Press Release (RP)

Sochi, Krasnodar Krai (RP) - The now-disbanded "Voting Integrity Commission" launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of major voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday. Once translated into English, the documents revealed that the highly-touted team, led by Russian mathematician Gregor Yukuvlevich Perlman, discussed the possibilities for over an hour at each of the bimonthly meetings that ran from January through March in the picturesque resort town overlooking the Black Sea.

The conclusion that no major fraud occurred seems to have left a void of information about whether minor voter fraud occurred, what the difference between major and minor voter fraud might be and how well major and minor translate into Russian. When questioned about this discrepancy the translator had to excuse herself for personal reasons, and Perlman - whose ability to speak English tends to fluctuate - was unable to effectively communicate well enough to finish the press conference.

Washington, DC (RP) - A "Federal Commission on School Safety" has been launched by the Trump administration in response to the increasing number of tragedies involving guns, students and teachers. Department of Education Chief Betsy DeVos announced that the newly-formed commission will not look at the role of guns in school violence, disregarding the fact that so far in 2018, at the rate of one incident per week, school shootings have caused the death of at least thirty-seven students and adults, as well as at least thirty-one serious injuries.

The Education Honcho also is seeking to eliminate 29 discretionary programs and declares that "our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level." In other words, 'Instead of working to make education more effective by consolidating and standardizing and regulating our nation's education at the national level, I choose to continue to cop out, put my head in the sand, be a traitor to the very concept of education and admit that dutifully doing the job I am being paid to do is way beyond me or anyone on my team.'

Menlo Park, CA (RP) - Mark Zuckerberg was admitted into Stanford Hospital today suffering from stress-induced heart palpitations after an historic and impassioned plea from President Obama has reduced traffic on facebook by more than half! In his twenty-minute address on national TV, President Obama masterfully explained how the Russians were able to affect our last election and how they might be planning to again interfere in what may be the most important election in our nation's history.

Our forty-fourth president also detailed how Zuckerberg and others have amassed fortunes by duping America and the world into being his product, for which he pays nothing, while selling them and selling to them. Obama's pleas to not log into facebook at least until after the election have hit home with a large percentage of the electorate, leaving facebook personnel reeling, as this company built on little more than air and an idea possesses nothing tangible upon which to stand.

NYC, NY (RP) - Roger Goodell delivered his "State of the League" address yesterday, emphasizing the strength and health of the NFL. The bewildered Commissioner focused on player safety, claiming "We can remove the violence from an inherently violent game without adversely affecting the product", comparing the negligibly noticeable difference between drinking a non-alcoholic beer and imbibing in your favorite draught. This, about a game in which one of the primary goals is to hurl a participant to the ground against their will.

Goodell also defended his continued attempts to place a team in London in hope of securing his legacy as the Commissioner that made football a global sport, despite the clear indications that Europe loves soccer, few NFL players want to live in England, the 'N' in 'NFL' stands for 'National' or that the sport -while still popular - is clearly in decline, making further expansion a fool's game.

Washington, DC (RP) - Protests unlike any we have seen since the days of Nixon hiding in his office and peering at America's youth through parted curtains continue in DC as thousands of demonstrators chanted "Real News. Fake President." The group repeated the mantra for close to twelve non-stop hours today before finally breaking for the evening.

An eerie feeling of a creepy Halloween tinted the day, as trump masks, memes, altered photos and a wave of orange wigs dotted and decorated the landscape. It was reported that upon viewing the uprising the president's initial response was to claim a win for himself, seeing it as a sign that America unmistakably loves him and his hair! Accordingly, plans to construct a one-panel White House Walk of Fame with a new bigger star commemorating trump's achievements during and before his time in the White House were quickly drawn and funded; construction has begun.

School is for Winning

"I don' wanna go to school!"

