A Wake-Up Call Re California Public Schools!

Prominent education historian Diane Ravitch gives a dire warning regarding public education in California. Also a preview of an upcoming article on Aragon’s physics program.

I took a bit of a break from blogging over the school holidays, but now have three very important articles to write.  The article following this preamble is the first, and the next two will hit closer to home:

(article 2) – How our very own FaceBook may be causing problems in education and,

(article 3) – How the recent “Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)” adoption in the San Mateo Union High School District might be trashing Aragon’s previously excellent regular physics program.

One consequence of this change is that students who I think are not ready for AP physics are unfortunately being encouraged to take that class.  If you are an Aragon parent, you will particularly not want to miss the third article.  I have made several attempts to reach out to the head physics teacher at Aragon, and am still hoping to arrange a meeting before I write the third article, but my patience is wearing thin…  Aragon staff sometimes have an unfortunate habit of thinking that if they ignore issues, the people raising them will simply go away…  They should know better by now 😉 !!!

Noted education historian Diane Ravitch recently spoke to the California School Boards Association and her speech is here.

This speech is a condensed version of material found in her books and focuses specifically on California’s problems.

Professor Ravitch is the author of several important books regarding education reform and the attack on public schools, including one entitled the “Reign of Errorwhich I highly recommend.  It addresses the controversies over No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, charter schools (both brick and mortar and online), vouchers, teacher merit pay and seniority, education technology, etc.  She is routinely ranked as one of the top two or three most influential writers on the American education system.  If you have any interest in our state’s education struggles I sincerely hope you will at least take the time to read the speech in the link above and then perhaps read her book (the link in the title above will take you to Amazon).

It is definitely worth your time:  for example, did you know that Michael Milken, the former junk bond king, is a founder of K12.com, the largest online charter school in the U.S.?  K12 advertises itself as a tuition-free public school which means that it receives per pupil funding from the state of California’s public education budget.  I couldn’t find Milken listed in K12’s “About” page (surprise!), but there is an impressively long list of CEOs and Vice-Presidents who I am sure are not volunteering their time…  Professor Ravitch has a detailed section on K12 (which advertises on local TV) in addition to addressing other charter controversies.  Overall, the book is a very interesting read!

Note added 1/23/18: I should also call to your attention Professor Ravitch’s comments on the Common Core education standards. Some of the issues that she mentions there look like they will recur with the NGSS implementation (of which the new Aragon physics program is but one example).

Author: David Kristofferson

Retired Ph.D. scientist, teacher (after retiring from industry, taught in private and public high schools and then worked a decade in my own private tutoring business), bioinformatician (managed both the NIH-funded GenBank National Nucleic Acid Sequence Databank and the BIONET National Computer Resource for Molecular Biology), IT director at Eos and Raven Biotechnologies, software product manager, AAAS Fellow, avid cyclist, and backpacker!

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