Saturday, June 4, 2011

U.S. annualized corporate profits: $1.68 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2010.

This past Wednesday, May 31, 2011, Philadelphia's School Reform Commission passed the District's budget.  The SRC also passed a resolution to cancel previously approved  collective bargaining agreements if they are not re-negotiated by Jun 30, as if unions were somehow responsible for the District's budget deficit.

When it comes to laying off teachers, eliminating programs, or dishonoring the legacy of teachers unions, where is the focus on the incredible wealth being amassed in the private sector?  If there's a shortage in funds for public education, then raise taxes.  This is an argument that the SRC can stand behind.

Although it may not be the most well-received (at least nationally), I wish the SRC had said something like "We call on local, state and federal governments to structure taxes to support public education as a foundation for a civil democracy."  After all, the New York Times reported that as of "...Jun, 2009, U.S. annualized corporate profits rose 42 percent, to a record $1.68 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2010."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stumbling towards democracy

Over at CTQ, we're wrapping up our Teaching2030 bookclub.  One thing I've learned is that good people don't always agree on educational reform.  And that disagreement is a source for learning; check out what a Susan Graham, a CTQ colleague, had to say about educational reform funding cycles:
  • And since the funding cycle for grant money isn't all that long, I can't wait years for evidence of success, so long term results like the 30 year Tennessee kindergarten study aren't feasible measures. Besides, end of year test scores are funded by someone else and don't eat into my grant budget.
Susan, thank you for the frank description of educational reform cycles.  There's a lot here to help us be more effective with our efforts.  For example, if funding cycles are driving reform schedules, then we'll have to work on that -- as long as the cycles are stultifying.

I'd like to offer another perspective of educational reform.  The funding of public education, and reform, represents a revenue stream.  That stream can be directed towards 1) the cultivation of democratic education or 2) the accumulation of private wealth.

I know that educational reform is not as black and white as democracy v. privatisation, and that there is some overlap.  For example, non-profits participate in educational reform, whether they are the "good guys" or the "bad guys."

However, I'd rather stumble towards democratic education than disrupt valuable learning by:
  1. demonizing teachers
  2. entrapping students in endless standardized test-prep
  3. marginalizing families
  4. ignoring the fundamental social issues that create educational inequities in the first place.
We are all teacher leaders.  Some of us may dabble in, or even embrace, teacherpreneurism.  But no matter how we identify ourselves, I think we should closely examine what it is we think is the purpose of public education.  If we want to make some extra money as we lead, or teach adjunct, or administer grants, or facilitate PD, then fine.  If teacher leadership is a means for us to be more effective and to exercise our voice and to influence reform efforts, then terrific.

Whatever we do, we should be intentional.  For me it's about democratic education.  So invite me to your next PD and we can tear into some good readings, map curriculum, or develop professional development plans.  And we can work out the remuneration at a later date ;).