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Another long post.....

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From: Kevan Nitzberg (knitzber_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Feb 27 2005 - 18:53:16 PST


Thanks to those of you who dug into some of the roots of the remarks that
were apparently erroneously attributed to Bill Gates. There certainly is
enough erroneous information available online and off that is made to look
like fact in order to provide considerable fuel to already hot topics.

However, more I think to the point of Larry's comments, is the push being
made by many districts / states, regarding the implementation of many of the
accountablility measures that NCLB have seemed to supported in lieu of other
aspects of education that are, in my opinion, ultimately more important to
the substance of educating young people. In addition, other initiatives
that NCLB have supported as important (such as the importance of arts
education), have remained grossly underfunded. Positioning the TEST as the
ultimate measure of educational achievement and success, is a poor
substitute for not only actually insipiring learning and creativity, but
also does little to help address the emotional and behavioral chaos that so
many of our students have to struggle with on a day to day basis. I believe
that what Larry was stating had more to do with the necessity of the school
environment being sensitive and proactive to those latter needs that,
without being addressed in a real and substantive way, will consistantly get
in the way of students being able to succeed at even a minimal level in
school. If in fact we are committed to helping students succeed, those
issues need to also be a part of what is being targeted as part of the
dilemna in education today.

As I was driving to the MN State Capitol today to help with the set up of
our annual Youth Art Month Show (which was a huge success thanks to the hard
work of a lot of dedicated art educators), I drove along a route that took
me from the suburbs through the heart of Mpls. and St. Paul. The economic
disparity that was so much in evidence along that drive certainly helps to
underscore the enormity of the problems that educators face in their
classrooms on a daily basis, and certainly tears away at the illusion of an
idyllic world that provides equal opportunity and encouragement for all
students. As educators we often are expected to be able to somehow right all
of the wrongs that abound in society, magically erasing the traumatic
backgrounds (not all due to economic issues by any means), that have helped
to create our students' 'world views'. The essence of what teachers can do
to fight those societal nightmares has to do with their ability to reach
students, nurture their spirits, provide access to dreams and goals that
will help students ignite those sparks that exist within all of us given the
right sustenance and encouragement. Without that kind of contact and
approach to really educating and caring about students, no test will ever
truly measure what it is that students are capable of achieving, and no
class size, regardless of number, will be as effective as it might be with
the nurturing as a quantifiable component of educating.

I also think that ultimately the best resource that we have for those types
of systemic changes that seem to constantly being legislated based on any
number of various agendas, are the teachers themselves who are, in fact,
already in the best places to effect the changes that are needed. Of
course, all of that needs to be supported as both philosophical and
financial priorities by the powers that be. Therein, too often, lies the
problem.

Kevan

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