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May-19-2010 20:08printcomments

Op Ed: Your Educational System Attacked: What to Do Now

Part One - Societal, Economic Changes Demand Citizen Action.

Statue of Liberty
Image courtesy: Sam Haskins blog in the UK.

(SEASIDE, Ore.) - Our prescient Founding Fathers knew well the great role of education in forming and strengthening --and in preserving our world-famed “democratic experiment” - as so many have called it.

Pragmatic and philosophical considerations together guided them in their establishment of a common school intended to guarantee parallel practical learning for all involved --and to provide firm values and understandings required of all citizens in our new democracy.

That was one of the most important lessons well learned from their recorded deep exploration of world famed philosophies as they prepared for our American Revolution. (See Federalist Papers!)

But they understood that relentless “progress” over time, already-apparent territorial demands, and inevitable exigencies of our newly-invented, and rapidly-developing democratic governance must force and shape many ongoing changes in any educational system they could contrive then.

That has surely happened.

Both governance and citizen responsibilities have changed drastically, rapidly, and sometimes even radically --to meet the changing demands of an expanding, ambitious, entrepreneurial -- and partially/democratic-- society.

That’s why and where we earned that longfamed concept of “American exceptionalism”. That’s how and where we built tested-and-proven American values, cherished, strongly protected and still preserved as the 21st Century arrives.

That historical sequence can and must continue to guide us as we now, again further develop what has been widely termed “the primary democratic system”, to provide the surest way to complete their dream of true democracy for millions of new Americans. How very-right and intriguingly inventive our famed Founders have proven with educational progress in our nation occurring ever since!

Despite inevitable errors, flaws, failed and futile choices and a variety of other now well-outmoded components, that system has produced the world’s most powerful and still-potent “arsenal for democracy” If we will but use the effective weapons it can provide, that system will stand us in strong stead for what we must now have, as we reform, restructure, strengthen, extend and refund what has worked so well for 250 years, already. now our attention is demanded -- again -- to protect, preserve and extend our hard-won democracy.

In the 21st Century that system no longer will suffice for us without massive modification in content and its delivery. Cultural, economic, social and many psychological and cognitive progressive steps make that completely clear for most rational, reasonable citizens.

That demands fundamental change in curriculum, in delivery of learning media, in system pattern and every step in management, and in teaching methods. In turn, that requires reconsideration of pragmatic costing and its funding, to drive all other considerations. What is “curriculum’?

Wikipedia is easily accessed --used here for that very reason -- and tells us: “All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school.”

Please note that phrase “or individually, inside or outside the school.” Note also that beginning-word “ALL”

Those are key to the future of our whole system. (There are four major professional approaches to formulating a “course of study”; check for yourselves in Wikipedia, and be informed for any further cogitation. Until/unless you’ve worked through fundamental understandings of “curriculum” you remain uninformed.) Indeed, “the system” as we know it now is most indubitably under attack --not only by inevitable “progress”, but also by determined and often malign forces-- clearly seeking private-gain objectives.

That’s why it has been made into a political football for the most impure of political/pandering propositions --driven by the brute base-motives of Monies and Racism: “Monies” to minimize a major component of taxcosts, fueling the fires of futile reaction vs progress; and “Monies” as product-profit for potently popular but ineffective, outmoded learning media, classroom methods, and full-system control.

Racism continues to play a major role in shaping and distorting what any nation must provide for ALL of its citizens, to guide their understandings and decisions. THAT can be achieved ONLY via full, open, honest, pragmatic and highly effective introduction to culture and values demanded for citizen responsibilities.

The best --perhaps the ONLY !-- effective method is to provid potent educational impacts long-demanded by those so long separated and thus made second-rate citizens. Our American history and current city-and-region culture and its consequences show us clearly that we must provide potent rapid remediation for patent and still-powerful past neglect --for our national security and as

The irreplaceable component for democracy. Inevitably, the complexities of curriculum process itself--and of its inescapable pragmatic components, including system management and instructional method-- are so vulnerable to misunderstanding, misinterpretation and manipulation for private purposes that the whole system has long ago become a political football.

What is taught is shaped by HOW it is taught. That we know-for-sure by decades of research not only in educational/system, but also in cognitive process and in large-scale studies of learning process, at every level and for a wide variety of purposes and situations.

Most wishing to attack the system ignore entirely what can be learned easily, rapidly, effectively by some simple Googling on the Internet, these days... yet have you noticed the massive growth of malign and misleading political pander --usually “anonymous”-- in all comments following education coverage, in both ‘the media” and sources such as this one?

Then there’s easy-to-spot massive/dollar corporate propaganda efforts --via owned/media, “think-tanks”, and “independent” foundations; well-reported, explored and revealed decades ago and continuing today.

That denigrating effort began with Far Right-family billionaire support early-on, to oppose the New Deal and its first fundamental reform-driven progressive steps. Their prime focus, continued ever since inception, has been to preserve, strengthen and extend Far Right influence meant to shape, then control, and finally to apply in-depth and massively to radically alter our long valued American freedoms and liberties.

Those families, instigating what has become the foundation for attack on our educational system, meant to shape, control --and manipulate-- what was taught and how it was presented, in any way they could then contrive, to protect, preserve and strengthen their own private interests --primarily small-governance, minimumtax/ connected.

Education has since then become a huge market, distinguished by massive impact one or several large states, by major purchases of textbooks and learning media, will unfailingly have on what is taught and HOW it is then presented. (See recent S-N reports.) “Success” invading even a part of that market -- continuously the target of Right-wing political cabals-- has already had remarkable impact on curriculum: The clear/clean/professional content/choices for what is to be taught and learned.

Those same malign continuing efforts have already been applied to the process thereof in building the curriculum required within our educational system --as most recent news and professional reports have made only too clear, in a number of states, including Oregon. Not only the process but the fundamental tools for teaching have been targeted --and still are! Our educational system includes “local school boards” to shape and guide individual-area schools, under supervision of state educational control.

That provides electoral responsibility for needed area-adaptation --but invariably makes “the system” highly vulnerable to propaganda-- as we have seen only too strongly demonstrated recently at every level.

