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An Emerging New Narrative For Education


An Emerging New Narrative For Education

Jeff Bryant

The big news about education policy in the presidential race is that there is no news.

As Laura Moser writes for Slate, “None of the candidates are talking about education. Like, at all.”


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Very true, we have heard little on k-12 education. I recall Chris Christie saying he would get rid of common core. I recall Martin O'Malley saying when he was governor Maryland's schools were number one for 5 years in a row. Education traditionally has been left up to the states. I think it is generally agreed that there is a problem of inequality. Our wealthy suburbs have schools that are second to none in the world whereas poorer urban and rural areas have schools that are probably comparable to those in many developing countries. The reliance on property taxes for much of school funding seems to be a central problem. As long as property taxes play such a big role we will probably continue to have great schools in wealthier areas and lousy schools in poorer areas.


There are many examples of how creating a problem allows for special interests to introduce its purported solution.

Rather than fund schools, it fits the mandate of right wing interests to merely punish those who "don't perform."

Calvinism tells these true believers that if people aren't succeeding in life, they deserve their fate.

In the same way that nations are bombed back to the stone age and out of the ruins, rebel groups arise only to be painted as dangerous insurgents; communities are gutted of jobs and hope (urban deserts) and as a result, black market economies (typically centered around drugs) arise.

Then, rather than address the cause by alleviating poverty through investing in jobs (he natural result of programs oriented towards repairing infrastructure), Law Enforcement circles like prey in order to capture likely warm bodies to fill the New Prison-Plantation System.

Schools are treated in a similar fashion:

"Burris explained during Q&A, “You can’t close the achievement gap [another popular measure] until you do something about opportunity gaps.” As anecdotal evidence of this, she cited her own experiences as a school principal and recent news stories from schools in Flint, Michigan, Philadelphia, and other cities where student learning was impeded by basic health and safety measures that could have been addressed if there were more funding for school nurses and other staff."

Rather than make the OBVIOUS connection between under-funding and performance... right wing luminaries like Sarah Palin, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Paul Ryan, and the odious Ted Cruz... wax lyrical about all the flaws in the characters of these unfortunate souls, or schools, or nations.


Watch that WE, item, Cookies.

How many citizens give a shit about ISIS?

The mass media must generate a boogey man each time the last one loses credibility. How else to maintain the Military Industrial Complex's half-trillion dollar ANNUAL budget?

Let's not take what the Deep State peddles as consensual reality as a given... or WE do its work for it.


I have heard a number of people say that to really improve schools in urban slum areas many of the problems in the surrounding area have to be addressed. The children in the school need good nutrition beginning with their time in the womb, preschool education is needed, parental involvement in the school is needed, etc. So much is needed at a basic level to lower the high drop out rates from high school that occur in too many areas. So far in the campaign the focus has been on college costs but as we know so many kids do not even obtain high school degrees, which means they have no chance of even being accepted to college.


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One can't talk about education without addressing what education is embedded in, as with virtually all of our societal domains, that of neoliberalism. We reside in a two party political reality, designed to inhibit additional parties due to winner take all elections that minimize having legislative representation for all groups. Representation is left to the two parties. A situation that can be hacked. Big time.

The genesis of neoliberalism is tied to the selling out of the Democratic party in this country. The Democratic party that created the New Deal and Social Security when it was desperately needed, and was the potential for further progressive evolution. Where talking about holistic approaches to education, as with the work of Maria Montessori, could be said in mixed conpany. And then that party was bought out. The only solution is a 'revolutionary' movement via the participation to undo past wrongs and grow from there. It requires a major break from the routine. A major break, a revolution.

Needless to say, this is earth shaking to the status quo, as observed in the obedient hehavior of Chris Matthews and msm across the board. The great Human Experiment continues.


