Tag Archives: schools

Unwarranted Demise of Mar Vista Middle School

27 Mar

In February, while attending a science teacher’s professional development at Mar Vista High School, I first heard the rumor that Mar Vista Middle School (MVM) was going to be closed, all of its staff dismissed and the school reopened as a charter school. Since 1961, this venerable institution has been a treasure in the poverty stricken neighborhood situated one mile north of the world’s busiest border crossing (San Diego-Tijuana). At the March 11, 2013 board meeting (Sweetwater Union High School District) the rumor was confirmed, a restructuring plan for MVM was approved. Or as one person observed, “they legally stole an asset belonging to a poor community for their own purposes.”

This is modern American school reform and truthfully speaking, no one knows what is really motivating the Sweetwater School Board. Oddly, Thomas J. Winters, the current principal of MVM, a man with only one year of experience as a principle was tasked with making the decision about which restructuring plan to select. He chose from available alternatives specified in education law “close the school and reopen it as a focus or theme schools [sic] with new staff or staff skilled in the focus area.” (1) So, a high quality staff, which in most cases had spent more than a decade providing heroic service to one of San Diego counties poorest neighborhoods, was to be relieved of their positions. They were guilty of working in a poor neighborhood! The enormity of cynical school reform for profit and self-promotion is beyond injustice.

The Elementary and Secondary Education ACT of 1965 as amended in 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) specifies that schools which fail to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for five years shall be punished and mandates a menu of remedies. MVM had failed to reach AYP from the very inception of this law bringing it the dubious record of being labeled a failure by the federal government for ten straight years. Many local residents, especially those with no direct involvement with the school, believed what they were repeatedly hearing about this “failing school” – “the problem is bad teachers unwilling to change.” Even teachers from across town who do not work with students of poverty or significant numbers of language learners suspected there must be something wrong with the MVM staff.

I worked at MVM in school year 2004-2005. It was clear to me that as motivated and competent as the staff was they were going fail unless this obviously flawed law (NCLB) was modified. Schools in communities with high poverty rates were set up for failure by this ill-conceived federal takeover of education. How is it possible to convince people that MVM is a wonderful highly effective educational institution, when a federal law is written that makes even significant growth in performance look like failure? Was disaggregation an evil plot or just bad law with unintended consequences? I don’t know, but I do know that MVM is actually a very successful school and is a significant community asset. In a just world the staff and school would have been lauded for both their efforts and achievements. These valiant educators should have been lionized as an example of what can be accomplished when selfless teachers work to fructify the weal. Instead they have been vitiated!

My personal reasoned conclusion solidified by practical experience is that standardized testing is odious. It clearly narrows curriculum and promotes soporific lessons that develop mimesis not creativity or the ability to think. That said: these same horrible tests show that the staff at MVM got the message. The teachers saw that the school’s survival depended on effectively teaching to the tests. The baseline year for NCLB testing was 2002 in which math and English are the only two categories that matter. The arbitrary level for passing was set at 16% of math students scoring proficient or better and 13.6% of English students scoring proficient or better. In 2012, AYP pass rates entered the hockey stick portion of the law (the period when pass rates go up precipitously to reach a whimsical 100% proficient or advanced by 2014). The 2012 AYP pass rates were set at 79% proficient or better for math and 78.4% proficient or better for English. The 2012 targets are so unrealistic that even Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was predicting an 82% failure rate. (2) Nevertheless, they are still being effectively utilized by questionable actors to declare schools like MVM failures and take control of them away from the local community.

From 2002 thru 2011, the overall school scores at MVM always exceeded the AYP targets. In 2011, 51% of the eight graders at MVM took Algebra with 40% scoring proficient and 44% scoring advanced on the California Star Tests (CST). The 44% advanced was the highest percentage of advanced algebra scores in the district. That year the algebra students at MVM outscored even the schools whose students were from the wealthiest families in the district. The MVM scores were amongst the top Algebra scores posted in California that year (2011). Plus, almost 50% of English language students scored advanced or proficient. This great achievement was not acknowledged! Two sub-groups did not meet AYP so MVM continued being labeled a failing school. The scores of English language learners and students with disabilities, kept MVM from achieving AYP success. Amongst English language learners only 31.8% achieved scores of proficient or advanced in English and amongst disabled students only 31.6% scored proficient or advanced in math. Both failing categories showed a huge improvement from the 2002 levels of 0% proficient or advanced in either category, but that was not good enough.