Even more dangerous is “localized-comment” guided by continuing Far Right political propaganda, known to be part of the massive think-tank and foundation” cabal now well documented in American educational history. That often-encountered situation is more/damaging since concealed and sometimes protected by abuse of First Amendment “rights” requiring citizen responsibilities not generally recognized.

Ongoing communications research has long shown convincingly that many local/level “pronouncers” -- knowingly perverted-or-not by that propaganda-- have ended up acting as political panderers rather than from clear understanding of education as complex process. Their use is even suggested in certain Far Right most-revealing documents surfaced over the decades.

If these “local pronouncers” did understand the reality, they would also understand why “the system” - -flawed as it may be-- must never be knowingly subjected to “influence”.

But what they seek is the simplistic satisfaction of even-passing public attention. Whether-or-not knowingly pronounced publicly as propaganda effort or simply from determined ignorance of obvious facts controlling education in each state, that level and kind of negative action is one of the major factors manufacturing false public understanding of a famed, effective and still-strong system.

The real remedies for growing fault --and some flat-failures-- are also now become radically obvious, too, as many strong supporters of “the system” seek to understand its flaws and failures. Informed and sensitive exploration and its resulting analysis and definition of problems-found is now and has always been a potent strength of our educational system --as demonstrated by astounding changes and worldwide/acclaimed achievements over many decades. (See Part Two forthcoming)

We must understand “from whence we’ve come” in that long-successful system to guide any possible rational, reasonable changes now essential --if we are to continue building those same true American values so desired and sought by our Founders, proven successful over 250 years.

The “common school” played its demanded role near-perfectly in our earliest years, providing a solid, sensible, sensitive base for both our economic and social beginnings.

That school plan and its programs provided precisely the common experiences in cooperation, economic-burden and work-sharing, and personal growth and development demanded by the rigors surrounding all settlers. What was also well-provided --not always well recognized-- was the common foundation of skills and understandings Americans had to have to become strong, new citizens--with increasing demands for new and different responsibilities-- in a newly-founded and unique nation.

There are solid roots, still flourishing to strengthen us all, world-recognized as “American exceptionalism”, a unique blend of individual characteristics inextricably connected with liberty and equality, making possible a range of pragmative, progressive entrepreneurial and personal opportunity.

Those are the values “the common school” was intended to convey; they are still most extremely useful in this new Century --which is why we strive to build them into the new educational needs we know we need.

Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria, in his book The Post-American World, refers to a "Post-American world" that, he says, "is not about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else."

Those familiar with rapidly changing worldwide conditions shaping radical developments internationally, and thus every aspect of world society, understand that imperative --as inevitable as the massive fallout of globalization, already affecting every American life.

That puts in a nutshell one of the major driving forces which MUST NOW motivate our reform and the renaissance of our American system of education: From kindergarten, through a newly-organized “graded school” and differentiated “high school”; all the way to more advanced variety of learning opportunities via a strengthened and extended “community college” level; and for those well-qualified for further learning. a changing/evolving/growing/expanding “graduate level” at rational, reasonable, assisted costs. (See Part Three forthcoming.)

At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.

Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.

He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 560 written since then.

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Henry Clay Ruark May 30, 2010 8:51 am (Pacific time)

To al: This Op Ed was written and has been supported on the then -natural assumption of rapid return to office by incumbent Castillo, per then- current election returns. Recount is unlikely,coverage today reports, but few still uncounted ballots make it a possibility. Final tally is due no later than 6/7. In fairness to both Castillo and her opponent we will delay Part Two until we know who is to "serve the people" in this essential post for the next four crucial years. Surely the razor-thin margin involved in this choice points up pragamatically the massive struggle underway for factual interpretation of an issue at the very top of our national agenda. Comments-continued are fully welcomed; as is my custom on all Op Eds, every response is read at least twice,all taken into account for "next-shot".

Henry Clay Ruark May 29, 2010 8:54 pm (Pacific time)

Friend Dan: You wrote: "...a promise to try different methods that will surely work, just like all the other things that have been tried over the last 40 years. Time to test the teachers, get rid of the bad ones, dissolve the unions, make the Supt. of Education an appointed position so we can get professionals in there." 1. Public demand for change is what has wrought damage by too much political motivation, too deep misunderstandings,and too may cooks, all stirring madly, spoiling the broth we brewed for decades on end with such great success America led the world. 2. YOU know HOW to test teachers, with full response to failing homes, falling funding, futile leadership, and fulsome political pander ? NOBODY else does, in proven fair way. WHAT is "teacher competence" and HOW can you prove it up ? SOME teachers great attitude -purveyors; some fine at fact,some few put it all together. Best possible way to judge is skilled professional supervision, missing massively due to cost (per Neilsen column",flat-facts of funding failures broadly by determined drive to slice taxes... 3. Unions=Constitutional right of association. YOU willing to do-same to other groups ? YOU union man ? YOU legal-light, know how to distort/pervert American right to union association ? 4. YOU willing to have top politician-of-moment choose top person managing schools ? That's questionable since puts key power in political light, open to allasame damage we now see in every issue. People deserve right to "see with own eyes", previous jobs, hear in public dialog seeking office, evaluate with own minds via VOTE --per Founders' intentions and original pattern 5. 21st Century learnings demand broad, deep, costly, inevitable, unavoidable and VERY complex CHANGE... WHICH is why honest, open, no/political/pander dialog demanded NOW --as here on S-N. Stay tuned...and let your voice be heard, after some further cogitation...

