The United States seems to be going out of its way to damage public education and discourage public school teachers. We ignore the voices of educators and ignore current educational research (much of which is done in the U.S.) used by high achieving nations. Instead we listen to edupreneurs interested in profit, politicians looking for kickbacks, and policy makers who don't know anything about teaching, public schools, or public education.
We create "failing schools" by defining success using narrow, standardized test-based results and force teachers to teach in ways they know are developmentally or academically inappropriate. In addition we ignore out of school factors that lead to lowered student standardized test-based achievement.
Finally, we create educational models which discourage young people from choosing education as a career and push out current career teachers. We use "failing schools" as an excuse to blame teachers, bust unions, and privatize. Meanwhile, the needs of our most vulnerable students are being neglected.
From Carl Sagan in 1989.
...we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line.
What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society, as resentful for the injustice served up to them. This is stupid.
How America Is Breaking Public Education
From Ethan Siegel, Forbes
...despite knowing what a spectacular teacher looks like, the educational models we have in place actively discourage every one of these.
TEACHING IS MORE THAN FACT TRANSFER
Open Letter to Fellow NC Public School Teachers – What We Do Still Cannot Really Be Measured
This is true for teachers everywhere...
From Stu Egan
How schools and students are measured rarely takes into account that so much more defines the academic and social terrain of a school culture than a standardized test can measure. Why? Because there really is not anything like a standardized student. Experienced teachers understand that because they look at students as individuals who are the sum of their experiences, backgrounds, work ethic, and self-worth. Yet, our General Assembly measures them with the very same criteria across the board with an impersonal test.
WALK A MILE IN OUR SHOES
The Educational Malpractice of Ms. Moskowitz
tl;dr: Before you tell teachers what and how to teach, do it yourself. Then, after you've taught for a lifetime, let us know how you feel about someone who has never spent a day in a classroom calling you "stupid" and "lazy."
This is a long quote, but well worth it...and click the link above to read the whole article.
From Mitchell Robinson on Eclectablog
I am beyond tired—beyond exhausted, really—of persons who have never taught anyone anything lecturing the rest of us who have about what we are doing wrong, how stupid we are, how lazy we are, and how they know better than we do when it comes to everything about teaching and learning. How about this, Eva and Elizabeth?–instead of pontificating about things you are equally arrogant and ignorant of, why don’t you each go back to school, get an education degree, or two, or three, get certified, do an internship (for free–in fact, pay a bunch of money to do so), or two, or three, then see if you can find a job in a school. Then, teach.I don’t care what you teach; what grade level; what subject. But stick it out for at least a school year. Write your lesson plans. Grade your papers and projects. Go to all of those grade level meetings, and IEP meetings, and school board meetings, and budget negotiation meetings, and union meetings, and curriculum revision meetings, and curriculum re-revision meetings, and teacher evaluation meetings, and “special area” meetings, and state department of education meetings, and professional development in-services, and parent-teacher conferences, and open houses, and attend all those concerts, and football games, and dance recitals, and basketball games, and soccer matches, and lacrosse games, and honor band concerts, and school musicals, and tennis matches, and plays, and debates, and quiz bowl competitions, and marching band shows, and cheerleading competitions, and swim meets.
Then do it all 10, or 20, or 30 more times, and let me know how you feel about someone who never did ANY of these things, even for a “few lessons“, telling you how stupid, and lazy you are, and how you’re being a “defender of the status quo” if you’re not really excited to immediately implement their “radical, disruptive” ideas about how to “save public education.”
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION?
IN: Diminishing Education
The Indiana State Board of Education ignored the input of dozens of teachers and administrators. They didn't ignore the input from the Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association by a vote of 7-4. All four of the "no" votes came from experienced educators.
Who do you think knows more about public education, educators or business people?
