"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville: Worse Than PISA Or TIMSS

After scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released, US education secretary Arne Duncan said, "This is an absolute wake-up call for America." The scores do appear mediocre compared to those of other industrialized nations, but it is not as serious as students failing to do simple arithmetic problems such as 2+3. This weekend, however, the state of Virginia witnessed the resurgence of racism. There are now more than 900 hate groups in the United States according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The "White Supremacy" groups that gathered in Charlottesville believe in the following: (1) Western or European culture is under threat, (2) White people are being oppressed and dispossessed, (3) Diversity is evil and pure "white state" must be established in which all political power are in the hands of white people. Such tenets are outright stupid. These are as bad as stating that 2+3=1. Yet, hundreds of thousands of Americans subscribe to these precepts. This is the real wake-up call for American basic education.

Above copied from CNN

Sadly, supremacy is taught and encouraged in our schools. Segregation is the rule while diversity remains an exception. Fortunately, there are some educators who are waking up to this reality. The former principal of Mason Crest Elementary School, Brian Butler, shares his thoughts on FacebookHe provides insights on how and why we are indeed educating our children towards the path of superiority:

Charlottesville? It's much deeper than what you see educators!
I have watched and read a lot over the past few days regarding Charlottesville and am too saddened by the events. I do have much to say but as I have tried to do throughout my existence, not always successfully, is not to speak or write from emotion. Passion yes, emotion for me does not help with clarity of message. So denouncing white supremacy and those who espouse views of hatred of groups different from them is a must but it is not even close to where we should begin. On this I will stay in a lane that I know fairly well as I agree with many of my educator friends who are denouncing the hate of the "white supremacist" in Charlottesville but we need look no further than our policies and practices that we know are wrong in our own backyard of our profession that support this kind of thinking. Policies and practices like identifying kids as gifted so they can go to a different school for "kids like them."
I will elaborate more at a later time. I am sure that some of what I will say will sting a bit and even my educator friends may wince but please know it will be said out of love and hopefully for true self reflection regarding our history. Most importantly it will be shared in hopes of improving our profession and the lives of all kids no matter where they start in life or the color of their skin, gender or economic status, language they speak and especially individuals and groups who the educational system has traditionally purposefully sorted and selected to the benefit of certain groups.
I may lose a few followers I am sure but truth is truth and I am speaking about education. Not here to debate this is my page. I have been saying this for years when I was an administrator in Fairfax County, a county that touts itself as world class but a county with an elephant in the room and that elephant is race and class and the advanced academics centers. Every principal that I have ever spoken to wants them closed but they say "oh well" the school board is afraid of the parents and the superintendent is afraid of the school board.
When talking institutional racism and classism this stares everyone in the face so brightly that all know "the sun" is shining in our face but we look away as if it's not there.
And this is the biggest kicker, some of you, my friends who are yelling about how appalled you are about Charlottesville nod and wink about an educational system that you know is not equitable for All Kids, but benefits your own kids so you are quiet on the issue.
The white supremacist in Charlottesville are being honest and telling us directly who they are and the world that they want to live in. What about the institution of separating kids based on a "so called gift" which is not necessarily accurate (all kids have gifts it's our job to cultivate and nurture them).
So educator friends posting hashtags on your page and being enraged about Charlottesville is appropriate but what about working to change the system you are in and being vocal about why not doing so will lead to more Charlottesville's.
People are not meant to be superior to others but think about what we are doing to kids' mindsets with this kind of sort and select system.
Like I said more to come when I am not writing out of emotion🙏🏽
Said with much love for all in my heart!
Brian

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