Thursday, January 11, 2018


Yesterday in the wood shop at The Clear Spring School lower elementary students began making banks to go with a project in which they will learn about saving money. The students wanted to take the banks home immediately, but will keep them in school until the lesson is complete.

Part of the process is to personalize each child's work. Markers are used to make the work colorful. Rainbows, hearts and and cats are favorite themes for illustration. Steel letter stamps are used to add names, or initials or to label the work as a "Bank." There were lots of bent nails, nails that went in the wrong spot and required removal, and a bit of learning, also. We used screws to attach the bottoms, so that when the banks have become full, money can be taken out.

My middle school students began working on canes.

I find it fascinating that the primary rationale for charter schools is the idea that public schools are "failing" and that charter schools are to shake things up and test new models for education. If that is truly the reason for charter schools, they would not be needed if the state and federal governments were to simply back off and allow local public school boards to righteously serve the children from their communities. If schools were allowed to serve all children as they all best learn, education would become hands-on, and we would abandon the teach to the test methodology that brought failing schools in the first place.

In Arkansas, and many other states, school boards are allowed  by law to do two things: Hire or fire a superintendent. The superintendent's job is to uphold state standards even when they drive education off the mark. If school boards were allowed to demand that the school's curriculum become more reflective of the needs and interests of their communities and each child, guess what? Sorry, but that's not allowed.

The point is that Charter schools would not be needed (based on their stated rationale) if schools and school boards were trusted, required  and inspired to meet the actual learning needs and interests of each and every child. If we are to ask anything reasonable of our state and federal governments it should be that local schools be given the necessary resources to meet the learning needs of each and every child. In return, for such trust, the local school boards, administration and teaching staff must respect the dignity of each child and to offer equal opportunity to education without regard to income, race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

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