"A country [institution] without intellectuals is like a body wihout a head."
"The essence of government is power, and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will even be liable to abuse."
With few heads in the mix, education falls prey to the hands of greedy administrations, backed by greedy unions, greedy businesses and greedy universities. Hence we have organized crime. Is it any wonder that educators prioritize disposing of intelligent teachers with the integrity and courage to do what is right?
WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES: DOOMED TO FAILURE WITH THE FINANCIAL BLESSINGS OF THE PUBLIC
Strong Leaders Won't Save our Schools
by Jerry Jesness
Monday, September 11, 2000
An entrepreneur who discharges competent employees in order to surround himself with sycophants likely will find his business on shaky ground or perhaps even in bankruptcy. There is no such consequence for a school administrator who does the same.
But unless schools become truly part of the free-market system, principals with absolute power to hire and fire will more closely resemble the factory managers of the former Soviet Union than executives of American corporations.
If the market determines that a strongman's school merits customers, that is great. But we should not simply put a chainsaw in the hands of our educational bureaucrats and let them run roughshod over captive staffs. We must have competent teachers in order to have good schools, and a system that leaves the fate of teachers in the hands of one or two individuals will not attract our best and brightest into the classroom.
"When resting in safety, do not forget that danger may come."
Many of you saw the movie based on an inspiring teacher, Jaime Escalante. What you probably do not know is that Escalante was pushed out of the system in spite of, or probably because of, his talents to change children's lives. Jesness has written about this American tragedy, pointing out the true agenda of our public schools - it is not about our children.
Stand and Deliver Revisited
The untold story behind the famous rise -- and shameful fall -- of Jaime Escalante, America's master math teacher.
By Jerry Jesness
This leaves would-be school reformers with a set of uncomfortable questions. Why couldn't Escalante run his classes in peace? Why were administrators allowed to get in his way? Why was the union imposing its "help" on someone who hadn't requested it? Could Escalante's program have been saved if, as Gradillas now muses, Garfield had become a charter school? What is wrong with a system that values working well with others more highly than effectiveness?
Blame Business Too
by Jerry Jesness
Monday, November 20, 2000
It was obvious from both the inappropriateness of the selections and the low quality of the teachers' manual that the publisher had been more concerned with buying the endorsements of contributors than with producing a decent ESL textbook. Shady business practices in dealing with schools are of course not limited to textbook publishers. In my experience, computer companies, among others, have also done more than their share to rip off taxpayers.
In 1991 my district bought a network of sixteen computers with 8086 processors, sans hard drives. The entry-level computer at that time was the 386, available in stores from about $1700, including a thirty meg hard drive. One could still find a few 286's in computer stores, but 8086's could only be found in clearance stores, flea markets, and at close-out auctions. Nevertheless, our school district paid about $2000 per unit.
When a teacher expressed concern that the 8086 processors would be too weak, the salesperson lied that it was only the speed of the file server, not that of the stations, that mattered. When another requested 1.44 meg floppy drives, the company agreed to provide them, only to later replace them with 720k drives after we discovered that the 1.44's would not work with an 8086 processor.
The computer purchase was intended for use instructing recent immigrants who were only beginning to speak English. The software package, however, was a generic language arts package written for native speakers. After I explained to my principal that I had little use for such a system, he explained that, since our superiors were sold on the system, we had to take the package as it was, overpriced and loaded with software that was of little use. The principal offered to find me $7000 for additional software, and there were a number of quality ESL programs on the market, but I had to pass on the best because our new computers were not powerful enough to run them.
While calling around the computer company trying to get information that our paid trainers should have provided, I was told by a technician that the company hadn't sold computers with 8086 processors in some time. When I told him the product name and model number, he replied, "We only sell that model to schools." I sincerely hope that his company someday bankrupts beneath the weight of an inadequately trained workforce.
Such abuses no doubt continue. A fool and his money are soon parted, but a fool with the taxpayers' money is a salesman's dream. Nevertheless, it should behoove all of us, employees and vendors alike, to put selfish interest aside in dealing with institutions as important as our schools. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, this is one group of suckers who should be given an even break.
Jerry Jesness is a very special Special Education teacher in a south Texas elementary school. His email address is:firstname.lastname@example.org. If we only had more teachers with his courage, we could stop teacher abuse and our children might be receiving an appropriate education. Meanwhile, let NAPTA take you through OZ and find that courage so we can all pull back the curtain on the Wizards running our schools and realize we always had it all within us.
"Stories of courage start with one person who kindles the light within him- or herself, before sparking hope and faith in others."
Rabbi Shoni Labowitz
"When there is no vision, the people will perish."
"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened."