Dear President Obama, You will not become the education president of the Twenty-First Century by pursuing education excellence with your Race To The Top education plan. In Texas, We have had decades of competing in these race to the top type reform programs. Tags, Taas, Teks, etc. offer the same carrot or stick approaches and philosophies of education. Anyone that would use testing and test results as final indicators of success or worth have not fought the battle in our inner-city schools or poor school districts. The developers of these education programs went to Ivy League colleges, Private Schools, or very rich public schools. They see success only in terms of the model schools and education programs they grew up with. Only when one has grown up with these Silver Spoon Schools, as their educational base, would these test based plans become the central focus on student, teacher, administrator, and school success. Growing up with the highest test scores narrows one’s perception of school problems and solutions.

How much input did inner-city communities have in developing or implementing the Race to The Top Program? Are the real problems faced by students, teachers, and administrators being corrected by testing to determine success? Are the safety and discipline in the school issues being corrected, by this race for high test scores? Will the emotional and mental stability of students improve and thrive in this high stakes Race TO The Top Testing?

What will be the results of this Race To The Top Program? First, great successes will be claimed, much like the great successes of No Child Left Behind. Everyone will pat each others Ivy League backs, and proclaim, “We have turned the corner on our education problems.” Next, huge scandals in the areas of cheating on tests or fudging the statistics of test results will occur. Scandals happen when money is tied to high test scores. Finally, there will be winners and losers, but the education system is little changed. When the education system is little changed, Race To The Top has triggers in the plan to accelerate the push to Charter Schools and the privatization of Public Schools. Was this the plan all along?

President Obama do you really want to fix our schools and the educational problems in America? If you want to solve our education problems, you must fix the discipline problem in our schools. When you fix the discipline problem, communities will come together to solve other problems. Fix the discipline problem and America is halfway there to solving any other school or educational problem.

President Obama, this could be your lucky day. There is a school discipline plan that can bring discipline back to all of our schools. If you divert 25 million dollars into this school discipline plan, American schools will be safe, highly productive and successful, within one year. Perhaps, you could allow me to keep one or two million dollars, it would be nice to be a millionaire. Better yet, could I keep 1% of the money, that this discipline plan will save our schools. Billions of dollars now wasted by schools with current discipline systems can be saved. It would be even better to be a multibillionaire!!

A huge amount of the school budget problem can be solved with good discipline in our schools. All other school problems are on the road to being solved when the discipline problem is fixed.

President Obama follow your “Race To The Top” program and you will be another George Bush, “No Child Left Behind”, type of president. Adopt and use a discipline plan that works, and you are on your way to becoming, the educational president of the twenty-first century.

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TEST

September 7, 2012

TEST

President Obama,

I worked hard for you in the last presidential election. I was one of the top five callers in your Texas Phone Bank for the 2008 Democratic Primary in Texas. Your book and speeches were inspirational. Here was a voice that wanted donations from the poor, huddled masses in order to take on the lobbyists, corporations, banks, and Wall Street. As a teacher, I was excited and could hardly believe that  there was a man in politics ready and willing to change education.

Three years later and little has changed. As Yogi Berra would say, ” It feels like deja vu all over again.” Or more  like George Bush all over again. The lobbyists are stronger than before. The banks, corporations, and Wall Street are as greedy as ever and have no ethics or morals in the pursuit of higher profits.

Schools and education are worst off under your administration. The NCLB of George Bush was continued. Arne Duncan and RTTT have been national disasters. On your watch, public schools have become bigger whipping boys for the nation’s problems. Worse of all, your solutions for public education come from the elitist and snob point of view, of a rich, private school graduate. The solutions offered by your administration has had little to no input from the people in public education. There is no way you would have championed your current education solutions if you had listened to public school teachers and administrators. Perhaps, the reason you did not listen is you only paid attention to the big money behind the solutions of Charter Schools, privatization, vouchers, testing, etc.

Now an election is nearing. I get messages that you want my support and money. You have rediscovered the common man.  You are speaking for and listening to the poor huddled masses.   Really!?!? Where have you been these past few years?  This sounds like deju vu all over again.

President Obama have you had an epiphany or are these more false promises?