Education has worked perfectly for its entire 200-year history: it has always succeeded in creating a population of obedient and passive workers, soldiers and consumers that would never question the mindset of industrial capitalism. The entire history of schools has also included cries over "we need to fix education". Actually, we need to be rid of schools. They contradict how humans evolved to learn over 2 million year, which is through free play in nature, which is also how every other social animal learns how to live well. Schools are factories that produce traumatized zombies for industrial capitalism who can't imagine that life could be any different. Check out www.schoolispoison.org for more. And www.kaitiakicollective.org for a solution.


I come from a family of educators. Gramps was a professor in the College of Education, University of Colorado, and wrote science text books. Step-Dad was the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Iowa and was on the team that developed the IOWA test. My mom was a classroom teacher for her entire career in K-8, and a union rep. Of course, I got a public school education and a very good one at that. My entire class was 24 kids split into two levels. My kids also got a public education, one that cost the taxpayer quadruple the cost of mine, and they were in huge classes and got nowhere near as good an education as I did.

I tell you this because I not only support public education and believe it is a massively important tool for doing good in the world, I am who I am because of public education in one way or another. I wholeheartedly concur that it needs a complete overhaul. If you haven't already, check out TEDTalks on education. We have neither begun to discuss the myriad ways to educate children nor the fact that we can't just keep on building more and more schools that serve the old model to house a growing population of students living in the technology era.


Education does not take place in the vacuum of a school building, or in the converted bedroom of the home schooled.

For decades the stock response for politicians when talking about education started by mentioning some drivel about "the children are our future." In some contexts that statement actually is true. But what message do the children of Detroit, Michigan get about how important they are when they go to school? How important do they feel when they've got mushrooms growing out of the wall where a dozen tiles have fallen away near the baseboard?

Kids aren't dumb. As a group they're actually a lot smarter than the adults who go around spouting off with the drivel.

Why ever would a teen ager living in a ghetto slum want to go to school when they already know what life has to offer them if they live long enough to graduate?

Life does hold promise for some kids. All kids realize that. A large number of kids, by the time they're 10-14 years old, know they're not those "some kids."

The young attending high school who aren't on track to attend college need to understand there's a job waiting for them once they get out of high school. With that incentive, knowing they have the opportunity to live a better life than the poverty they grew up in, that's what will prompt many to respond and work to graduate. That's how you lower the drop out rate. Give them a school building that doesn't have mold growing in the walls; that's how you begin to get them believing their society does care about them and wants them to do well in their future lives.


I agree with a lot of the stuff presented in that one link. In particular the parts about how our educational model socializes kids to become productive citizens in an industrialized society. Through the last 20 years America has been transformed into a post-industrialized society, and we leave our kids to navigate the gap between who they were trained to be and who they need to become in the uncertain future before them.

I didn't come across the part that discussed the alternative. To me, "school" is a generic term that defines a place set aside by society where the young are socialized to become adult members of society. Part of that socialization includes education, that is probably defined as the process by which an individual acquires the skills required to navigate life successfully.

We can't escape the responsibility for ensuring our children become educated. I don't know how that would be accomplished without providing a place where that can occur. There are safety issues involved, as well as guidance and discipline issues that need to be addressed.

The organizational structure of our schools needs to be changed. And more importantly, the organizational structure of our society is in greater need of being changed. I can see that. I just wish I had the answer for how to accomplish that.


If TED Talks supports the concept of intellectual property rights, as I suspect they must seeing where the funding comes from, I doubt any consensus that comes out of there will fit the bill for what's needed.

And yes, I do hold a B. Ed. for what that's worth. I do know something about the subject apart from my public school education.


RM, We the People should be the ultimate arbiters on public ed, but on the whole Americans are woefully bad at envisioning new possibilities, especially within public education. Just saying in a discussion of transforming public education, there are a lot of new and interesting ideas, questions that need to be asked and answered, and model programs already operating with much success here and abroad being presented by TEDTalks. Are they presenting all the ideas? No, but these short videos can be used to help Americans expand our vision of what is possible, and create space for ingenuity to work.