In an open letter from “Concerned and Offended Staff” to Principal Winters it stated, “Please remember that it was not the teachers at this school who have dismantled the great programs that our parents are missing. It was not the teachers who have dismantled the award winning ASAP program and raided its grant money for general use, this was done by school and district administrators.  It was not the teachers who dismantled the NOVA team of which parents spoke so highly, this was done by school site administrators. It was not teachers who ended the award winning music program that Fred Lee built and is remembered so fondly by parents and students.”(3) The music program was truly magnificent. The jazz band was consistently judged as best middle school jazz band in California. The ASAP program was a daily 3:30 PM until 6:30 PM after school program that provided tutoring and club activities. Maria Catalina, who is a NASA affiliated science teacher, had an astronomy club. Guadalupe Trejo a motivated and talented bilingual science teacher had a robotics club and Justin Ezell sponsored the Huck Fin club. The highly talented Gugenia Gurrola was working with language learners on mathematics and of course Cathy Stutzman had the most amazing tutoring sessions I have ever seen going on in her math classroom. The NOVA team was an honors program that offered enrichment for higher performing students. Unfortunately, the economic downturn of 2008 and administrative decisions led to defunding these popular and successful MVM initiatives. When the state loosened restrictions on where money could be spent, the district defunded these programs and shifted the funds to other schools to help them achieve AYP success.

Today, music teacher Fred Lee, who was pressured into leaving MVM if he wanted to continue teaching music, still works for the district in an upper-class neighborhood weaving his magic at Rancho Del Rey Middle School. In 2006-2007, MVM received a Golden Bell for its outstanding reading program which promoted recreational reading at home by providing reading strategies to both students and their parents. (4) The San Diego Union reports, “The Golden Bell Awards, now in their 33rd year, promote excellence in education in 18 categories. The awards single out programs — developed by California teachers and administrators — for innovation, sustainability, making a difference for all students, and a commitment to meeting the needs of all students.” (5) At one time, programs like this along with Mr. Lee’s music program and the NOVA team enticed many parents to send their students to MVM even though the school was labeled a failure by first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration.

In general, schools in poor neighborhoods are set up for failure under NCLB. Schools in poor neighborhoods with large percentages of language learners and disabled students have no chance to succeed. MVM was facing a demographic impossibility.

Year      Percent Disabled       Percent ELL (a)   Percent SE (b)    Percent Hispanic

2002-2003          11%                        28%                    64%                       62%

2006-2007          12%                        30%                    64%                       69%

2011-2012            13%                        44%                    76%                       75%

a-English language learners     b- Social and economically deprived (6)

It is important to note that about two-thirds of the disabled student and language learners are also socio-economically deprived. AYP accountability rules mandate that a student is not just in one category but their scores normally count in multiple categories. A failure in any one category means failing AYP. At MVM, Socio-economically deprived students are about three-fourths of both the disabled and language learners’ categories. In all, MVM had to pass 25 AYP specified categories but just two categories were the root of the failing scores for 10 years. The NCLB rules of disaggregation were originally written to protect minority students from being hidden within the statistics, but ironically those rules became a major vehicle by which poor communities have their schools closed or appropriated by private entities.

The category of language learners is particularly insidious for MVM. In neighboring Tijuana, it is common for students who have been kicked out of school to move in with a relative in San Diego to attend school. Often, these are particularly difficult children who do not perform well. Schools are also punished for doing their job too well. If a student develops strong language skills, they are reclassified and no longer counted amongst the language learners’ category. It is a genuine “Catch-22.” MVM was facing a triple whammy, high poverty rates, a high percentage of disabled students and almost half of the students were language learners. Still this school was producing high levels of achievement. Three students from MVM’s era of “failure” have won Gates Millennium scholarships; several have gone on to The US Naval Academy and many others are attending top ranked schools throughout the US including the Ivy League. Only hubris and pecuniary desire explains not protecting and cultivating this venerable institution.

In the year I was at MVM, I got to know Cathy Stutzman among others. I remember being stunned when I walked into her classroom and saw two overhead projectors going and Cathy moving between them continuing to push the tempo and teach Algebra. Moreover, every student in the room was totally engaged trying to keep up with this high energy educator. I asked Cathy, how MVM was able to achieve such amazing test results in the 2011 Algebra CST testing. Two years prior to that, I had asked another math teacher at MVM, Randolph Arciniega, who I admired and looked to as a teacher mentor, “what is new at MVM?” He briefly described how they were following Cathy’s lead because she was showing some amazing results. Cathy said she perceived that students at MVM were behind when they came to the school and also needed more introductions with Algebra concepts in seventh grade to succeed in Algebra testing the following year. She felt the lessons needed some spiraling. Cathy convinced the administration to let her loop classes and teach all seventh grade classes one year and then move with them to eighth grade in the subsequent year. She also persuaded the principal to let her add several algebra concepts to the seventh grade curriculum. By 2009, all of the math teachers at MVM were looping and teaching Cathy’s modified curriculum in seventh grade.

