Some years ago I volunteered to coach a high school chess club. Let me share some observations about the team members’ attitudes toward talent and ability. My point will be illustrated well by the two top players, who I’ll call Player A and Player B. From the beginning, both players were solidly ahead of the others in terms of playing strength.
The authors report that “Collective-bargaining laws strengthen teachers unions and give them greater influence over how school districts allocate their resources. A typical collective-bargaining agreement addresses a remarkably broad range of items: unions negotiate over salary schedules and benefits; hiring, evaluation, and firing policies; and rules detailing work and teaching hours, class assignments, class sizes, and nonteaching duties. By increasing union membership, collective-bargaining laws also heighten the influence of teachers unions in education politics at the state level…. Critics of teacher unionization argue that collective bargaining in public education has reduced school quality by shifting resources toward teachers and away from other educational inputs and by making it more difficult to fire low-performing teachers. Stronger unions may also have made it harder for states to adopt policies aimed at improving school quality through enhanced accountability or expanded school choice…. Our evidence points to the conclusion that collective bargaining in public education has been a bad deal for American students.”
Fortunately, in Virginia, public sector employees are prohibited from collective bargaining, absent specific statutory authorization. This study affirms that this is the right policy for our state.
Ms. Carolyn Weems, VB School Board Member, has been awarded the 2017 Director’s Community Leadership Award by the Norfolk Field Office of the FBI. This award recognizes her many decades of leadership and volunteer work dedicated to drug abuse awareness and prevention.
Let us give our thanks to Ms. Weems for her ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis. We also want to recognize Dr Amy Cashwell of VBCPS for working with Ms. Weems to implement drug awareness curriculum in VB Public Schools to educate about the dangers of prescription drugs.
See the FBI announcement here:
There’s an old joke. Driving around New York City, a tourist rolls down his window and asks a passerby “Excuse me, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer: “Practice, practice, practice!”
“Suspensions and expulsions often disengage and disconnect students from school, feed students into the juvenile system and criminalize children at increasingly younger ages: instigating a Cradle to Prison Pipeline. Harsh and punitive policies, including zero tolerance and the overuse of suspension and expulsion, can devastate the lives of children. We are committed to educational equity and reform to ensure the highest quality education for all students.
“In 2013 and 2014, AASA and The Children’s Defense Fund entered a partnership to explore alternative school district practices and system wide solutions for school leaders to bring back to their districts. This initiative was funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies….”
One of the school districts supported by this initiative has been Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“A group of Pennsylvania teachers is sharing horror stories of getting beaten up by pupils as young as 6 — and begging their school district for help.
“I have been kicked, punched, hit, scratched. I’ve had a student physically restraining me in front of my other students… And many of the personal things that I have bought for my classroom have been broken or destroyed,” first-grade teacher Amanda Sheaffer told the Harrisburg school board at its meeting Monday, according to the news website PennLive.
“Many minutes are spent each day dealing with violence that is happening in the classroom,” Sheaffer said. “How am I supposed to have a safe, nurturing learning environment when this behavior happens?”
“Sheaffer was one of about a half-dozen elementary school teachers and several parents who implored the board for help in dealing with increasingly violent and troubled kids.
“We aren’t complaining. We are here begging for help so that we can help those students,” said Harrisburg Education Association president Jody Barksdale.
“Barksdale represents some of the teachers asking for help and brought similar concerns to the board in January, according to PennLive.
“At least 45 teachers resigned between July and October because of kids terrorizing their classrooms, Barksdale claimed, according to Fox 43.
“Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at … and observing other students flip over tables, desks and chairs,” she said. “Teachers have had to take the rest of their class into the hallway to protect them during these outbursts. Not much has changed since last January.”
Indeed, these include schools (Harrisburg, PA) in which the disciplinary reforms had been instituted only a few years ago. It is clear that the students have learned something: they have learned that there are no meaningful consequences for misbehavior at these schools. It is not yet clear whether the administrators have learned anything.
I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.
They cannot learn until their minds are freed from that prison. This year …, I found my students especially impervious to the ancient wisdom of foundational texts, such as Plato’s Crito and the Code of Hammurabi. Many of them were quick to dismiss unfamiliar ideas as “classist” and “racist,” and thus unable to engage with those ideas on the merits. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, I decided to lay down some ground rules…
Here is the speech I gave them.
Before I can teach you how to reason, I must first teach you how to rid yourself of unreason. For many of you have not yet been educated. You have been dis-educated. To put it bluntly, you have been indoctrinated. Before you learn how to think you must first learn how to stop unthinking.
Reasoning requires you to understand truth claims, even truth claims that you think are false or bad or just icky. … And reasoning requires coherence and logic. Most of you have been taught to embrace incoherence and illogic. You have learned to associate truth with your subjective feelings, which are neither true nor false but only yours, and which are constantly changeful.
…[Y]ou should not bother to tell us how you *feel* about a topic. Tell us what you *think* about it. If you can’t think yet, that’s O.K. Tell us what Aristotle thinks, or Hammurabi thinks, or H.L.A. Hart thinks. Borrow opinions from those whose opinions are worth considering. As Aristotle teaches us in the reading for today, men and women who are enslaved to the passions, who never rise above their animal natures by practicing the virtues, do not have worthwhile opinions. Only the person who exercises practical reason and attains practical wisdom knows how first to live his life, then to order his household, and finally, when he is sufficiently wise and mature, to venture opinions on how to bring order to the political community.
Accordingly, one of Professor MacLeod’s ground rules for his course is
If you ever begin a statement with the words “I feel,” before continuing you must cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound.
…Disagreement is not expressing one’s disapproval of something or expressing that something makes you feel bad or icky. To really disagree with someone’s idea or opinion, you must first understand that idea or opinion. When Socrates tells you that a good life is better than a life in exile you can neither agree nor disagree with that claim without first understanding what he means by “good life” and why he thinks running away from Athens would be unjust. Similarly, if someone expresses a view about abortion, and you do not first take the time to understand what the view is and why the person thinks the view is true, then you cannot disagree with the view, much less reason with that person. You might take offense. You might feel bad that someone holds that view. But you are not reasoning unless you are engaging the merits of the argument, just as Socrates engaged with Crito’s argument that he should flee from Athens.
Read the whole article here: http://tinyurl.com/yao5xyhe. Perhaps there are lessons for all of us.