"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

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week - A Slap in the Face

President Obama has declared this National Charter Schools Week...I wonder if he even was aware that it's Teacher Appreciation Week as well. Diane Ravitch noticed...
“Incubators of Innovation?”

I wonder if he ever visited the website http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/.

I wonder if he knows about the nation’s largest charter chain, the Gulen network, run by associates of a Turkish imam. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/largest-charter-network-in-us-schools-tied-to-turkey/2012/03/23/gIQAoaFzcS_blog.html); (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/world/middleeast/turkey-feels-sway-of-fethullah-gulen-a-reclusive-cleric.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all).

I wonder if he was thinking about the “no excuses” charter schools, where mostly black children are taught obedience, conformity, and docility.

I wonder if he was thinking about the studies showing that charters are even more segregated than their host districts.

I wonder if he was thinking about New Orleans, where charters have displaced the public education system, and the district is the lowest, or next to the lowest performing in a low-performing state.

I wonder if he was thinking of the for-profit charters, which are making a bundle.

I wonder if he was thinking of the for-profit online corporation, whose CEO was paid $5 million last year.

I wonder if he has heard of the many studies showing that charters on average don’t get better results than public schools.

Or maybe he was thinking about the campaign cash of the Wall Street hedge fund managers who love charters.
Charters were supposed to be 'incubators of innovation' -- at least that's what Albert Shankar envisioned when he described them in 1988. However, the charter schools of today aren't the ones he imagined...
Shanker also saw charter schools as a way to empower teachers, free them from overly bureaucratic regulations, and strengthen their voice in school and curriculum decision-making. In his view, unions were essential to charter schools, because unions help create the kind of secure work environment that encourages innovation and risk-taking.
What we have today are schools whose bottom line is profit...not innovation. See for example...
Corinne Driscoll from Syracuse NY has a letter to the editor in which she calls out the hypocrisy of politicians.
To the Editor:

This week is the annual celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week. Politicians of every stripe and school superintendents everywhere will write letters and make proclamations stating how much they value the service and dedication of teachers everywhere. All of these words are empty and merely paying lip service to something they do not believe. By their actions, these ''leaders'' have made it obvious that they neither appreciate, admire, respect nor comprehend the jobs of the people who spend their days with the nation's children. Nor do they understand the first thing about the children in those classrooms.

On every occasion possible, they talk about incompetent and ineffective teachers as if they are the norm instead of the rare exception. They create policies that tie teachers' hands, making it more and more difficult for them to be effective. They cut budgets, eliminate classroom positions, overload classrooms, remove supports, choose ineffective and downright useless instructional tools, set up barriers to providing academic assistance, and then very quickly stand up and point fingers at teachers, blaming them for every failure of American society, and washing their own hands of any blame.

They make children endure things they would never allow for themselves: nine hours of testing over two weeks, with no breaks during each session for children as young as 8; reading tests for English as a Second Language students who have only been in the United States for one year; math tests for those same ESL students, eligible as soon as they set foot in the school; testing for children with severe learning and physical challenges. And when the scores for these children are not at the top, it's the teachers' fault.

We are taught as teachers to value the individual, that each child learns at his/her own pace, that we should vary instruction and testing to accommodate all learning styles, that all children have differing talents and all are equally valuable. But our ''leaders'' think of children as parts on an assembly line. If we plug in A, and tighten screw B, all will be well, and every child will be a carbon copy of the other — on the same date all children of the same age will get the same score on the same test.

Well, folks, education is not a product, it's a process; a school is not a factory. Children are not identical machine parts, but complex human beings coming to school with a whole variety of baggage, both good and bad. So, stop blaming the teachers and setting up roadblocks to keep us from doing what needs to be done. And keep your empty words to yourself. Your actions have already shown us what you really think.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


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