Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dreaming about the future of our children

As a group, educators tend to be dreamers. They dream of better days and healthier, more competent children. Under the pressure of serving dozens of children with increasingly urgent needs, teachers too often fall for the promises of experts with simple answers who paint rosy pictures of a world where all children learn, where the race and social class achievement gap disappears, where every child is a winner, and where no child is left behind. Reality may be less rosy. There may be no simple answers, nor any at all, as to how to rescue America’s public schools from their fate: segregated along racial and social class lines; pressured always to do more with less; blamed repeatedly for the failures that are more rightly the fault of corporations and politicians; and treated like the whipping boy of ideologues and media pundits.
Glass, Gene V (2008-06-01). Fertilizers, Pills & Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America (Kindle Locations 500-505). IAP - Information Age Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Actually, what we're really dreaming about is leaders in our state houses and governors' offices that actually know what they're doing.

Or maybe from their respective points of view, they do know what they're doing and it's purposeful:
It is necessary for at least two reasons to point out the connections between a handful of technological advances and an institution like public education: (1) policies widely advocated in democratic institutions ranging from local school boards to the U.S. Congress have been put forward as solutions to a crisis in educational attainment that threatens national prosperity and security (indeed, national preeminence itself), when in fact these policies have likely arisen from different, less honorable motives, namely, the desire of White voters to preserve wealth, consume material goods, and provide a “quasi-private” education for their children at public expense; and (2) an aging U.S. White population is entering retirement with about $100,000 net wealth including equity in their home, with the prospect of inheriting some $50,000 on average from their own parents, a life expectancy of 30 to 40 years, and a strong wish to reduce their taxes and, hence, the costs of all public services including education. Fertilizers, pills, and magnetic strips have served as major forces shaping population, politics and policy. Will they continue to be a primary influence shaping public education in America? For the next two or three decades, I think they will. No one can claim to see much beyond that.
Glass, Gene V (2008-06-01). Fertilizers, Pills & Magnetic Strips The Fate of Public Education in America (Kindle Locations 469-478). IAP - Information Age Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

A report released this past week by the consulting firm of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates in response to legislation over a year ago, that was nearly rescinded by the Republicans controlling Michigan's legislature, concludes that those who make the funding decisions for public schools aren't dreaming about the future of children.

Unless it's primarily about their own children. Or, their own wallets.
Chart demonstrating the growing gap between the appropriated foundation allowance
and the worth of this funding when adjusted for normal inflation rates. The dollars
provided to operate our schools and classrooms is worth much less each year.

Report: At-risk students need more Michigan funding

Michigan Education Finance Study (PDF)