Teacher Salaries Still Stink?

5 02 2007

“Forty years of collective bargaining and political power, and teacher
salaries still stink?
Time for a new direction, if you ask me.”

–Mike Antonucci, Education Intelligence Agency

Wassup? Virtual School

5 02 2007

The U.S. Department of Education plans to release a study about the prevalence of online schooling later this year. But one survey the department completed nearly five years ago found that 36% of school districts in the nation had students enrolled in virtual school, mostly high school students.

“We’ve certainly seen an increase,” said Tim Magner, director of the department’s Office of Educational Technology. “It’s growing fast.”

He said students often enroll in online classes to take Advanced Placement or other specialty courses not available in their local schools. Making up a failed class or adding courses that would not otherwise fit in a student’s schedule are other top reasons, he said.

Online schools are also popular with home-schooled children, with students who are devoting large blocks of time to such activities as ballet, acting or tennis, as well as students who don’t enjoy a traditional school atmosphere or who need to work.

“It’s not a matter of intellect or aptitude. The most important factor would be the [student’s] desire,” said Patty Young, director of Orange Lutheran Online. “Students today really want a customized education. Why should school be confined to an old-style box with a daily schedule?”

. . .Other parts of the nation have a head start on virtual schooling, with 24 states running online schools. Nearly 30,000 students take classes at Florida Virtual School, which has a $43-million annual budget and, at nearly a decade old, is the nation’s oldest and largest statewide online public school.

“Many states are realizing the world is moving in this direction, and we need to prepare kids to be able to work and exist in this type of environment,” said Julie Young, co-founder of the Florida school. . .

Talking Trash and Taking Names in Bad Barrels

5 02 2007

This week Daryl Cobranchi asks how some homeschool parents in “support” groups can go so wrong and be such reactionaries.

Been there, done that. If I learned anything from all that tortured logic, it was that you can’t think and understand from the depths of a trash barrel. So the first step I took toward enlightenment was seeing the light at the top of the barrel, realizing the need to GET OUT!

Psychology situationists might describe schools and organized homeschool groups as either “poor” or “privileged” worlds that shape the choices of all individuals good and bad within them. The situation defines, inspires and/or degrades the individual by influencing one’s responses, thinking, independence, the quality of one’s relationships and choices, perhaps even our humanity itself.

Any situation that makes you anonymous and gives permission for aggression will bring out the beast in most people. That was the start of my interest in showing how easy it is to get good people to do things they say they would never do.

This article lights up some high-score bonuses in the pinball game of my thinking. Anonymity, boredom, intellectual impoverishment, an environment where aggression against others is tolerated, modeled, perhaps even rewarded . . . sounds like some places I’ve fallen into, school environments, workplaces, legislative offices, home education “support” too. (Thankfully never a family environment, but I meet many not so lucky.)

There’s so much to think about, when one isn’t out wilding around the social jungle or souring in a bad barrel somewhere. For example, a psychiatric researcher-author I’m reading now argues that “force always succumbs to power” — think of that!

It could apply to everything in life, but let’s take education for now.

Suppose those of us deeply committed both to informed individual choice and enlightened social progress, would focus in like a laser on the meanings of this one phrase.

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