Have you ever wished you could be Joe Clark? Do you wish you could go into an unsafe, out of control school and just like Joe Clark, bring that school under control and make that school safe?

The lead story on the local TV news was of big fights at one of the schools in the Spring ISD in Texas. These fights and hallway control issues have been going on for several months. The latest fight appeared to get so big and the students so unruly that a policeman felt compelled to use pepper spray.

TV interviews with parents indicated that their children were often afraid to go to school. The news media had found parents with stories about their children being bullied at school.  These parents were hoping and wishing that conditions in the school would improve. Parents also expressed their disappointment and frustration with the school, teachers, administrators, and the school district. They also expressed a will and desire to help solve the problem. Everyone involved in these school situations wants to solve the problem, but no on has the solution.

I understand your frustrations and discouragements. I have been through these experiences and emotions.

There is a way to solve these school problems. Joe Clark turned a tough, out of control, inner-city school into a safe and productive school. I have done the same thing. In the movie, Joe had the support and help of dozens of police officers. Who knows how much help he really had to solve these problems?   I received minimal to no help from school administrators, police officers, or teachers. I started walking the school hallways, using my school discipline plan in August and by December the school was under control, safe, and productive. The school no longer had a tardy problem. During that same period of time, I escorted three students to the AP’s office. How long did it take Joe Clark to bring the school under control? How many students had to be escorted to the office?  I would be willing to bet it took longer and many more students were run through the school discipline system.

I am no super man , but the school discipline system I created and used has superman qualities. The school discipline system is so simple and safe, parents can be invited in to help bring  a school under control. Teachers, administrators, and parents can work together and within a few weeks solve the discipline problems of your school. When a school solves the school discipline problem, that school has take the first step in solving all the other problems of the school.

Teachers, administrators, and parents no longer need to feel hopeless and frustrated about school discipline issues of bullying, tardiness, violence, or safety. Working together, using this school discipline plan, we can all become the ” Joe Clark’s” of our schools.

Recently in the news and politics of the day, the word entitlement has become a big word. Policemen, firefighters, and teachers have been labeled “entitled”.  Along with the label comes the inferences that these groups are fat, lazy, and not dedicated to their profession. Once these groups have been labeled fat, lazy, and unprofessional, the next natural progressions are the suggestions these groups are against capitalism and American ideals of hard work and democracy. Once again the word shift game has been played by the people with the power and money.

This happens quite often on the battlefields of education.  School districts and schools with the poorest children and the least resources are labeled as low-performing. The hardest working teachers and administrators in America are called entitled, lazy, unprofessional, and not dedicated to the students of  the United States. The students and parents of these schools end up with the same labels along with the tags- burden to society and a drain on our resources. These labels lead to the perception and belief that these people are getting what they deserve. There is also the perception these people are unable to raise themselves up by their own bootstraps.

My question to the the people at the top (with the money and power) is how can you call teachers, fireman, and police lazy and entitled when you have never worked these jobs?  Professions most of the 1% would quit in less than two years. The use of the word entitlement, however,  leaves the impression the people in these professions are undermining the core ethics of hard work, equal opportunity, and democracy.

In truth, who is really undermining the core values of the United States? Who in America is truly “entitled”? Bill Gates with your 56 billion are you working 56 million time harder than the average teacher, policeman, or firemen?  The Koch Brothers, Walton’s, investment bankers, etc. are you entitled to all this money?

The top 1% of the country, how can you really feel that you are entitled to 40% of the wealth of our country? Or do you hold the royal attitude that you deserve all this money? Do you hide your greed and entitlement behind the twin pillars of capitalism and democracy?

The United States of America needs a new and better system of capitalism. The business leaders, scholars, and professors need to devise a capitalist system  more aligned with the principles and freedom found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of  The United States. A capitalist system should be created, that does not allow wealth and power of the country to be concentrated in the hands of the few. A capitalist system that will not let  people have an excuse and justification for their greed. We need a system that provides the just environment and proper rewards for innovators, risk takers, etc. to keep capitalism healthy and vigorous. As capitalism is kept health and vigorous, strategies, philosophies, and laws must be created to more evenly distribute the money of these companies.

