Sunday, June 19, 2011

Free Appropriate Public Education

Monroe Elementary School - Brown Vs the Board ...Image via WikipediaA Cross post from my JHU/ISTE blog

Are public schools doing enough or are they trying to do too much?
In the case of Hendrick Hudson School District v. Rowley
A lower court noted that:
“she performs better than the average child in her class and is advancing easily from grade to grade,” but “the she understands considerably less of what goes on in class than she could if she were not deaf” and thus “is not learning as much, or performing as well academically, as she would without her handicap,” (Russo, 6th edition p. 1002)
Thus they decided she was not receiving a “free appropriate public education,” (Russo, p. 1002)
The supreme court reversed the ruling stating, “if personalized instruction is being provided with sufficient supportive services to permit the child to benefit from the instruction, and the other items on the definitional checklist are satisfied, the child is receiving a “free appropriate public education” as defined by the Act….” (Russo, p. 1004) “The Act’s intent was more to open the door of public education to handicapped children by means of specialized educational services than to guarantee any particular substantive level of education once inside.” (http://supreme.justia.com/us/458/176/) The Act does not require a State to maximize the potential of each handicapped child commensurate with the opportunity provided nonhandicapped children. (http://supreme.justia.com/us/458/176/ )
My question then is, Does the free public education in our country need only be of a “measurable” gain instead of maximizing the potential of each student?
Earlier in 1954 the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Topeka I) the justices said:
“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments”
“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.”
Does this sound like asking for a mere measurable gain?
Of course they also say, in the same paragraph:
“It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment”
Perhaps a free and appropriate public education is not meant to give each student the maximum educational benefit.
So what is the purpose of free public education in the United States? Should the state provide just the foundation or should they provide “those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness … (Sweatt v. Painter)”?
References
Russo, C. J. (2006). Reutter’s the law of public education (6th ed.). New York, NY: Foundation Press.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE HENDRICK HUDSON CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT v. ROWLEY Supreme Court of the united States, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).
BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TOPEKA Supreme Court of the United States, 1954 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873.
SWEATT v. PAINTER Supreme Court of the United States, 1950 339 U.S. 629
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Problem With a Problem Based Curriculum

Gerolamo CardanoImage via WikipediaHere is a great activity for a classroom.  It’s accessible to every student in the class, it can quickly and easily be modified to be more difficult, it leads to dozens of different questions for further exploration.

Now the question is what standards does this problem meet? Obviously, it can meet the need for subtraction in a second grade classroom and easily be modified for use with decimals and fractions for older grades. But what about some higher ordered thinking. (If you don’t think about this then the activity is simply practice in a frilly dress)

Moving to the next blog post we can see some very interesting questions on Algebra.

So now this interesting activity moves from being a lesson practicing the skill of subtraction to an open ended question on creating and proving Algebraic equations.

Then someone goes and suggests using n-gons instead of squares and finding the properties of such a system.

Suddenly, we can see that this simple activity is not only expandable for skill difficulty, but for conceptual difficulty as well. This is an activity I can use with 2nd graders all the way up to college students.

The real questions become:

* What are the actual concepts that I can teach with this activity?
* How do I direct or suggest my students move towards the concepts I want to teach without it seeming like I am directing them that way?
* How do I measure the learning?
* Who comes up with ideas like this and how do I find more?
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Friday, June 10, 2011

A Dream

The other night I had a dream. I dreamt that I had died and gone to heaven. I realized immediately I didn't belong. I asked God what I had done to to deserve such an exception.
God responded, "Your children will grow up to be better people than you are, they will be a success where you were a failure, they will avoid the mistakes you made, and make better choices. They will realize the dreams you have and that will be only the beginning.”
“So I make it to heaven because I was a good parent?”
“No, you are here because you children will be lonely without you. Now, go back and be the type of parent you wish you were.”

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