The amazing 2011 results occurred in the last year that MVM looped math classes. The new principal, Thomas J. Winters, who was a brand new principal as were his predecessors at MVM, stopped the looping curriculum. That decision led to a significant drop in test scores. Maybe this is some of what the “Concerned and Offended Staff” were alluding to when they wrote, “You have stated in the past that there is “no bad data” but you have proved yourself wrong by providing the DSLT [District Site Leadership Team] with only partial and biased data regarding the efforts and accomplishments of the staff of Mar Vista Middle School. We have heard from teachers who were part of the DSLT who have stated that you purposely guided the DSLT to the conclusion that it is the teachers that are keeping Mar Vista Middle School from succeeding while ignoring other important factors.” (7)

Bush’s NCLB and Obama’s Race to the Top (RTTT) both stress test based accountability which has lead to jejune pedagogy. The best charter schools practice problem and project based education principles which were widely spread in public schools before these two pernicious laws were enacted. The federal government has taken more and more control of schools away from local communities and instituted rules that undermine public education. In our discussion, Cathy told me, “I felt we were fighting for survival and that testing was all that mattered. I could no longer employ project based methods. I had to focus on scoring well on tests.” Near the turn of the millennium, Cathy was able through a grant to purchase a class set of graphing calculators which besides the typical uses she also employed in a mathematics art project. The students had to create a piece of art by transferring graphs of ten different functions onto paper. When the art pieces were completed they were mounted and displayed in the school’s cafeteria. She relates the story of how one of her poorer students – almost all D’s and F’s – made a really colorful and beautiful graphing creation. When Cathy looked at it she praised the student but told her that “unfortunately it is not complete because you did not list the functions on the back.” The girl said, “That’s alright – I remember them.” The girl immediately sat down and listed all ten functions perfectly from memory. Federal accountability rules now effectively ban public schools from offering this kind of engaging pedagogy.

I believe Principal Winters came to MVM intending to succeed at his first assignment as a principal. Still, it does seem eerie how perfectly the demise of MVM fits the profile of schools being closed or taken over across the nation. It is in a poor community with a large minority population and the level of professionalism amongst the teaching staff is high. In fact, under the reporting mandates of NCLB, Principal Winters reported that 100% of the teaching staff at MVM is rated as highly qualified – meaning they all have a college degree in the field that they teach, plus they each have more than a year of teacher education training. As recently as January 24, 2013 Principal Winters officially reported, “Students at Mar Vista Middle School and in the Sweetwater Union High School District are expected to master state and district standards which will prepare them to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Mar Vista Middle School provides a safe and secure learning environment that contributes to students’ academic success.” (8) Either the latest school accountability report card is misleading or the reasons for closing MVM are fabrications. MVM is a great school with a great staff, but like schools in poor and minority neighborhoods across the country the parents have modest political capital. Schools like MVM are vulnerable to modern “Carpetbaggers.” I believe that is the true reason underlying the unwarranted demise of MVM and hundreds or possibly thousands of MVM’s across this country.

(1) http://boarddocs.suhsd.k12.ca.us/Board.nsf/Public – 3/11/2012 – Superintendents Agenda Item 6.

(2) http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2011-12-15/schools-federal-standards/51949126/1

(3) Unpublished letter to Principal Winters, February 2013

(4) MVM School Accountability Report Card 2009 http://research-evaluation.sweetwaterschools.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/84/files/2012/10/SARC2009_MVM_Short.pdf

(5) http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/dec/03/seven-local-districts-among-golden-bell-award/

(6) MVM School Accountability Report Card 2009 http://research-evaluation.sweetwaterschools.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/84/files/2012/10/SARC2009_MVM_Short.pdf

(7) Unpublished letter to Principal Winters, February 2013

(8) http://research-evaluation.sweetwaterschools.org/sarcs/ – 2012-2013 SARC Mar Vista Middle School.

