Here are a dozen passages from the last 12 months with which I've given voice to the concerns I have about privatization, the de-professionalization of teaching and the destruction of public education.
There's also a 13th passage written by someone else...an expression of the frustration felt by teachers all over the country.
A Public Trust
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2011
Parents have the right to demand that schools meet the needs of their children. Municipalities, however, have the obligation to improve the schools. The trend encouraged by the US DOE, which began with No Child Left Behind and continues unabated with Race to the Top, is to throw schools filled with struggling students away, not fix them. They close schools that are in difficulty, ship the students to other schools, open charter schools, and/or fire teachers and principals. None of those "solutions" deal with the core issues of failing schools. None have any research basis whatsoever. The vast majority of charter* schools don't perform better than the vast majority of regular public schools.
It's No Stealth Campaign: Privatization is the Goal
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2011
The Friedmanesque obsession with privatizing everything in sight has already brought us high unemployment...and the highest national poverty levels in a generation. Do we want the same people who brought us the banking/Wall Street fiasco telling us what to do with our public schools?
Lessons Learned: Kimberly's Story...continued
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2012
As educators we try to help our students grow, not just academically, but emotionally and personally. The most important moments in a student's school life are generally not when he or she gets an A in a course or on a test. Just like in "real life" the most important moments in school come when children are challenged. Developing a positive response to those challenges is more important than any test or grade.
The ability to face challenges is perhaps the most important skill we learn in life. Developing the courage to face obstacles can mean the difference between a successful life and an unsuccessful one. Courage is not the absence of fear...it doesn't mean you're not afraid. Courage means you face what life offers you despite the fear which threatens to immobilize you.
2012 Medley #2: Obama on education in State of the Union address
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2012
If "teachers matter" why doesn't the President honor teachers by appointing a teacher as the Secretary of Education? He appointed a doctor as Surgeon General...an attorney as Attorney General...isn't the Department of Education important enough to warrant a professional as it's head?
Retention in Grade as Child Abuse
SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2012
Until the United States is willing to provide the resources needed to educate all our children there will be those who fail and those who fall through the cracks. Since those children are, according to the research on retention, minorities, poor, and the hardest to educate, they get ignored by all those who don’t work with them specifically. Politicians like to pretend they don't exist...or that it's their own fault. They get the fewest resources, the least experienced teachers, and the most “teaching to the test.” Despite lip service from politicians, our nation’s children, unfortunately, aren’t a national priority.
Democrats Sell out the Public Schools in Indiana
SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2012
More testing...more teaching to the test...more basing teacher evaluations on test scores...more money for private schools...more corporate control over public money...more charter schools -- these are not reforms. These are gifts of our tax money to privatizers. They are tools for the removal of public oversight from public education. They are tools for the destruction of the single most important democratizing institution in our society -- the public schools.
Desire to Learn or Need to Achieve?
MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012
The competitive, data driven madness of the current "race to the top" mentality of education, is robbing today's students of the joy of learning. Children are born with the desire to learn. They are natural wonderers...explorers...analysts. Our society's obsessive focus on "data" crushes the wonder and destroys the internal thirst for understanding. The desire to learn is replaced with the need to achieve.
Facts About the Parent Trigger
MONDAY, AUGUST 13, 2012
The parent trigger is not about parental rights...or parental power. The parent trigger is a way for edupreneurs to take over public schools and reap a profit at public expense. It's not for the parents. It's not for the students...The parent trigger bills don't give parents more control. They give parents less control. They allow 51% of current school parents to give away the public school to a charter operator. What happens in two years if 51% of the parents want to take the school back for the public schools? The parent trigger bills don't allow for that. Once the schools have been converted they're stuck with what they get. No parental rights. No public oversight.
Where are all the "bad" schools?
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2012
American students in schools with low poverty are among the highest achievers in the world. Are there schools which are failing or which need improvement? Of course. The schools most in need are in the same locations where government is failing...where politicians are failing...where our society is failing...
Ravitch, Rhee and Rankings
TUESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2012
The American obsession with rankings and "being number one" has damaged public education. We have never been number one in academic tests yet we've managed to lead the world economically and scientifically (among other things) over the last half century. How is that possible?
Do we blame doctors and hospitals because the United States ranks 37th internationally in health care (behind such places as Luxembourg, Columbia, and Singapore) or 34th in infant mortality rates (which puts us behind Iceland, Slovenia and Cuba)?
We don't have a nation-wide problem with failing schools. What we have is a problem with the failure of our leaders to address the issues facing schools with high levels of poverty. It's time to end the privatization of public education and focus on supporting public schools.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2012
Poverty is not destiny, but in the America of 2012 it's harder to move up the economic ladder than it's ever been. Saying poverty is not destiny is fine...but using it as an excuse to ignore the high levels of poverty in the country and to ignore poverty as a factor in school achievement is wrong...The so-called failure of American education is, in truth, the failure of America. What other nation would accept a poverty rate of almost a quarter of its children?
Thoughts About the Chicago Teachers Strike - Part 3
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
The teachers are demanding books on the first day of class...manageable class sizes...a well rounded curriculum including the arts...libraries for every school (would Emanuel choose to send his children to a school without a library?) and social workers to help children deal with the violence and the poverty in their lives. The fight is as much about children's working conditions as it is about the teachers' working conditions.
Teacher Appreciation Week - A Slap in the Face
WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 2012
by Corinne Driscoll from Syracuse NY
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.
*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It's Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then
Stop the Testing Insanity!