Print

Print


Whether or not George Bush is a great communicator, his philosophy of
training and testing as a cure-all for the nation's schools is naive and
dangerous.  He is looking backward to a time when the children of the poor
and disenfranchised were considered a threat to democracy.  What passes for
school now in many places is an outgrowth of that mentality, and our
disenchantment with the results, with schools that are regimented,
authoritarian, and just plain boring, can hardly be concealed.  Schools
don't work for reasons that antedate the Clinton-Gore administration, and
they can't be fixed with the same old mentality that failed in the first
place.  Listen to John Goodlad on the subject:  "We need to completely
redesign the schools to make them much more homelike.  Our youngsters need
caring.  They need attention.  We need to provide education that is present
and satisfying with lots of laughter and lots of fun... We have to put
conditions in place for the long term and not just look for a quick fix. I'm
not opposed to standards at all; we need them.  But then the accountability
for this narrow concept of education turns our teachers into test
instructors...Our schools should provide what Ted Sizer calls 'places for
learning, places for joy'....Renewal is based on responsibility rather than
accountability.  That's what a democracy calls for -- people who are
responsible -- and education must prepare people to be responsible."
The "good old days" for education have never existed for the poor.  If Gov.
Bush really thinks that high expectations alone can cure our problems, he is
dreaming. This philosophy surely hasn't worked in Texas, if one can measure
commitment in terms of dollars spent.  According to the National Center for
Education Statistics, in 1997-98, Texas was 35th in the nation in total
expenditures per pupil and 32nd in expenditures per pupil for instruction.
Athletics and other non-instructional budget items did better in Texas (and
here in Louisiana) than instruction, in terms of the dollars actually
appropriated and spent.  That is nothing to be proud of.  It shows a lack of
caring and an unwillingness to look clearly at the issues.  If all children
aren't being well educated in Texas, why should we believe that all children
in the U.S. will be?     We need a president who knows the history of our
attempts to create a great education system, who has an intimate knowledge
of recent educational history and innovations, and who has a vision of the
future as a corrective to the inequities and insufficiencies of the past.
It isn't George Bush, in my view.  It is Al Gore.
Mary Leslie

"[log in to unmask]" wrote:

> Your quote without context is unfair.
> Bush is correct in saying that many students
> are at-risk because they have not learned.
> Too little has been expected of many of
> our students which has led to their under-
> achievement. Bush has it right when he
> says that more should be expected--from
> students and educators alike.
>
> Cathy Seyler
> CPI Reading Learning Specialist
> Palm Beach Community College
> at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
> 561/625-2314   Fax 561/625-2475
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Melodye Wiens [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2000 7:52 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Perceptions determine policies
>
> Colleagues,
>
> No matter what you think of either of the presidential candidate's
> overall performances in the October 3rd debate, I hope that Governor
> George W. Bush's discussion about education -- and his comment about
> "at-risk" students in particular -- caught your attention.
>
> In reference to "at-risk" students, Bush states, "...basically, they
> can't learn."
>
> You and I both know this is inaccurate. We may hope that Governor Bush
> really doesn't mean what he said. But suppose that he does...and suppose
> that at some point, he suggests policies that align with that perception
> -- either at a state or a national level. What then -- for our students,
> for our programs, and for the field of developmental education?
>
> I pose this as more than a rhetorical question. My hope is that we can
> have some healthy discussion on what we developmental educators can and
> should do, in response to this misstatement.
>
> Please respond to the list. We'll compile the results and will work with
> you to carry forth any response you feel is appropriate. There are no
> national politics or politicians, where developmental education is
> concerned, but we believe that our strength is in our association with
> each other.
>
> Of course, your individual responses -- differing or in agreement -- are
> welcomed. That's the way a democracy works, after all.
>
> Melodye Wiens and Becky Garlick
> NADE Political Liaison Committee co-chair
> [log in to unmask]
> 714-669-5735