Let’s use Bill Gates and Microsoft as one possible scenario for new capitalist system. Perhaps Bill Gates would be allowed to accumulate no more than one billion dollars in personal wealth. One billion dollars should be enough to stimulate most innovators and risk takers. The other 55 billion, you are not entitled to keep, this wealth must be put back into your company, the people of your company, or investments in America. Perhaps, a billion of those 55 billion dollars could be used to bring together all segments of the United States to create a better system of capitalism?

Maybe the people of the United States need to play the entitlement word shift game. Why should owners and managers of corporations be allowed to believe that they are entitled to  company jets and perks, extravagant salaries, and huge bonuses? Especially when their companies are know to be life-sucking parasites of  employees, families,  American communities, and America ideals.

The offspring of  our United States billionaires are not entitled to inherit all those billions. They did not work for the money. Those billions should go back to the people of American to invest in making the United States better.

When corporations and billionaires hire lobbyists, buy elections, and run their companies as dictatorships, they should not be entitled to say they are defenders of the Constitution of The United States and democratic ideals. They should be the last to say others are unpatriotic or not loyal to the United States. Especially, if they move their business to another country that suppresses human rights and human dignity.

This entitlement word shift game can be played out in many different ways. The underlying premise is the wrong people and groups are being called “entitled”.  The billionaires, elected officials, and corporate leaders need to look internally if they want to find entitled people.

If we find the truly entitled people  in the United States, the next game we should play is the transfer of blame game about who is truly responsible for America’s economic problems.

Teachers of the Inner-City

October 28, 2011

Teachers of the inner-city, how many people truly understand your situation and your hardships? Where are the collective voices of America speaking up for you? How many of these antagonists and policy makers of public schools  spent hard years of labor in these schools? I will make a 100 to 1 bet,  not many of them have done so. If they had truly worked in a hard inner-city school, they would never try to solve America’s education problems with the solutions they offer. If  they had worked as teachers they would offer solutions that are more democratic in thought and purpose.

There is a strange dichotomy involved in the battle over public schools and educational issues. The people at the top of the education ladder ( a great many from private schools) have directed and controlled the policies, funding, and educational philosophies of our schools. They have contributed greatly to the present problems in education. These same people, who have never lived or experienced the hell created by their decisions, are quick to transfer the blame for the problem to the groups most effected. The people living the hell are blamed for the hell and should, therefore, accept new  decisions and policies for solving their problems without their input. If  the people at the top want” no child left behind,” then provide a level playing field with money, resources, facilities, and opportunities between suburban schools and inner-city schools. If you can not provide a level playing field, for any reason, then shut up and accept the blame for the problems.

The next strange dichotomy is the lack of  a unified voice and collective action by the groups suffering the most. One would think the person or groups in education, that suffer the most, would have a strong voice raised in protest. Only when a person has been in the stomach of the education dragon does one realize how difficult it can be to speak out, to question, or to effect change.

As a co-steward of the union at my school, I have seen many teachers lives and careers change drastically from saying “no” one time, or being defiant one time, to an administrator. How many teachers  working sixty hours a week, working multiple duty stations, volunteering to work outside school activities have been ostracized and criticized for saying no to another duty or activity? How many teachers have had their loyalty or dedication to their students questioned or doubted after refusing to do one more duty station?  Many teachers have found themselves on the fast track to poor classroom observations, floating teacher status, and removal from the school, after saying no one time? In such educational environments teachers and administrators have not found their collective voice or will. The very same teachers and administrators that encourage their students to question, to speak out, to stand tall, to challenge wrong can not do this for themselves, the schools, or their students.

One last strange dichotomy is perhaps the strangest of all. Public schools and teachers have become  the bedrock and foundation of our democratic society. The ideals, values, and hopes of liberty and democracy have been taught, learned, and transmitted by teachers throughout the world through our public schools. Our schools, school systems, and teachers have been the role model and hope for people and nations around the world for decades.

Our schools today have major problems. There is not one major problem, I know and believe, that can not be solved, by our  schools, when proper discipline is re-established in schools (read earlier posts). When real discipline is established in schools we can all work together to save our schools, our core values, and America.

