My Blog

Below you will read some of my musings, as well as articles and letters others have written that I find interesting, Please click the link above to read my publications. Thank you for checking out Teaching after 60!

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Super Bowl Half Time Show

No matter how you feel about the Shakira and Lopez performance at the Super Bowl last weekend, it is refreshing to hear the opinion of a father raising two girls.  Educator Adam Sutton articulates the fine line women walk better than anything I’ve seen to date.  What a master teacher Sutton is, and more than just in the schoolroom. Don’t miss his Op-Ed in The Sun today.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-0206-jennifer-lopez-shakira-super-bowl-20200206-nqwlog6oxnelbn2vcmswgr27ky-story.html

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Teachers’ Civil War

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Note the latest article by Adam Sutton about a teachers’ “civil war.” He makes an excellent point.  In his lead, he tells of a teacher squabble over enforcing a rule about students wearing hoodies.  This took me back to the days when we (teachers) would argue about gum chewing.  Some saw it as a fruitless battle and allowed gum only in their classrooms.  At the end of class, a teacher would stand at the door with a trash can to require the gum to be tossed.  And of course, these teachers would often be chastised by their peers.  The defense?  Usually that there are precious minutes to be wasted in teaching, so if the gum chewing didn’t interfere, why fight it?  But the point?  It’s not about gum or hoodies.  Sutton argues that teachers’ discussions devolve into petty things and allow for no real professional conversation.  And later in his article, he makes the case that teachers have so many tasks and responsibilities that they can’t focus on the critical needs of the students.

Question is how do teachers take back their profession?  Suggestions and comments welcome.

Read the article at https://theeducatorsroom.com/opinion-the-war-on-teachers-is-a-civil-war/

You might also want to read the book: The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein.  Great historical perspective.

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More to the Story

Still, recognition seems to be growing that technology can be counterproductive. Suburban Baltimore County began abandoning textbooks and paper five years ago, with the goal of attaining a one-to-one ratio of devices to students. But test scores have slipped, and parents are skeptical that the move to screens is helping kids learn. Partly in response to complaints, the district decided to use fewer computers in the early elementary grades, adopting a one-to-five ratio instead. Lower-income parents may be having doubts too: Rocketship had to drop plans to open a third school in Washington, DC, after only 22 students signed up.”

Author Natalie Wexler doesn’t mince words in the MIT Technology Review – in spite of 2,946 words on how the use of technology is harming many of our children.  It is an excellent description of what happens in classrooms and illustrates how the teachers themselves, while seemingly supportive of using technology do not always grasp how it actually is not helpful – especially to low income students.  My own experience tells me that many more seasoned teachers question the way technology has been integrated into instruction – and are often critical of it.  Wexler relied on surveys for her statements about teacher support of technology in the classroom. It is possible that our youngest teachers, who began their careers with educational technology playing a large role in instruction really do not understand how it can best be used and how it should not be used. However, Wexler, during her classroom observations spent time speaking with students and those conversations do not put educational technology in a positive light.

As a retired teacher who experienced the introduction of technology integration in 2012 in Baltimore County Public Schools (also mentioned in Wexler’s article) I wonder what Ryan Imbriale, BCPS Executive Director of Innovation Learning, would say about this article.  Curiously, Imbriale‘s financial disclosure documents were “accidentally destroyed” when BCPS purged thousands of documents on the same day that the former superintendent,  Dallas Dance, the architect of the technology conversion known as STAT (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow; a one-to-one initiative) was found guilty of perjury in regard to lying on financial disclosure forms.  I was in the room when Imbriale, the point man for STAT, described STAT an innovative initiative as, ‘second order change”,  almost gleefully defining second order change as destroying the complete educational structure so that there would be no going back, and rebuilding from the ground up.  Imbriale was given wide latitude to facilitate the implementation of STAT and to make sure than any former policy or employee‘s position that might stand in the way of STAT moving forward, would be eliminated. Now, eight years, later, BCPS student scores have dropped and discipline problems abound with weekly assaults on teachers occurring five to ten times weekly.

A fly in the ointment when discussing student achievement has been eloquently described by teacher Adam Sutton in an article also posted on this blog a week ago. So much needs correcting in education – reading these two articles to gain a better understanding of the situation is a good place to start.

Accountability is a Joke


https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614893/classroom-technology-holding-students-back-edtech-kids-education/?fbclid=IwAR0s_z7aJTFbVKFMP4U1AFMgpmWLIyXhSIVuVOWKelW_3RtaBKb8FYNM430

 

 

 

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Is the sun setting on The Baltimore Sun?

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Although I live in Tucson, Arizona, I begin each day by reading The Baltimore Sun, and then The Arizona Star.  Yesterday an article appeared on the front page of The Baltimore Sun, above the fold, written by one of the education reporters, Liz Bowie.  My incredulity after reading was immense.  I wrote the following letter to the editor.  I doubt they will publish it as it is highly critical of Bowie.

