Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We Cannot Be Distracted by President Obama's Speech To Children by Akindele Akinyemi

I just listened to President Obama's speech on education to our children. Prior to the speech there were concerns about the President trying to indoctrinate our children with socialism. It sounded more like personal responsibility to me than indoctrination.

Did anyone hear anything different? Education eradicates poverty and ignorance. Other presidents have spoken before our nation's children.

On November 14, 1988,President Reagan addressed and took questions from students. According to his press secretary Marlin Fitzwater the speech was broadcast live and rebroadcast by C-SPAN and Instructional Television Network fed the program “to schools nationwide on three different days." A great portion of Reagan's speech spoke to the American "vision of self-government" and the need to keep faith with the unfinished vision of the greatness and wonder of America."

Here is an excerpt:

"Today, to a degree never before seen in human history, one nation, the United States, has become the model to be followed and imitated by the rest of the world. But America's world leadership goes well beyond the tide toward democracy. We also find that more countries than ever before are following America's revolutionary economic message of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade. These days, whenever I see foreign leaders, they tell me about their plans for reducing taxes, and other economic reforms that they are using, copying what we have done here in our country.

I wonder if they realize that this vision of economic freedom, the freedom to work, to create and produce, to own and use property without the interference of the state, was central to the American Revolution, when the American colonists rebelled against a whole web of economic restrictions, taxes and barriers to free trade. The message at the Boston Tea Party -- have you studied yet in history about the Boston Tea Party, where because of a tax they went down and dumped the tea in the Harbor. Well, that was America's original tax revolt, and it was the fruits of our labor -- it belonged to us and not to the state. And that truth is fundamental to both liberty and prosperity.

Add to that, Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” to drugs; advice some remember as being given first in 1982 to students at Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland, California.

Reagan's successor the first President Bush in a September 1991 teleconference addressed school children. In a moment of educational motivation and self-candor said, “All of you can turn learning into an adventure. And to do this you have to prepare not just by studying, but by studying hard, especially math and science. And that means doing what I too often fail to do, that means homework.”

Moreover, in 2001 Bush asked the kids to each donate a dollar to improve conditions for Afghanistan children.

Expectantly, both Reagan’s and Bush’s addresses were characterized by the loyal opposition as “political advertising.”

Urban conservatives do not have time to address why the President of the United States is addressing children on the first day of school. This is a moot point. It's a point that we simply cannot get involved with because there are other serious and critical areas of educational reform we must address first. I'm not interested in President Obama's speech to children so much as to understanding why are we spending so much money on Race To The Top funding knowing that this is not the long-term solutions to education. You cannot throw money at the problem You need a serious solution.

I also would like to know why Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich are on tour for educational reform but declined to come to Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster, Pontiac, Muskegon, Muskgeon Heights, Grand Rapids, River Rouge, Ecorse, Flint, Saginaw, Jackson, Willow Run or Benton Harbor? If the Secretary of Education will not come to the urban cities then its time for young adults under 40 to travel to the cities with our message of educational reform.

Urban conservatives need to stay on task with solutions ONLY. Educational reform cannot happen unless we evolve into the information age. Then discuss at the local level on how we can push for alternative teacher certification to allow organizations such as Teach for America and others to participate in educating our children. Expansion of charter schools in urban areas in Michigan are needed to provide MORE options for parents and children. Push for global education by diversifying our school districts. Maybe its time to bus in children of different cultures again to help solve some of the racial issues in this region.

We need Wayne RESA to run failing school districts such as Detroit and consolidating others to mainstream dollars and cents.

While we are wasting time criticizing the President for a message of personal responsibility we need to figure out how we are going to keep school districts afloat because the Michigan Senate gave recommendations for the foundation allowance funding to be reduced by $110 per pupil ($174.2 m), eliminated small/rural declining enrollment grants ($10.6 m). Governor Granholm had recommended a $59 per pupil reduction and a reduction of one-half of the declining enrollment grants. The House did not include any foundation reductions.

The Senate also reduced Vocational Education and Adult Education by 10% ($5.4 m), reduced ISD operations by 5% ($4.1 m) and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation by $750,000, and included testing changes saving $2.6 million more than the Governor's reductions of $941,300.

The Governor's budget recommended restoring the prohibition that school districts could not operate schools within the boundaries of the Detroit Public Schools, without DPS' approval. The House amended this language to prohibit any district from operating an instructional site outside of the district's boundaries, without the approval of the resident district, for programs established after 2008-09. The Senate struck the language, clarifying that any district can go into any other and open an instructional site.

In other words, an Oak Park School can operate inside the City of Detroit as a school of choice.

Also, did you know that the Michigan House of Representatives added a requirement that districts provide at least 170 days of pupil instruction, where a day is defined as at least five hours of student contact time. The Michigan Senate changed the language to require 165 days in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and at least 170 days beginning in 2012-13. In addition, the Senate added a requirement that districts not provide fewer days of instruction than were provided in 2008-09, and did not define the length of a day of instruction. The Senate also added language requiring the Department to approve certain full-time online learning programs as meeting requirements for hours of instructional time.

Average days in school for Japan is 240 days out the year. South Korea and Taiwan is 222 while Israel average around 215 days of the year. I cannot believe we are debating about giving our children 165-170 days of instructional time here in Michigan where over 50% of the population in the City of Detroit alone is functionally illiterate. It's a no brainer. Pass a bill to expand instructional time to compete.

Here is another angle for you. A 2006 US News & World Report study showed that students in Japan, Germany & France:
  1. Spend 100% more hours studying math, science and history than U.S. students.
  2. A full 50% of all students take advanced examinations, compared to but 6.6% in U.S.

Not only do more foreign students take advanced exams, but their passing rate is 8 times higher than Michigan (33% vs. 4%) which equates to foreign schools having a success rate 57 times higher than Michigan (and other U.S.) schools for advanced examinations.

It may be concluded that foreign schools compared to Michigan:
  1. Require 100% more hours studying math & science.
  2. Require 800% more students to take advance examinations.
  3. Produce 5,400% more advanced exam graduates.
Students of other nations have 22-35% more school days per year than U.S.

Additionally, some nations (like Germany) require 13 years for a high school diploma vs. 12 years in the Michigan. Not only do more days in school potentially assist their higher quality output, but it is done at LESS cost per student.

Overall, U.S. spending per student is between 50% higher and 2-3 times higher than these nations despite fewer class days than others, yet our comparative test scores in math & science are lower.

China, for example, is likely to become a major center of global technological innovation, as it joins Japan as a scientific and technological power. The United States graduates about 60,000 engineers each year; Japan 70,000. China is now graduating about 325,000 engineers annually.

The International Math & Science Study reported U.S. 12th graders were out-performed by 90% of other nations in math and 76% in science. In advanced math the US was out performed by 94% and in science by 100% of other nations. What is worse is that our students fall further behind those from other nations the longer ours are in school. For example: our 4th graders performed mediocre since 46% of other nations outscored them in math. But it gets worse. By the time they were in the 8th grade they were outperformed by 68% of the other nations. And, lastly as mentioned above, by the time they were in the 12th grade they were outperformed by 90% of other foreign nations.

So when I read SB 698 by Sen. Wayne Kuipers to amend the Revised School Code to permit a pupil to meet the algebra II requirement of the Michigan Merit Standard by completing an approved CTE program that had embedded math content I become concerned.

Under the Code, the Michigan Merit Standard requires at least four credits in math, including algebra I, geometry, and algebra II, or an integrated sequence of that course content that consists of three credits.

Also, to the extent that fewer students dropped out of school because of a real or perceived inability to complete algebra II, the State would incur higher per-pupil foundation allowance costs for the additional length of time these students remained in school. In other words, the State saves foundation allowance funding when a student drops out, and if students remain in school, the State pays school districts foundation allowance funding for each student counted in membership. If, as a result of this legislation, more students were counted in membership than otherwise will occur, higher State school aid foundation allowance costs would result.

But my only major concern about the bill is how is lowering the high school requirements in math is going to make us more competitive globally in the long run?
How is revising the high school graduation curriculum requirements replacing Algebra II with the option to take a vocation education program in electronics, machining, construction, welding, engineering, or “renewable energy"? How come school districts cannot simply expand their schedule by adopting trimesters as well as expanding the number of days in the classroom (instruction time) to acomodate all of this? What about year round schooling?

What about teaching our children civics lessons from K-12 so they can FULLY understand what Socialism, Marxism, Communism, Capitalism and other political philosophies mean. Children should know what is a mixed economy. Our children should know the history of the United States, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, as well as understanding why it is important to preserve these sacred documents. We only teach civic education for a half a semester in high school. That is not enough.

The same for geography. How come a student from other parts of the globe know more about American History, culture, science, math and can speak 3-5 foreign languages fluently more than the American student who lives here? They take Christianity, Islam and Judaism more seriously than we do here (especially Africans, Arabs and Jewish people). Americans are far behind but have an opportunity to catch up if we develop educational incubators that promote global learning.

In closing, we, as urban conservatives, should not fall for conspiracy theories but global education that will help eradicate racism, sexism, and other negative things that will cause us to be distracted. In the game of global education and silver rights we cannot afford to be distracted with nonsense that will prevent us from achieving our goals. Our mission is global. Our job is to prepare our children for a 21st century global reality.

1 comment:

AL said...

This dumbing down of american kids has been going on for sometime, forces outside of the US want to take control of the US and the world, such as the world bankers and for this to become reality the US has to be reigned in. As far as religion goes it depends on where you are from in the US how seriously religion is taken, for example one of my co workers is from a county in oklahoma and evolution is not taught in the school he came from because it is opposite views of what god says, you also can't have a bar or stripclub or porn or any form of alcohol in this county and it shuts down on sunday completely, these people are also on the school board and local and state governments in some cases.