As a mother of three children, the state of the American education system is a concern of mine. I worry that my kids, who are smart but not necessarily enough so for the gifted program our school district offers, will get lost in the shuffle. I worry that, with the emphasis on making sure no child gets left behind, all the focus on the kids at the back of the pack will hurt my children. I worry that they’ll get bored, lose focus, screw around, get labeled as troublemakers (because of acting out thanks to boredom) – worry that their education is inadequate for their needs. So, when I was approached to read Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, I was intrigued.
About the Book: Moskowitz and Lavinia share with their readers the basic principles that guide their teaching philosophy at the Success Academies, commonly known as charter schools. They start with stating all the ways our schools here in America have fallen behind internationally, how lacking education is here in the United States – they tell us the Why behind the academies and how they do what they do so well. The adults are key, they claim, because they are the ones sharing their knowledge, expertise, and passion with their scholars (they don’t call them students). Teachers and principals, who all have their own support staff (teachers have assistants, and there’s a building manager so the principal can focus on education), are highly trained and supported by the administration at the academies. Finally we learn all about their philosophy. They teach their lessons fast, giving the students lots of time for independent study – largely reading and writing. Their emphasis is on literacy, because they believe that a good reader can learn just about anything. Their days are long, and they cover a lot of subjects. In addition to the usual math, reading, science, etc., they study chess, music, and other things. Their teaching methods are quite different from any most Americans likely have seen, but quite effective.
My Thoughts: I was given the following question to ponder as I read:
Stagnation, being unable to accomplish one’s job at a high level, is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale. Why do you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professions?
I think the answer to this question is simple: We don’t value education the way we should. Sure, we pay lip service to valuing education, but our actions belie our supposed values. I have always felt that teachers should be the ones raking in the big bucks – rather than sports figures, movie/TV stars, and other celebrities – simply because they have the most important jobs out there. They are training our children, helping them learn what they need to become productive, responsible adults. Teachers are actively involved in securing our country’s future, and that is so much more important than entertaining the masses – at least so far as I’m concerned.
I would love if our school systems were able to follow the techniques used at the Success Academies – especially where supporting the teachers and principals is concerned. Perhaps the inadequate support helps contribute to stagnation. Add to that a lack of excitement over the lessons, and it’s easy to see how teachers can lose their passion. I would love to see our teachers being challenged to aim high – or adding rigor, as Moskowitz and Lavinia call it, to the studies – and shoot for the moon with their students. Instead of dumbing down our lessons for fear of someone getting left behind, push the students – all of the students – to go higher than they ever have before.
One more thing I think that contributes to the stagnation is something that likely won’t be a popular viewpoint. I think unions are partially to blame. Yes, it’s important to have someone out there looking out for the interests of the teachers – but then maybe if we valued education as we should that wouldn’t be necessary … I will admit that I don’t know much about teachers’ unions – only what I observe when there are contract negotiations that don’t go so well. What I have seen never, ever makes me view these unions in a positive manner. Educators – and their representatives – should always be putting their students first. Striking mid-year is a horrible, horrible thing that does nothing other than hurt the students. Sure, I get that it puts pressure on the administration and helps make them more favorable to meeting the union’s demands, but I think it’s an unforgivable tactic. This isn’t like striking at a factory or construction site or somewhere like that. This is something that directly affects our children in a negative way.
And, wow, that totally led me on a bit of a tirade. I apologize for that. If you are interested in learning more about different approaches to education, I would highly recommend Mission Possible. While I find many of these lofty goals for today’s public schools, I am amazed by how these schools are run and what they can accomplish. I think that perhaps these should be long-term (but not too long-term, given the sorry state of American schools at this present time) goals.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!
Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Unfortunately, this is only open to those in the U.S. (I’m shipping this book myself, and international is just too expensive, sorry.)
This is a sponsored post, and I did receive compensation for it. All opinions expressed are my own.
FTC Disclosure: All items reviewed were either obtained by me for my own enjoyment or sent (from the author, publisher, publicist, via tour sites, etc.) in exchange for an honest review. I receive no monetary compensation for my posts. All opinions expressed are my own. Any exceptions to this are clearly noted in the appropriate posts.
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