Common Corporate State Standards and Other Obscenities

19 Feb

The largest change in the history of American education is rolling out across America in a most unusual and imprudent way. The Common Corporate State Standards (CCSS) written by corporations to facilitate profits are a colossal copyrighted Trojan horse. The official CCSS web site says, “The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) hereby grant a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to copy, publish, distribute, and display the Common Core State Standards for purposes that support the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These uses may involve the Common Core State Standards as a whole or selected excerpts or portions.”(1). It sounds very much like some ‘alphabet soup’ government agency has copyrighted the standards but that is not the case – it would be illegal for a government agency to copyright the standards! No, the corporate sponsors and foundations who finance the private non-profits NGA and CCSSO, who wrote the standards, own the copyright. Bill Gates has more sway over these rights than anyone because he put in the most money. No elected or school official has the legal right to alter any of the standards. They must be used as written. Support for the CCSS has been developed by giving money to generate good media and positive scholarly responses. The standards have not been thoroughly piloted. Curriculum supporting the standards has not been written and educators certainly have not been trained in how best to institute this new approach. In fact, most educators do not know much about the CCSS other than it is supposed to increase testing significantly and anyone who questions CCSS or the rush to implement them is for the status quo and for giving incompetent teachers the right to continue harming children with the aid of their evil teachers union.
It seems there are three groups promoting CCSS. Group 1 is made up of very sincere motivated educators who see CCSS as a path of true reform in education that will promote understanding and reasoning. Group 2 is made up by people of extreme hubris who are using education reform as a way to establish their own legacy as founders of new charter schools or of increasing personal power. Many members of this group have no educational training or experience and have no respect for those with experience teaching or administering schools. Group 3 is a large powerful group that sees CCSS as a key to unlocking a fabulous money making opportunity and only care that people believe what they are selling. From them we get such terrible ideas as giving every 7th grader an I-pad and testing regimes that turns learning into a behaviorist nightmare. If reasonable people do not start listening to professional educators these CCSS are guaranteed to be an even bigger failure and significantly more damaging than No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its evil cousin Race to the Top (RttT).
In a way, group 1 is the most troublesome. Many of its people have doctorates in education, they are young and they want to make their mark in the world. Most of them believe in some form of the constructivist pedagogy advocated by Piaget and Dewey. They are delighted to see a focus on less standards and activities designed for students to create understanding. Many of them believe that the opportunity for true education reform which was thwarted by NCLB has finally arrived. Recently, I encountered a long time acquaintance of mine who fits this description. When I mentioned that the once pro-standards advocate, Diane Ravitch, has pointed out that these standards have not been tested. I was told the Diane Ravitch and I should both shut up and stop obstructing real progress. Because they believe in the educational theories that the standards are purported to facilitate, these people, who should see the perversity of this national standards movement, are blinded to the lurking evils. The big questions that none of these advocates want to face include: How are the standards going to be tested? How will the testing data be used? Isn’t it likely that the school year’s final summative exam will become the accountability tool used by the national leaders of education, public and private, who have arrogated local control over education to themselves? Won’t that turn these standards into just another behaviorist means that undermines good pedagogy?
Bill Gates has done more to advance the cause of CCSS than any other person. The New York Times reported that his foundation spent $373 million on education in 2009 of which $78 million was devoted to advocacy — quadruple the amount spent on advocacy in 2005. Over the next five or six years, the foundation expects to pour $3.5 billion more into education, up to 15 percent of it on advocacy. “The Alliance for Excellent Education, another nonprofit organization, was paid $551,000 in 2009 “to grow support for the common core standards initiative. The Fordham Institute got $959,000 to “review common core materials and develop supportive materials.” Fordham’s president, Chester E. Finn Jr., was widely quoted praising the standards after their March 2010 release (2). In 2008, Gates teamed with Eli Broad and the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) to make presidential candidates focus on issues like standards, teacher quality and accountability. Linda Darling-Hammond was Barack Obama’s spokesperson on education, but during the Democratic Party’s national convention while teachers were in the crowd “fired up and ready to go” Gates, Broad and the DFER were busy hijacking education policy. They were able to push out professional educators like Darling-Hammond who were seen as too friendly to unions and replace them with people like the failed Chicago school CEO, Arne Duncan. He has no education experience or training, yet he became secretary of education. He would not qualify to be a substitute teacher in many school districts. His qualifications were that he supported testing accountability, charter schools and disliked unions. Even educators at places like University of California Berkeley have received large grants to help promote the CCSS. CCSS advocates have successfully used their incredible financial resources to make these standards seem like an idea developed by and supported by enlightened educators from across the nation. Independent voices have been muffled but not quite silenced.