Henry Clay Ruark May 29, 2010 5:24 pm (Pacific time)

Dan Harvey: See second OREGONIAN column by Neilsen for solid forward way to build better education in Oregon,Sunday edition just out. What she writes proves up points here re top position in OrEdDept. requires extremely skillful communicator, defies appointment since needs strong foundation of publi choice, can well depend on assistant leaders within EdDept. for the very complex, rapidly changing needs to lead in education, now far too large and fund-demanding for educational background ALONE. Op Ed preceding Part One made that point in depth, with much more detail available. Stay tuned for strong light on this top Oregon issue via honest, open, democratic dialog here...learn WHY top choice demands COMMUNICATOR, to people, school boards and schools AND students. NO politician nor other educator-alone-trained professional can ever get job now demanded done as 21st Century demands. Public and political-pander basic misunderstandings and deep-piled propaganda defy, deny rational, reasonable approach,require professional responsible, accountable ONLY DIRECTLY to people. Stay tuned ! This's geting worth time, attention, ven YOUR OWN cogitation !!

Henry Clay Ruark May 28, 2010 4:42 pm (Pacific time)

Did you know Oregon's Supt. of Education is lowest-paid in all 50 states ? Do you know of her strong, unremitting efforts to change Oregon's high-school grad-rate key numbers ? Do you know why Oregon's school-funding is described by OREGONIAN's nationally-known columnist as an "unreliable, volatile, seat-of-the-pants method" of funding our Oregon system ? NOBODY wants our kids to end up in NOWHERESVILLE ! Yet more than ONE-THIRD do NOT graduate from high school in 4 years, and "drop-outs" NOW may total as high as 14,000, seeking SOMETHING while frustrated for 21st Century employment. For serious readers,readying for Part Two, be sure to read "Nowheresville" Edit in the OREGONIAN FRIDAY 5/28. Be sure also to read Susan Neilsen's column titled:"... Students Can't" -missing part of title purposively left out, you will see why ! The Edit is plain common sense, sensitively stated; the column makes dead-sure we KNOW what we choose when we allow what's happening to OREGON's and OUR children now ! Both are easily accessed on the Big O website. We often choose by NOT ACTING, a favorite way to avoid actual, checkable, observable fact, consciously or otherwise. Part Two will examine WHY, and illuminate WHAT forces are at work...for your "see with own eyes and evaluate with own mind" exploration,examination and cogitation. Hang on while we dig for the flat-facts you need to know and understand as parents and citizens.

Dan Harvey May 28, 2010 3:29 pm (Pacific time)

Henry have you seen the latest on the Oregon graduation rate? The public school sytem has failed in it's current format, and Castillo demonstrates what happens when you have someone with zip experience getting involved with our educational system. Other than an undergraduate degree in communication she has no experience and boy does it show. Couple her with the unions who have been bank rolling her and you get what we have, a failure. So now will come another plea for more money and a promise to try different methods that will surely work, just like all the other things that have been tried over the last 40 years. Time to test the teachers, get rid of the bad ones, dissolve the unions, make the Supt. of Education an appointed position so we can get professionals in there. We need a top to bottom change starting with Castillo. Oregon's class of 2009 had just a 66% graduation rate, and many of these graduates are illiterate and have very little chance to advance in todays job market. Then you have the drop outs. But hey the unions have plenty of taxpayer money to keep an incompetent in power, who let's incompetent teachers to continue messing with our kids. The far left liberal way does not work, and never has.

Henry Clay Ruark May 28, 2010 8:27 am (Pacific time)

To all: World-famed, economist John Maynard Keynes famously answered a Parliamentary critic accusing him about altering his previous stance: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir ?" Diane Ravitch's formative book, cited already, is the perfect example of what we are examining here. But far beyond her sure-to- be classic restatement of the realities involved are the other massively, rapidly, and strongly-changing forces in our economy and society, with unavoidable changes-demanded in our educational system, if it is to serve us well in the 21st Century. Part Two will examine the entire big-picture and may help refocus your view of what you have experienced and what it means NOW. Never forget: Education is an institution, is NOT and can NEVER BE a "business", does NOT and cannot seek measure by dollar-profit(or tax savings); and demands from us citizens understandings of what the emerging new generation really needs --not what we recall in our own lives --always a full generation "old" !! "Stay tuned" and feel free to participate, since honest, open, democratic dialog is the key to effective, responsible citizen decision here, as in all else in a democracy.

Henry Clay Ruark May 26, 2010 10:34 am (Pacific time)

  Professional pattern here includes re-reading, often several times, every single comment-received.
  On yours, do agree some,even in some places many, public schools fail as you show is happening with your girl.
  Yet same-thing also true of many,even most, privately-run for-profit other ones, too.    
  I.E., good-bad doth exist on both sides...unfortunately.

  Note boy is in private-side, sounds progressive,testable, provable for results.
  Suggest you folo to chief there to determine proven real credibility of measures being used for both son's progress and teacher results for whole group.
  Don't mean to question their credibility --only to add your further-check, in itself very motivating factor to assure due care and checkable result.

  Re daugher, suggest visit again (!??) school board with tape-record of open honest, detailed checking-conversation with daughter on same points here.
  NAIL DOWN what goes really goes on...with help of any responsible journalist you can discover !!
  Might make one hell of very strong local story, and is definitely part of your parental responsibilities.

  BUT appeaar-there with your proof on-tape; join with all others you can find in same hellish dilemma; visit with teachers-involved to "see with own eyes" (and offer your own pertinent, checked, proven "suggestions" !).

  Go it, Mom Natalie !
  My wife BCR of 60 years,now deceased, was original family activist; her slogan was: "Keeping quiet will never start the riot !"

  SO --now's time to "start the riot", your responsibility and perhaps even your longtime pleasure at results which can occur.
  Margaret Mead once wrote:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."    ---Margaret Mead

Henry Clay Ruark May 27, 2010 9:48 am (Pacific time)

To all: For solid foundation demanded to understand testing and other statistics essential to measurements in education, see: STATISTICS;Alan Graham; NTC, 1999;ISBN 0-658-00084-5. This is widely used as "teach yourself"-er, why listed here. I've used it constantly as well as other ed./texts. INNUMERACY: Math.Illiteracy and Its Consequences; J.A. Paulos; Farrar,Straus 1988. L/Cingress Copyrt Card. This one is classic since it sets foundation demands for essential literacy and shows how to achieve them.

