Reading, Privatization, Politics, Read Aloud
Those of us who have watched the destruction of public education and the vilifying of teachers by legislators, state (and national) executives, and billionaire “reformers,” are not at all surprised by a teacher shortage.
The reasons for the decline in the number of teachers are correlated to teacher evaluation systems blended with high stakes standardized testing implemented over the past ten years, a shrinking student base in teacher education programs, a lack of respect for the teaching profession, and low salaries and benefits.
Eric Holcomb, Republican Candidate for Governor of Indiana, says that the teacher shortage is “not just in Indiana,” which is true. However, the reasons are the same nationally and locally. Teachers in Indiana have lost collective bargaining rights, lost due process rights, lost classroom autonomy, and gained salary stagnation. The state legislature, the governor, and the State Board of Education all contributed just like similar politicians in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Florida…
In addition, Holcomb’s comment “lawmakers have increased K-12 funding” is misleading and disingenuous. A big chunk of that money is going for “reform” schemes like the overuse of standardized testing, private school vouchers, and charter schools…all pushed by the Republican governor and the Republican supermajority in the state legislature.
The issue of teacher shortages arose, and Holcomb pointed out it’s a national problem, not just one in Indiana.
He said lawmakers have increased K-12 funding, but “it’s about where that money ends up.” For instance, he said, too much is going to administrative costs instead of salaries.
But Gregg said, “we created this teacher shortage in the last few years by the way we have demeaned those in the education profession.” He promised to bring teachers back to the table on policy and testing decisions – one thing he said will help attract and retain teachers.
DESTROYING THE TEACHING PROFESSION WITH TEACH FOR AMERICA
Teach for America gives its “corps members” – students from the nation’s highest ranked colleges and universities – only five weeks of training to prepare them to teach poor, urban students.
Is there any other profession which would let recent graduates take on professional responsibilities without serious preparation? I have a masters degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialization, and nearly four decades of experience in elementary school classrooms. Would I be prepared to practice corporate law with five weeks of “training?”
Yet school systems (and states) around the country regularly allow these untrained novices into classrooms with the neediest students.
“But there is no one else who will take this job!” the school systems respond. Aside from the fact that that’s not always true the problem then becomes one of recruitment. Maybe teachers ought to be given salaries commensurate with their training. Maybe they ought to have more autonomy, prep time, and time for collaboration with other teachers. Maybe states should stop bashing teachers and do what’s needed to make the profession more attractive.
Do Americans understand that by contributing to a turnaround group of young novices to be teachers, they are destroying the American teaching profession? Do they know that sooner or later there will be no more real, qualified teachers to instruct their students?
Are they not aware that fast-track trained beginners, who focus on data, digital instruction, and classroom control, and who are never intent on becoming teachers until they recruited, are not the best individuals to lead a classroom?
Are they confused and think they are doing something nice, or are they hell-bent on destroying public education?
Thanks to Russ Walsh for his thoughtful discussion of how to improve literacy instruction. Educators must take back instruction from statehouses and billionaire board rooms.
The key thing to understand in designing a support program for readers is that reading is communication. If we begin our search for the best way to help a struggling reader with the idea that language is meaningful and reading is about making sense of written language, then we have a better chance to help struggling readers.
What does this mean for instruction? One thing it means is we need to provide interventions early, before children experience too much failure and adopt too many “confusions” about how reading works. Secondly, it means that rather than doubling down on phonics instruction, we need to double down on meaning making. If a student struggles to make meaning from text, we must scaffold the meaning sufficiently to assist the student in decoding the words.
Most instruction for struggling readers, in other words, has it backward.
PRIVATIZATION: GULEN CHARTERS
Did you know that the reclusive Turkish primary school graduate preacher, former imam, writer, and political figure who failed in a coup attempt in Turkey is running one of the largest networks of charter schools in the US?
The lack of transparency of the Gulen charter network and the failure of federal and state oversight are warning signs of the dangers involved in turning over taxpayer dollars for public education to private charter operators. In the case of the Gulen network, the amount of money involved is enormous—hundreds of millions of dollars. Shouldn’t there be government investigations? A moratorium on adding more schools to these networks? Where is the voice of the charter industry for due diligence in schools where we send our children? Our children deserve better.
PRIVATIZATION: INCREASES INEQUITY
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” — John Adams
Section 5: Privatization perpetuates socioeconomic and racial segregation
… implications of this increasing segregation can especially be felt in districts with rapid charter growth. In Durham County, North Carolina, the fast growth of charters has increased racial segregation at the financial expense of the public school district. Neighborhood schools have lost middle class children to charter schools and have been left with a higher concentration of poor students and students of color. Charter schools are exempt from providing student transportation or free and reduced price lunch, making it less likely that poor students can attend charter schools that don’t provide these critical services.
Charter school expansion has been destabilizing for the school district. One recent study estimates that the net cost to the Durham Public Schools could be as high as $2,000 per charter school student. The school district estimated in 2014 that charter schools take $14.9 million each year from neighborhood schools. This means that the traditional public schools in the district, which contain higher proportions of lower-income students, students of color, and more expensive-to-educate children (such as those with disabilities) are financially strained, as the district is unable to reduce its spending proportionally with the loss of charter students due to unavoidable fixed costs.286 Unfortunately, this financial loss hurts the public school district’s ability to provide quality education to its remaining students, who lose out even more as schools become more racially isolated and segregated.
A lot of people are saying that this guy is abusive. Is he? I don’t know. Maybe he is.
His speeches are filled with language such as “it’s a disaster,” “this is tremendous,” “we are in a big, fat, ugly bubble,” “it’s unbelievable,” and “it’s the greatest.” He also loves to use language of “everyone” and “always.” He cushions many of his egregious claims with statements like “everyone tells me” – a claim that is very difficult to prove or disprove or fact-check.
…a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up.
Trump’s Definition of the “High Ground”
Donald Trump claimed the high ground after the September 26th Presidential Debate.
“I’m very happy that I was able to hold back on the indiscretions with respect to Bill Clinton, because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton and I just didn’t want to say what I was going to say.”
“I was going to say ‘dummy’ Bush; I won’t say it. I won’t say it,” Trump said in January.
Trump referenced then-GOP hopeful Carly Fiorina’s rocky tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard in a similar way.
“I promised I would not say that she ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground, that she laid off tens of thousands of people and she got viciously fired,” he said. “I said I will not say it, so I will not say it.”
…“I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct,” he wrote on Twitter. “Instead, I will only call her a lightweight reporter!”
And of the former host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Trump stated that, “unlike others, I never attacked dopey Jon Stewart for his phony last name. Would never do that!”