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Corporate driven public education reform is destroying OUR children’s health and future

I was reading the latest issue of National Geographic Magazine when I saw the following paragraph and realized that the test obsessed corporate public education reform movement is threatening the health and future of most of America’s children.

Daniel Stone wrote, “Hard on the Eyes: Rates of myopia have increased around the world, particularly in Asia. In China about 90 percent of 17-to-19-year-old are nearsighted, up from an estimated 10 percent in the 1950s. Myopia is pandemic in the U.S. too, reports the National Eye Institute. Once thought to affect bookish children, nearsightedness is no believed to ‘arise form a lifestyle of not just too much study but of too little time outdoors,’ says researcher Ian Morgan. Glasses can clear up vision, but exposure to sunlight seems to be the best defense. A 2013 study in Taiwan found that spending school recess outside can prevent myopia’s onset.” – National Geographic Magazine, February 2016

There’s a lot more information out there that supports traditionally known methods of educating our children and little or no reputable support for the test obsessed rank-and-punish corporate system that billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates funds with hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars to force autocratic, opaque, for profit corporate education methods on us and our children.

For instance, “Too much testing is killing recess” –  Miami Herald.com

5 Health Benefits of Playing Outside –  Care.com

  1. Improves Vision
  2. Promotes Social Skills
  3. Increases Attention Span
  4. Reduces Stress
  5. Provides Vitamin D

And there is more, a lot more:

“We are experiencing a cultural shift toward increased academics at the earliest possible age,” says Rhonda Clements, Ed.D., a professor of education at Hofstra University and president of the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play. The organization, part of the International Play Association, formed in 1973 with the mission of “protecting, preserving and promoting play as a fundamental right for all children.” Since then, it has become a leading advocate of preserving recess in schools.

Susan Ohanian was inspired to write the book What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? when she read a 1998 New York Times article detailing the fact that Atlanta was building a new school without a playground. Then-Superintendent of Atlanta Schools Benjamin O. Canada explained the policy this way: “We are intent on improving academic performance. You don’t do that by having kids hanging on the monkey bars.” – parenthood.com

“Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said.” – ucla.edu

“11 problems caused by the standardized testing obsession” –  washingtonpost.com

  1. The obsession with high-stakes standardized tests is stifling creativity and imagination in the classroom.
  2. Standardized tests are being used in high-stakes ways to evaluate and punish teachers.
  3. The obsession with standardized tests is promoting a culture of cheating in many schools.
  4. When standardized tests are the most important thing, the fostering of critical thinking in the classroom gets short shrift.
  5. Standardized tests mostly benefit companies making millions from them.

A Kindergartner’s Nightmare: Is this education? Is this what we want for our children and grandchildren? – seattleducation2010

“Today, more than a decade later, the law (that supports high stakes testing) is uniformly blamed for stripping curriculum opportunities, including art, music, physical education and more, and imposing a brutal testing regime that has forced educators to focus their time and energy on preparing for tests in a narrow range of subjects: namely, English/language arts and math. For students in low-income communities, the impact has been devastating. – neatoday.org

Positive Effects of Extra Curricular Activities on Students – dc.cod.edu

“Extracurricular activities are activities that students participate in that do not fall into the realm of normal curriculum of schools. They are found in all levels of our schools. There are many forms of extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, governance, student newspaper, music, art, and drama. Extracurricular activities are totally voluntary so students that do not want to participate in them do not have to. Lunnenburg states in his article that “Extracurricular activities serve the same goals and functions as the required and elective courses in the curriculum. However, they provide experiences that are not included in formal courses of study. They allow students to apply the knowledge that they have learned in other classes and acquire concepts of democratic life.”(2010, 2) Extracurricular activities have many positive effects on education. The positive effects that extracurricular activities have on students are behavior, better grades, school completion, positive aspects to become successful adults, and a social aspect.”

Education Inc.: How Private Companies Profit from Public Schools – commondreams.org

“For statewide testing in Texas alone, the company (Pearson) holds a five-year contract worth nearly $500 million to create and administer exams.” … “The mingling of business and education blurs the line between learning and profit-making. Some education reformers advocating for increased reliance on testing also lobby for the large testing companies. It’s often difficult to tell if lawmakers stick with education policies because they’re effective, or because they’re attached to high-dollar contracts.

“The emphasis on testing opened the door to more for-profit companies. In addition to the big testing contracts, No Child Left Behind requires schools that fail to meet requirements three years in a row to offer free tutoring. Companies soon rushed in to fill the need. By 2008, according to a PBS documentary, tutoring for standardized tests amounted to a $4 billion industry. Charter schools can subcontract their entire operations to for-profit companies.”

In conclusion: if you have read this far, who do you think benefits from corporate driven public education reform—funded by a few billionaire oligarchs, like Bill Gates, the Walton family and the Koch brothers—our children or the corporations and names behind the systematic destruction of community based, democratic, non-profit, transparent public education?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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