Sunday, December 16, 2012

Diane in the Afternoon 12-16-12 Diane Ravitch's blog

Diane Ravitch's blog:

Reflections from Readers, 40

Aside from an overly permissive gun culture and underfunded mental healthcare system, I can’t help but wonder if this climate of teacher-bashing and public school bashing in which many of our political leaders partake regularly, is to some degree a variable in the aggression, hatred and violence that have been directed at our schools’ students and staff. Can we get a moratorium from our politicians to stop bashing public schools and teachers?
(Amen to that! Diane)

Reflections from Readers, 39

I didn’t know any of the victims personally, and I feel sick to my stomach thinking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook. I can’t even begin to imagine what the families are going through.
So many people are offering a definitive prescription, a monolithic cure-all that will magically stop this violence and make our children safer. Few people seem to be really listening.
Perhaps we need a more holistic examination – consideration of all possibilities, including gun control, mental 

Reflections from Readers, 38

Unfortunately some children are born broken. At this time that appears to be the case with the shooter. We see children like him every day. They come in the doors at five years old and we know. We do our best but most can never be fixed. We support them and nurture them and hope the next level of educators will do the same. Tragically for all in this terrible instance, this young man remained broken. The horror is

He “Barely Said a Word”

David A. Gamberg, the superintendent of schools in Southold, New York, wrote these reflections.
Adam Lanza had high test scores, presumably the kind of student that would help a teacher be rated as “effective,” but so what? Something was missing. A heart? A soul?
Gamberg understands that the values of our society are warping our schools. He writes:
“…barely said a word, but earned high marks.”
These are the words of a classmate of Adam Lanza. A very bright educator once told me that no one goes 

Reflections from Readers, 37

I am an educator of 25 years. We had just practiced a lockdown at our Michigan School ironically at the same time this was taking place…9:30am. It sickens me that this happened at a school that had a system in place. The young man who did this had mental illness. Why then would a mother have 5 or 6 guns of this nature in the house and even let him know they were there or where the ammo was? We need stricter laws! I think for one there needs to be a limit on the number that can be in any household. Secondly, I do not think that anyone 

Reflections from Readers, 36

The statement by the Connecticut governor, though well-intended, indicates part of the problem we are dealing with: “Evil visited this community.” Such a viewpoint externalizes the problem, when we need to be looking in the mirror. The “evil” comes from within our culture, and will not be solved by better security. As several commenters above have noted, the issue is really one of connectedness. The NRA is a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the violence within us, which will erupt time and time again until we face up to the glorification of violence that permeates our culture. I would encourage your readers to revisit a wonderful poem by Longfellow, “The Arsenal at Springfield,” that shows just how far astray we have gone.

Reflections from Readers, 35

……..every now and again, as I walk in to school from the parking lot, I wonder if today could be the day some deranged soul might do something like this at my school………the thought passes quickly and the days begin and we go through our paces,,,,,,,,,,,,,then, something like THIS happens at someone elses school……………..I really do not know what to say or how to articulate what I feel………Thank you Diane for putting a voice to some 

Thoughts on Humanity

Our policymakers have lost sight of what schools do.
They have forgotten what teachers do.
They don’t remember what children need.
Peg Robertson does
Tell them..

Reflections from Readers, 34

I am so deeply appreciative of the above postings. In different ways many of them underscore the importance of “connections.” But connecting takes time and effort and patience and sometimes, even wisdom. So please remember what a blessing “Diane Ravitch’s blog — A site to discuss better education for all” has been and continues to be for so many of us.
Each person will deal with what happened in his/her own way. I simply offer this as my reaction. The staff at the

Reflections from Readers, 33

Reading the New York Times article about Adam Lanza, the alleged Sandy-Hook killer, I’m in pain at how cut off from the humanity this boy was. Possible Asperger’s syndrome, no picture in a high-school year book, child of a dissolving marriage, living in a suburban box of a home. One quote by a former high-school classmate cut home: “I think that maybe he wasn’t given the right kind of attention or help. I think he went so unnoticed that people didn’t even stop to realize that maybe there’s actually something else going on here — that maybe he needs to be talking or getting some kind of mental help. In high school, no one really takes the time to look and think, 