But, who is stepping forward to save our schools, our core values, and America?  Business corporations, holding companies, and billionaires have stepped forward with solutions. What are the solutions they offer? They suggest and want privatization of public schools (Corporation values of success and profit) and constant testing as the only true indicators of  success and worth. What is the history and track record when business goals, values, and profit are mixed with democratic ideals and liberty? The picture that emerges is not always a pretty one.

Our forefathers wrote the Declaration Of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights as a response to the exploitation and suffering created by British Corporations. The American Revolution was a response to the power, greed, and exploitation of British Holding Companies.

The world experienced four hundred years of colonization, greed and profit taking. British Corporations have left hundreds of years of profit and loss statements in India. They also left  records of the vast suffering and millions of lives lost due to corporations greed, power, and profit margin.

How many revolutions in history and present day have had the underlying root cause, the  greed, power, profit margin, or human exploitation created by corporations?

Teachers of America, the time has come to stand up for ourselves and our basic freedoms. Only when we stand up to protect our rights and freedoms can we pass them on to the next generation.

Bullying is a hot button issue in America. The bullying problem, in schools, has grown larger over the decades. Every week or every few days another sad story of  a bullied student hits the air waves. Parents of bullied children are angry and frustrated. These same parents feel helpless and have little hope for any real change in the bullying problem. These same feelings are also felt by teachers, students, administrators, and community leaders. America, we don’t have to feel hopeless, frustrated and helpless when facing a bullying problem. All we have to do is learn how to bully a bully.

The first step in solving the bullying problem in schools is to bring back and establish good manners and mutual respect of others. Teachers and administrators must model and use good manners when working with students. When modeling and using good manners, the adults of a school can then demand that students use good manners in return. The same principle works with mutual respect, show respect to a student and you can expect and demand respect in return.

Students in today’s world are bombarded with negative role models and wrong behaviors through all the different medias and social networks. Too often the message is it is cool or acceptable behavior to be cruel and bullying. Students develop an attitude that they must be hard, unforgiving, and a bully to get by in school or accepted by other students. All too often this is the truth. Most schools do not know how to solve this bad behavior problem. When schools try to solve a behavior problem (bullying) with detentions, suspensions, conferences, etc. , bullied students know the bully will only come back  meaner, smarter, and more unrelenting than before. The downward cycle of  more bullying, being more afraid, more stressed out and feeling more helpless occurs to the victims of  the bully.  Bullies become more empowered and feel they are invincible. These cycles grow worse and eventually a tragedy occurs.

As manners  and mutual respect are demanded in a school a more confrontational stance against bad behavior and bullies must be adopted. Where bad behavior is seen, felt, or heard that behavior must be noticed, confronted, and dealt with. The Lecture and Pester process (previous post) must be used to confront bad behavior. Using Lecture and Pester an adult and student can work together to correct wrong thinking, wrong attitudes, and wrong behavior. The passive approach created by the Behaviorist Theory (previous post) must not be the main way to correct wrong behaviors.

A true bully thrives in an environment of constant turmoil and strife. Administrators, in too many schools, have too many problems and can not react to bully problems until some blood has been shed.

When good manners and mutual respect is demanded, bad behavior confronted, and the Lecture and Pester processes are used to change bad behavior while establishing self-discipline, 95-99% of  a school’s discipline and bullying problems will disappear from a school. The remaining 1-5% will find their bad behavior increasingly harder to maintain each and every school day of  the school year. Teachers and administrators can respond and pressure a bully about every wrong word, gesture, or terrorist threat made to any student. Bullies feel the pressure from constantly being scrutinized, challenged, and questioned about each wrong behavior. Bullies discover the need to change their behavior. When schools use these processes, schools will discover they can stop bullying by bullying the bully.

Paradigm Shift to 95%-99%

December 17, 2010

 

This blog is titled School Discipline Made Easy.  The title reflects a paradigm shift in thinking about discipline in the public school systems of America. If a person, school, or school district wants to make discipline made easy, they must believe that 95 to 99% of their students are capable of changing their behavior and capable of being good people.

