School Choice

At the Republican National Convention, Jeb Bush (former Governor of Florida and younger brother of former President George W. Bush) gave a speech focused on education that I found very interesting.  You can find the transcript of the speech here.  

Bush brought up many interesting points, but I was intrigued by his comments on school choice in particular:

Let’s give every parent in America a choice about where their child attends school.  Everywhere in our lives, we get the chance to choose.  Go down any supermarket aisle – you’ll find an incredible selection of milk.  You can get whole milk, 2% milk, low-fat milk or skim milk. Organic milk, and milk with extra Vitamin D.  There’s flavored milk– chocolate, strawberry or vanilla – and it doesn’t even taste like milk.  They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk.  Shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice in schools?  Governor Romney gets it. He believes parents – regardless of zip code or income – should be able to send their child to the school that fits them best.  That has set him against some entrenched interests.  There are many people who say they support strong schools but draw the line at school choice.  “Sorry, kid. Giving you equal opportunity would be too risky. And it will upset powerful political forces that we need to win elections.”  I have a simple message for these masters of delay and deferral: Choose. You can either help the politically powerful unions. Or you can help the kids.

I agree with Gov. Bush – school choice is something that needs to be embraced for the good of the students – but I’m sure it will be met with opposition from teaching unions in particular.

To me. the milk comparison is brazenly apt — though a bit silly — for understanding school choice.  It takes into account that different students have different needs and there are different schools that can address those needs.  It also hearkens back to good ole’ fashioned competition – if schools were forced to compete for students, then that would force them to raise their standards and levels of achievement.  All in all, variety — in the classrooms and and the schools themselves — will only benefit students.

Yes, there will be issues – but that’s okay.  We can’t refuse to do the right thing because it’s “hard.”

Lives on the Boundary: A Response to Mike Rose

When I first picked up Mike Rose’s book Lives on the Boundary I felt sort of put off about it at first. I thought it was going to be the same sort of stuff that I’ve been reading in my education class last semester. Basically I expected to feel some sort of guilt trip for having grown up on the more privileged side of the school system (because I’ve often felt that way after reading stories of less fortunate children). However, Rose’s book has surprised me.

The way Rose describes his experiences in this book seem so accessible that anyone who reads it can feel a connection; including myself (I think I used that semicolon wrong but we are going to move past that). I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Literate Stirrings”. In this chapter, Rose talks about the first group of students he taught in the projects. What I liked was how the chapter focused on the students more than Rose himself. Through the eyes of the writer the reader gets to experience the lives of multiple children and their individual struggles in the school system.

Obviously majority of these children were labeled as “problem children” or “below average”. Essentially, these were children who had given up on the school system and whom the school system had given up on. The way Rose approaches these children is truly a joy to read (I would say inspiring but I typically don’t like that word). By reaching out and giving these children the sort of attention that they need, it is evident to the reader of a sort of “literate stirring” among them. It just reminds me of why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I believe that to give students (particularly the ones the school system has given up on) a second chance at finding something that speaks to them in school, then we as educators have done our job.

Until next time,

Anna B.

I have no idea how I feel about this but I found it interesting. I feel like it makes me feel guilty for being a white american… everything seems to be so much easier; sad truth, but truth non-the-less. Maybe thats not how I feel about this article at all! I guess im still trying to figure that out… whatever. It just bothered me.


Im sorry but you’ll just have to copy and paste the website into your search bar because I can’t get the link thing to work… technology hates me.

“White mans guilt”?

“The Poem is a Substitute for Love

“The Poem is a Substitute for Love” was the title I picked to analyze in my free write yesterday. I think Mike Rose picked this title, not only because it was a line from a poem he remembered, but because he believed English was consuming his life. This chapter is about his time spent in graduate school on his UCLA fellowship, and as he submersed himself deeper in the world of academia, the more he was sacrificing in the way of a social life. He was beginning to substitute this inanimate thing—words on a page—for human connection, sacrificing everyone he cared about for a future career that he wasn’t even sure about. Even though he was keeping in touch with his friends through letters and sending them his poems, it wasn’t really a physical connection. He couldn’t hear their voices or see their faces, and he couldn’t offer an instant response to anything they write. Again, it was just another substitute for connection with words. This was also the time he became disillusioned with getting an English degree because it was driving him away from the people he cared about and a little bit insane. It felt like he had no purpose, no sense of belonging or of who he really was.

Finally, I think that this idea then makes the image of his comatose father and Rose apologizing through his tears becomes even more poignant—he’s apologizing for giving up his fellowship after all the sacrifices he and his family made to get him there, but he’s never really come to terms with his father’s death or got to say goodbye, and he’s never felt more alone than in this moment, giving up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like his fellowship, and he has no one to confide in.

Tackling the “Accent Problem”

In the NY Times article, Smoothing the Path from Foreign Lips to American Earsjournalist Richard Perez-Pena discussed how American Universities are dealing with the many students and professors who come to attend schools with little to no English speaking skills. Even the students and professors who do speak English are evaluated and put into classes that work on breaking down the English language sounds and easing the ability for American ears to understand foreign lips. The programs discussed in the article remind me of the Intensive English program that exists here at CSU (it is called something different now). Though I agree that it is important for travelers , students, and educators to learn how to communicate effectively in the English speaking world when they choose to be in it just the same as English speakers should learn how to communicate effectively when they go abroad, the article did make me think a little deeper on the subject. 

“At American universities, one in every six graduate students hails from another country — about 300,000 of them, almost half from China and India, according to the Institute of International Education.” One in every six graduate students is from another country. These students may or may not have had English classes and even if they did, there is a good chance that they were taught to read and write- not speak. For these students, programs such as our own Intensive English program or the ones in this article are a requirement that is to be completed before entering regular classes or teaching class. This raises a couple of questions. The biggest concerning when an accent becomes intelligible. The article goes on to describe different softwares that are available to help these students learn and reinforce the grammar and phonetic structure of English, but it never really goes into what “intelligible” or “comfortable for American ears” means. Do these students and educators need to completely eradicate their accents? No, that would be silly. I think that the goal is to create a smooth flow of communication between teacher and student, colleague and colleague, community member and community member. 

A Degree Does Not Guarantee a Job: A Response to Education Today

This is the original video.

This is the response.

“Collaboration is the stuff of growth.”-Sir Ken Robinson (Original video)

“The age that kids are growing up today is the most stimulating age ever… kids get distracted…teachers are just training students to regurgitate facts.” -Dan Brown (Response video)

Both of these videos really got me thinking about education today. Education of students that we will soon be teaching and my own education, both in high school and college. I agree with Dan Brown that I am merely being “sold an education” that many teachers read from their power points and post them and expect their students to “learn”. I also agree that some of the best classes I have ever had were the classes that a stimulating discussion was fostered, either by the students or the professor/teacher. Students should be given the opportunity, at all levels, to learn from each other.

I am still thinking  and trying to consider both of these videos.