PERSONAL ATTACKS ARE TAKEN PERSONALLY
A high school teacher, tired of being vilified by politicians who have no idea what it’s like to teach in a public school, responded to the governor of Indiana.
Indiana’s official test, ISTEP, has had a rough time lately. It was invalid, unreliable, poorly administered by the testing company, and then beset with problems during scoring. The test was harder than in previous years because: “rigor.” Once the scoring was finally finished, the government decided that more students had to fail and raised the cut scores. Cut scores, remember, are arbitrary and don’t reflect anything other than the whim of, in this case, the State Board of Education. The governor, Mike Pence, told teachers in Indiana not to take it personally when the scores were low…even though the scores are used to evaluate them, determine their pay, and grade their schools.
When the attacks seem to be aimed at teachers, their public schools, and their students, it’s hard not to take it personally.
From Donna Roof…
When I see individuals with no educational or teaching experience making decisions that affect students and teachers, I take it personally.
When I see teachers not being viewed as the experts of the classroom, I take it personally. [emphasis in original]
TEACHERS KEEP WORKING
Since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, America’s teachers have continued to go to work every day, helping the children of the nation grow and learn. Despite the misinformation, distortions, and outright lies, teachers continue to do their job. Despite the public trashing of teachers, professional educators thicken their skin, close their eyes and ears to the noise from without, and take up the task of educating the next generation of citizens.
From Carol Burris…
Meanwhile, teachers and principals go about their daily responsibilities, trying to educate the state’s children, while the politicians continue to meddle in matters they don’t understand.
Bill Gates has no idea what public education is. At age 13 he started at Lakeside School, a private preparatory school in Seattle. He never studied education. He never taught in public schools. He dropped out of college and became a billionaire. Money, however, does not qualify one to make educational policy for the nation.
From Valerie Strauss…
There are already excellent working models for just about everything that Gates has funded in public education in the last 15 years — how to design and operate small schools, quality standards, fair and reliable teacher evaluation, and now, teacher prep. How many times do educators need to attempt to reinvent the wheel just because someone with deep pockets wants to try when the money could almost certainly be more usefully spent somewhere else?
NOW IT’S NOT FAIR
As long as the the schools which were damaged by inadequate, faulty standardized tests weren’t in their systems, local superintendents were free to ignore what was going on. Now, the final attack against Indiana’s public education is underway. The state is poised to claim that half of our schools are “failures” opening the door to opening more privately run charter schools and giving more money to religious groups, sucking the funds meant for real public schools.
Now local superintendents are stepping up and decrying the attack on public education. It’s about time.
From Steve Hinnefeld…
Indiana schools have finally received their preliminary 2015 ISTEP test results, and school officials aren’t happy. Superintendents, especially, are pushing back hard.
In media stories and statements to the public, they have called aspects of this year’s tests “not fair,” “a complete fiasco” and “almost unfathomable.” The setting of grades, they said, was arbitrary and invalid.
On the one hand, good for them. On the other, where were they when test scores and a similarly arbitrary process were being used to label other people’s schools as failing?
STILL NOT QUALIFIED
Margaret Spellings, the Secretary of Education during Bush II’s second term, had a big part in the NCLB law. Now, as the President of the University of North Carolina system she brings her lack of education expertise to the post secondary level.
Spellings, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science, claimed that she was qualified to be the US Secretary of Education because she was a mom. It was her idea to fail third graders who “didn’t pass the test.” She was stuck in the false dichotomy of retention in grade or social promotion. The truth is Spellings was never qualified to be Secretary of Education. She was never qualified to do anything in the field of education. She’s just one more, in a long line of political hacks, who needed a patronage job and was dumped on the nation’s schools.
On Monday Spellings doubled down on NCLB…despite its widely recognized failure…despite the damage done to America’s public schools by obsessive and punitive testing. She still voices the opinion that schools fail – and by “fail” she means test scores – when the truth, to anyone with the brains to see it, is that society fails. Spellings is still not qualified to pontificate about public education. She’s barely qualified to erase the chalkboards…
From Peter Greene…
…the most troubling part of this is that Spellings was there in Texas and DC with Bush and Rod Paige, which means she had front row seats for the massive fiction that was the Texas Miracle. It was the Texas Miracle that was used to sell us No Child Left Behind, which means that anybody involved in that sales job ends up looking like either a fool or a liar.
“YOU COULD DO SO MUCH BETTER…
…if you would just try harder.” I heard that for most of my student years. My mother always told me that my “I will…” was less than my “I can…”
It wasn’t until I was an adult and learned about ADHD that I realized that it wasn’t a question of me trying harder…it was a question of me not being able to control the distractions that prevented me from learning. It took me until adulthood to realize I wasn’t lazy, stupid, or crazy.
From Dana Rayburn…
The “just try harder” approach touches a nerve in me. Like most adults with ADHD, I have a long, unpleasant history with those words. My elementary school teachers wrote on my report cards, “If only Dana would try harder….” Teachers said the same thing in junior high and high school.
FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA
From Rob Boston…
…when you hear someone begin a sentence with a phrase like “All Muslims,” “Islam says” or even “Muslims believe,” stop and think. The statement that will flow from that isn’t likely to be accurate. Muslims account for 1.6 billion people in the world. It’s absurd to think a body that large all would believe the same thing. The 2.2 billion Christians in the world certainly don’t.
The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.
Click here to sign the petition.
For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.