Group 2 the people of extreme hubris and power lust are convinced that public education in America needs them to start a new school system or develop a new education management paradigm. Eli Broad does not appear to be financially benefiting from his philanthropy or his academy for school administrators. This arrogant man strongly believes that trained educators are incompetent fools when it comes to management and that only people from outside of the education community can save America’s schools by employing the wise management practices of the business community. Broad has taken the absurd position that experience in education – unlike experience in all other human endeavors – is a liability so education leadership should be given to people with no experience. It never occurs to him that the biggest problem with American schools is the lack of respect powerful men like him have for professional educators. In my own school district, our superintendent wants to develop a K-16 school system. Under his leadership, our district has started a charter school that is now competing with the local elementary schools which send us their students. The elementary system is well staffed with professional educators and is competently led. The community is served well by these schools. Yet, this lifelong educator that leads my district justifies undermining the difficult work of these fine institutions with his vision for a K-16 institution. Charter schools are appearing in many places that have good public schools – not responding to a need only to the ego of their founders.
Group 3 is a cancer on our society. For the most part they are not concerned with how students fare. They only lust for the profit center that education spending in the United States represents. In addition to the private management groups that are starting charter schools nationwide, Jed Bush is leading a nationwide digital education campaign. Lee Fang reported, “The nonprofit behind this digital push, Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, is funded by online learning companies: K12 Inc., Pearson (which recently bought Connections Education), Apex Learning (a for-profit online education company launched by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen), Microsoft and McGraw-Hill Education among others. The advisory board for Bush’s ten digital elements agenda reads like a Who’s Who of education-technology executives, reformers, bureaucrats and lobbyists, including Michael Stanton, senior vice president for corporate affairs at Blackboard; Karen Cator, director of technology for the Education Department; Jaime Casap, a Google executive in charge of business development for the company’s K-12 division; Shafeen Charania, who until recently served as marketing director of Microsoft’s education products department; and Bob Moore, a Dell executive in charge of ‘facilitating growth’ of the computer company’s K-12 education practice.” In another section of the same article Fang tells us about the strategies being put forward by lobbyists like Patricia Levesque, a top adviser to former Governor Jeb Bush. Fang writes, “According to author Steven Brill, ex–DC school chancellor Michelle Rhee’s new group, StudentsFirst, raised $100 million within a few months of Levesque’s remarks. Rhee’s donors include Rupert Murdoch, philanthropist Eli Broad and Home Depot founder Ken Langone. Rhee’s group has pledged to spend more than $1 billion to bring for-profit schools, including virtual education, to the entire country by electing reform-friendly candidates and hiring top-notch state lobbyists (3).” Levesque’s remark that Fang referenced was about how much better it would have been if Mark Zuckerberg had given his $100 million to support the right candidates instead of giving it to the Newark public schools.
The motivation for the CCSS was certainly at least in part a view that education in America was poor and needed to be reformed. However, a good case can be made that a sustained attacks on public education which was kicked off by the Reagan administration in 1983 with its “Nation at Risk” report is more responsible for this view than reality. “Nation at Risk” which was produced by mainly corporate actors and with little input from professional educators drew conclusions that were not sustained by the facts. Nevertheless, the meme that public education in America was failing took root and is a justification for the modern corporate driven education reform movement. I called these CCSS the Common Corporate State Standards, because in my view the standards were written by corporations for corporations and have little to do with a sincere effort to improve education. It is much more reasonable to believe that people like Rupert Murdock expect significant return for their investment in these standards than to believe these corporate sponsors are putting up share holder dollars out of their altruistic impulse to support public education. The list of corporate sponsors for the non-profit Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that owns the copyright on the CCSS is long and, not surprisingly, dominated by testing, and on-line education companies.

