GOOD

Want to Make Education Better? Send Policymakers Back to School

The disconnect between policy and practice is so palpable, one has to wonder if these policies are made for children or in spite of them.

A friend of mine once said public policymakers should have to ride an overcrowded public bus with students going to school. I'd take it one step further.


Let's take policymakers through a full day of a student's life. They can wake up in cruddy conditions set forth by a house foreclosure, walk through the slimmest crime-infested alleyways in the area, attempt getting fresh food from the grocery store for breakfast, get on a crowded bus or subway to get to school, sit though a full academic day, and eat student lunches. Perhaps then they'll have some empathy for why kids bust open the classroom door when the bell rings at the end of the day.

Do this without press, handlers, or lackeys. None.

The reason so many of us want to see public policy creators in the classroom for a day—or in my case, 100 days—is that their policies are often at odds with the realities of the classroom. Anytime we implement a policy, we ought to have enough experience in that policy to put it on the shoulders of the executioners, mainly educators. Yet, the disconnect between policy and practice is so palpable, one has to wonder if these policies were made for children or in spite of children.

For one, the feedback loops make no sense. Our mayors have armies of handlers and protégés. The superintendents and chancellors have too many special schools to visit. Our community boards are asked to behave, or else they don't get access or privilege in certain tables. Social media has opened up the doors for these representatives to get an ear to the street, but they either use interns to write for them or simply ignore dissenting opinions, no matter how well-informed.

Then, instead of directly working with teachers, our policymakers instruct district people and third-party vendors to give teachers "professional development" on their policies. Teachers sit through prolonged PowerPoint presentations that are often bare on actionable information. I can tell you first-hand that besides cramming too much text into one slide, the average presenter pounds us with words for two hours. The irony? They'll be talking about the importance of making our classes more engaging and interactive. They lay out visions that make no sense, wasting precious time that could be spent in the classroom working on lesson plans or classroom aesthetics.

Worst of all, when you finally get a chance to stand within the same square foot of a public policymaker, the first thing you hear is, "Well, that’s not my responsibility." One could argue that the system has inequity built into it, which is why we have amendments. However, if we have amendments, that means the representative is, in fact, a part of the "system." Our system almost seems set up to make our public policy people play along with rules they never created, and add to the chaos.

We must stop now.

The first step policymakers should take is actually putting themselves into the classroom as active participants. They should have to see the things expert educators have to do to implement their policies and the impact of those policies on children.

As a matter of fact, let teachers come up with the practice first, and, if it's an effective practice, we make it into policy. Perhaps reversing the dynamic will do us some good. Until then, Pearson and all the other policymakers will continue popping champagne all over our children.

Want to tell ALEC to stop influencing education policy and cashing in on our kids? Click here to say you'll do it.

Image (cc) via Flickr user John Steven Fernandez

Articles
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics