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Putting His Money Where his Jump Shot Is (Casey Lartigue)

DC Education Blog links to an article about NBA star Gilbert Arenas pledging to donate $100 for every point he scores at Washington Wizards home games this season.

According to the NBA’s Web site: “The money will help schools pay for computers, athletic uniforms, and equipment, and fund after-school programs. According to the Washington Wizards’ website, team chairmen Abe and Irene Pollin will be doing the same for every Wizards road game. For every point Arenas scores in away games, the Pollins will give $100 to an area school.”

Arenas, who averaged 30.4 points per game at home games last year, would give local schools $124,640 if he scored at that pace this year. If Arenas really gets on a roll and averages the NBA full season record average of 50.4, set by Wilt Chamberlain, Arenas could end up giving schools $206,640. The schools can track his performance and see how much money they will get. Wizards chairman Abe Pollin and his wife Irene will match Arenas’ offer by giving $100 for each point he scores in road games.

What I’m about to say in no way is meant to discourage Arenas from doing what he wants with his money. After all, if I had any influence over how he allocated his money, I would tell him to give it to me. This is for the next philanthropist, in an NBA uniform or not, who is looking to contribute–or for Arenas, just in case he might be seeking an opinion from someone who has a differing view.

A few problems with the generous offer from Arenas:

  • A positive trend in the field of education is to have the money follow the child. Arenas would be giving his money to schools rather than directly to children. Why give

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Let’s Take Back Schools from ‘Non-Students’ (William K. Richardson)

As a young teacher at Riverview Middle School entering my third year in the classroom back in 1994, I knew—despite my inexperience—what the number one problem of the perpetually underperforming Memphis City Schools was: the deviant, dysfunctional, disrespectful, indecent and even criminal behavior exhibited daily by a large percentage of the students. In a guest column I wrote for The Commercial Appeal at the time, I called for the school system to expel these “non-students,” for whom normal behavior is a rare occurrence and appears to be an alien concept.

Twelve years later, do I still feel the same? Yes, more than ever!  Several superintendents and their various “innovative” strategies to improve the system have not worked.  The No Child Left Behind Act makes demands that are impossible to achieve at many schools; the horrible conduct of the “non-students” will not allow for such.  The much-heralded Blue Ribbon Plan has done nothing to stem the tidal wave of dysfunction and counterproductivity heaped upon teachers (and “real” students) each day.  The recent decision to hire adults to monitor school hallways will do little, if anything, to alter the chaotic climate at many of the city’s middle and high schools.

Simply put, the Memphis City Schools (MCS) system has a thug problem.  Now, I do hear the collective “Duh!” from readers of this column and many other MCS teachers, but therein lies the problem: an awareness and even acceptance of this disturbing fact. I refuse to accept this fact.

The Blue Ribbon Plan is an utter failure.  Spending precious funds to force a teacher to kiss the backside of the Crip who just called the teacher a “weak-a– b-tch”—or in my case, a “bald white motherf—er”—is demeaning and makes a mockery of a school’s purpose.  The disciplinary policies of MCS have no teeth,

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An Australian National Curriculum? (Dr. Kevin Donnelly)

Now that agreement has been reached that Australia will have a national curriculum, the next question is: “What will such a curriculum look like and how will it be developed?”  How we answer this question is crucial.

Those who remember the last attempt to develop a national curriculum, under the federal Keating government in the early 1990s, will understand that designing a national curriculum is far from easy.

In fact, such were the attacks on the then national curriculum that Australia’s education ministers refused to endorse the national curriculum documents at their 1993 meeting.

This first attempt at designing a national curriculum was attacked as offering a politically correct, ‘dumbed down’ and mediocre set of standards. 

Especially in the key areas of maths and science, professional bodies around Australia argued that the national curriculum was a ‘disaster’ and ‘substantially flawed’.

More recently Bruce Wilson, the head of Australia’s Curriculum Corporation, admitted that the first attempt to design a national curriculum represented, and I quote: “ an unsatisfactory political and intellectual compromise”.

How can we ensure that history does not repeat itself and that, once again, we end up with a failure?

Firstly, we need to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and make sure that they are not repeated. Instead of adopting education ‘fads’ like ‘whole language’ and ‘fuzzy maths’ we need rigorous, academic standards.

Instead of destroying history and literature by reducing education to a child-centred, process approach we need to identify essential knowledge, understanding and skills that all students have the right to learn.

Secondly, we need to identify ‘best practice’ in terms of what is happening internationally.  Academics and teachers in the USA argue, to be successful, that curriculum should:

  • Be related to specific year levels instead of covering a range of years;
  • Acknowledge the central importance of the academic disciplines;
  • Be ‘benchmarked’ against world’s best equivalent

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