Judy, Karen
Ira David Socol

Ira — I couldn’t agree with you more, which makes me wonder about the response. Why would you think that I don’t believe it? The factory model of education — designed to “produce” worker bees for the economy — has never disappeared. The DOE mission statements talks only about giving students what they need to “compete in the global economy.” And two of the last three State of the Union messages talked about education only in terms of “job readiness” and the economy. You are absolutely correct that, until the purpose of education changes from knowledge-centered to learner-centered — to educating the WHOLE child and facilitating the growth and development of each individual rather than “training” a work force — teachers will continue to complain about kids being “unmotivated” and “not wanting to learn.” Ridiculous!

You are extremely fortunate to work in a district with an enlightened administration — and to have the freedom to do what you do with the students. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for all public school teachers. Many of them know what they are doing is harmful to their students, but they are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak out. They don’t seem to realize the power they have if they would reclaim their voice as education professionals. Instead, many of them leave teaching, which may make them feel better, but certainly does nothing for the children or their future. Those of us who write about these issues are clearly preaching to the choir. How can we get teachers and parents from outside your district — and other public districts/schools around the country who have moved to learner-centered education — to spend some time in your schools and see the difference in the children?

The Opt-Out movement was a beginning. It is just the tip of the iceberg, but it shows the power that parents can have. First, parents must be made aware of the educational malpractice foisted on public education by NCLB and the subsequent standards-based policies. Second, they and the traditional teachers who believe that their role is to “give” students information, need to see and experience learner-centered programs. Once they realize that there are viable and effective alternatives — learning environments that support authentic learning, and in which students are engaged, joyful, and “successful” (by their own definition) , I would hope that they would say “Enough!” How do we get that to happen?

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