new young people to get to know, to get to love, in all their glory, brilliance, dysfunction, strength, and need.

The current authoritarian standardization of our public school system is, in my opinion, abusive. For teachers as well as students. It benefits no one but the folks that need large cheap labor pools, cannon fodder, and obedient bubblers/voters.

Our public education system, our public school teachers, and our students need voters to give the current powers that be, those that are instituting abusive "reforms," the boot. We need a complete shift in priorities. I don't know how many more years I've got in me, but those years will be spent fighting for just that, and fighting to make something positive happen in my classroom amidst all the rest.
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