Henry Clay Ruark May 26, 2010 10:50 am (Pacific time)

To all: NO ! Did NOT forget "class size","teacher competence", "funding gap", complex other points, in response to Mom Natalie. Those and more basic content of Part Two, upcoming... SO "stay tuned"...and will repeat action is yours to now choose-to-do or settle for what corporate, private-gain and other richie/interests will manipulate governance to govern what you cam do for your kids. Founders meant "common school" experience to be a foundation for democracy. We have allowed some to snatch it away for their own purposes...

Henry Clay Ruark May 26, 2010 10:00 am (Pacific time)

To all: Please note Patrick has not answered a single one of my detailed questions...nor given us slightest clue to his claim re special expertise conferred by training and any high-level graduate work --much less any professional publication in any educational field. Unfortunately that's typical of those perpetuating longtime propaganda perpetrated by paid private-gain sources. Again, content-analysis is helpful in pointing out strong probability of presence here again of paid-shill...known as active measure still provided by same propaganda sources as over past 50 years, for the same purpose: Kill off any analysis of propaganda for which mucho moola already paid out. We repeated invitation to offer full qualifications, as we always do --but not one line of information provided. SO -one more time: Pat, where are ye ? What are ye ? Show up with sensible and checkable information, or go youknowwhere, do youknowhat. Dialog here open, honest, democratic, but depends on truthful, factual source-use shared as part of learnings to be mutually accomplished.

Henry Clay Ruark May 26, 2010 9:06 am (Pacific time)

Friend Jess: Yours shows mirror-image of most propaganda-points paid for by private interests for full impact on education image in our nation over past 50 years. Please understand my return to your thoughtful --even if erroneous !-- comment for that reason: You wrote:"Have you done a review on party membership of teachers? How about teacher participation in unions that support far left candidates and policies? Pretty liberal bunch, but less so in private education. It is the latter group that puts out better student performance." Phrasing+repeated/error, by content analysis, show exact parallelism for propaganda as released by known agencies. I can cite results but process involved, complex, demands study and experience, learned in wartime. Review of political-group membership reveals fascinating near-even split with geography usual deciding factor. Lack of funding tends to drive more-liberal view by whole region as well as educators --major factor in current national frustration, brought on in large part by success of propaganda effort over past fifty years. Some of same powerful forces now seen as causing economic errors leading to housing and other economic woes...allasame causations since all-connected to economic system workings, which is why so complex and difficult to interpret for the common person... Re union/stand, why not ? The Constitution grants right of association; most gains by middle class, including most workers-wth-hands for decades, came from union activity. Would you deny educators the right of representation unions afford for all members ? Union funds spent run i/10 vs heavy corporate, group, association and individual rich-family "campaign contributions" and flatout pay-for-propaganda. Re private-school participant group as more "conservative", and better student performance there, you are simply in error on both. Facts found by research show many,if not most, seeking to set up charter or other reform schools tend towards liberal side --except for corporate few who see chance for quick profit from perverting common school long-held American tradition. Re student performance in private schools --of ANY shape and size-- all measures are perverted unless stronger and broader economic, social life of families taken into full account. That's basic cause of such sad misunderstandings: Lack of knowledge on how complex such measures much be, and how well any specific study allowed for inevitabilities involved. Which, again, is point of my three-parter Op Ed. You can count on factual basis, and on full documentation, as offered on request. Meanwhile, please find and read Diane Ravitch book OR at least major reviews in TIME, New York TIMES, and other well informed national-sources, for whom experts testify via their quotes and shared special knowledge built over many decades, open to review by respected academic and field-practicing colleagues. "The truth will make you free" works ONLY when one can recognize what IS "truth".Our best possible sourcde is full and strong dialog, as in this open, honest, democratic and sometimes raucous channel !!! Please forgive depth,detail here; demanded to offset silly reliance on "brevity" and any idea of relating professional analyses with "verbosity". No really effective reporter ever got fired for truth, told in deep detail, documented and proven by "see with own eyes" links (as in Ravitch book). I'm ONLY reporter relaying to readers here what I have found, know from actual and both personal and professional experience, and can document. "You pays your nickel for S-N (!!) and then your real attention. If you do not like what you read here, better check on why you are disturbed, and you may be surprised at what you find...true of most stories as well as about my analyses.

Henry Clay Ruark May 25, 2010 9:14 pm (Pacific time)

Jess: You wrote:"It is the latter group that puts out better student perfomance", referringto private school et al students doing better than public school participants. Stats here are slippery; one must know situations involved, which clearly reflect economic and parental and community components, NOT statistically equated for measures. In general, there is very small if any statistica differences when those elements --typically either not understood OR purposely neglected for political pander purposes-- are taken into honest account. For solid documenting detail on most-cited situations see the Diane Tavitch book cited here intermittently. Her work is internationally recognized and reflects many other such studies, some of which I have used over the past twenty years, with about same results all that time. ONE always-neglected point never picked up by political panderers is relative funding involved in such studies, too, again proving point made for more than 50 years that we choose to deny basic breath of life to public schools, even though they represent by far precisely what business and corporate leaders state they need to guarantee work force quality. Will add this, too, to Part Two upcoming, and include in sources-list available later.

Henry Clay Ruark May 25, 2010 8:55 pm (Pacific time)

Natalie: Thanks for your thoughtful, sensitive, insighful, concerned parent comments. Will take into comprehensive consideration in preparation of Part Two, and perhaps can work in direct dialog with you. If you send emailer address to Editor, will then folo to you...mine "unlisted" for commercial reasons. Take care and best to your kid who should know how lucky they are !!

Henry Clay Ruark May 24, 2010 8:43 am (Pacific time)

To all:
  For full background on who and why Cadnau et al is and on their motives for cavil and calumny here, check out the Google ref. to NAACP's headman Jealous.
  His information comes from full experience with what the educational items mean in real  life, start of ANY meaningful "course of study".
  Ties to education provided by former national ed/chief --what more could one ask ??

  Note his testimony re Texas before Congress and the fully supportive other materials there, open to Cadnau if he had wished to confirm facts.

  But of course those facts kill his plaint re Texas' biased and very damaging and revealing action--which in turn proves up precisely what Op Ed here contends.

