Education Feed

Not my best teaching

Last Sunday was the first of a series of three Sunday morning adult education classes here at First Central on the atonement.  Last year some folk from the class asked me to teach a class on the atonement.  I spent six months preparing, reading lots of books, and developing a study guide.  Then I set it aside for a few months between my preparations and when the class was scheduled.  I've been looking forward to it, but on Sunday I did a poor job of presenting.

Now, there is an explanation.  I came to the office early that morning to prepare for the day.  I came so early I set off the alarm (I've never figured out how to disarm it here).  Then, I got to work looking back over my sermon, as I usually do first every Sunday morning.  It was not a long sermon, and I thought I'd be done quickly.  I ended up revising it over three more drafts, which took the entirety of my prep time.  I was running late for the class when I grabbed my things and headed that way, with no chance to review the lesson I had prepared earlier in the week.

My mind was distracted and quickly I realized that even my presentation was not laid out in the most engaging or interesting way.  And I was fielding a wide variety of questions, which is normally the case here, but I wasn't as centered in answering them as I normally am.  

One person asked a logical question of concern about the ancient notion of divinization and whether it was "new age."  I responded more defensively than I should have.  On afterthought I should have used that moment to play with the idea and open up dialogue about what this idea might mean.  Instead, that would have been a tangent from my plans, so I answered hurriedly and inadequately and moved on.

I've already prepared my lesson for the class this week and think that I've done a better job of structuring it around the concerns and questions that might be raised.  But the inadequate job I did last week led me back to some basics and thinking intentionally about some things that I often just assume, so I learned a lesson.

Wisconsin education snapshot

Wisconsin's students out-perform their Red State counterparts, and for less in federal money.  Stats show that you get the results you pay for, as the best performing states have high per-pupil spending. 

To me the solution to eliminating bad teachers is paying teachers a proper professional salary so that more skilled and motivated people enter and remain in the profession.  Taking away their existing rights will have the opposite effect.

Oklahoma GOP takes on public education

In a stunning set of awful bills, the Oklahoma GOP has taken on public education.  Which is quite sad, given that the greatest education bill in the state's history was the result of our great GOP governor Henry Bellmon.

One of the strangest things is this idea to eliminate the ability of a teacher to appeal their firing to district court.  At the current moment, if the school district follows the proper procedure in firing the teacher, then they win the case.  The district overturns the firing if the proper procedure has not been followed.  If this bill becomes law, then a school board could basically fire, at will, an employee, and not follow any sort of disciplinary or other procedure.  Ridiculous and appalling.

Of course, this bill must have the Joe Quigley case in mind.  Longtime readers of this blog have followed the Quigley case.  The Oklahoma City School Board fired Mr. Quigley (just barely, one person absented and one walked out of the meeting to avoid voting) based upon what the district court said was bad information and improper process.  Joe filed his appeal and won in district court, which ordered the district to reinstate him.  The district appealed this ruling, and lost in the appeals court. 

Mixed race

When are we going to move away from the ethnic and racial boxes we've put people in?  I have argued with many officials and form presenters about not wanting to answer this question, or, at least, not wanting to answer it the way it is presented.  Being of Irish, Scottish, English, and Cherokee descent, I didn't want to simply mark "White."  It is more complicated for Michael who is Polish-German-Filipino and even more complicted for many other people, like the person in this article who is Peruvian, Chinese, Irish, Shawnee and Cherokee.  She gets labeled "Hispanic."  Which shows a problem with Hispanic, which is actually an ethnicity and not a racial category, as their are black, white, and native Hispanics of course.

Different agencies and departmens parse things differently, and at issue is new Dept. of Education guidelines:

Under Department of Education requirements that take effect this year, for instance, any student like Ms. López-Mullins who acknowledges even partial Hispanic ethnicity will, regardless of race, be reported to federal officials only as Hispanic. And students of non-Hispanic mixed parentage who choose more than one race will be placed in a “two or more races” category, a catchall that detractors describe as inadequately detailed. A child of black and American Indian parents, for example, would be in the same category as, say, a child of white and Asian parents.

The new standards for kindergarten through 12th grades and higher education will probably increase the nationwide student population of Hispanics, and could erase some “black” students who will now be counted as Hispanic or as multiracial (in the “two or more races category”). And reclassifying large numbers of white Hispanic students as simply Hispanic has the potential to mask the difference between minority and white students’ test scores, grades and graduation rates — the so-called achievement gap, a target of federal reform efforts that has plagued schools for decades.