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Posts Tagged ‘educational reform’

Finland is several heads above the United States in public education. They used to be about the same in terms of student testing. Then in the early 1970s, the Finns decided to undergo a massive reconstruction of their educational system. They took off, leaving the US in the dust.

Finland has the highest test scores in the Western world. How’d they do that?

Finland’s students have the western world’s shortest school days and shortest school years. That’s to give kids time to be kids. They’re in school no more than 20 hours a week, and that includes lunch. They’re also among the least tested students in the world. Finland provides a vast social safety net for all families.  Finnish students get almost three times as much recess as US students. All of this is because Finland has a student centered education system. The success of students is the most important thing in the Finnish system.

In the United States, increasing the corporate profits of the publishing industry is the most important thing the US educational system is supposed to do. So most everything in the US K-12 educational system is geared toward testing.

Corporate profits are had with every test a child takes. This is precisely why US students are the most tested in the world, and by a wide margin. However, it gets worse than that. Standards are continuously raised, even if most of the students, or a significant segment of them, fail the current standards. That’s because the higher the standards, the more students fail and need to retake the tests, over and over again, until they pass the tests, or they move up in grade. Every test students are forced to take provides the testing industry with greater profits. But when a sufficient number of students begin to pass the tests, the standards are raised, or the tests are changed, to make them more difficult to pass.

The movement to tie teacher pay to the success of student testing forces teachers to teach to the test. Recess has been massively cut at many public schools. Recess has been eliminated in some. US education is about massive test preparation, and much of the preparation materials comes from the US publishing industry, which increases their profits.

The last thing the people behind US educational reforms want, as well as the corrupt politicians behind them, is an educational system that prepares students to be better citizens and gives them enhanced job skills, although many educators try to do this in what spare time they have to teach this stuff.

The testing industry keeps this farce going by giving campaign contributions and other perks to US politicians, which is precisely why the US educational system typically ranks about thirtieth in the world, and never moves up, and why Finland typically rates in the top five, and is often number one in the world.

In the US, educational reform means redistributing local and state tax dollars to the rich shareholders of the testing industry. Local control of public education means the testing industry might not be able to get away with this theft throughout the US, and this is why the Feds have become more involved in K-12 public education.

In other words, financial corruption guides US government K-12 educational reform, while the needs of students guide educational reforms in Finland.

 

 

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Educational reform is all about corporate profits, especially for the big publishing corporations, Pearson Limited and McGraw-Hill. These companies a lot of money on government; lobbyists, campaign contributions, etc…. McGraw-Hill, for example, donated $32,400 to the Republican National Committee in 2014. The corporation also gave $10,000 to the Democratic Party of New Hampshire. This company spreads its money, or rather your money, around. In return, their puppets in state houses around the nation and within the federal government push for more testing and higher standards.

School districts are then forced to allocate your hard earned tax dollars to tests and testing materials, which then fuels corporate profits, dividends and share prices. All the while, education for the young has gotten twisted into learning how to take tests, which for most students, makes education a non-learning experience, especially since standards are always raised.

Why are test standards always increased? Because it’s profitable. Raising the bar means more students will fail, and then they’ll need to take the test over and over again until they move up in grade, or drop out of school. The more tests they take, the more profits Pearson and McGraw-Hill rake in, and at your expense.

Every few years, testing standards are changed. That’s because it’s more profitable to change standards every few years than maintain the current standards. When standards are changed, school districts are forced to purchase new tests and new prepatory materials in accordence with the new standards, which is way more profitable than keeping prepatory materials that were purchased a year or two earlier.

In other words, mandatory standardized testing is an income redistribution scam. Income is redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, particularly to shareholders and major officers of the testing industry.

The testing industry then redistributes some of your redistributed money to politicians as campaign contributions, lobbying jobs after politicians leave office, vacations in Scotland, and other things.

To garner that cash, the politicians push more and more standardized tests for your students to take, as well as higher standards. That’s why US public school students are the most tested in the world, and by a wide margin. That also shows how corrupt your government has become.

And that’s why educational reform has absolutely nothing to do with education. It’s all about using public school students as profitable testing material. And because of that, such useful classes as automotive, wood shop, metal shop and other classes than might be applicable to real life are gone for the most part. That’s why your students have to take second year Algebra and Geometry, even though 99 percent will never use these things in real life. These tests are also why many schools have eliminated or shortened such social skill interactions as physical education and recess.

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Only in the United States can every kindergarten through twelfth grade public school child be turned into a profit making commodity and have the complete process of doing so be labeled “educational reform,” despite the fact that this process has nothing to do with improving the education of children. In fact, it appears the profit making process has everything to do with eliminating important aspects of education, such as teaching critical thinking, art, theater, automotive classes, wood and metal shops, as well as limiting (or in some cases eliminating) recess for elementary students. Apparently, developing social skills and learning concepts of right and wrong on the playground are not important in K-8 education, and that makes sense because there is no profit to be had for the publishing giants with regard to these extremely important life-enhancing skills.

On behalf of ever rising profits and ever rising share prices of the corporate publishing giants Pearson Limited, McGraw-Hill and a few others, the United States has turned public kindergarten through high school students into commodities for profit. On behalf of the shareholders of the 1 percent, the corporate press, which is nothing more than a propaganda machine for and of the 1 percent, has dutifully called this educational reform, and brainwashed much of the American public into believing this lie to be true. That is of course, the job of the corporate press; taking obvious lies created by conservative think tanks and other organizations and pundits of the 1 percent, and getting the public to believe these lies to be truth.

