Archive for the ‘advocacy’ Category

Education or National Healthcare

March 13, 2010

When people are sick they go to the doctor and when they need education they go to a teacher. The difference lies in the treatment plans and the way we pay for these services. Healthcare is considered by some to be a right, just as education is. Well for those who think a national healthcare system would guarantee that right, think again. If education, a long standing right can go down the tubes then so can healthcare.

The economic storm has caused the levy to burst open and monies funding education have spilled uncontrollably down into a deep chasm forming what amounts to an abscess festering like an untended wound. It is too raw to heal without help. If only you’d been able to buy educational insurance maybe your child could be guaranteed the education they deserve. Unfortunately no such options exist.

With all the fuss about the healthcare crisis and all the debate about insuring the uninsured and making healthcare available to everyone it seems to me, the whole preventation has been overlooked. Education is all about prevention and therefore I would like to state that without adequate education our society will be too sick for ANY kind of healthcare system to redeem.

Now what? We grasp for purchase in the spinning vortex of political rhetoric. It is sucking the life out of education, public safety and the general infrastructure of society. I think the only thing national healthcare can offer the public now, is unlimited refills on pain medication to make our economic future more palatable. Put your money where your mouth is, US Government, and stop telling us that we need to accept your bitter pill of healthcare reform. No amount of healthcare will stem the education crisis, and without education what hope do we have for an employable workforce or a viable future? EDUCATION IS OUR BEST PREVENTATIVE STRATEGY. EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN IS OUR BEST INSURANCE POLICY.

For a well researched comparison education and healthcare models refer to this post

Impact of Economic Crisis on Future of Education, Your Move

January 31, 2009

Higher student:teacher ratios and no part-time staff support were this week’s headlines. Our Superintendent made it clear: 86% of the county budget is in personnel so this will be the area hardest hit by budget cuts, or will it? At present we have a 21:1 student teacher ratio in 3rd grade. This number promises to increase 30% to 1:27 by next fall. When teachers are already struggling to cover the curriculum efficiently enabling students to pass required state tests, how much harder will this be to accomplish when one teacher is serving 27 students? Who is hardest hit? I think it will be the students. Hearken back to 50’s when some teachers were responsible for 40+ students. How did those teachers make it work? Did they have to individualize, differentiate, accommodate students at the same time appeasing parents? Hardly. They didn’t have nearly the accountability teachers face today.

How many of you have viewed the classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail? If you have then the image of the Black Knight should easily come into focus.

Crisis Crippling Education

Crisis Crippling Education

There may even be a smiling forming on your lips at this very moment. What does he have to do with me/us and the current state of affairs in education? It’s simple. Every time we, as teachers are asked to perform the task of teaching under increasingly difficult circumstances, we are confronted by impossible odds for success. The increasing layers of orders for compliance, demands for data, burgeoning class size and the lack of viable means to accomplish these goals, leaves us as helpless as the black knight. He/we are valiantly shaking our heads and defending our students rights to learn but we haven’t a leg to stand on.

So what does all this mean for the future of education? Something’s gotta give and when it does change will have to follow.

Crisis v Ingenuity

Crisis v Ingenuity

The change will be painful but necessary. All the lip service about 21st century teaching and learning will never amount to anything unless we as educators and community members are forced to make major changes in instructional delivery. A paradigm shift will have to occur in order to save money and delivery quality education. I see the necessity for blended learning programs taking off. Alternatives to the traditional 5 day school week will collapse under the pressure to save fuel, electricity and to address individual student needs. Clusters of learning coops will spring up in homes to receive instruction in a facilitated study-group setting with access to a classroom entered synchronously online complete with two-way video streams. Students may only attend the physical plant location 2-3 times a week.

The reality is, we have been heading in this directions for years by creating a demand for outside forms of educational support. Look at any strip mall and you will find small businesses poised to deliver educational support and enrichment. You will also find families paying up to $60 an hour for elementary school tutors to ensure students pass the gateway tests and are promoted to the next grade. Homeschooling too has been on the rise. What is wrong with this picture? Clearly schools are not able to meet the needs of all students and parents find themselves spending above and beyond the school tax allotment to address their child’s educational needs. Something has to change, and it won’t be easy.

With less disposable income and more at stake in the classroom than ever before, parents are going to reach a breaking point. When they look around and see more money going into Special Education programs and less and less going into the regular ed sector there is bound to be some kind of backlash and an outcry for equity. Change is painful but in if we can hang on through the storm we should actually come out better and stronger on the other end. Ingenuity will triumph over crisis.

Antidote for Despair is Hope

January 2, 2009

“Say you’re one of them.” are the last desperate words of a mother to her young daughter as she ponders her own extinction in Rwanda. say-youre-one_lNigerian author Uwen Akpan uses his exceptional talents as a writer to capture the thoughts and feelings of children living in and through horrific trials in several different African countries. He gives voice to the small and silent among us.

It is shocking to learn about the stark realities of life for many children. The images conjured by Akpan are both unspeakable and compelling, like watching an fatal accident from across the road. Heart racing, incredulity filling a brain, on fire with indignation, I’m certainly not suggesting you read this book unless you want to feel a despair beyond reconciliation. It’s fiction but the truth emerges with hideous clarity. I read it in the car this holiday. Honestly I wanted to see if the author could truly emulate a child’s tone/voice in his storytelling. Unfortunately, his children pierced my very heart. Many unsettling thoughts crowded my mind during the long drive with family to visit relatives over the holidays filled with plenty of warmth, food, love, and safety. I wondered why, why, why? I wondered, what it would be like if I had been born in a different time and place.

Today I found a ray of hope in a talk by Laura Waters Hinson. Filmmaker, Christian and philanthropist, Laura decided to document the process of reconciliation taking place in Rwanda 10 years after the act of genocide took 1 million people in 100 days. laurawatershinsonIn this video she paints a picture of hope by describing the impossible. She bares witness to the visible evidence of peace, rebuilding, unity and healing. Her topic is forgiveness. Her documentary captures the work of hands used to perpetrate atrocities now building homes for their victims. In short, Ms. Hinson provides balance in this world gone mad. She looks at the Rwanda transformation as a model of peace for the rest of the world. Akpan opens our ears to the silent cries of children in pain and in contrast Hinson reveals the versitility of human nature, compassion and the healing power of forgiveness.

Sprout, the Growth of Ideas, Ideals and Children

April 18, 2008

There is a very interesting new tool on the scene, Sprout! It has some wonderful built in Flash. I discovered it by way of Chip-In. Sprout has a Chip-In feature. In efort to raise awareness and support for the SpringsAlive Community in Uganda I decided to use Sprout to build an Advocacy Widget.  You can see the embed on the Springs Alive blog.  For some reason I haven’t been able to get the code to work here but is posts smoothly to blogger.  See for your self.

Listening to a New Voice, Springs Alive Uganda!

March 30, 2008

It is with great pleasure I announce the new blog, Springs Alive Uganda. As many of you know I have posted several times about my friend Martin Sebuliba and his vision for peace, wellness and education for the disenfranchised children of Uganda. Martin has limited access to theSprings Alive Students internet due to the high fees charged at internet cafes and the lack of electricity and no internet signal in his rural village. I offered to set up a blogger account for him so that he and members of his community could type off-line and then simply make their posts quickly and inexpensively when convenient.

If you use the internet regularly as I do, then you will understand how time consuming it can be to try and figure out how things work, or even to do research online. By providing technical support I can be an advocate for Springs Alive and I am blessed to be able to help. Martin is working on creating a logo representative of his community and their goals which begin with the children and feed into a larger picture of a healthy, self sustaining community in the future. They will need lots of support to make this dream a reality. Track their successes and struggles by listing the Springs Alive Uganda blog on your blog roll or by subscribing to the feed. Your comments and questions will be welcomed. You will witness firsthand the hopes and dreams emanating from a small village in Africa. Tell everyone you know, you are listening a new voice!