Dear Jon: Let George speak
Dear Jon Stewart:
George Wood, a school principal, has traveled from Stewart, Ohio, to attend your Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C.
The least you could do is give him a minute to talk about the insanity in his profession, education. You don’t pay much attention to it on your show, and you could make amends here. Sure, the schedule is tight, but maybe Sam Waterston could cut out a verse of his poem.
He doesn’t go for the current wave of “reform” in public education, the one that presumes that standardized tests and charter schools will lead us to enlightenment. You can read some of the things he has written on my blog here.
Since you’ve ignored my earlier suggestion to have education historian Diane Ravitch on your show to talk about the mess that is school reform, here’s another chance to redeem yourself.
Here's what George wants to say. If you don't think it is funny enough, throw in a few jokes. What's funnier, for example, than thinking that teachers should be paid by how well their students do on a standardized test? Or that a single teacher can erase the effect that poverty has had on a kid? I'm laughing hysterically already.
From George Wood:
“America’s public schools are a national treasure, and it is past time that we started treating them as such. Every one of you here today probably has a schoolteacher to thank for the fact that you can read, add and think rationally. A teacher who opened your mind to new ideas, who helped you speak that mind and listen when others spoke theirs. It’s a great system, and it opens its doors to every kid no matter their race or nationality, no matter what language they speak or if they can speak at all, no matter rich or poor, motivated or not, whole or impaired.
“We have spent too much time blaming our schools for all that ails us. Sure schools could do better — but so could the banks, big business and Congress. Schools, our teachers, and our kids, are not responsible for the economic strains our nation feels; or for the loosening bonds that threaten the civil discourse our republic requires. They are, however, part of the solution to these threats to our social security.
"But only if we come together on a few things in the name of a saner approach to making sure every kid has a good public school to attend.
“First, we have to admit that as much as schools can do, they can’t do it alone. It is hard for a child who is homeless, hungry or in pain to heed the lessons of her teacher. America should, as part of education policy, work to see that every child is safe and secure, has good medical care, a roof over her head and food in her stomach.
“Second, we must all admit that there is no doing a good school system on the cheap. America is 14th among the 16 industrialized nations in how much we spend on our kids’ education. But it is not just how much we spend, it is where we spend it. In the Harlem Children’s Zone, a project that considers all of what it takes to raise a child, the charter schools are spending one-third more than the public schools in the city, and they still are struggling.
"This is not a condemnation of that important work — it just means we should admit that we are going to have to invest heavily and in a targeted way if we want our schools to work for all our kids.
“Third, over 90 percent of our schools are good old regular public schools — not a charter or a choice, just where kids go to school. If we are serious about every child having a good school, it won’t be by creating a few fancy alternative schools. It will be by improving all of our schools.
“Fourth, we already know what works. All our schools -- charters, magnets, public -- have had successes, but we don’t seem to learn from them. Successful schools are places filled with good teachers who are well supported, where strong connections are built with students and families, where kids do real work, not just read textbooks or listen to lectures, and where kids are evaluated by what they can do not by what test question they can answer. They also are places not segregated by social class.
“So what would a sane person, perchance a sane Congress, do to help and support our kids and schools? Hate to be simplistic, but here you go: We have to shore up our safety net for all kids to have access to health care, food and shelter; use federal resources to get dollars to kid in the most need; and focus on all schools using the lessons learned from our most innovative and successful schools and getting the regulations and rules that prevent this change out of the way.
“This is what I wish for my school, your school, all schools. We don’t need Superman. We just need some sanity.”
Thank you for listening, Jon. You were listening, right?
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| October 30, 2010; 10:55 AM ET
Categories: George Wood | Tags: george wood, jon stewart, keep fear alive, rally to restore sanity, sam waterston, school reform, stephen colbert, stewart, washington rally
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