Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Horses: A Passion of Mine

I thought I would write something different that I really enjoy. So here it is.

Horses, I love them. I love to watch them play in the fields, especially the babies. They chase each other around the field and when they jump all four feet come off the ground. They have mock fights and rear up like stallions. They play and play until they drop and then they sleep. Their mothers stand watch over them.

I love to watch horses eat. They are so content. It makes me feel relaxed and at peace. Taking their time they chew and work to get every last piece of grain. They lick the buckets clean and nibble along the edges. Then they look around for more on the ground. I love the way they wiggle their noses and work to get the grain and leave the dirt. They can empty half a bucket of water in three or four swallows. Then they are content to just stand with a back hoof cocked. They stand near each other some with their heads on each others back. Their ears are twitching back and forth listening to the sounds at twilight.

I love to come up and stand by them or lean against one, while watching the sun go down. It is such a quiet time of the day. When it becomes too dark to see the beautiful colors of sunset, I leave the horses but will return in the morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Improving Education

Teacher unions are great if you want to teach without the threat from an unreasonable principal but that is the only good thing I can really say about unions. For the most part I am against Teacher Unions because they support a liberal agenda and use the teacher dues to lobby for their liberal agenda. It is for this reason I will not join the NEA or the United Federation of Teachers. I believe the unions protect incompetent teachers. Read the article in The New Yorker entitled: “The Rubber Room”. This article is about incompetent teachers and it is such a travesty to our school system. The article relates the reason it is so hard to improve failing schools. It is well known that it is very difficult to hire good teachers in failing schools because there is so much extra paper work and headaches with discipline and unreasonable parents who blame the teachers for not being able to control their children. Principals in these schools are under so much pressure. This pressure filters down to the teachers and to the students. This creates an unhealthy atmosphere for learning. I believe teacher unions make it difficult to change our schools. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill

Most big cities have their poor under privileged schools. Most are found in the intercity and most are failing. However there are some real success stories out there. The unions have very little if anything to do with successful schools. I believe that parents and teachers coming together to make a difference in creating a successful school make the difference. One example of an successful school is found in Tampa, Florida. The Muller Elementary School has created an environment where the students have exceeded the state test scores. The principal, Bonnye Taylor, overcame the odds of 74 % of the student population at poverty level by creating an enjoyable learning environment that inspired student to learn. She commented, “Our school-wide, theme-based curriculum is designed to motivate attendance,” Taylor said. “We get all the students involved and we make the units fun to learn, which translates into kids wanting to be here.” http://advancement.sdsu.edu/marcomm/features/2006/urbanschools.html

There has to be an answer to these school dilemmas. I believe it is the responsibility of parents, teachers, and administration of each individual school to communicate and come together for the children. I believe that each school needs to create its own learning community that make learning fun. This endeavor is difficult especially when there is a lack of money. However, there are many grants out there for teachers and schools. Schools need to explore all avenues and opportunities to improve student achievement.

(Let me put in my views: I would not support any government intervention even though that seems to be President Obama’s new agenda. This disturbs me for many reasons but the most pressing one for me is that I believe he is trying to take the focus off the health issue which is failing.) Enough said, this is another issue I want to deal with in this blog.

I would welcome anyone to comment on their successful schools or a difference of opinion about unions.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What has Happened to Education?

Oh, how I wish I could wave a wand like Harry Potter and take our educational system back at least 50 years. It was a time when teachers taught and students learned. It was a time when the Bible and prayer were not only accepted but also wanted. The Bible was a part of the educational system even if it was not read its principles were a part of daily life: honesty, integrity, and doing your best were expected and taught.

As opposed to today we did not have failing schools and literacy was not an issue as it is today. We did not have the discipline issues, because parents took the responsibility for how their child behaved in school and backed up the teacher. We did not have teachers who had so much paperwork that teaching time was needed to complete it. We did not have the government pressure to teach so many standards in one year. We did not have the pressure of jobs being threatened if the teacher, principal, or school, did not measure up to the end of the year test. It is this end of year test that is the criteria for measuring up each year.

Oh, how I wish the government would get out of the education business.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the World of Special Education

How do you define special education? For most people it raises the idea of children with special needs. Some of these needs are: autism, downs syndrome, mental or physical impairment, learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, or other health impaired. Each child has his or her individual needs and thus in the world of special education there is what is called an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Special education teachers specialize in one or more of these specialties and are equipped to recognize a child's individual needs. An IEP is written for a given time period and must be followed because it is federal law. An IEP follows government standards and must adhere to these standards in each section of the plan.

Some of the IEP sections are: the people who attend, invitation letters, end of year testing. This test may be given in the classroom or individually or in small groups. Other sections are the goals and objectives, the ways the goals will be measured to show learning, and what classroom modifications or accommodations are to be given. At the beginning of the meeting, the results of the evaluation tests are gone over with parents and other attendees to show the need for the special education. This information is discussed and agreed to. The IEP is then written and signed by all in attendance. There is a checklist for the special education teacher that makes sure that all the sections of the process have been followed. Most special education teachers would tell you the process is consuming before writing, during writing, and implementing in the classroom.

You might ask, what does this have to do with educational freedom? For starters, the IEP hinders a teacher’s ability to teach by burdening that teacher with government required paperwork, taking time away from real teaching, and imposing standards that don’t make sense for many special education students.