  Manipulated misunderstanding  is major cause for current decline many claim to find in our educational system, under attack ever since Reagan since it is "common school" with all the strong capabilities the Founders recognized.

  Well-known "neoconservative" attack plan is "starve the beast", then blame same-beast for lack of achievement while starved into submission; dates from Reagan era.

  Note Cadnau ref. to timeline re textbooks as revealing here.

  Checkout of other Cadnau comments in S-N (easy source known to many) shows same bias and attempt to manipulate our open, honest, democratic clear channel here
  We offer ONLY truly-sought "informed opinion" built on documentable, checkable fact and deep professional/personal experience, shown in our own know the source and its qualifications.

  You pays your nickel, and you can damned well take your choice...with whatever full consequences then prevail.
  "Learn and share" can kill manipulative political pander anytime, via open, honest AND democratic dialog, given your patient attention,at very low cost to you, if you cogitate.

Hank Ruark May 25, 2010 11:28 am (Pacific time)

Friend DJ: I note your two refs. are so dated as to cover educators as of 25 years ago...a full generation ! Mine own experience denies and defies what you state, and I hope my Op Ed makes very clear that most of what now denigrates our educational sysem comes about by poor and known-erroneous civil and social-force actions. That's the intent of this three-part series, for which I offer extensive current documentation on request to Editor Tim. You and I have already exchanged one specific book, as mentioned in yours here, illuminating some of those same forces, as they impacted on Second Amendment and other rights. Please continue your comment on this series, hopefully a bit more positive with Part Two upcoming !!

Jess May 25, 2010 10:57 am (Pacific time)

Daniel Johnson from an empirical perspective your theory is faulty about those involved in teaching as per your statement: "Consequently, students attracted to education are generally the least capable on the college campus; they tend to be somewhat more conservative than the norm." Have you done a review on party membership of teachers? How about teacher participation in unions that support far left candidates and policies? Pretty liberal bunch, but less so in private education. It is the latter group that puts out better student perfomance. So maybe the Newsweak article you referenced from 26 years ago needs some updating? In terms of lawyers sitting on local school district boards in my area, they are not all that common. Most are everyday people who want the best for the kids, but run into big roadblocks from unions, ACLU and those who think if a 6 year old has a one inch plastic gun from a cereal box, he needs to be expelled. Not kidding one bit. I would suggest to you that the business community wants well educated students for employees, while there are those that want their students to fall for lefty propaganda. Considering the low performance rates in public schools, it's pretty easy to see whose harming our kids.

Natalie May 25, 2010 2:00 am (Pacific time)

Henry Clay Ruark: I'm not very good with abstractionism. Could you please narrow it down to few points that you feel would be the solution? (Something like: once a year test all teachers, obligatory home-work every day). I have no fancy degrees, can't cite anybody with a loud name. What we do have is 2 kids in the family; a boy and a girl. The boy is in the private school, the girl-nice public school. Same age. The boy comes home with projects to do, some home-work for at least an hour; the girl sometimes prints a couple pages from the Wikipedia as her homework. The boy has tests, and we get his "success result", thus we know which "weakness" we should address first; the girl gets smileys and "good job" all the time while her obvious mistakes are not corrected. The boy says "we studied all day long"; the girl says "we hit each other on the head with foam sticks that our teacher brought in". The boys plants beans; November comes-the girl says that there will be no more home-works till the end of the year. The list goes on and on.. Re dates, time and names-started 2005; still observing. I would gladly post the names, but I don't think it would fly very well with the school. So, if you're willing to upgrade to Skype, I would give you that information, too. Long-distance phone calls are not exactly the cheapest way to communicate. And I won't charge for my time. Promise. :) P.S. If not noticing that your students have sex in the class-room with other students getting it on their cell-phones in your presence is considered conservative, then I'm an alien.

Daniel Johnson May 24, 2010 6:45 pm (Pacific time)

I read a book about twenty years ago by Elizabeth and Michael Useem called The Education Establishment (1987). They wrote: "Schools of education are very poor. Academically, the faculty of education schools ranks near the bottom. Attitudinally the faculty of education schools appears more conservative and authoritarian than the faculties of other academic disciplines. Consequently, students attracted to education are generally the least capable on the college campus; they tend to be somewhat more conservative than the norm."

This was confirmed in great detail in a Newsweek article which showed actual test results where education students consistently ranked at the bottom compared to students from other faculties in terms of academic abilities. See "Why Teachers Fail" by Dennis A. Williams and Lucy Howard, Sept 24, 1984

This reminds me of the old saying: Those who can't do, teach, those who can't teach, teach teachers.
On an anecdotal level, when I was an undergraduate the University of Calgary, those in education were referred to as the "arts and science rejects."

The purpose of education is not to open up students minds, but rather to make them more malleable to the business community. Just look at the school board in any district and count the number of lawyers and business people sitting there.

Teachers, it turns out, are unwitting tools of the capitalist system. Their job is to maintain the status quo. 

Henry Clay Ruark May 24, 2010 2:43 pm (Pacific time)

Why so reluctant to actually cite experience and training applying here ? You sound very defensive to me, and I note you cite no evidence whatsoever for your outdated, outmoded, irrational words.

For instance you plunge head first into the tests-prove-it jungle when highly qualified persons with decades of full national leadership in both using and now criticizing test failures --especially very strongly precisely those areas of teacher competence and the choices-demanded for any real rational production of tested curriculum approaches you mention.

Diane Ravitch's book is titled: "Death and Life of the Great American School System" with subhead "How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education". She is surely more qualified that either of us, and her book it was that now triggered off my Op Ed, which reflects our combined experiences with mine own added feelings from 50 years of learning media production built on an EdD program in education.
Can hardly term her radical when she served Bush II as his Secretary of Education, did his bidding re NCLB, now known as major debacle, and has now reversed herself on same points you make here. See the book, sir. HAVE YOU READ IT ?

You can see details at our STAFF section RE ME. BUT we have for yours/here ONLY your own words with NO SITUATIONS, NO SOLID EXAMPLES, NO SPECIAL QUALIFICATIONS --which you seem to refuse to tell us.

