The Destruction of Public Education in Indianapolis
De-professionalizing teaching is just one front of the war on public education. Nancy Flanagan addresses the confusion of privatizers claiming that becoming a teacher is too easy through the traditional routes…colleges and university schools of education. She talks about the difficulty of the new Florida test that teachers must pass in order to become a licensed teacher…and then goes on to remind us that the same privatizers want to allow anyone to teach in private and charter schools…easier paths to teaching.
Here in Indiana, for example, the EdTPA which pre-service teachers must complete, requires intense attention to, and hours of investment in, teaching and planning lessons…and at the same time, REPA III allows anyone with a content area degree to start teaching in a high school with no experience in actual teaching.
The point? De-professionalize teaching. End the existence of the career teacher who has the best interest of the students at heart. Instead, fill classrooms with idealistic young college graduates on their way up the corporate ladder, who don’t really know anything about teaching and will accept minimal pay for parroting direct teaching scripts…and who will leave after two years, thereby making room for other minimal pay teachers.
Drive out the career oriented teachers by making the requirements for teaching onerous and expensive. Bring in the unqualified and inexperienced who won’t ask for benefits or pensions.
The policy goal here is de-professionalizing teaching, establishing it once and for all as a short-term, entry-level technical job designed to attract a revolving door of “community-minded” candidates, who will work diligently for cheap, then get out because they can’t support a family or buy a home on a teacher’s salary.
Emphasis on the word cheap. This is about profit and control, not improving education.
In addition to shutting out promising candidates by stringent testing or changing policy to allow virtually anyone with a college degree in the classroom, policymakers, spurred by ALEC and a host of education nonprofits, are also de-professionalizing by:
- Messing with pension, retirement and insurance packages to encourage young teachers to move in and quickly out of a job that has no financial future.
- Bringing community-based artists, musicians, sports trainers and library aides into classrooms that used to be staffed by certified teachers.
- Confiscating teachers’ professional work–instruction, curriculum, assessment, collegial mentoring, etc. Decisions that were once a teacher’s prerogative are now outsourced to canned curricula designed to raise test scores, or standardized assessments that don’t take knowledge of students and their context into consideration. Who should determine the curricular frameworks, design lessons and set goals for students? Teachers and school leaders who know the students and community where they work? Or a Gates-funded, agenda-driven organization?
- Defunding the schools where the vast majority of professionally prepared teachers are working.
- Borrowing from the success universities have had, by designing “part-time” jobs (think: K-12 “adjuncts”) with pro-rated benefit packages, a lure to get good teaching for even less money than base pay.
New York is considering allowing anyone to teach…because, after all, it really doesn’t require any special skill set to stand up in front of a class of 30 kids and drill them on test prep materials.
The charter school committee of the State University of New York will soon decide whether charter schools will be allowed to hire uncertified teachers.
The Forbes article, Teacher Certification Makes Public School Education Worse, Not Better, by University of Chicago Law Professor, Omri Ben Shahar, announces that certified teachers are actually a detriment to our education system.
Peter Greene takes him to task on 18 of his statements which make no sense…to someone with any K-12 teaching experience, that is. Before you read Greene’s breakdown of Bar Shahar’s ignorant pontificating on a subject he knows nothing about, consider this…
Ben Shahar has three law degrees and two economics degrees. He’s spent his more than 20 year professional career working in higher education as a professor of law and economics. One look at his CV gives one a picture of a man who has spent decades perfecting his understanding of economics and law.
But nowhere in his experience has he spent time living and working with K-12 students and teachers. His claim that teacher certification makes public school education worse, is based on standardized test scores. One wonders if he would allow himself to be judged by the bar exam success rate of his students. He wrote…
…America has excellent higher education. Yet primary and secondary school students have long performed poorly on tests compared with students from many industrialized countries.