Reflections from Readers, 32

Perhaps the best and easiest forum for connection will become social media?
Your monologue winds through your thinking until you get it just right at the end…what the world needs more of is… love. Pure and simple. Human connection.
I agree that the reform pundits wish to focus on the bottom line at becoming #1 in the world instead of putting our children and families #1. That is a risk our country is not prepared for.
Schooling’s purpose is to grow decent, civilized citizens who will contribute to the world in honorable, productive 

In High School, We Are Prepared, But Babies…..?

Diane, I feel broken. Ms. Soto, the heroic teacher from Sandy Hook, was exactly my age. People in their late 20′s don’t have to consider their own mortality on a regular basis, and this has me quite shook up. I keep pondering whether I’d be as brave as she was, or if I would think of my own daughter and hide right along side the students.
A colleague and friend made an interesting observation Friday. She said that as high school teachers, we have it in the back of our minds that something like this could happen. We know the secret exits through the school 

Reflections from Readers, 31

There is a deep calling in educators to place the lives of their students before their own lives. It is in our DNA and, in times like these, we see this spirit of sacrifice in a totally different light. But it is in each one of us that teaches.
Teaching is a noble profession and I weep for the babies and the teachers who lost their lives.

Reflections from Readers, 30

From a principal:
In a school year I typically have about 6-8 of my elementary students who spend time in mental health treatment facilities. These children are 9-12 years old. One left my school in an ambulance this week. We do our best with these disturbed children, but I feel like it’s a bandaid on a gaping wound. It is time for these conversations. My heart aches.

Reflections from Readers, 29

Diane, if you read this, may I suggest you check out this YouTube rendition of Cheryl Wheeler’s song, “If It Were Up to Me” from her album, “Sylvia Hotel” at . Every time one of these mass shootings occurs, one of my first thoughts is Wheeler’s song, which should be the anthem of gun control advocates. In a time when nobody seems to care about folk singing any more, Ms. Wheeler stands out as a remarkable, albeit lonely, voice.

Anthony Cody: “Look for the Helpers”

Anthony Cody struggles to make sense of the tragedy, as do we all.
Anthony quotes Fred Rogers, who remembered his mother’s advice:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring 

Reflections from Readers, 28

“Where was security at the school? How did he ‘execute’ so many? Do we need armed guards and metal detectors always?”
He shot his way in, apparently. I’m not sure what one can do about that other than harden the school like a military installation, but I don’t think that’s what we want schools to be like.

Reflections from Readers, 27 is no lesson plan for tragedy
Diane, I wanted to share this post from @AngelaMaiers Teachers need to be proud of who we are and what we do for our students.
Stand tall!

Banning Our Weapons of Mass Murder

This reader agrees that it can be done:
Why do we need semi-automatic guns? I grew up on a farm surrounded by guns. Any hunter who cannot hit a running jackrabbit, or coyote, with a single shot 22 is not much of a hunter. Hunting is not a justification!
Look at the statistics! This is a good question for an advanced mathematics class to address. How often has a privately owned semi-automatic weapon saved a life in the US due to the fact it was semi-automatic? Has it happened once this year? How often has a privately owned semi-automatic weapon murdered a person in the 

Harrowing, Detailed Account of What Happened on 12/14

When the first news of the school shootings in Connecticut was reported, there were many inaccuracies, which is inevitable. One source said 20 were dead, another said “nearly 30.” Some said the shooter’s mother was a teacher at the school (not true), then said she was a substitute teacher (also not true). The name of the killer was wrong.
Only now is the full story emerging.
This is the fullest account I have seen of what happened inside the school, published by the Washington Post.
One cannot read this account without being impressed by the calm and courage of the teachers, the principal, and staff of the school. They exhibited grace under the most terrible circumstances. They put their students first, before their own lives. Now we know what it means to put students first.

Reflections from Readers, 26

Another sad, sad day in our country. It is time to mourn for the families of this school and community. But it is also time for our elected officials and citizens to enact serious gun control and to support an adequate mental health system, beginning with counselors and psychologists in our schools.

Hug a Teacher Tomorrow

A teacher in Louisiana posted this on Facebook:
To parents who are not educators, this may be hard to understand.
Five days a week, we teach your kids.
That means we educate your kids.
Play with your kids.
Discipline your kids.
Joke with your kids.
Console your kids.
Praise your kids.
Question your kids.
Beat our head against a wall about your kids.
Laugh with your kids.
Worry about your kids.
Keep an eye on your kids.
Learn about your kids.
Invest in your kids.
Protect your kids and yes, love your kids.
It’s nowhere in our job description.
It isn’t covered in the employee handbook.
It isn’t cited in our contracts.
But we would all do it.
So, yes, please hug your kids tonight, really, really tight.
But on Monday, if you see your kids’ teacher, please hug them too.

Reflections from Readers, 24

I certainly don’t want to oversimplify, but I think it has a lot to do with “rugged invididualism”. There’s such a sense in this country that we are in it alone, every man for himself, we’re solely responsible for our own success or failure, even our own life or death, etc. Somehow most other countries still seem to understand, at least more generally and broadly, that we’re all in this together and “no man is an island”.

Reflections from Readers, 23

Thank you for this beautiful and important post. I would only say that mourning takes a different shape and time for each person. There is a reason for timed, structured mourning–memorials, funerals, moments of silence, acts of commemoration–yet none of these can direct a person’s private sadness.
For me, this is a day of mourning, but I will also be grading homework and reading Donne. I do not see this as contrary to mourning. Last night I listened to an extraordinary performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony and found that it expanded my world a little and, with that, brought out sadness.
It is sadness over yesterday’s terrible events, and also over our tense and reactive society with its demand for

Reflections from Readers, 22

One of our parent volunteers sent our principal an email thanking us all for conducting code red drills. We had another drill yesterday. I cannot fathom what would drive someone to murder his mother, and try to destroy what she cared about, and I am saddened that code red drills are necessary, but I am glad we do them! So are our students’ families. Keep up the good fight !

Reflections from Readers, 21

Guns aside, have any other teachers thought, what you you do if this happened in your classroom? I can’t be the only one that has thought about that, given recent events in America. What would I do? Would I have the compassion and courage and composure that these teachers displayed? Would I be able to tell my kids that I love them and that they were like my children to me? Would I be able to keep them quiet yet keep their minds off the horrible things going on in the building? Each and every one of us may have to face that situation some time in the future. I trust that my HP would be there with me and my kids.

In Texas: Schools with No Security

A reader in Austin, Texas, writes:
Here in Texas, almost every school has unsightly, cheap, moldy
portable buildings. Because of our portables, my school has six
exterior doors open during the school day! That means anyone from off

Reflections from Readers, 20

From a principal:
Diane I agree with all of the above and I would add more..
We need to think about untreated mental illness…. My colleagues and I encounter more students with serious mental illness each year. We need help dealing with violent students.The courts do not help and often parents are helpless.
These young people often turn to drugs which exacerbate the problem. They become more and more alienated….There are no support systems that work–when you seek support outside the school, you a

LISTEN TO DIANE RAVITCH 12-16-12 Diane Ravitch's blog

coopmike48 at Big Education Ape - 1 hour ago
Diane Ravitch's blog: [image: Click on picture to Listen to Diane Ravitch] Reflections from Readers, 13 by dianerav I am really proud of the teachers at that school. Parents and authorities are saying that their quick thinking and bravery saved other students who may have been killed as well. Reflections from Readers, 12 by dianerav I really am amazed how inadequate our support systems are, especially for our “troubled” students. The guidance counselor would “fit my students” into their schedule. Sometimes that was just a few times a month. And these are children who needed pro... more »