Why should we buy into your plan for undetailed testing, without knowing from whom the tests come, how made, and with what skills to make sure they work ?

THAT leaves aside entirely precisely WHOSE VALUES these "tests" then reflect...but we surely can guess !!

SO --I repeat-- put up or shut up, with checkable detail on your so/far unspecified alternatives, AND no checkable information on your professional qualifications.

Here we deal in fact, not political pander, as reflected in your statement of major tool for manipulation as Op Ed reports --distorted curriculum backed by perverted tests.

Re union influence, any fool today knows corporate dollars go far further, far faster, than ANY union, particularly in education. National sources now show about ten-to-one as ratio for corporate vs educational organizations.

The whole message reflected here is shaped by the same un-wholesome propaganda spewed from Far Right and Libertarian channels ever since the Reagan debacle --and thoroughly now refuted once again in the most recent booklength reversal by one of the leading advocates for"choice","charter" and "comprehensive testing" to "establish teacher competence"

The measures to make it work simply DO NOT EXIST, sir, as anyone claiming your deeply described experience would surely know...

 Patrick: You wrote:"I have witnessed a steady deterioration of our public school system. There has been no far right propaganda intervention aimed at harming our students from my up close and personal view. Who has been in charged of this state's public school system for many years now? No one from the conservative area. But in the private school system here, and with the home schoolers, there has been a conservative approach to learning and these students have on average surpassed the public system students by a considerable margin." SO how did you "observe" ? You fail to state - SO NOW put up details. WHAT districts, WHEN, WITH WHOM, HOW DONE, and WHERE published ? Happens I did whole series of reports on several leading counties, with actual visits to schools, int'vs with full range of personnel, inventory and expenditure records, and "What We Need Now" information from those working with kids right on front/line. YOU do anything like that ? Mine in copy here for anyone to "see with own eyes" and check, as well as recorded at OrDept. You have shared NOT ONE word of answer to my detailed set of questions sent earlier; why avoid if you have recent solid information and competence to answer questions --most right out of Ed 101, and test text here in office. Will offer you one single further chance: Put up your list of "observations" with full details as above. When rec'd, will then publish my proffered 50-count list of solid advances in Oregon education via recent EdSupt. Fair enough ? Either you got it OR you AIN'T got it !! Easy to determine answer here so far...yours to fire when ready, sir, and we await your list of visits and detail on how you "observed"...donlt forget dates, names, other checkable inputs, either... When you return answers, I will then show access to my six studies on file here, covering around half of state, now somewhat dated but method and record establishes their credibility, along with fact they were published by the OrEdDept. and distributed both in-state and nationally.

Henry Clay Ruark May 24, 2010 11:22 am (Pacific time)

"Anon" I have found that those people too cowardly to sign their stuff usually have very good reason to hide. Dialog is heart of democracy and you misuse, abuse and thus damage what the Founders meant to be responsible, rational, effective learning and sharing to support, strengthen and guarantee wise democratic decision based on wit, wisdom and will of the people. It is ONLY via open, honest, democratic dialog --especially today !!-- that we can still achieve that Founder intent. IF you wish to hide behind pseudonymn or "anonymous", long-continued communications research clearly provides full proof you have reason to do so usually malign in purpose. NOBODY slips on mask in civilized discourse unless wanting to hide face, and thus giving away malign purpose !! My Mom taught me "If you do not know what you are talking about, best to keep mouth shut rather than reveal it." This is now international channel; what you write shows up across the world; better be damned sure it's worth trip !! Your futile fantasy denies and defies common-sense of full reliance on those who have studied, shared, taught, AND learned "the hard way --with kids in classrooms and laboratories and every other learning environment. Do YOU depend on doctor,or lawyer. or banker --or perhaps even minister or priest ???? Perhaps you should also now consider your own psychologist too...inability to understand plain language is a symptom. They all learned the hard way, too --with irresponsible and uninformed or otherwise fully distorted persons --especially the psychiatrist. For classic reference see: "The Language of Change";Paul Watzlawick;Basic Books. See especially Ch. 6, Right- Hemisphere Language Patterns. Be not fearful: the book is clearly-written, which is why it is a classic still often referred in advanced study, even though published in '70s. Concept of Op Eds I do is based on very specialized, even "checkered" !, experience with at least 30 refs.for each one, available on request to Editor with true ID, working phone. Small fee ($25.) for time since individually done. Do YOU list and offer access to YOUR refs. for "opinion" ??

Patrick May 24, 2010 9:06 am (Pacific time)

From my info, those on the "Texas Textbook Board", I call it that for ID purposes, have backgrounds, along with their research staff, in developing public school curriculum. I agree with the statement that elections have consequences, and the majority of Texan voters gave this board the power to design their school textbooks. When they are published, then let the critics point out the problems they feel need to be addressed. Otherwise we're just hearing fear-mongering coming from the uninformed distracters. My guess is that the critics will have little empirical evidence to support their claims. Time will tell. Considering how poorly the Oregon public school system is performing, we sure need a paradigm shift away from the status quo. My background in teaching and in assessment leads me to believe that it's time for our legislature to pass some bills to allow for comprehensive testing of all teacher's competency on a yearly level. Then allow for a re-test for those who fail some benchmark standard, and if they still fail, then immediate termination. The unions would fight this in court, but they would fight the "state", not individual school districts. There are many other ideas out there, but it's those who continue to support the status quo that are hampering the learning environment of our kids. They have had literally decades to turn things around, they have just made it worse. Evidence for the latter is irrefutable.

Anonymous May 24, 2010 7:34 am (Pacific time)

I have found that those people who defend the current public school system are the problem.