As a retired teacher who worked for BCPS for 32 years, and one who has continued to carefully watch what goes on, I was deeply disillusioned by Liz Bowie’s recent article about the school board.  Liz Bowie has so often been absent from the scene when covering BCPS.  Beginning with Dance, who she praised right up until the moment he was found guilty of perjury, (and when BCPS appeared on the FRONT PAGE of the New York Times – whose writer bested her in getting the story out) to the present moment, where Bowie has written NOTHING about the debacle regarding destruction of documents, what do we call this kind of reporting? Bowie manages to ignore the facts, like the half billion spent on lapstops which has caused a dearth of human resources for students.  Bowie’s subjective reporting is an embarrassment to The Sun.  Please find someone to cover BCPS with a better sense of what to look for, where to look, and with a more racially balanced view.”

Others have also expressed their indignation on social media.  Jayne Horowitz Lee said it better than I ever could:
“The article is disturbing. Liz stopped contacting PTA Council some time ago. I guess the fact that we were supportive of the WHOLE board didn’t fit in with what the paper wanted to hear. The fact that there are differences of opinion on a board is a good thing. Difference of opinion, when all are given the opportunity to express theirs, leads to progress and new ideas. All following like sheep and questions being suppressed leads to stagnant work and opens the door for a charismatic “pied piper” to lead the group down a wrong path. The fact that scores have dropped significantly tells me that BCPS was heading down that wrong path. Technology can be great, but, when the basics are abandoned in favor of technology and when good PR becomes more important than the education of ALL children and when a system abandons the needs of the individual child while attempting to have each child learn in the same “equal” manner the children are the losers. Equal and Equitable are not the same. Putting a laptop in the hands of each child may make them “equal”, but, that laptop cannot replace the work that a teacher can do in understanding how each student learns and what each student needs for success. Cutting back on teachers and services is not made up for by giving a child a fancy device. Children who are hungry cannot learn. That FACT was proven over 50 years ago in studies that brought about headstart and food programs. A device doesn’t help a child whose only meal may be at school and who leaves the school with a device and no place to charge it or leaves to go to a place they face daily abuse or who leaves with no real place to go. The loss of people to recognize those needs in favor of putting money into bells and whistles may bring the system praise and awards for innovation and great PR, but, the statistics show that it did not better serve the lives and education of our children. Perhaps these are things that a paper should be concerned about instead of trying to promote infighting and disagreement. Perhaps a paper would better serve its community by pitching in and helping its community by promoting ways to help the children find the services they lack.”

Then of course, my husband, Bill Groth weighed in with these words:
“The sun sets on The Sunpapers…OK folks, many who have lived in Baltimore for any length of time (35+ for me) have watched the sun slowly “set” on The Sunpapers. Declining journalistic standards, one-sided coverage of important issues and the blatant lack of coverage of key issues that impact all who call Baltimore “home” have been tolerated by those diehard subscribers who cling to the idea that the “free press” is a key cornerstone of our democracy. My wife and I,  just happen to be two of them!
Sadly then, after this article appeared yesterday, above the fold, I would have to say that “the deed is done – for The Sun.”
In my opinion, the editor of this declining publication should be taken “out behind the woodshed” (so to speak) for his decision to run this poorly written, thinly veiled attempt at “journalism”. Many fellow readers were “simply aghast” at the writer’s portrayal of various board members’ intentions as less than genuine, and were then outraged to read that the “reporter” had the shameful moxie to boldly imply that their nefarious motives were obviously related to their race!
So, as someone who devoted almost 40 years to public education in Baltimore County, and as someone who knows personally many of those serving in BCPS administration as well as on the BOE, I respectfully say that Ms Bowie is a discredit to fellow journalists everywhere, for her poor journalistic standards and use of conjecture in place of factual reporting – and should be dismissed from The Sun. As for the editor, whose race-baiting attempt to simply sell newspapers (for running this article in the first place, and then, and far worse – above the fold on the front page) I can only say – what a schmuck! I now fully grasp why The Tribune has finally thrown up their hands with this “rag” and has decided to sell this “journalistic cesspool” to the highest bidder! Good Luck!”

It is with no joy that I write disparagingly of The Sun.  I grew up in Baltimore City, finding it on the porch early each morning, and watching both my parents read its articles, often with lively ensuing discussions.  Later, I moved to Baltimore County and had my own subscription for 30 years.  In the past ten years, I have noticed, much to my lament, the lack of objectivity in education reporting.  Now, from 2500 miles away, I have the digital subscription and see how the professionalism continues to deteriorate. I can no longer defend the paper. The demise of this newspaper brings no joy to my heart. For me, it is akin to a bad breakup.

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Section 8 and Baltimore County

Steve McIntire’s article is the most comprehensive and objective thing I’ve read to date on Section 8 and the Home Act in Baltimore County. It explains how every player in the game is a loser.  If only The Sun would print articles that are this articulate.

 

Read it here

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BCPS Worse than Watergate

Unconscionable

Read the latest

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Restorative Justice?

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Yet another trend in education…will it be like open space?  Last for years only to say in the end, “Well, that didn’t work.”  But this is so much more unsettling.  It will have a profound effect on many children in a terrible way and what about the overall long term effect on society? Will someone wake up soon and end it?  We can only hope more educators in leadership will be as brave as the author of this article.

Read the article

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One Foot in Baltimore

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College?

To all those trying to figure out how to send your children to college, an Op Ed in today’s Baltimore Sun is worth taking the time to read. You and your children really don’t have to go into the kind of debt that would make you feel like you purchased a mini mansion.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-0823-college-millionaires-20190822-nkucopasp5hy7d75ksaq5julfm-story.html

 

 

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