Competition doesn’t work in education. We’re not manufacturing ice cream, or playing professional baseball. We’re trying to educate students and all students come to school with different needs. You can’t call for competition when some students take 2 years to learn what other students come to school already knowing. You can’t call for competition and still depend on teaching practices to improve through collaboration. You can’t call for competition where some schools have fewer resources than others.
A high quality public education system is fully funded through a progressive tax system and is open to all students. It must provide the services each individual student needs.
“What’s at stake here is whether or not we’re going to have a robust, well-funded, high-quality system where people can just cross the threshold and receive the service for free and have the schools deploy whatever resources are necessary to meet the needs of that student as opposed to a selective, competitive system which will inevitably reproduce dramatic inequality we’re already seeing in our system.” — Brian Jones
The learning atmosphere in our public schools has deteriorated into one of constant drill, test, and punish. Developmentally inappropriate curricula, abusive testing regimes, and a lack of balance in education has taken over our schools. The people who do the work are blamed and blasted as incompetent and even more unbelievably, uncaring…as if people become professional teachers in order to hurt children. In Indiana, due process (often mislabeled “tenure”) has been taken away from teachers. Depending on the actual contract language, teachers can be fired at the whim of an administrator. Is it any wonder that there are teachers who are afraid to speak out? And if teachers don’t speak up for the abuses that the legislature and policy makers are foisting upon our schools, who will?
Legislators and policy makers are telling teachers how to teach, what to teach, and when to teach it and then blaming teachers when it doesn’t work.
Where will the “great teachers” come from when the teaching profession is made less desirable? If teachers are punished based on the achievement of their students who is going to want to work with the hard-to-teach students? Who is going to want to work with students who come to school hungry, traumatized, or with untreated health problems if their livelihood depends on their students’ achievement?
Cindi Pastore of The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE) wrote,
[Educators’] hands are tied by administrators whose hands are tied by legislators whose hands are filling up with money from special interest and profit driven groups. Time to stop this chain with your votes!!!
Moral Distress in Teachers by Walt Gardner
When teachers know that something is ethically wrong but don’t speak out because of fear of retaliation by their principal, they suffer from the condition [of moral distress].
Although teachers don’t take the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath, they nonetheless are professionally responsible for acting ethically at all times. If it were not for the existence of tenure, teachers might be intimidated in remaining silent about anything they deemed inimical to the students.
Tenure Is a Civil Rights Issue by Peter Greene
…the types of due process derailing being promoted will (by design or not) directly attack the quality of the teaching staffs in the schools that can least withstand these attacks. Linking teacher job security and pay to student test scores makes it harder to recruit and retain teachers for the urban schools already socked in by poverty and suffering from the instability that comes from steady staff churn.
Massachusetts Proposes Plan to Chase Teachers Out by Diane Ravitch
How is it possible to improve education by ruining the lives of teachers? How is it possible to improve education by making test scores the measure of everything? Good business for Pearson, not so good for the children.
See the follow up…The Massachusetts Teachers Association Blasts State Plan re Evaluations
“Reformers” continue to point to test scores as the only way to prove that students are achieving as well as the only way to evaluate (blame) teachers, administrators, and school systems. Yet, when it comes to blaming teachers unions for all the problems in America’s schools they calmly ignore test scores which show that states with high test scores have high union membership and states with low test scores have low union membership.
Likewise, “reformers” love to label schools as “failing” and ignore the well documented relationship between poverty and low achievement.
The labels and teacher bashing are important to “reformers.” By continuing to label schools, teachers, and students as “failing” and blaming unions and teachers for that “failure” they deflect attention away from the corporate takeover of America and the inability of policy makers to eliminate or even reduce poverty.
Instead, “reformers” continue to erode the public confidence in public education in order to press for increased privatization.
Where is the accountability of the politicians and the policy makers for the high level of poverty in America? Where is the accountability of corporate America for the inequity running rampant through the nation?
“When Congress passes No Child Left Unfed, No Child Without Health Care and No Child Left Homeless, then we can talk seriously about No Child Left Behind.” — Susan Ohanian
Blame It All on Teachers’ Unions By Walt Gardner
In what has become a mantra, corporate reformers argue that powerful teachers’ unions are the primary cause of the failure of students to perform (“Teachers Unions vs. Charter Schools, The Wall Street Journal,” Nov. 20, 2013). But the reality is quite different….
Lest I be accused of selective perception, I pose the following question: If teachers’ unions are the villains, as charged, why do states, such as Arkansas and Mississippi, where they are weakest, persist in posting appalling results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress? Conversely, why do states, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, where they are strongest, continue to post the highest scores? Clearly something else explains the disparity, but it is given short shrift by the media.
“Stop using the word “failing schools” — no longer. The word is “abandoned schools,” or come up with something else, but stop labeling our children. Stop labeling the buildings, and stop labeling the people who do the work.” — Karen Lewis
Charter schools are private schools as long as they are not accountable to publicly elected school boards. They take public money, but they claim to be private entities when pressed to be accountable.
On every level, the advocates of educational privatization strive to avoid using the p-word [privatization]. They deliberately mislabel charter schools, just as unaccountable as every other private business in the land as “public charter schools,” because after all, they use public money. So do Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, but nobody calls these “public aerospace companies,” “public military contractors,” or “public banks.” For the same reason, corporate media refuse to cover the extent of the school closing epidemic, or local opposition to it, for fear of feeding the development of a popular movement against privatization, and Race To The Top, the Obama administration’s signature public education initiative, and the sharp edge of the privatizers, literally driving the wave of school closings, teacher firings, and the adoption of “run-the-school-like-a-business” methods everywhere.
Does Arne Duncan think ‘suburban moms’ are a gullible bunch? by Carol Burris (in Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet)
And that really sums up the thinking of Duncan and his cheerleading Chiefs. Their distrust of public schools and the democratic control of schooling run deep. It colors every solution that they propose. They have no idea how to effect school improvement other than by making tests harder and making sticks bigger. When punishing the school did not work, it morphed into punish the teacher through evaluations based on test scores. The reality that no country has ever improved student learning using test and punish strategies is lost on those who refuse to address the greater social issues that we who do the work confront every day.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.