How many times was that phrase uttered across America today? And how can we be failing our children to that degree? Children are nothing but curiosity! They are literally programmed for learning. How has the very institution set up to feed that curiosity and facilitate that learning become a place that often engenders icky feelings, scared feelings and sometimes even defeated feelings for our children? Really - what the hell are we doing?

As our nation emerged from colonies to country, educating our young was a local affair, each community raising a building and money to meet local needs. Often, simply being able to read and write qualified one to be a teacher. There were no books about child psychology … heck, the term psychology wasn't coined until 1879! 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' were the watchwords of the day, and children being children was dealt with at school the way it was at home - punitively. The fact that four hundred years later we are employing the same Puritanical values and approach to education in spite of the fact that we have read Piaget and Skinner and Bandura is a granite testament to the power of the status quo and the keepers thereof.

We have got to stop telling kids that they failed. No more!
Education must be about winning.

The standard A through F grading system was devised at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts in 1897. Originally the lowest grade at Mount Holyoke was an 'E', however after one year administrators purposely changed the failing grade to 'F', and so it has been since. These grades don't help anyone but college admissions officers and overall they do far more damage than good - especially in elementary school. Considering all we have achieved and learned and undertaken in the last one hundred and twenty years, any system or procedure that was initiated in 1897 and is still in use is certainly worth examining and reevaluating.

We must get beyond the well-intentioned but silly idea that all children should be treated the same and given the same opportunities. It sounds nice, but it serves to limit many children by necessarily including them in classes or activities for which they are truly not qualified or interested, as the classes and/or activities for which they are qualified or interested do not exist. Additionally, and more damaging, it mandates that all children be forced onto the same academic path, the status quo endorsing the notion that it is the only path, where they are measured and ranked in relation to each other.

We don't actually want our children to be treated the same and given the same opportunities - we want our children to be treated as special and unique creatures, with opportunities provided for them to grow into the best them that they can be. It is important to acknowledge that for the majority of our youth, the best them that they can be is not going to include advanced knowledge or understanding of the classidemics - math, science or literature, and THAT'S OK!!!

It is absurd that the word intelligence is typically applied exclusively to those with an aptitude for the classidemics. Everyone is intelligent! Everyone has an aptitude for something: art, engines, computer code, cooking, music, mechanics … what are you good at? Are you not intelligent? Instead of telling students who do not possess an aptitude for the classidemics that they are not intelligent, let's help them discover the area/topic/subject(s) in which they have an aptitude/intelligence and then nurture that gift.

Of course the curriculum still needs to include readin', writin' and 'rithmetic, as well as geography and computers and music and art! When report card time comes around, there needs to be only one column for each subject, into which teachers will provide a subjective assessment of the student's effort ranging from 0 to 10. Here's why that is better than A through F:

Jordan is someone we would (cruelly) call a 'C Student', meaning she does not have a strong aptitude for the classidemics and her results on standardized tests place her directly in the middle of the curve. She pays attention and does her homework but cannot seem to score higher than a C. If we continually give her report cards with a letter grade C for math, despite her honest and sincere efforts, she may very well get discouraged, think less of herself, be told she is less by others and stop trying. If we continually give her report cards with a ranking of 8 or 9 for effort in math, due to her honest and sincere efforts, she wins and she continues to make efforts. Either way, she knows no more or less math in the end!

So instead of trying to force X amount of a course curriculum into a student's brain, the goal would be for the student to learn as much of the curriculum as they can effectively process, retain, and use; which in many cases will be more than they would have accomplished by struggling through the entire curriculum. Why not let them have this knowledge and a win, instead of the same knowledge and a feeling of being 'less than' or 'average'?

A lack of effort or caring is one thing, but to tell a young person that tried their best to do something that they are not naturally inclined to do, that they 'failed', is like kicking the dog for not being able to fly. Let's please stop penalizing kids for not doing well in subjects we knew they wouldn't do well in before they cracked the book. At the very least, grade A through E again and ditch the 'F'.

