September 18th, 2009

Common Core letter and Diane Ravitch op-ed

Isn’t it obvious that kids need to know stuff? Lots of knowledge and skills. The world is complex. Yes, it is obvious but seems to be seems to be getting lost in the fog of ’21st century skills.’ Without knowledge and basic skills–there can be no bright future for students–no matter the banner or latest fad. Here’s a letter that sets us on the right (and obvious path).
http://www.commoncore.org/p21-challenge.php.

And see Diane Ravitch’ op-ed piece from this past Tuesday. Similar message.
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/09/15/critical_thinking_you_need_knowledge/

I couldn’t agree more! And you? How can we send students out into the world without the basic tools of learning? We cannot in good conscience.

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments

September 16th, 2009

Botch most answers on math test? Pass anyway?

Worrisome, but not surprising, article in the New York Times. URL is below

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/education/14scores.html?_r=5&partner=MOREOVERNEWS&ei=5040

If we are going to rely on tests to measure student achievement–as apparently we are (and I agree with doing so), we must be sure:

– that the tests are valid, and
–that they measure what they are intended to measure, and
–that what is intended is important for students to know, and
–that scores are honest, and
–that the public is aware of what is measured, and
–that a passing score actually means that a student has learned the material; and
–that the tests are valid…..

We are back at square one.
This story raises issues all across the spectrum. Sad. We need a fix!

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments

September 9th, 2009

President Obama's Excellent Speech to Students…

Again, here’s wishing you a happy start of the school year!

After the controversy, hoopla, and headlines, it was, indeed, an excellent speech. The President focused on student responsibility for their own learning. Thank you, Mr. President.

It’s about time. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the_President_in_a_national_address_to_America’s_Schoolchildren.

And dare I say, his approach relates to the ethical dilemmas we have in special education–we place too much responsibility, blame, and ‘accountability’ on schools and IEP Teams, and not enough on students and parents. Our President is onto something important.

He told students they have to work hard, and try harder; not define themselves by their failures; keep on working at what is hard. “You’ve got to practice.” Decide what you’re good at. America needs you. Etc., etc. etc.

He told several stories of students overcoming great odds. Some of them sounded like students who might have IEPs or Section 504 plans. They persevered and succeeded.

Only with a true partnership among teachers, students, parents can students succeed and help themselves and our nation. An excellent message for the first day of school

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments

September 3rd, 2009

New School Year! How about a New Approach!

Dear friends of education,

Hopefully, this year will bring success to SpedEx–the innovative dispute resolution model that grew out of Special Education Day celebrations. It is now one of the options that Massachusetts offers for parents and schools who are embroiled in a dispute about a child’s placement and right to a FAPE–a free appropriate public education. If you are interested, please visit my prior posts and check SpedEx out at www.doe.mass.edu/BSEA/spedx.htm., or at www.specialeducationday.com.

Why the hope? It’s more than time. We need to work together for children. Recently, I realized just how polarized and litigious special education practice is these days when I called several parent advocates/attorneys and to invite them for coffee–let’s just talk. They seemed happy to make a ‘date’ with me. Yet, each of these folks canceled our ‘date’ –with no attempt to reschedule! I tried several times, but without success. And was astounded, actually.

What take-away message would you draw from this? None? It’s just a coincidence? For me it shows how far we have gone from the cooperative, problem-solving mode that was the law’s intent.

Let us hope the year 2009-2010 brings us back to that approach.

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments