Showing posts from November, 2019

We Should Not Deny Teachers the Opportunity to Excel

According to Barber and Phillips, high performance and rapid progress are possible only with a fusion of support and pressure. Both resources (support) and expectations (pressure) are necessary. What resources do we then provide teachers? And what are our expectations? We do not increase our expectations by providing less resources. Such is simply cruel. We do not increase resources by expecting less from our teachers. Such is utterly complacent. Sorting students according to what we perceive as their performance is an example of what not to do in education. We are attempting to make classrooms more homogeneous because in our mind, we think that will make teaching easier when in reality, we are lowering expectations. Effective teaching means having the student in mind first, meeting the needs and aspirations of each one, and aiming for the best for all. Advanced academic programs shove a label on each child, completely dismissing the fact that teachers can make a difference.

Our new r…

We Are in Big Trouble!

Information nowadays is literally at our fingertips. Back in 1997, Jan Hawkins lamented the fact that schools were trailing behind in the internet revolution. She imagined all of the compelling opportunities for both students and teachers provided by advances in educational technology. She indeed saw technology only as a tool, reminding that we needed to use it intelligently, but she did not foresee how technology could be used to destroy truth and therefore society.

For several years, I worked in helping establish classrooms with computers and internet connectivity in elementary schools in the Philippines. At that time, I knew that it was important that these new avenues for both information and communication are vetted. Yet, what often caught the interest and time of both students and teachers are social sites and information sources that are hardly trustworthy. And fast forward to present days, the situation has become more dire.

Without the prohibitive cost of printing and watchfu…

Philippine Educators, The Real Question Is Do We Need Tulfo To Tell Us What Is Wrong

There is a channel on YouTube, called "Raffy Tulfo in Action" that has millions of subscribers in the Philippines. The program often covers issues and activities that are of interest to the public. It goes without saying that the program has the same sensational flavor as a syndicated tabloid talk show like that of Jerry Springer in the United States. Recently, a video of Tulfo won the ire of so many. The episode garnering so much attention makes public a grandmother's complaint about how her grandchild was treated in school by a teacher.

One of the comments goes like this: "Let’s dislike this video as a form of protest. We shouldn’t let this slide. Let’s call everyone to dislike. Today’s kids have no discipline because of these kinds of parents. Your kids reflect the kind of discipline you show your kid."

The site Rachfeed had the following to say with regard to the reaction of the Philippine public:

The school is a place where our children learn. And children…

Today, We Remember

There is gender diversity and earlier this year, the World Health Organization has finally removed "gender identity disorder" from its list of illnesses.  The American Medical Association and other medical, mental health, and health care organizations have stated, "...We now recognize that being transgender “implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities”—and that stigmatizing transgender people also causes significant harm." Up till now, sadly, there are still plenty of people who cling to the wrong notion that gender diversity is a disorder. Transgender individuals have lost their lives. Some have been the object of scorn and hatred.

In the county I live in, we even had candidates for the school board who were openly disdainful of transgenders. Fairfax county still has a lot to do to protect transgender individuals. A recent report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gives a failing mark to Fairfax coun…

The Problem of Being a Black Child in the United States

Racism has not been completely extinguished in our lives. Racist structures may have been dismantled but our underlying biases that invigorate racism remain strong. The achievement gap between black and white children in our schools lingers. Enrollment of black children in advanced academic programs continues to be low. Our partiality is clearly underscored in the fact that black children are more likely than white students to be suspended. In fact, recent research shows that the black-white achievement gap profoundly correlates with a black-white discipline gap.

