Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Funds? For What? That's the Issue!

Interesting the flotsam that shows up in your e-in box... Still waking up with my first cup of coffee this morning I read the following items. These individually make a great deal of sense, but when seen as an ironically synergistic pairing really make a point, at least to me.

I. The latest issue of PILOT Ed, a really smart (although somewhat traditionally oriented) newsletter showed up today. This one is put out by some people I know who are involved in the business end of providing schools & school systems with resources, including and especially technology oriented resources.

As the newsletter's writer puts it:

"Early this month, at the AESA conference in Tampa, Florida, I heard Stan Collender speak. Stan made the US budget seem interesting and relevant to all of us in education. It was scary..."

" My conclusions from listening to Stan’s presentation and talking with him on the phone:

- Don’t look for any new education initiatives to be funded in this coming election year.

- Expect that there will be no agreement on any education bills that need reauthorization this year.

- Look for moderate decreases in federal funding for education over the following year or two, no matter who wins the election or how much they say that education matters.

- Find ways to motivate parents to talk to and visit the local offices of their senators and representatives; it’s the best hope for education funding to improve our education system..."

The rest of the newsletter offers a highly rational discussion about funding and how to deal with this prediction of a poor short term funding forecast and other attitudes to help cope with and strategize this situation. However, at a certain point that little voice in the back of my head started to pipe up saying "Wait a minute... before we get so focused on money to buy things for education, do we really have straight what we want to buy and what the true impact of those purchases will be? One of the worst results of education spending is that every time money is spent on it and the results of that spending are disappointing, the prospect of getting more to spend down the road diminishes. Do we really want to put a large share of our education hopes on spending to support Old Paradigm Education?

II. Speaking of which, here's the other item that showed up in my browser this morning (thanks, David, for tugging my sleeves to it). A video of a gathering of state Teachers of the Year trashing NCLB, a program that embraces Old Paradigm Education more iconically than pretty much anything else I can think of. Do we want to spend our money to achieve the goals of THAT understanding of what education is, should be, and how it works and can be made to succeed?

One last thought before I embed the video from YouTube... I spent 18 years as a teacher in New York City inner-city classrooms and then another 13 as a supervisor of instruction on various levels - I saw a great deal that did and didn't work in educating today's students - I saw periods and situations in which getting a dozen new #2 pencils from the administration was an impossible dream (we got nothing with which to teach... nothing!) and plenty of other times in which it seemed like it rained money... libraries of new books, mountians of art materials, computers up the kazoo, etc. etc. In all honesty I really can't say that all that stuff made much of a difference and that included PD (workshops, in-house trainers, conferences)... at the end of the day, talented, hard working teachers who were allowed to follow their hearts and who inspired youngsters... that's what I saw that works!!!!!

OK, here's the video...

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