"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

Friday, June 21, 2013

Weakening the Teaching Profession

I posted a list by Bonnie Lesley of “Texas Kids Can’t Wait” -- of the steps being taken around the country to privatize public education.

One of her items -- number 5 -- dealt with the deprofessionalizing of educators.
Fifth, de-professionalize educators with alternative certification, merit pay, evaluations tied to test scores, scripted curriculum, attacks on professional organizations, phony research that tries to make the case that credentials and experience don’t matter, etc.

Among the obstacles standing in the way of privatizing public education are public educators. People become educators for a variety of reasons, but it usually has to do with one or more of the following. People become teachers...
  • because they were inspired by a teacher during their student years and want to provide the same inspiration to others. Ask any teacher why they chose that career and they will usually name one of their own teachers as a major influence.
  • because they enjoy being around young people. They enjoy watching children grow -- physically, academically and socially.
  • because, in the words of Christa McAuliffe, they want to "touch the future."
  • because they want to give back to the community in some way
[People who go into teaching because "it's easy," "you get your summers off" or "it pays well," are likely included in the nearly 50% of teachers who don't last more than 5 years.]

In order to weaken public schools to the point where privatization is possible "reformers" understand that they must weaken the influence of those who devote their lives to working with children. This is done by
  • minimizing the value of experience and preparation. Lower (or remove altogether) the requirements for becoming a professional educator.
  • weaken the teachers unions by blaming them (and their members) for the economic ills of the nation.
  • place the entire responsibility for student achievement on teachers while minimizing or ignoring out-of-school factors which contribute to learning

Stephen Krashen explains it in more detail.
What the war on education is all about

Stephen Krashen - The goal of the war against teachers is to eliminate the concept of teaching as a profession, to be replaced by temps (e.g. Teach For America) and eventually be replaced largely by technology (ultimate goal of flipped classrooms). The reason is 100% financial -- so that the .01% can grab nearly all of the money teachers earn as well as profit from electronic/virtual teaching.

The plan

1. Keep pressure on teachers by making their lives as difficult as possible and their task totally impossible. The common core standards and tests are a major part of this.

2. Continue to attack the teaching profession: The message will continue to be that the US is in economic trouble because of bad education, which is because of bad teachers.

3. The public, media, and politicians will have no sympathy for teachers’ pointing out how difficult teaching has become, This will be seen as whining, and teachers will then resign/quit in greater numbers.

4. Continue to stress the importance of teacher evaluation, This sends the message that teachers are not doing their job and that there are a lot of bad teachers out there who must be identified and fired.

5. Continue to push the idea that TFAs as just as good or better than experienced teachers.

6. Do not reward teachers for experience, for years of service. This will also encourage more experienced teachers to retire/resign, creating more room for lower-paid temps in the system.

7. Gradually increase the percentage of teachers who are temps as teachers retire and as they leave the profession because of frustration, This releases money because experienced teachers cost much more than temps. The result is more money for technology.

8. Continue to convince the public that all technology is wonderful. Use this to push flipped classrooms and glorify the Khan Academy. The role of teachers will then be diminished to the equivalent of TA's. This reduces time spent in classrooms (lowers salaries even more), and lowers the status of teachers even more, as well as saving more salary money and increasing teacher frustration. Hire part-timers (no benefits) to serve as supplements to virtual teaching. This will be promoted as expanded opportunity for jobs, no teaching credential required. The public will accept this because they will have lost all respect for teacher credentials.

Look for even more attacks on teachers and teachers unions. This makes sure there is no sympathy for teachers when they complain and no public outcry when teachers leave the profession and are replaced with temps and part-timers.
Education researcher Richard Allington commented on Krashen's list...
I would add that eliminating teachers as full-time employees would save states lots of money that now goes to support teacher pensions and health insurance. Make teaching worse than a blue collar job in terms, salaries, benefits, and autonomy and you won't have to worry about any surplus of folks who want to become teachers.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.


Stop the Testing Insanity!


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