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Welcome to the School Matters Foundation

Click on our pages to find articles and guest posts about public education in America. 

Today's Teaser: 

"What's the antidote?  Take away all the mandates, except for the testing.  Make the testing more meaningful for the students than for the teachers.  The biggest battle for teachers is student malaise.  Provide incentive for students to care."

Our new 

publication:

Chaos in Our Schools

The provocative expose of how mismanaged our education system is. Available now on Amazon.

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We can fix the problem, but we need an overhaul in how we view and manage public education.

Reading this book is a good start.

The paradigm of education has shifted over the last decade. Documentation and data collection have eclipsed teaching as the mainstay in a teacher's career.

Intro to
CHAOS IN OUR SCHOOLS

From the new book
Chaos in Our Schools:

The Bottom Line
    There’s an insidious element in education that is unnoticed by most people. Schools are not set up for the children; they are set up for the convenience of the adults who run them. If children were the top priority in a school, they would not be assigned to static class groupings without the opportunity to advance to a different group when they are ready.
   If children were the top priority, the people who work with them would be seen as more important than the bureaucrats who direct those people. Class groups would not be divided into “fair” sets of upper, middle, and low aptitudes. The behavior problems would not be dispersed throughout the school so that every other child has his education seriously diminished by the outlandishness of a few.
   If children were truly the reason schools exist, the ratio of adult to child would be a reasonable and realistic one.


   Our schools, particularly at the elementary level, are operated with the guiding principles that
    1) Procedures and standards, copiously outlined, meet the

        education needs of students,
        and
    2) Children should be arranged in groupings that are

        acceptable to the adults in charge.


   This is nonsense, but at present, there is little that can be done to thwart these ideals because the teachers’ unions won’t allow for a sensible approach to education.

Click to read the disturbing truth behind the learning standards that were cleverly coined 

COMMON CORE.

To advance ideas and policies for the improvement of public education.
To expose misleading or deceptive education policy. 
To support underserved student populations.

Paying Teachers According to their Demonstrated Value
in the Classroom...

Does it really work?

This is a complex question that requires more than a simple answer.  Many people outside the profession believe it is possible to quantify the value that teachers bring to their students.  The trouble is that even those inside the profession have now jumped on this very bandwagon.

A non-partison study conducted recently by a team of education specialists on behalf of the World Bank has shed some light on the flaws in this thinking.  You can read about their findings here.   

The idea of paying teachers for their classroom performance opened a can of worms that has not only diluted the aims of education but very nearly wiped them out.  This is a travesty for American schoolchildren because there are easier (and more transparent) ways of observing what a teacher does inside a classroom.

Read our book Chaos in Our Schools for more on that.

The History Behind
Colorado's  SB 10-191,
The Educator Effectiveness Act

Scholars have been studying this law since it was passed in Colorado in 2011.  Here is one graduate student's thesis on the topic, providing research and background on the law that changed everything in Colorado public education.

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Why the experts have no idea what they're talking about:

Most teachers would say that the best determinants of student performance are low class sizes and positive student engagement. The latter is edu-speak for 'no behavior problems'. On the other hand, most administrators believe that class sizes and behavior are negligible in determining how well students learn. This is because things like class size and behavior are simple to fix, and the administrators and education gurus cannot claim expert status over them. They've learned that they can, however, claim to be experts when it comes to "inventing" new ways to teach in a classroom setting.

 A Review of Chaos in Our Schools 
by Diana Lowery

A​s a retired high school teacher, I was drawn to this book. As I read, I found I was able to relate to most of the scenarios described by T.L. Zempel. Although Zempel taught elementary school in Colorado, the frustration with bureaucracy was also prominent in my state. Sadly, the focus in education is no longer on the individual students and their needs.

E​ach chapter deals with a different "cure" implemented by the legislature and trickled down to the classroom. As you can imagine, during her 30-year teaching career, Zempel was subjected to many of these mandates.

A​long with extensive research on the lack of effectiveness of these solutions, the author includes anecdotes of students, teachers, and administrators. These stories break up the statistics in an enjoyable way. Zempel also includes her experience with faulty teacher evaluations and the futility of dealing with the issue.

Opinions on Education

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Image of the Week

Poignant
Moments

John F. Kennedy,

35th President of the United States.
Credit: Shared via Mark Cohen

on LinkedIn

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"Regardless of whether it's indigenous issues, economic failures, shortages of fuel, food, or freedom of rights. It is time to learn from the past, let the negative emotions go, and make better decisions for the future."
-Michael Zeidenberg

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Your generous donation supports our efforts to publicize the need for school reform.  Eventually, it will support schools modeled after our prototype.  See our book Chaos in Our Schools for more.

Notable Viewpoints

Why Differentiation Doesn't Work

"Differentiation is a failure, a farce, and the ultimate educational joke played on countless educators and students. By having dismantled many of the provisions we used to offer kids on the edges of learning, ... we have sacrificed the learning of virtually every student."
             -    Dr. James Delisle, in Education Week
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Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

                           Albert Einstein

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

                   - Nelson Mandela

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.

                                        B.B. King

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