The above graph should bring to mind a profound sadness. Almost all the points lie above the zero-line of the y-axis, black-white achievement gap. In this national survey which includes 2000 school districts across the country, one is considerably hard-pressed to spot a school where black children outperform white children. Similarly, there are also very few schools where white students are disciplined more than black student…

Teachers Will Give Their Lives to Save Children

We have first-grade teachers Victoria Soto and Kaitlin Roig, music teacher Maryrose Kristopik, principal Dawn Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, Special Education Teacher Anne Marie Murphy. All of these individuals risked their lives to protect their students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Three of them, Mary, Dawn and Anne lost their lives. On the other hand, the security officer during the Parkland shooting, Scot Peterson, is facing charges that include culpable negligence for his inaction during the massacre inside the school he was assigned to protect. We do understand the consequences of not acting to protect our children, but equally infuriating is the fact that we have politicians who would not even risk their career to help secure our children inside schools. We are not even asking them to give up their lives to save children. We are simply asking them to pass legislation that makes sense at the price of losing support from gun lobbyists.

Yesterday morning, young…

We Must Not Deny Our Children Their Childhood

Amidst the college admissions scandal, Neale Godfrey at Kiplinger asked this question, "Are you at risk of being a 'payoff' parent?" We want our children to succeed. And in wanting, we look for ways to give our children a leg up. Even in soccer, we send our children to "travel" teams. We are not satisfied with recreational teams. We always want the best for our children so that they will be ahead of their peers. As Godfrey points out, we may be "helicopter" or "lawn mower" parents right now, but in the end, we actually risk becoming "payoff" parents. There is, however, one more important risk that we take when we try to make our children better than others, we may be denying them their childhood.

Preschool is important to prepare children for basic education. Kindergarten, after all, has become so demanding both academically and socio-emotionally. So it has become clear that for students to thrive in their primary years, they m…

The Reason Why We Cannot Fix Inequity in Advanced Academic Programs

The previous post on this Blog "We voted for ONE Fairfax" elicited this comment in a Washington DC online forum: "The School Board has contributed to this mess. NO doubt there is too much Advanced Academic Program (AAP) --they have watered it down. Why? Because they were trying to get more minorities in the program. What happened. They got more Asian and White kids in the program who don't all belong there." Having spent a year in a committee of parents advising the school board on AAP, I have seen plenty of reasons why the county had not been able to fix inequity. Of these various reasons, however, there is one, unless addressed, would always spell failure in any effort to increase the number of underrepresented students in AAP. That reason is tradition. Former principal Brian Butler comments on a post made by newly elected school board member Ricardy Anderson, "It’s a great opportunity for Ricardy to transform a traditional system that holds on to tradit…

We Voted For ONE Fairfax

Elections unfortunately do not solve problems. What we do after the poll matters. However, we do bring what we value to the ballot box and it is crystal clear that yesterday, we, at Fairfax county, voted for equity, diversity and inclusiveness. The paths to these values are not easy. These values will challenge some of our strongly held preconceived notions. For this reason, it is imperative that we listen to what evidence tells us. The Washington Post states that the Democratic supported candidates winning yesterday pushes the Fairfax County School Board further to the left. This is not about left versus right. The winners of yesterday's school board elections rejected elitism, intolerance and division. Our new school board embraces "education for all". Our new district representative, Ricardy Anderson, for instance, wrote this last night, " we work to close the achievement gap that cripples our most vulnerable."

This is where the challenge begins. How do…

Those Who Do Not Have A Voice Need Our Votes

So much is at stake this coming Tuesday in Fairfax county. The results of this election will decide whether our schools march forward or take a step back against equity and inclusiveness. There is a dramatic difference between the two sets of candidates. One group aims to bring our community to work as one while the other stokes the flames of divisiveness and intolerance. One calls for our commitment to protect and serve all our children while the other caters to our prejudice and opinions. In education, it is important that we are guided by evidence and research, yet our county currently has candidates spawning lies and misinforming the public. All of the children need our support. There is absolutely no room for bigotry. Candidates who resort to spewing lies and sowing division do not deserve our vote.

Seriously?  Are these issues more important than the achievement gap between races, between poor and rich children? Are these more important than the academic challenges we now face?