Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who SHOULD the N.U. Educators Invite to Speak?
Here Are Five Great School Reformers Who Deserve the Mike

The N.U. College of Education and Human Sciences leaders were not the brightest lights in the candelabra when they invited unrepentant terrorist William Ayers to be keynote speaker at the N.U. Teachers College's upcoming 100th anniversary celebration.

Now they have to come up with somebody else, quick. And it'd better be somebody good.

Considering that Nebraska has one of the widest racial achievement gaps in the nation, ideas for how to plug it might be a pretty focus for that speaker. Ayers and Obama proved totally impotent on that, even armed with $150 million of other people’s money to throw around in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which did nothing.

So who else could N.U. invite? Is there anybody out there who has proven how to help disadvantaged kids do better in school . . . without setting bombs, committing treason against the United States, or trying to kill anybody? Well, let’s see:

-- Another Chicagoan, only a REAL educational hero, Marva Collins. She started a private school for inner-city Chicago kids in 1975 with $5,000 of her own money. At the end of her first year, every single student tested at least five grade levels higher. Almost all of her students, who come from the lowest socioeconomic groups, manage to go on to college, including the Ivy League. Mrs. Collins has inner-city fourth-graders reading (and understanding!) Plato. And she speaks all over the country about how schools could cut the baloney, and start TEACHING again, to make a huge difference for kids. So she's pro-American, her educational style is very inexpensive, and she gets results. What a concept!

-- Former Chicago school superintendent Paul Vallas, who has acknowledged that the Obama-Ayers ed project in Chicago was an utter failure, is now trying to patch up the absolute mess that the lefties and Hurricane Katrina made of the New Orleans school system. He got there to find 97% African-American populations in the public schools, and 75% poor and on free or reduced-price lunch. What he has developed is so exciting and creative, it would be a slam-dunk to fix the failing schools within the Omaha Public Schools. Instead of a top-down, command-and-control structure like OPS now has, with no room for educational entrepreneurship, New Orleans is using a "Diverse Providers Strategy." There’s school choice, charter schools, magnet schools, plenty of freedom for principals of schools that are doing great or OK, and increasing focus and control over principals of schools that are still failing. There are tons of sharp young teachers from Teach For America, too – another fantastic school reform that’s in 1,000 schools across the country but not a single one in Nebraska. Why not get that going -- try what's working elsewhere? Again, what a concept!

-- Florida education commissioner Eric J. Smith is an expert in using quality curriculum to improve the academic achievement of all student groups, especially the disadvantaged. In 10 years, using back-to-the-basics curriculum, Florida has lifted the quality of its educational delivery so high that Florida Hispanic students now score higher on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than the mostly-white, overall, total student populations of 15 other states. And all it took was good curriculum?!? What a concept!

-- Lance Izumi is a California researcher who found that low-income students could still be high-achieving with inexpensive, cost-effective educational practices. Examples: learning to read with phonics, and concentrating on computation mastery to get ready for algebra instead of way-out “rainforest math” activities in grade school such as most public schools use today. His report, They Have Overcome: High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools in California, documented that there is no correlation between higher student achievement, and higher spending and higher teacher salaries. It's not the money; it's the curriculum and the expectations! We don’t need mountains of more money?!? What a concept!

-- Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin are teachers who started the KIPP Academy (Knowledge is Power Program) in inner-city Houston in 1994, got funding from Doris and Don Fisher of Gap Inc., and by 2007, their inexpensive, common-sense methods have spread to 66 KIPP schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia serving 16,000 students, almost all low-income and minorities. While only 20% from that sociodemographic group typically go on to college, among KIPP students, the percentage is 80%. Wow! Of course, we desperately need programs like KIPP in Nebraska, and don't have a single one. N.U. could pave the way by inviting them here to speak. What? Invite GOOD guys, who have succeeded in real life? Not washed-up, educationally bankrupt terrorists? Educators who've actually helped people, not hurt them, to come and speak and inspire? What a concept!!!

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These people would actually inform us about how to eduate "disadvantaged" kids, many of whom aren't at all disadvantaged, or only temporarily in language. We mostly get excuses from the Omaha school administrators about how challenging it is to educate "disadvantaged" kids.The plea is always that more money will fix the problem, even though OPS spends $13,044 per pupil per year, according to the Platte Institute for Economic Research. Ayers is all about promoting left-wing ideas in our schools, such as America is to balme for most of the world's evil because we are a bunch of homophobic, racist, greedy capitalists despoiling the environment.
These people would actually inform us of how to educate "disadvantaged" students, many of whom aren't disadvantaged at all, except some temporarily in language. We get many excuses from Omaha school administrators about how "challenging" it is to teach "disadvantaged" kids.. More money is always the answer, even though OPS now spends $13,044 per pupil per year according to the Platte Institute. Ayers is all about indoctrining our children with left wing notions, such as that the .S. is to balme for most of the world's ills, beause we are a bunch of greedy, racist, homophobic earth despoiling capitalists. (Capitalism is bad, of course.).)
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