Jeffco Schools won a federal grant for 32.7 million dollars (and Colorado Springs for 15.1 million dollars), over five years, to reward teachers for improving achievement, teaching in tough schools, teaching tough subjects or to tough populations, and taking on leadership roles in their buildings, as well as to fund professional development and classroom support for individuated instruction, all in schools in with a large percentage of low income students (

That’s all fine and good, and it can only help, but it’s not an approach which goes to the heart of the problem. It concerns me to see continued and increasing focus on the same old mechanistic, reductionist approach to public education that has persistently and increasingly failed for generations now. Education is a challenge which involves what goes on in the home, what goes on in the community, and what goes on in the media, as well as what goes on in the schools. And it is an endeavor that requires great attention to the unmeasurable foundations of the human imagination, in order to build strong measurable edifices upon it.

I have no objection to this approach as one tool in the toolbox, but if we’re going to start giving school districts sudden boons of millions of dollars to get it right, let’s give it to them to teach parents how to better play their part, and to involve the community in a more holistic, day-and-week-and-year-and-life long shared enterprise. Let’s use it to address the problem where it resides, in our homes and communities, in our astoundingly rampant anti-intellectualism, in the soil in which we hope these little saplings of human consciousness will grow. Because it doesn’t matter how sophisticated the growing lights you turn their way; if their planted in bone dry and depleted Earth, they’re potential is limited at its very roots.

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