Henry Clay Ruark May 23, 2010 9:22 pm (Pacific time)

Randy: So tell us your special experience and training to make critical judgment on curricular matters, sir. Name institution, degree and any working experience. We can then compare it with, say,those who have published in this field, worked in state level departments, done decade of surveys, et al, et al. ANYone can clai, "agenda" vs anyone else, which is what you do here, sir, but allathat is empty hot air until you prove up source credibility. What's yours --other than seeking brevity, that is ! In a demoracy majority rules on political decisions, sir, but cannot deny facts of history such as slave trade and historic role of leaders on both white/black matters, as here. Should we replace Darwin's work, too, sir ? How about scientific theory of gravity ? That go, too, given vote of people re content to be taught in their state ? What a hellish mess when we have fifty separate courses of study, each changing with political forces in that state and with national politics,all at the same time. You make solid case for national curricular and pedagogical standards, sir...which is one reason they will be coming, as part of what 21st Century now demands of rational, reasonable people in every state, at every level and with disregard for silly futile political pandering. It is s...(read stuff) which builds deep misunderstandings and unfounded criticism by the unknowing, insensitive, and uninformed, who know not what they do and care even less.

Randy Cadnau May 23, 2010 6:09 pm (Pacific time)

"Todd Jealous, NAACP President." Anyone know his background in education? Any experience constructing school textbooks? People should, if really interested, take the time and see what the "Textbook" brouhaha is all about in Texas. Considerable misinformation coming from one side. For example, one side wants to now include in their textbooks that America is a Republic, rather than democratic. That use to be pretty standard info during an earlier time. People have agendas, elections have consequences. From the history books I've seen come out over the last 20 plus years, they are more about an agenda rather than actually providing an objective history. From my observations and talks with people on the scene in Texas, this is about removing distortions, and there are those who don't want that. I can only wonder why.

Henry Clay Ruark May 23, 2010 3:18 pm (Pacific time)

Here's missing quote, never arrived when first-sent, to make sure each reader sees and understands statement previously...given ongoing massive misunderstandings that is all this old geek can do !: "Our future is at stake. Will we prepare our youth for success in the 21st century or let nostalgia for the 19th century hobble graduates and leave many students behind? Will Texas prioritize ideology over our children or give students the world-class education they deserve? "Rewriting history is not promoting patriotism; it is institutionalizing ignorance." Jealous is president and CEO of the NAACP. Paige is senior advisor to the Madison Education Group and former U.S. Secretary of Education (2001-2005). Be sure to "see with own eyes" and include comments, which are more revealing even than my Op Ed, and just about evenly-split...

Henry Clay Ruark May 23, 2010 11:55 am (Pacific time)

(Sorry for break in sending this one) Op Ed is by Todd Jealous, NAACP President, and Rod Paige, former national Comm. of Education. Cited here as documentation for ongoing attack-point and proof of fundamental misunderstandings distorting the entire national image of a relatively effective system -hampered by misunderstanding and denial of basic resources.

Henry Clay Ruark May 23, 2010 10:10 am (Pacific time)

"Full classes, complicated adolescents, unrealistic expectations" --is THAT brief enough and UN-verbose/enough ? For reality lived every day in far too many classrooms, see report by longtime (30 yrs !) teacher re his daughter's experience NOW --OREGONIAN Edit Page, this Sunday- edition. She has 38 in one classroom; most parents shudder if faced with two-or-more in same/room at same/time, in adolescent stage. EVERY child deserves strong support to achieve development possible for that person; cant be done in current system. Myth re teachers/union heads force-combined to drain off taxpayer money is just that: MYTH ! It has been perpetrated by those seeking malignly-selfish situation of best possible education for their kids, paid for by those on whom they perpetrate the myth: YOU ! "See also" two full pages of teacher/administrator/parent reaction in previous Big O Sunday-ed. Edit Pages. Be not benighted by deceit of desperate small-government, smaller taxes 19th Century view of world YOU LIVE IN NOW with YOUR KIDS !! It ain't there, has been long-gone ever since '80s... Time has come to realize we get what we pay for and what we choose to allow --and that education today is best of all bargains in our governance. To fix its weaknesses and errors and mistakes is far less costly than continuing wasting wars --and far more protective of pragmatic long-term national security, too !! Stay tuned for Parts Two and Three...THEN "evaluate with own mind" via full-story/told with deep documentation and detailed factual refs. on your request to Editor.

Randy Cadnau May 23, 2010 9:46 am (Pacific time)

I've been following the Texas textbook situation quite closely because of having family living there and nieces and nephews in school there. Obviously elections have consequences. You have 15 people on this textbook deciding board, with ten conservatives and five non-conservatives. Do any polls of Texas voters suggest that the majority of them want the conservatives to bow to the minority? If so, then do any of you readers out there feel that if the "will of the people" shows that the ten conservatives policies are wrong that they should have their decisions on the textooks stopped or changed in favor of the people's majority will? Mr. Ruark I mentioned to my father the Orwell quotes you provided. Here is one from him. George Orwell: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

Hank Ruark May 22, 2010 10:38 am (Pacific time)

Let's get right down to real cases, shall we ?

You wrote:"...simply distilling everything down to performance standards/results now, and in the recent past and comparing them to systems that thrive."

Ok --WHOSE performance standards ? HOW (and when !) measured ? BY whom ? and With WHAT ??

Do you rely on "standardized tests"?
Testing what components and characteristics of the complex learning process ?
With what measure for real massive impact of teacher on learner ?
Teacher/pay tied to tests or student/achievement ?

WHAT impact does funding for huge, complex, mandated school effort have ? Are "common schools"--per Founders--still essential to democracy ?

WHO decides, HOW measured ? With what ?
When,and with what ratio to other public expenditures ?
What should right ratio for education be vs that for all else ?

Any answers, sir ?
Every question comes most directly from basic coursework in education advanced-degree professional training.
EACH ONE is fact-of-life with which teacher must deal every day with every learner, since each question/answer shapes the learning situation directly.
(That's WHY they appear in professional training media !)

Funding reflects ONLY the decisions WE MAKE as to what is MOST DEMANDED, NECESSARY, INDISPENSABLE...far too often with little understanding of what we are buying and how to judge what we get...

Perhaps this smallsample may make "brevity" seem far less important than foundation fact AND understandings...which is what is so sadly missing among the largest proportion of U.S. tax payers and parents,FAR too "busy" to pay responsible attention to foundation of their own lives as well as their kids.

