This site was actually started by a very brilliant public school teacher. He was an engineering student when the teaching bug bit. This fact does not surprise us at CRAFT since many of the education reformists we meet are engineers of one form or another. Engineers appear to have the math skills, problem solving skills and a mastery of logic that makes them excellent education reformists. This is a must read site with a plethora of information.
This great quote is on his website. "We accept no excuses. Excuses do children no favors. We refuse to accept that a child is too poor to learn. We refuse to accept that a parent is too detached to participate. We refuse to accept that a school system is too poor to demand high standards from its students."
-Paul G. Vallas
We agree with Mr. Vallas.
We feel that Education Reform has been portrayed as rocket science by an army of self-serving consultants, publishers, and "experts," when instead there are a few very, very simple culprits to our educational woes.
Lack of Choice: Why is it that in any other area of our lives we don't tolerate the government telling us what to do or what to choose, yet when people propose giving parents real choice (for example in the form of vouchers, or even permitting parents to homeschool), the response is, "Nooooo, that will destroy public education!" In fact, the only thing that would be destroyed is the government monopoly over education. Please see the Milton Friedman Foundation for more.
Low Standards: In far too many schools, especially in our cities, there are crushingly low standards for our children. A common refrain is "they can't!" when describing what poor or minority students can or can't do. This mindset helps the staff of ineffective schools get to work each day, but it does nothing to prepare our kids.
Lack of Discipline: In far too many schools, behavior standards are rare or nonexistent. We've taught in schools where the routine nature of uncivilized conduct made teaching and learning all but impossible. Should the students be blamed for this? Of course not, they are just acting within the boundaries--or lack thereof--established by the adults of the school. The flip side of this is also a problem. "Zero Tolerance" policies are also due to the adults' lack of discipline!
Fuzzy Curriculum: One of the biggest reasons our students are performing poorly relates to our poor choice of curricula. Math appreciation is taught under the NCTM's New New Math, reading appreciation is taught under Balanced Literacy and Whole Language, and culture appreciation is taught in soft-core social studies. And don't get us started on the political correctness which has usurped science.
In more than a few cities, the specific curriculum was tossed in favor of a bare-bones "curriculum frameworks"--frameworks which were famous for their vagueness. This was done in the hopes that a "constructivist pedagogy will inform teachers' choices in the classroom" or other drivel.
Teacher Indoctrination: One sound bite the general public hears is "we need more certified teachers!" Yet no one asks what teachers learn in their certification courses. And people don't ask if certified teachers have been proven to be more effective than non-certified ones. What may shock people is that the best private schools in the U.S. refuse to hire certified teachers! That should tell you something. Which leads us to...
Theory over Practice: This is the primary message teachers receive in their 2-years of brainwashing teacher certification classes. If someone wanted to learn how to grow corn in Iowa, or build a bridge over a windy channel, or navigate a corporation through the waters of Chapter 11, or design a really absorbent diaper ... the first step would be to speak to the people who've been successful at those very things!
The site has a section titled Education Reform Blueprint. To view the complete blueprint click here.