THE ROLE OF TEACHERS
Veteran teachers are leaving the profession in high numbers. The average years of experience of the American teacher has dropped precipitously in the last few years. One of the stated goals of the “reform” movement is to do away with seniority. Driving out veteran teachers by making the profession unpalatable is a way to make that goal a reality.
My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.
And one of the most remarkable things is that the campaign for education “reform” — which must needs include the ongoing political and social villainization of public school teachers, without which the “reform” movement cannot succeed — has managed to bully teachers into silence about obvious ethical catastrophes like the one that allegedly occurred in Atlanta. The “reformers,” and the avaricious politicians who have their own reasons for breaking the political power of the public school unions, have convinced the world that any criticisms of their methods is merely the caterwauling of overpaid featherbedders in the Music departments.
When the test becomes the goal then cheating is the result.
The solution to the school test cheating problem is not simply stepped up enforcement. Instead, testing misuses must end because they cheat the public out of accurate data about public school quality at the same time they cheat many students out of a high-quality education.
The cheating explosion is one of the many reasons resistance to high-stakes testing is sweeping the nation…
One of the founders of the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education has written a personal and heart-felt letter in support of public funds for public schools and against using tax money for vouchers. Will the Indiana General Assembly listen or have they already made up their minds?
…the educational reform (and all that it encompasses) rages across our country out of control without many, if any, educational experts weighing in. Those educational experts valued by teachers are dismissed by those making legislation in favor of individuals with business savvy and big bucks but no expertise—no experience—in the classroom. Why would educators be left out of the decision-making process?
Kudos to the Fort Wayne Community Schools School Board for passing this resolution against the state’s voucher expansion plans.
- students can receive vouchers upon leaving schools with high achievement
- current system diverts funds necessary to support the public schools
- expanded to include students who have never been in the public schools
- increases taxpayer funding for parochial and private schools by an estimated $21 million while FWCS continues to suffer the effects from a $10 million cut
Another Indiana school board resolves that vouchers would hurt the students of the state…
“For a student who enters the Lake Central system in seventh grade, we would receive $4,700 per year. If that student enrolls in a private or parochial school, that school receives $5,500,” [Superintendent] Veracco said.
The School Board’s resolution cites…a $21 million economic impact in the area. It asks the Indiana General Assembly to put HB 1003 on hold and to establish a study committee to evaluate the impact before any further changes are made to the voucher program.
In some places legislators are having trouble with their own voucher plans since they can’t pick and choose which religious organization’s schools get the vouchers.
Notice that there was no complaint at all from these same legislators over diverting money to private Christian schools. They’re perfectly find [sic] with tax money going to support Christian schools. But Muslim schools? That’s an outrage! Who could possibly support such a thing? More importantly, how can they pass a law that prevents that from happening while ensuring the flow of funds to Christian schools? They can’t. And you know what prevents it? That damn constitution they claim so loudly to revere.
The parent trigger laws do not give parents more choice. The group Parent Revolution is not a broad based parent support or advocacy group. It was founded by a charter school operator in order to improve his business.
“My kids are not going to go there,” she says. “They’re taking away all the teachers my kids have been around for years. They took over our school, and I don’t think it’s fair. They’re not for the kids.”
For two decades, the money has been following Ohio’s children out of the doors of our public schoolhouses and through the doors of charter schools. Despite losing over $6 billion to charters during the past 15 years, traditional public schools continue to vastly outperform their charter-school counterparts.
Charters like ECOT (Ohio’s largest by a mile) are not the saving grace of education in Ohio — they are siphoning students and money away from the best school districts in the state, causing unnecessary strife and lowering statewide student achievement.
“You can’t spend the charter school funds for anything you want. It has to be money spent on the kids and the schools.”
The privatization movement is leading to a re-segregating of America’s schools. In 2007 the Supreme Court essentially took down the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
In a 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday, the Supreme Court told local school districts that they cannot take even modest steps to overcome residential segregation and ensure that schools within their diverse cities themselves remain racially mixed unless they can prove that such classifications are narrowly tailored to achieve specific educational benefits.
With the re-segregation of schools comes this report…
Modern inner-city schools are often underfunded, while dropout rates are high and violence is common. Police officers routinely intervene to discipline students for minor infractions, exposing minority kids early to the criminal justice system. Greater allocation of resources may not be enough to halt the cycle of racially-skewed poverty and crime as long as racial and class segregation continues, according to an analysis by Columbia Business School professor Ray Fisman.
As the U.S. Department of Education has introduced competitive grant programs, it has frozen formula programs from the civil rights era that awarded funds according to the specific needs of the children to be served. Title I is an important example of a formula program frozen in recent federal budgets and being slowly transformed into competitive programs. Title I was created in 1965 in the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act to provide federal aid for schools serving children in poverty. Although the Title I formula program is small relative to state and local funding, it has been one of the federal government’s primary tools for equalizing educational opportunity as a civil right for every child. “There are those who would make the case for a Race to the Top for those who can run,” declares the Rev. Jesse Jackson. “Instead ‘lift from the bottom’ is the moral imperative because it includes everybody. We should be fighting for one set of rules—a common foundation beneath which no child falls.”
Not much has changed since Linda Darling-Hammond wrote this in 2011. We’re still blaming the teachers and the schools, closing schools instead of supporting them, ignoring poverty, and shuffling poor children around so the privatizers can take our tax money as profits.
And the new scientific managers cleverly construct systems that solve the problem of the poor by blaming the teachers and schools that seek to serve them, calling the deepening levels of severe poverty an “excuse,” rewarding schools that keep out and push out the highest-need students, and threatening those who work with new immigrant students still learning English and the growing number of those who are homeless, without healthcare or food security. Are there lower scores in under-resourced schools with high-need students? Fire the teachers and the principals. Close the schools. Don’t look for supports for their families and communities, equitable funding for public schools or investments in professional learning. Don’t worry about the fact that the next schools are—as researchers have documented—likely to do no better. This is the equivalent of deciding that if the banks are failing, we should fire the tellers. (And whatever you do, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)
We’re a selfish lot. We, as a nation, don’t really care about each other or our children very much…other than the lip service we pay during elections. The “common wisdom” is that we’re over-taxed. Unfortunately that’s just a lie. We’re among the least taxed people on earth…and we have the lack of social safety nets to show it. Poor medical care and our incredibly high child poverty rate lead to a crisis in learning for our most vulnerable children…and we, as a nation, are unwilling to pay more. The “community” of America doesn’t exist. The attitude has become “what’s mine is mine and you can’t have it.”
The premise of the argument from Republicans is that Americans already face an extraordinarily heavy tax burden. Citizens for Tax Justice, however, compared levels of taxation in 2010 in the other industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and found that the U.S. not only collects far less in tax revenues than the average OECD country, but that it also collects less in taxes as a share of its economy than all but two other OECD nations…
An estimated 535,000 young children in the United States have harmful levels of lead in their bodies, putting them at risk of lost intelligence, attention disorders and other life-long health problems, according to a new estimate released Thursday by federal health officials.
The new number shows lead poisoning affects 1 in 38 children ages 1 to 5, according to the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“To the extent that Americans think this is a problem of the past, clearly this is evidence there is still a problem,” said Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, a non-profit lead-poisoning-prevention advocacy group.
The well-being of our young people is just not a high priority in the United States. The social safety-net is inadequate, poverty is rampant, economic segregation via private and so-called “choice” is growing.
We have to undo the damage that has turned public education into a crisis. That means dumping the pretend science of high-stakes testing and valuing rather than criminalizing students of color; it also means moving from punishment- to healing-based systems of maintaining order, taking police and armed security guards out of the hallways and learning to value and respect young people more than we value metal detectors and surveillance cameras.
*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It’s Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then.