Question: HOW do you KNOW what is "conservative" and what is NOT ?
"Faith" have any part in that ?
That's why the Founders felt we had to have secular system;
which is what and why Texas et al and "think-tanks" and whole "foundations" effort for large propaganda was put into place and is still far-out/funded by propaganda/maker-dollars.

Re Oregon-declaration of status, on what basis of real fact-finding do you state the deterioration of Oregon education ?

I can cite 50 major,some massive, forward steps, by whole list of Supt.of Ed, office-holders, with/without federal funding; $9 million of it as matching fund for school districts I both approved for expenditure AND for actual legal costs when spent, with U.S.record-set for accounting accuracy (around 0.05 "error")

Again, if you make public statement, you imply you have reason,rational and "right to speak" on basis of fact and documentation...otherwise dialog is reduced to empty words from personal feelings meaning little --and open to question of WHY you speak !!

Your participation highly appreciated, sir, since it forces dialog to level of true fact vs personal feeling.
Please "stay tuned" for Part Two forthcoming soon and for Part Three, summarizing ALL points made during Comment on first two Parts...promise !!

Patrick et al: Here's solid "see with own eyes" evidence of progress in Oregon NOW, with Castillo as re-elected Supt.Ed.: Ore. gets $10.5M federal grant to track ed data Download a PDF of this story May 22, 2010 * Comments (3) * Recommend * Print this page * E-mail this article * Share o o Facebook o Digg o Reddit o Newsvine o Buzz up! o Twitter o FarkIt * * Type Size A A A PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon has won a $10.5 million federal grant to upgrade its education data systems. The money will help the state design and build statewide data systems that will allow Oregon to examine student progress from early childhood through college and into the work force. State schools Superintendent Susan Castillo says the grant will enable Oregon to give teachers better information to influence their instruction. Oregon education leaders also hope to create a data exchange with Washington, Idaho and Hawaii. Washington was awarded a $17.3 million grant. ----------------- By demonstration, award of these fed-funds shows clearly necessity to KNOW FACTS from the field to guide what we NOW need to do... Changing form-and-content of life itself, entering 21st Century,forces radical reforms which we all need to support, with proof-of-need coming right from life experiences

Patrick May 21, 2010 6:50 pm (Pacific time)

Here in Oregon I have witnessed a steady deterioration of our public school system. There has been no far right propaganda intervention aimed at harming our students from my up close and personal view. Who has been in charged of this state's public school system for many years now? No one from the conservative area. But in the private school system here, and with the home schoolers, there has been a conservative approach to learning and these students have on average surpassed the public system students by a considerable margin. I've noticed in my short life that there are those who finger point and those that look for some type of resolution. Not too difficult to see whose been the beneficiary of the latter approach. Proof is in the pudding when it comes to how well our students are prepared to enter the job market. Looking at the high drop out rate and low test scores in the public system, it is apparent that we need to have new leadership and a different pedagogical approach. We have been hearing from this current bunch of school leaders how they are about to turn things around (over and over again!), well it has not happened. Though the public system does create a lot of jobs for teachers and admin. staff, but to what end? Seems the ongoing request for more and more funding has failed to achieve positive results, other than paying tax money for a failed system, and it has failed for far too many kids. Appears very political, and one-sided politics at that. So maybe that brevity v.s. verbosity is a way of exposing the failing public school system by simply distilling everything down to perfomance standards/results now, and in the recent past and comparing them to systems that thrive. As Einstein mentioned, " continue doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results is insane..." I'm paraphrasing, obviously, but you get the idea, hopefully.

Hank Ruark May 21, 2010 6:34 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Please note that Texas took action today to pervert current professionally- produced textbooks by altering indisputable fact about the Civil War and other key areas of American life. The slave/trade is now to be renamed as "triangle trade", with other equally perverting, diversionary and, for many Americans, disgusting similar distortions of true history.

Henry Clay Ruark May 21, 2010 3:30 pm (Pacific time)

Sam: Brevity has its strengths but so does professional judgment on what, how much, how presented to uninformed public must be created for responsible report. Here preparation included some six hours of checking and research on top of 60 working years straddling education and communications, with advanced degrees in education, a decade of work in OrDeptEd, and close surveillance of field for past twenty years. Qualification of commenter unknown as either critic or as informed citizen re education. IF qualified, second comment welcomed with information re which point and why dissent. That's prime purpose of our dialog channel here, and very simple rule of action owed by every reader to every writer. This series written for the serious readers who understand the excruciating damages now underway via inattention and broad public misunderstandings created by 40 years of FarRt. propaganda, provable and well documented. IF you wish to comment on any point, your informed dissent highly appreciated to help build public interest in what's being done to our real AMERICAN system, open always to honest, democratic dialog --but demanding credibility for any comment as well as for any point made in the report. That's how we operate at S-N with publication demonstrating editorial judgment that S-N standards have been met, by mere fact of its appearance.

Sam May 21, 2010 8:00 am (Pacific time)

Mr. Orwell sure had a gift for predicting future behavior. For example, it appears that he projected the misdirection and distraction techniques of community organizers quite accurately, but so did PT Barnum years before Orwell. In fact, one could go back to ancient Greek literature to get a grasp on those who engage in distraction in hopes of sandbagging the real pertinent facts of a situation. Brevity is an excellent method for communicating with others without obfuscating the fact(s).

Hank Ruark May 20, 2010 3:23 pm (Pacific time)

Randy: Try these on your "dad"...: Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear : George Orwell : English novelist, essayist, and critic, 1903-1950 We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men: George Orwell They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening : George Orwell Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind: George Orwell The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them: George Orwell

Randy Cadnau May 20, 2010 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

This article reminds me of a paper I did in school about brevity and verbosity. My father at the time was a trial attorney and he would always advocate that when he addressed the jury during his closing arguement that after a long trial the jurors attention span was short, so he adjusted for that. I found that to be an excellent method to incorporate in not just my professional life, but also in my personal life.

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