Shake Before Lifting

Now what?

Now what?

The people that always do the heavy lifting of community and/or school improvement are those in the trenches. You can’t mandate them to do it. You can’t twist their arms, as much as we might like to. People need to see the need, know they share a common problem, see a way to solve it, and believe they can. Can that be put into reform law? Yes, I not only know think it can; I know that the philosophy of helping people help themselves was put into education law in 1965.

Our common problem is that the education reform laws now are designed to “do to us” instead of helping us to improve. In Idaho, there are clearly ten Title I (low-income schools) that are falling behind the other 93% of Idaho’s Title I schools. The law did make us identify and label theses schools but we — not the schools — continue to fail because society isn’t providing them with the help they need to improve. Recent laws actually make that process harder.

We fail to serve the neediest of our schools because there are no people adequately representing these schools at “the table” were decisions are being made for them. We toss them a bone now and then, occasionally allowing them three minutes to testify and sometimes even inviting them to a conference. This is not allowing them to be part of the solution; it only serves to pacify them, momentarily. This is not full and continuous engagement in the improvement process.

What we need from real “reform” laws — laws that address the needs of schools most in need of improvement — are laws that provide direction, guidance, and assistance in evaluating the problems on the ground, educating the community about those problems and the array of solutions available to them, and making sure the public feels welcomed into the process of being successful with the plan they themselves created. After all, ordinary Americans are the real doers and shakers.

Time to shake it up?

All is Not Lost

Across the country, people are rising to the challenge of beating back wrongful “education reforms.” The movement against high-stakes testing got rolling with 545 local school boards in Texas adopting a resolution against standardized testing. Other states including Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Virginia have followed suit with many parents joining in by opting their students out of the testing in states such as New York, Washington, California, and Colorado.

And from education funding to education “reform” laws, the fate of public education is being placed before voters through state ballot measures in numbers not seen for 20 years. My state of Idaho is one of those states. Much is at stake.

In general, our lawmaking process has been corrupted by money and our minds have in the past been swayed by propaganda. We have been used in ways we may not realize until it is too late. But even as we acknowledge that money is a very, very powerful influence, we need to place our faith in the American people that they will rise up to this opportunity to support public schools. All is not lost.

At a rally here in Idaho yesterday, these were some of the parting words spoken: “Support quality education in Idaho.”

And that is what will be extremely important. When we have defeated what we know is wrong, we must be there to promote and support what is right.

Desire and Attitude

This past couple of weeks I’ve met with groups on both sides of the Idaho education wars which are currently raging over “reform” laws on our November ballot. These meetings reaffirmed the fact that we working class people all share the desire and belief that public schools should provide our children, grandchildren, and other relatives with the chance to have a good education, no matter where they live. In our hearts, we know it’s the best thing for them.

So what continues to divide us? Really, what’s stopping us from pursuing improvement in all our schools? Money, power — the clout that goes with it? Is that what is really necessary to move us into action?

It seems that within any group gatherings there is always at least one person who indicates or says “we can’t.” And that attitude becomes infectious. So here is something to consider;

All In The State Of Mind
If you think you’re beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out in the world you find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

Full many a race is lost,
Ere ever a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work begun.
Think big, and your deeds will grow;
Think small, and you’ll fall behind;
Think that you can, and you will.
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re out classed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can.
–    Author Unknown