Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Third Grade Tests may be trap door to Third World Living Standards; Education in America with K D Hale

W. E. B. DuBois famously wrote in his Forethought to The Souls of Black Folk [1903] that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Half a century later, in a fiftieth anniversary edition of that seminal work, he updated that prescription with an analysis that stands to define the problem of the Twenty-first Century:

… today I see more clearly than yesterday that back of the problem of race and color, lies a greater problem which both obscures and implements it: and that is the fact that so many civilized persons are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance and disease of the majority of their fellowmen …

The issue of inequality, its causes and cures, has become increasingly a part of our national discourse. It has become an elephant too large to ignore.

Whatever the causes of this inequity, and there are multiple causes, it is hard to imagine there are any solutions that do not involve solving our nation’s public education mess.

An understanding that we must find new and different way forward through our education crisis has perhaps helped fuel the strong local interest in the discussion series focused on a new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, by Diane Ravitch. Education writer Jan Resseger has been a part of these discussions, and reported on them as well. Nearly 100 people attended the first session on January 21, 2014. Even more impressive, seventy people showed up for the second session on a day so frigid that schools all across the region were closed for the day. You can read Resseger’s captivating account of those sessions here and here.

Lead sponsors for these community book discussions have been the Heights Community Congress and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. The third session is set for Wednesday, February 5 from 7-8:30PM in the Cleveland Heights High School Social Room. It will address Chapters 21-31 of the book, which focus on the role of poverty and segregation in public schools.

This is the first year of mandated “reforms” under which a startling number of area third graders will be forced to repeat the current academic year, if they fail to pass standardized test that will be given statewide in April. The fallout from this outcome is likely to be painful, and could very well have political ramifications in this gubernatorial election year.

Whether you have read the Ravitch book or not [I have yet to], whether you have school age children or not [mine are grown and gone], America’s broken system of public education affects us all. We all need to get involved in the discussion and seek solutions. Our continued failure to do so will result in a punishment far worse than a rap on the knuckles.

For more information on the community book discussion or Wednesday’s session, call 216.321.6775 or visit www.heightscongress.org.

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A new weekly radio show on education issues has hit the local airwaves.  “Education in America with K. D. Hale" debuted January 22, just a day after the first community discussion session mentioned above. That first show featured Dr. Belinda Miles, provost and executive vice president at Cuyahoga Community College, Dr. Terrence Menefee, principal of Cleveland's Valley View Boys Leadership Academy, and Ms. Annisha Jeffries, youth services manager of the Cleveland Public Library.

The second week’s show featured Phillip Schwenk, principal of Max Hayes Career and Technical High School in Cleveland.   The program focused on career and technical education as a viable option for many young people, as an option to the college prep pathway that is often promoted.

This week’s show, on Wednesday, February 5th, from 6PM-7 PM, on AM 1490 WERE, will feature Dr. Julian Earls, former director of NASA Glenn Research Center. Career opportunities in the STEM arena [science, technology, engineering and math] will be a centerpiece of the program.

K. D. Hale is the show’s producer and host. Hale is executive director of early college & outreach programs at Tri-C, but the program has no affiliation with the school.

Listeners are welcome to call in during the show with questions or comments. The call in number is 216.578.1490.

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