We've got to employ new methods.
Education can now be effectively personalized.

Things have changed. A lot. They always do. Styles, music, words - all alive and evolving. Fifty years ago, a popsicle meant a Twin Pop. The Twin Pop was meant to be divided. It had two sticks and an indentation in the center that made it very easy to split it in half - to share.

There was one TV in the house and watching it was a family activity. You shared not only the program, but the time together to laugh and maybe cry and sometimes learn a bit. Most families shared one phone, and some folks shared that on a party-line with their neighbors! Young people shared their music via fifteen inch woofers that could be heard around the block, and sharing the old bench car seats could make a night at the submarine races magical. Society was in a sharing mindset. We're not now. We are very much about the individual - except at school.

Today's young people have their own phone - a device that is also a personal TV, radio and stereo. Popsicles are a treat for one and bucket seats have aided the love life of no one. We are a 'pay attention to me', 'pay attention to my kid', 'pay attention to my blog' society. This is how today's children are growing up, it is what is normal for them, and the way we try to teach them must adjust to the unstoppable trend.

Learning through the use of video presentations/documentaries, interactive software applications, podcasts of lectures and other resources already at the students' fingertips can all be effective, especially if followed up with discussion, and can free up that teacher to give personal attention where needed. Such autonomous learning also allows students to advance at their pace, not hampered by students with different aptitudes, and enables all students to pursue studies in the area(s) in which they excel/have interest. Available resources make independent and small group projects/learning more feasible than ever, and at an earlier age than ever. The ability to interact with schools and students across the globe presents almost infinite possibilities.

However, none of these modes of learning fit into the classic shared learning space, schoolroom model. Will we adapt proactively and give our young people a step up in the world, or will we continue to complain about property taxes and underpay teachers and underfund schools and lag even further behind the rest of the world? Again, what the hell are we doing?

Which brings us back to where we started. So how does any of this make kids want to go to school?

The social reasons (kid issues) that might keep children from wanting to go to school can, in the allotted space, be only mentioned, acknowledged and left for another blog. The academic reasons (grown-up issues) that might keep children from wanting to go to school will surely be lessened if we do away with A through F, allow and encourage students to nurture their unique intelligence and stop making students wrong when they've tried.

The pressure from parents and teachers and grandparents to "do well in school" is misguided. It is hard to live up to and hard to achieve and is the wrong measure. By replacing "Are you doing well (getting good grades) in school?" with "What are you learning?" or "Are you giving it your best effort?" or "How do you feel about your progress?", 16% fewer children will resist going to school.

Remove the pressure from parents to bring home a report card with "all A's and B's" or whatever the household standard is, and another 19% fewer kids want to stay home today. Be proud and happy when your child learns, regardless of how much or little or what grade was given, and 11% fewer children will become anxious when they have to go to school. Enable, empower and encourage students to spend part of their day exploring and learning about things that interest them, and 26% fewer students will feel yukky in their tummy tomorrow morning.

People that win usually enjoy it and want to win again. Students that win in school will want to go to school. Anything is easier said than done, but it really is simple.

Equipped with all we now know about psychology, the history of education in America and its results and about currently available technology, how can we not shake this four-hundred-year-old punitive, pressure-filled, unthinking, often cruel, sometimes demoralizing approach and begin to educate 21st century children as though we are living in the 21st century?

Are we going to be able to adapt or are we just not as clever as we think we are? Can we find a crowbar big enough to squeak open our wallets and fund schools like responsible citizens who care about our children? Can we be brave enough to decide to make school about children winning?

"C'mon Mom - I don' wanna be late for school." That's what we want to hear!

A graduate of Portland State University, Steve (Reeno) Kloser is the author of Beginning Band - A Guide to Success and Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including La Vida and Fly With Me.

Teacher, cook, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new.

Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.

Follow Reeno on Twitter

Some Will Go To College - All Will Go Through Life complete as a .pdf
School is for Winning
as a .pdf

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