Approach an administrator, teacher, parent, or student in an out-of-control, low-performing school and say that 99% of the student body is capable of good behavior and they will shake their head in disbelief. They wonder what mamby-pamby planet of make believe you are coming from. They live in a real world of overflowing AP offices, thousands of students being late to class, and hundreds of students walking the hallways throughout the school day. The coping mechanisms for these schools, and school districts are denial of a problem, minimize the problem, or turn a blind eye to the problem. When these coping mechanisms cease to work and pressure builds to solve the discipline problem the next step is to transfer blame for the problem  to other people or groups. The final result is everyone becomes frustrated, disillusioned, and mad at everyone else and the discipline problem grows worse. A downward cycle of worse discipline, more blaming, and transfer of blame to others is created. This downward cycle has been going on for decades. When one has a paradigm shift to the belief that 95-99% of students can change their behavior, that person begins to understand that our main school problem is not demographics, race relations, school budgets, student achievement, etc. These problems have become huge and unmanageable as a result of poor school discipline. Present day school discipline plans and discipline theories have gotten America into our present dilemma and sad state of circumstances.

Ask these same school groups what percentage of the student body are “good” students and the answer can range between 30 and 70 percent. When I went into the hallways of Austin High School, I felt if 80 percent of the student body would go to class, I had achieved a huge success. These low percentages reflect the results of  combining  Behaviorist Theory (see previous post) with discipline systems that are ineffective and inefficient. Our school discipline systems are ineffective and inefficient because they don’t deliver consequences that change student behavior in a timely manner, time after time.

What are the results of this bad school discipline problem? Downward cycles of less achievement, less cooperation, more frustration and anger are created.  Administrators, teachers, students and parents work harder and harder with less and less success, for their effort. Next, the different groups of the school become frustrated and upset about the poor school situation and blame each other.  Business leaders and Foundation Leaders seeing the dismal results and realizing schools  need to do better to compete in today’s world, enter the conflict. Unfortunately for America, most of these same leaders don’t have a true picture or understanding of what is happening in America’s schools. The solutions of privatization of schools, Charter Schools, more testing, firing of  “bad teachers”, etc. will only make our education problems worse. These solutions don’t go after or solve the core problem of American education, the discipline problem.

America, it is time to start some upward cycles of more discipline, more achievement, and more success. It is time to empower all stake holders and groups involved in America’s educational system. The downward cycles of the blame game and frustration must be replaced with upward cycles of cooperation and hope. We must make school discipline easy.

School discipline was hard when I first entered the hallways of Austin High School to solve the tardy problem. Students laughed at me when I took them to the AP’s office. Students had no respect for any authority figure or adult in the school and had no problem telling me they had no respect. Gangs, misfits, and troublemakers controlled the hallways, public areas, and cafeteria of the school. Administrators and police officers were overwhelmed with problems and rarely left their offices. Downward cycles of more discipline problems, more intimidation of adults, less respect of teachers and others occurred every day.

I had an epiphany that day as to  why we have these discipline issues occurring: schools were not providing consequences that changed student behavior. When consequences did not change behavior the school became overwhelmed with more and more problems of ever-increasing severity. In order to clear the halls I had to find consequences that changed student behavior. The solution, surprisingly, was simple. Teenagers hate to be lectured to about their behavior and what was expected of them, and then pestered time after time again, when they did not change their behavior. Students ran out of excuses. Good students (students that could change their behavior) disappeared from the hallways and went to class. The discipline process got faster and more efficient as there were fewer students in the hallways. The students in the hallway found it harder and harder to justify their behavior. The Lecture and Pester process was becoming more irritating and more demanding with each new exposure to the process. More and more students changed their behavior and the discipline process became faster, effective and efficient. The student attitude that they were tougher, smarter, sneaker, etc than the discipline system or the adults of the school was eliminated. A few weeks later there was no one in the hallways and no tardy problem. Teachers in the school noted that the students were much more respectful of teachers and more receptive to listening and learning. All of this change occurring without involving the administration or the school police. School discipline had become easy.

When school discipline became easy the paradigm shift that 95-99% of our students are good people took place. Only 1-5% of the student body needed to go through our school discipline system because they would not or could not change their behavior. Because of this paradigm shift, I have hope for a better future for education in America. When you realize that the discipline system is the underlying cause of our problems, you realize that we can all work together to solve 95-99% of our problems.



