Competition Isn’t The Answer

education-definitionI look at my FB page and realize I have a strong network of friends who share my views, although several who don’t with regard to the support of our new president. I won’t lie, I find the Obama’s inspiring and feel they were the best role models we have EVER had in the White House. I am wrestling to find anything I can support as an American with our current administration.  I am also struggling to prioritize where my efforts need to focus… Immigration? Planned Parenthood funding? PBS funding? Education? Walls?

Let’s start with education and where to find credible information regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. There so many videos and opinions showing up in my FB feed, it is hard to form an opinion without knowing the details.  So in my search, I started with a daily comment piece from my The New Yorker feed posted on 12/14/16 by Rebecca Mead.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/betsy-devos-and-the-plan-to-break-public-schools

[How might DeVos seek to transform the educational landscape of the United States in her position at the head of a department that has a role in overseeing the schooling of more than fifty million American children? As it happens, she does have a long track record in the field. Since the early nineteen-nineties, she and her husband, Dick DeVos, have been very active in supporting the charter-school movement. They worked to pass Michigan’s first charter-school bill, in 1993, which opened the door in their state for public money to be funneled to quasi-independent educational institutions, sometimes targeted toward specific demographic groups, which operate outside of the strictures that govern more traditional public schools. (Dick DeVos, a keen pilot, founded one of his own: the West Michigan Aviation Academy, located at Gerald Ford International Airport, which serves an overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male population of students.)]

I have had the pleasure of both private (non-charter) and public schools forming my educational foundations for success.  Charter schools weren’t a thing until I was out of college. In reading through the piece, I was taken aback with the below statement: 

[As the Republican nominee, Trump campaigned on a platform of educational reform, proposing to assign twenty billion dollars of federal funds to a block grant aimed at opening up school choice. The assumption is that productive competition between schools will result. “Competition always does it,” Trump said in September as if he were speaking about air-conditioner factories rather than academic institutions. “The weak fallout and the strong get better. It is an amazing thing.”]

I cannot wrap my brain around this. This is not a sane vantage point with regards to learning. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI) has stood the test of time where hundreds of schools across the globe have adopted this theory of learning. Learning isn’t “competitive”, it is “collaborative”. Schools already compete against each other in band, cheer, debate and sports. Unfortunately saying the weak will fallout is just more elitist rhetoric.  

If you are up for a 30+ page read, the link to the white paper:
https://howardgardner01.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/443-davis-christodoulou-seider-mi-article.pdf

Mead further states [In a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Magazine, DeVos expressed her ultimate goals in education reform, which she said she saw encompassing not just charter schools and voucher programs but also homeschooling and virtual education: “That all parents, regardless of their zip code, have had the opportunity to choose the best educational setting for their children. And that all students have had the best opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential.”]

One can search Netflix to watch a whole host of docs on this topic. The majority of them convey that open “competition” is about socioeconomics and not necessarily God-given potential. 

I went to DeVos’ site Q&A page and we agree on one point, we both are not supporters of the Common Core.  In 2009, (not so long ago) The Common Core was launched to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating high school prepared for college, career, and life.  Hmmm, is it working?  There are plenty of published pros and cons. More con articles exist than pro. The best “cons” article I have read was posted back in April 2016.  

The best “cons” article I have read was posted back in April 2016.  

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201604/why-isnt-common-core-working

[First, the facts: Common Core (CC) is not working, as measured by its own standards and metrics. After seven years of implementation in 40 states, Associated Press now summarizes the National Report Card that reveals that two-thirds of graduating seniors are not ready for college. Seventy-five percent failed the math test and sixty-three percent failed the reading test.]

What DeVos does not share in her Q&A are her thoughts regarding specific education policies. Typical. …“out of respect for the United States Senate, it is most appropriate for me to defer expounding on specifics until they begin their confirmation process.”  And we still haven’t learned much more to date.  Most of what is out there is video excerpts and transcriptions from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for her confirmation hearing Jan. 17. and gone rogue.  From seeing excerpts of the hearing, I must give serious kudos to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Tim Kain, Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Chris Murphy and for asking the tough questions.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/18/what-we-learned-about-betsy-devoss-higher-education-positions-not-much/?utm_term=.86ef5bb3fb18

I really don’t want someone appointed who cannot publically and intelligently provide the American voters with her view on current policies and proposed directives for reform.  I have children learning the Common Core and if DeVos were to suddenly privatize education, what is the impact on this program and my children who are only in their elementary school years? We need to have these kinds of discussions for the future of our children who will one day be running our fine country!  

So, if you are still reading, THANK YOU!  

If you are still reading, WRITE YOUR SENATOR TODAY URGING THEM TO VOTE “NO” on the appointment of Betsy DeVos. 

Write your letter here: http://networkforpubliceducation.org/2016/11/tell-your-senator-to-vote-no-for-betsy-devos/

Want to learn very little: http://www.betsydevos.com/q-a/

Have questions about Charter-Private-Public discussion, a few FAQs: http://www.pbs.org/closingtheachievementgap/faq.html

More on the Common Core: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/development-process/

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