Corporate Partners: AdvancED, American Institutes for Research (AIR), Data Recognition Corporation, ETS, Global Scholar, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IQity, McGraw-Hill Education, Microsoft, Pearson Education, Evaluation Systems Group of Pearson, Promethean, ACT, Apple, Corwin Press, Evans Newton Incorporated-Partnering with Schools for Student Success, Intel Corporation, K12 Inc., Measured Progress, Measurement Incorporated, MetaMetrics, The Menta Group, Northwest Evaluation Association, School Improvement Network, TaskStream, Wilson Language Training, Cisco, The College Board, Discovery Education, International Business Machines Corporation, Pearson’s School Achievement Services, Questar Assessment, Inc., Renaissance Learning, Inc., SAS, Scholastic, Texas Instruments, Truenorthlogic, Wireless Generation (4)

This corporate intrusion into education literally removes assets from the classroom and puts it into the pockets of testing companies, consultants, publishers, and others. Politicians and scholars have been corrupted by the corrosive influence of corporate money and children have been harmed. How can Chicago’s incredible teen murder rate be seen as anything but dramatic proof of the dangers inherent in turning our schools over to non-professionals? It is beyond irony that the leader of the education reform movement in Chicago, which is a spectacular failure, is now the secretary of education. Politicians like Barack Obama, Antonio Villaraigosa and Rahm Emanuel turn their backs on professional educators and embrace extreme testing, value added measures (VAM) and the end of seniority rights for teachers. There is no validation for VAM or CCSS but these unproven theories are being implemented with great haste. Can anyone call that reasonable or prudent? Yet, Obama uses RttT to bribe states into adopting CCSS, VAM and charter schools immediately. What is the rush? Unfortunately, the politicians listed above look good when compared with their political opposition – people like Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal.
The abominations keep multiplying. In many poor communities the only functional institution is the public school and it is well known that children in stable environments do better. Why then do education czar-mayors like Bloomberg and Emanuel choose to close neighborhood schools where students are not good at multiple choice tests? Did they notice that these schools all happen to be in poor neighborhoods? Many of those closed schools were great, but standardized testing does not test for quality of teaching so excellent institutions were sacrificed at the altar of testing accountability. Children living in difficult circumstances have their life further disturbed by the people who should protect them. Suffering neighborhoods are made to suffer more. Some of the students leave the neighborhood to attend new charter schools. Some don’t! In either case the function of community schools to build neighborhoods and develop culture is ended and the propensity for violence is increased.
I recently read “The Inner Philosopher” which is a dialogue between Lou Marinoff, Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at The City College of New York, and Daisaku Ikeda, the founder of the Soka Schools and President of the Buddhist lay organization, SGI. I conclude with a few quotes from their conversation:

“From a society without philosophy emerges education without philosophy, which in turn gives rise to human beings with no philosophy, a dark portent of the future of humanity.” (Ikeda, Page 2)

“The current Western epidemics – observable from Europe to North America – of obesity, bullying, hedonism and consumerism, along with the decay of social fabric, the deconstruction of education, the collapse of community, and the decline in birth rate appear to be symptoms of a grievous and possibly terminal illness of Western civilization itself.” (Marinoff, Page 74)

(In the US) “The education system has been purged of content, while the media pander incessantly to the demand for celebrity scandal and callow sensationalism. Overexposure to visual media coupled with inattention to written tradition have produced a generation of cognitively impaired children, millions of whom are daily drugged with stimulants.” (Marinoff, Page 75)

“Sadly, contemporary American culture is rooted in vice. Indeed vice is glorified, sensationalized, celebrated, and rewarded. The economic collapse of 2008, which plunged the United States into recession and destabilized the global economy, was caused primarily by unrestrained avarice – systemic vice on a colossal scale.

“Even the legendary homespun virtues of the American grass roots, whose praises were so eloquently sung by the likes of Tocqueville, Emerson, and Whitman, are being undermined and overwhelmed by rampant corruption in public and private sectors alike. The inevitable result is moral degeneracy and societal collapse.

“As Toynbee writes, the ‘breakdowns of civilizations are not brought about by the operation of cosmic forces outside human control’ but by ‘loss of mental and moral balance’ in the values and conduct of their leaders and constituents.” (Marinoff, Page 139)

“I aspire not merely to impart knowledge but also to awaken the powers of my students’ minds. This can only be accomplished via person-to-person interaction, personal example and dialogue. Even the greatest libraries of the world, or the vast storehouses of data on the World-Wide-Web, cannot rival the teacher-student relationship.” (Marinoff, Page 157)

“Many leaders, who ought to be working for the good of society and the people, are blighted by an arrogant elitism and motivated by a corrosive drive for personal gain and lust for power. Nichiren decries such people as ‘talented animals.’” (Ikeda, Page 160)

1. http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/education/22gates.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2
3. http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bought-americas-schools#
4. http://www.ccsso.org/Who_We_Are/Business_and_Industry_Partnerships/Corporate_Partners.html#level3
5. Ikeda, Daisaku, and Lou Marinoff. The Inner Philosopher: Conversations on Philosophy’s Transformative Power. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dialogue Path Press. 2012.