Teachers of America where are you? Where is our collective voice? Why do we allow others to define the problems of our education system without speaking out?  How are solutions to education problems put forth, which often do not work, with little or no voice from teachers?  Will we ever stand up together  and say enough is enough?

Teachers of America, I am calling  you out. We must step out of the classroom and speak up. If we don’t speak out and come together, the consequences will be dismal and tragic for U.S. schools. Only through strong collective teacher voices and actions can our education problems be solved. The “experts of education” can not solve our education problems, without a strong teacher voice. Quite likely, these ” experts  of  education” helped create most of the problems in our educational system. Only by thinking and working together can we come up with solutions and new paradigms on how to solve our education problems.

This blog offers new paradigms in thinking about teachers and educational problems. As a bonus, this blog identifies our main educational problem and offers a battle-tested solution to the problem. When the main educational problem is solved, we are on the road to solving all other education problems.

New paradigms about teachers and teaching must be created. The teaching profession is too easily divided by the tags of “Inner-City”,  “Low-Performing”, and “Bad Teachers”. Teachers in these environments need to stand up and speak out with pride about their struggles and accomplishments. The “Experts of Education” would not last six months in these situations or environments. However, these “experts” see “Teach for America” as the solution for these problems.

Suburban teachers: the next time you encounter an inner-city teacher say “Thank You” and give them a hug, or a handshake. Most suburban teachers would not last two years facing the hardships of inner-city teaching. Inner-city teachers are truly one of  America’s true unsung heroes. Inner-city teachers: it is time to stand up with pride and speak out.

The “Teacher Tags” within each school that divides teachers must be eliminated. Most “low-performing teachers” within a school would do well with Honors classes, and just as many high-performing teachers from Honors classes would be labeled low-performing, after teaching low-performing students. Of course, the “Experts of Education” will get rid of bad teachers by using the results of test scores.

Within each individual school, Honors teachers and low-performing teachers must come together with a united voice. Inner-city teachers and suburban teachers must work together to solve America’s education problems. Finger pointing and blaming each other for the problems in education has only made us less capable of solving these problems.


This blog  has new paradigms on how to look at the problems in education and teaching. This blog also provides possible solutions for most of America’s education problems. This blog is a small first step in the process of uniting teachers in common purpose and voice.

Calling Out Bill Gates

October 2, 2010

Bill Gates should be applauded for his interest and desire to improve education. He’s made a difference around the world and his achievements are commendable. However, his thinking and direction for solving educational problems are flawed. Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” The experts and ideas that Bill Gates has around him have created the present problems and situations in our schools. Although Bill Gates had to go outside of the conventional box of thinking to create his empire, his current solutions and ideologies to solving educational problems are exactly the opposite — they are “in the box.”

New ideas and paradigms of thinking are required to solve our present educational problems. Currently, the knowledge and wisdom of the people in low-performing schools is not being utilized. Has it ever occurred to anyone that in order to solve problems you must first go to the ones who live them everyday — the teachers, the students, the parents?

There is a way to solve most of the major school problems America faces today. We cannot do it in our old ways of thinking. It requires something new. In my opinion, building a grassroots approach to solving these problems is desperately needed. If we cannot solve the problems from the “top”, then we are going to have to start from the roots and work our way up.

I  worked and lived in the inner-city, low-performing school situations for 11 years. I have seen these problems first-hand and it’s why I write this blog. It’s why I am passionate about seeing effective discipline implemented throughout American schools.

So, I challenge you, Bill Gates.  I challenge you on your position in education and how you believe the problems of our schools can be solved. Your ways will not solve the core problems. More charter schools, more testing, and eliminating the “bad teachers” are not the ways we will see America’s schools thrive. The problem with our schools is school discipline, and we can solve that by implementing an effective school discipline system.

I call you out, Bill Gates. Let me and you go to a low-performing school, and with the help of 4-6 administrators and 8 parents, change that school into a safe and productive school that is on it’s way to success. Along the way, you will discover that over 90% of the students, parents, teachers, and administrators are good, hard-working people.

Overall, I believe that you will have new thoughts and paradigms on how to truly solve our educational problems while saving millions of dollars each year. Millions of dollars that can be put into educating the future generation rather than putting money into solutions that won’t solve anything.

It is possible. The future is bright.