Wednesday, July 4, 2007


There is just too much to write and I am a bit stumped but here goes...

While cleaning out my mailbox on the last day of school I came across a July 19th New York Times article by Jennifer Medina entitled Schools Plan to Pay Cash for Marks that someone had copied and placed in the employee mailboxes. The article details a 'broad incentive program for families' good habits'.

It seems that billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to play a game with education and his Community Chest cards read something like this:

Receive for Services - $25 for attending parent-teacher conferences.

You are rewarded for test taking:

$5 per fourth grader
$10 per seventh grader
Perfect score on standardized tests, you get $25

Advance to eighth grade with perfect test scores (Collect $500)

Of course we are not talking Monopoly money, this is the real thing raised privately and earmarked to 'improve the performance of black and Hispanic students' because it is only money that is keeping them from achieving in school. It could not possibly be the egocentric, elitist system that continually ignores diversity and promotes a deficit model of education which blames the child (or family) and not itself. Yes, throwing money around indiscriminately will fix everything.

Although I applaud the acknowledgement that something needs to be done, this is perhaps not the best solution. Education is not a game. It is a right. Waving a five dollar bill in front of a ten-year-old is not going to correct the underlying problem. Wouldn't it be wonderful if those folks with political power and the clout to raise $53 million to fund this effort took a moment to look inwardly. To honestly ask themselves if they are part of the problem. If they'd decide to go out and get to know the schools, the students, the families and then formulate a plan to dismantle the injustices of No Child Left Behind and the relentless pressure of high stakes testing. All of this testing is taking away from the learning. Promoting knowledge that is here today and gone tomorrow. Currently, we have schools and teachers who feel pressured to teach to the tests.

Perhaps not the best way to Advance To Go!


lettuce said...

oh it just makes you want to bang your head against a wall, doesn't it?

we've just recently had ANOTHER major report on the harmful effects of constant testing in schools. But nothing will change...

my daughters school have just started demanding medical evidence for any days of school sick. She has a streaming cold - do you think i should send them some snotty tissues as evidence?

Love your featured artwork today!

Pod said...

that's crazy. and a good message to get across! goodness me. what is going on? in NZ a few years back, the govt. introduced a similar incentive to rid the country of possums, which were bought over from australia. ok, so they eat the native trees, but they offered $5 for every dead possum delivered to their collection points.
nice hey?
have a good weekend!

Junk Thief said...

Michael Moore should have made a movie about the education system called "Dumbo" instead of "Sicko". To "industrialize" education is very spooky. I dated a nurse for about three months until he started talking about how patients were to be viewed as income streams and decisions were made strictly on what would help the bottom line. The fact that he was trapped in such heartless system was not his fault. The fact that he never questioned it and went along blindly was his fault and led to our break up.

Thank the gods that there are teachers like you, Gary. I wish I were six again!

marxsny said...

Politicians are sometimes under the impression that if they throw a bunch of money at an issue it proves they are concerned with the issue and those affected by the issue. The reality is they probably put more effort into creating the illusion that they care than they put into trying to truly understand and solve the problem.
Where I grew up if you got straight A's you could take your report card to McDonalds and get free french fries, or something like that. Although this isn't really the same thing, I think giving cash is superior to unhealthy food. But on the other hand, I already feel sorry for the kid who will be forced to achieve because mommy needs some orange juice.

florecita said...

I agree with you, it's not about giving money (things that are done here in my country or food, many of our students go to school to get breakfast) it's about doing things that really focus the problem, what causes it, what can each of us do to be part of the solution...

A hug!

Gary said...

Lettuce - I'd love to see the reaction when your daughter brings in the 'medical evidence'. Maybe they won't be so quick to ask next time.

Pod - So how much did you make? :)

Junk Thief - Hey I think you actually have a fantastic idea there!! I would love to see what Mr. Moore could dig up -- it would not be too hard and it is another topic that touches all of us.

Mark - True but when mommy needs her orange juice, she needs her orange juice.

Florecita - I am glad that you are part of the solution. A hug right back at you.

MONA said...

we have the same here in India. Only more pathetic. they lure children with free midday meals! Now what does that say about a country that boasts of 'development'?

You are right. Education is a child's right.


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