Jul 26, 2014

The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

Run for your lives.

The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

Teach your children well… Crosby, Stills & Nash
What we have here is a failure to communicate –
Cool Hand Luke
All we have to fear is fear itself  -
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing -

Well, well, well.  So they’re teaching Chinese music at Reed Intermediate School. , you’d think they were displaying  People’s Republic of China flags all  over the place and having kids walk around muttering timeless platitudes from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book!

But seriously folks…

The  sad thing about all of this is that the superintendent and the Board of Education could have defused the whole situation very easily. 

In the short term they could have simply explained that since we live in an ever-closer global community and since China is an extremely influential part of that community, it’s important for  future generations to have an understanding of various cultures.  The Age of Isolationism is done, over, fini.  There is no return. You need to get over it.

Considering the fact that music is an extremely important part of any culture, it logically follows that our schools would be exploring that.

As anyone who cares to take the time to view the district’s social studies curriculum (posted on the district’s web site and available to the public in every school), the music program is fully aligned with other disciplines.

An explanation along these lines could then be easily tied into a reminder that this is precisely the kind of thing teachers spend in service days doing—aligning and integrating curriculum, designing programs, evaluating the current research relating to these matters, etc.

In the long term the board and superintendent’s strategy should have been to keep the public informed all along. 

Issues such as teacher in service, integration of curriculum and the efficacy of new programs should never come as a surprise to anyone.   There needs to be an ongoing, concerted effort to keep the public apprised of what’s going on in the schools. 

Shouldda, couldda, wouldda…

Complicating this whole mess is the board and superintendent’s self-imposed journey into irrelevant territory.

Consider this excerpt from the Patch article: Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said officials would have embraced a foreign language rotation but there wasn’t money for such a teacher at Reed.

So instead they settle for second, or third, best -- a relatively cheap music program.  The teacher conducting this program is an experienced and highly regarded professional.  Imagine how she must have felt after hearing Robinson’s absurd remark.

Discussions in this context regarding things like foreign language or science are irrelevant.  Why did they even go there?

The music program in question is not a second choice.  It stands on its own merits.  It is equal to, not subordinate to, any other discipline.  Skills such as writing process, mathematics, history, English, etc. can and will be drawn into it. That’s one of the objectives of professional development days.

But you all knew that, right?  Wrong.  You didn’t know that because little effort has been made to keep you in the loop.

This whole mess is yet another example of one of the many things this board, and administration, simply doesn’t seem to understand.  The more people know and understand, the more likely they will be to accept and embrace your ideas.

Until someone finally ‘gets’ this, here’s what you can do to keep yourselves informed.

Go to the district’s web site and check out the curriculum at any given level.  While you’re there, navigate to the teachers’ web pages and view them along with links to blogs where they are provided.

Finally, here are two other blogs worth viewing:


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