His understanding of what goes on in a traditional public school is based on what? His own experience? His children’s experience? What he reads in the media? It seems obvious that he based his entire argument on the fact that “many industrialized countries” have higher test scores than we do. The very fact that he uses test scores as the measure of K-12 public education success or failure underscores his ignorance. There are several reasons why the average test scores of American students are below those of some other OECD nations…and none of them have to do with teacher certification.
- The U.S. poverty rate is one of the highest among developed countries. Poverty has a negative impact on test scores. Therefore our average test scores are lower.
- Poverty has an impact on students’ achievement because of out-of-school-factors related to their environment and limited opportunities based on racial and economic segregation. Those out-of-school-factors affect test scores.
In other words, if you want to compare the achievement of America’s public school students to students in other countries, standardized test scores are probably the worst way to do it.
When Bar Shahar can match my 40 plus years of experience as a paraprofessional, teacher, and volunteer in K-12 schools, then I’ll listen to his reasons why teacher certification doesn’t work…
This is the final line of the article, and nothing in it has been proven in any of the lines that came before. Great teachers are somehow born and not made, and they alone can fix everything, and they are apparently distributed randomly throughout the population. Somehow by lowering standards, lowering pay, destabilizing pay, and removing job security, we will attract more of them and flush them out.
That’s 18 dumb things in one short article. I suppose Forbes could get better articles if they paid less and let anybody write for them.
ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN AMERICA
It seems to be a source pride among some Americans, to be ignorant.
What is worth thinking about, however, is what has been termed “America’s Cult of Ignorance.” An article addressing that issue began with my favorite Isaac Asimov quote:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
VOUCHERS DON’T WORK, BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER
Here are some reasons that Indiana’s legislators don’t care about the negative results of vouchers.
Legislators don’t care. They want to send more money away from public schools. The results don’t matter. They have stopped claiming that vouchers will “save” poor kids from failing schools. No one was saved.
They don’t care. They want to do harm to the schools that enroll the vast majority of students.
Why? I don’t know. What do you think can explain their determination to throw more money into vouchers now that they know they are ineffective?
There’s no academic reason for vouchers. Politicians and policy makers ought to quit pretending that they’re pushing the privatization of public education “for children.”
Then there is DeVos’s promotion of tax cuts for the wealthy under the guise of vouchers. Vouchers are another avenue for school choice. Students take the money allotted to educate them in a public school and move it to a private school in the form of a scholarship. Yet even voucher supporters must reckon with research showing vouchers don’t work. If the most recent studies show that vouchers don’t work, how does that create equity for our students? If equity isn’t the goal, then why the need to pretend we need vouchers for our most marginalized families?
INDIANAPOLIS: THE “DESTROY PUBLIC EDUCATION” (DPE) MOVEMENT
This excellent post by Diane Ravitch explains how the Indianapolis public schools are being destroyed and privatized. The quote below is from a commenter…
Comment from “Retiredteacher
Privatization is like a creeping virus that slowing erodes the immune system and the ability to fight the infection. We have seen similar patterns at work in numerous cities. Privatization is the result of collusion between the local government and a variety of foundations backed by dark money, and it is supported by members of both major political parties. Supporters of public education must organize to fight back in the media, the courts and the voting booths. We should remind people that no system of privatization has ever solved society’s problems. The big byproducts of privatization are destruction of public education, increased misuse of local tax dollars, loss of democratic power, and increased segregation. Privatization is a massive shift of wealth from the working class to the wealthy.
The last sentence below clearly states the bottom-line for charter schools…
According to charter school admission documents, the Shadeland Carpe Diem’s funding was composed of the following:
$245,000 Philanthropic Donation
$90,000 Federal Start-up funds (1st year)
$240,000 Federal Start-up funds (2nd year)
$240,000 Federal Start-up funds (2nd year)
The charter also gets $500/student from the Charter School Grant Fund. (This is a property tax replacement fund. Charter schools do not get property tax dollars.)
Like Indiana public schools, the Charter also received funds from the Common School Loan Program.
“In retrospect, it was really too fast, too soon,” said Carpe Diem Board President Jason Bearce. “We just weren’t able to get the enrollment to make the budget balance.”