Students and testing are necessary pieces of the profit making motive, just like any other manufactured product. Manufacture a car tire without the existence of cars wouldn’t make anybody a dime. Tires and cars profitably go together like hands in gloves, bodies in clothes, hats on your heads. Nobody would manufacture gloves, clothes or hats if there were no hands, heads or bodies because no profits could be had if the two didn’t go together. The same is true of state and federally mandated testing of K-12 students.

Manufacturing tests are profitless without students to be tested, and so, quite naturally, the corporate propaganda machine engineered over a period of years a campaign to convince the American public of the need to test students more and more, until the tests were legislatively adopted, first at the state levels, and then at the federal level.

No mention was ever made by that mighty propaganda machine that Finland has the highest test scores in the world, and students there are the least tested on Earth. No mention was made of significant differences between the education of students in the USA and Finland, such as Finish boys and girls begin first grade one year later than their American counterparts because that’s when boys brains are sufficiently developed to handle first grade materials.

Beginning first grade a year later than is currently the case in the USA, not so coincidentally, would call for less testing, which would be called educational reform if adopted elsewhere, but not here. This idea would never be adopted because it would mean less profits, and to keep the share prices of the publishing giants rising requires more and more profits, which means more and more testing.

Several public grade school teachers have complained to me that the profit motive standards called Common Core are not “developmentally appropriate” for their students. In other words, for example, these new tests are geared for fifth grade students, but are being taken by third grade students. This requires many students to retake the tests over and over again until they pass the tests or move up a grade. That’s precisely the point of common core testing, as well as previous mandated standardized testing.

Having children retake the test over and over again means more and more profits for the publishing giants, so naturally, there will be a clarion call by pundits of the 1 percent to require students to reach for higher and higher standards, as if 95 percent of all high school student are going to use calculus after high school in a job. That might be true for a small fraction of high school graduates who move on to college, but it’s not true for the vast majority of high school and college graduates.

The one thing that becomes obvious is that educational reform in the United States is nothing more than a scam to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent in the form of higher corporate profits, rising share prices, and mounting dividends. The 99 percent pays the price of this scam in lost tax revenue that goes to schools for testing, time away from other forms of education, such as art, as well as mounting stress on students, parents, teachers and administrators to meet higher and higher profits for the testing corporations via a corporate conduit of propaganda called higher standards.

If you want real educational reform, simply look to Finland and adopt some of that nation’s practices. However, the propaganda machine of the 1 percent will scream loud and clear that such notions will ruin education in the USA, but they will not mention that adopting such practices will only push the profit motive out of public education, which would be a tragedy for the 1 percent, but create great joy and better education for everybody else.

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The problem with the US educational system is as Mr. Tyson suggests, but that only hits the surface of the problem. Here’s the real problem; the US public educational system is not for profit, and despite that, the US public educational systems produce hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars, of profits every year, but only for the CEO’s and shareholders of publishers McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and other producers of educational materials and educational reform. In other words, what is best for their profits determines what educational reform is and will become, and what is good for children is the last thing on the minds of these corporate CEOs.

That’s right. That’s why the educational reform that school districts are forced to accept are all about students taking tests and nothing more. Guess who produces the tests for profits, and who fight in the halls of the US congress, the white house, state legislatures, and school districts for more testing and educational programs that are often ineffective, and simply place more pressure on teachers and administrators.

These publishers are also aligned with conservative politicians who demand teacher accountability based on the success or failures students have on these tests. This public relations campaign is one way to put pressure on teachers, but it also takes the attention of most citizens off of why these tests are so important; these tests produce very important profits by redistributing tax dollars to the corporations mentioned above.

McGraw-Hill and Pearson are publicly traded limited liability corporations whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is also a publicly, traded limited liability corporation whose stock is traded on NASDAQ.

The direction of profits and share prices are the only way for a board of directors of any major corporation to know how well the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are doing their jobs. When profits are going up, especially at a steady, well regulated, rate, dividends rise, and investors are enticed to purchase shares. This pushes share prices up, and makes CEOs look like they’re doing a swell job. However, if profits are declining, typically share prices follow, and CEOs in these situations are at risk of losing their jobs.

That’s why the CEO’s of the above mentioned corporations push for more and more student testing.

In reality, these tests have nothing to do with measuring student achievement or improving public education. They’re all about improving corporate profits and share prices. Otherwise, educational reform would be something more than students taking test after test.

Finland has the highest rated public educational system in the world. They also have the least tested students in the world, while the US has the most tested students. That’s because Wall Street and the testing corporations run the show in the US and they don’t in Finland.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is correct that adults write the legislation impacting education in the USA, but I don’t think he understands why they do what they do in the halls of power. Educational reform in the USA is all about money and redistributing it from the taxpayers footing the bill for public education (mostly the 99 percent), to the 1 percent who are the CEOs and shareholders (mostly the 1 percent) of the publishing corporations.

Educational reform is simply a big con job perpetrated by the 1 percent on the 99 percent. That’s one of the ways the political and economic games in the US are rigged against the 99 percent.

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