From Peter Greene
But to say that you cannot graduate until you prove that you can be a useful meat widget for a future employer-- that idea represents a hollowing out of educational goals. Be a good citizen? Become a fine parent? Lifelong learning? Developing a deeper, better more well-rounded picture of who you can become as a person, while better understanding what it means to be human in the world? Screw that stuff, kid. Your future employer has the only question that matters-- "What can you do for me, kid?"
Earning an Indiana high school diploma just became a lot more complicated
The new requirements are strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturers Association...
Teachers, principals and superintendents from across Indiana told the state school board during six hours of public testimony Wednesday that the rush to adopt graduation pathways before finalizing how they'll work inevitably will result in another Indiana education fiasco, akin to extra-long standardized testing and the repeatedly revised school accountability grades.
WHY DON'T WE USE OUR OWN RESEARCH?
FreshEd #97 - Should we copy Finland’s education system? (Pasi Sahlberg)
This run-on quote by Finnish educator Past Sahlberg asks why high performing nations are using the newest research on education, much of it coming out of the United States...but we, in the U.S. are ignoring it and continuing our test and punish ways?
From Pasi Sahlberg
...why people are not really taking their own research seriously? How can it be that in the United States, day in and day out, people come across great books and research reports and others and they say, no, this is not how it goes, but when you cross the border, just north of the US, go to Canada, and you see how differently policy makers, politicians, and everybody takes the global international research nowadays, and they consider their findings and look at the findings of the research compared to their own practice and policies and their finding inconsistencies there just like in Finland, they are willing and able to change the course. But not in the US.
Billionaires get handouts. My students don’t even get toilet paper.
Would you work at a place where the budget was so tight that you were allotted one roll of toilet paper a year?
Could you run your classroom on one roll of toilet paper per school year? How can a "civilized" society treat any of its citizens in this manner? How can we treat our children like this?
"There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children." – Nelson Mandela.
From Katherine Brezler, a second-grade teacher in The Bronx and a candidate for New York State Senate in the 37th District.
While billionaires get a handout, my students — and students across the country — get one roll of toilet paper. Every year that I’ve been a teacher, that roll is gone well before the year is over. Simple hygienic necessities should not be subject to budget constraints. Our teachers and students deserve dignity and respect.
Looking Back: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
I've been saving this quote. It contains material which has been difficult for me to confront. The Looking Back article, from the blog, Reading While White, deals with the children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, its racist content, and the racism of its author, Roald Dahl.
There is no denying that Roald Dahl was a racist and anti-semite and those prejudices leaked into his work. [See here, here, and here.] I accept that.
I accept the fact that Dahl and his agents attempted to purge the book of its more blatant expressions of racism by rewriting the Oompa Loompas as non-black and non-African pygmies in the second and later editions, as well as the movies based on the book. I also accept that those rewrites did not completely remove all offensive elements from the book.
The quote below deals with how to come to terms with a beloved book, and I do love this book, which is so obviously flawed. The author wonders if her love of the book was not based on the actual book, but on the circumstances of her exposure: a favorite teacher and a highly motivating environment and study of the book.
What if, she asks, we had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory critically?
[Full disclosure: My son, a children's librarian in the Midwest, is one of the authors of the Reading While White blog, though he did not write this particular post.]
From Elisa Gall in Reading While White
...every time that critical voice or bubble of discomfort arose, I chose not to pay attention to it. It was selective memory, because I did not want to let this book go. I have to call that what it really is: White fragility (and other kinds of fragility, considering the myriad ways this book is problematic). I can’t help but wonder now if my love for this book wasn’t caused by Dahl’s craft at all, but by the joy of remembering reading the book all by myself, or the kickass teacher who made her class immersive and fun (let’s not forget the bathtub). Still, it's worth noting that criticisms of this book are not new. As long as there have been children's books, there have been people working against racism in children's books. My teacher was awesome in a lot of ways, but she did put time and effort into a celebration of THAT title. What if we had read something else? Or what if we had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory critically?