Tim Slekar moved not long ago from Penn State-Altoona to Edgewood College in Wisconsin, a small Catholic liberal arts college.

In both places, he has been a firebrand, fighting to restore common sense to the national dialogue and to promote respect for educators.

Tim has made videos, podcasts, a radio show, run for school board (in Pennsylvania), and done whatever he could to draw attention to the outrageous attacks on public education by extremists governors and legislators (such as those in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin).

Tim is a no-holds-barred fighter for justice and the American way, or what the American way should be–liberty and justice for all. Tim knows that a decent society does not tolerate the extremes of wealth and poverty that have become part of our national fabric in the past few decades.

He is fearless and does not hide behind academic jargon.

A 30-year attack has worked to erode the legitimacy of the public education system. And teachers are taking much of the blame for the stark findings of the data now pulled from classrooms, he says.

“We’re absolutely horrible at educating poor minority kids,” says Slekar. “We absolutely know that.”

But neither the so-called reformers, nor many more casual observers, want to talk about the real reason for the disparities in achievement, Slekar says, which is poverty.

“That’s not an excuse, it’s a diagnosis,” he says, quoting John Kuhn, a firebrand Texas superintendent and activist who, at a 2011 rally, suggested that instead of performance-based salaries for teachers, the nation institute merit pay for members of Congress.

“If we were willing to start looking at things like hunger, homelessness and lack of access to books,” Slekar says, “we would do more to attack the achievement gap and spend less money than we’re spending on computer driven tests and all these reforms that we know we don’t work. When you continue to design a system that says ‘look at these bad teachers,’ I say look at these social structures that keep teachers from being successful.”

Slekar ridicules the “ass-backwards notion that we’re going to end poverty by taking poor kids and educating them – then they’ll lift themselves out of poverty. That happens, but it’s very rare. And what you are saying when you say that is that we’ll allow a child to live in poverty for 18 years while we ‘educate’ them. That’s unacceptable.”

Even worse, Slekar says, is using low test scores by poor kids on reading and math as an excuse to withhold from them the very aspects of school experience that might help them lift themselves from poverty. And it’s no accident, he says.

 

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/speaking-up-madison-s-education-academics-get-involved-in-the/article_9f74c7b7-fcc7-5d74-8156-93e401fea1ee.html#ixzz2sTNNWSE5