Instead of imagining a world in which teachers are easier to fire, we should work to imagine one in which firing is rarely necessary. Because you don't put an effective teacher in every classroom by holding a sword over their heads. You do it by putting tools in their hands. -- Jack Schneider, LA Times quoted in Making it easier to fire teachers won't get you better onesThe Promise
"Public education is a promise we make to the children of our society, and to their children, and to their children." -- John Kuhn on Twitter in Random Quotes - December 2014Neglect and Deflection
If you see all the needs of public schools -- high class sizes, books, technology -- all of the things we need, and you have no intention of funding those, wouldn't it be nice to distract people by going, "Look over here, bad teacher, bad teacher, bad teacher, look over here!" Because if you can say "if we just had better teachers the roof wouldn't leak, if we just had better teachers those kids wouldn't come to school hungry," it gives you an excuse to not do anything for that community, or for what that school needs. -- Lily Eskelsen Garcia on the Stephanie Miller ShowTeachers Know What Students Need
I teach at a school with 73% free/reduced lunch. Over 40 languages are spoken within my school. I know what our children need - they need wrap around services for poverty, books, librarians, small class size, health care, nurses, counselors, recess, quality food, and the opportunity to express their interests as they talk, read, write, play, sing, dance, create and smile. But you see, that doesn't create corporate profit. Poverty must be ignored in order to keep corporate profit churning. -- Parents, I Cannot Protect Your Children by Peg with PenListen to the Children
In the cacophony of reform chatter -- online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents -- one can barely hear the children crying out: "Pay attention to us!" -- Steve Nelson in Education Reform: A National DelusionPublic Education
"There is a place in America to take a stand: it is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny... It is in public education that the American dream begins to take shape." —- Tom BrokawOn Teaching
Nearly half of all teachers leave the field within their first 5 years. Many find out the hard way that they aren't cut out for teaching...or that it's not as easy as they thought it would be. Many didn't realize that it's not a 6 hours a day, 9 months a year job, but one that takes hours and hours of preparation, thought and work. Many can't handle the emotional investment in the lives of children.Poverty Matters
The old adage which states that "those who can't, teach" has it backwards. Teaching is doing...and it's those who can't who must move on to some other, less important line of work. -- Me in Teaching as a Luxury
"Thousands of studies have linked poverty to academic achievement. The relationship is every bit as strong as the connection between cigarettes and cancer." —- David Berliner, Our Impoverished View of Ed. Reform, Aug. 2005Teachers of Conscience
The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.Recommendations for Business
Pick the business of anybody on the Gates Foundation board of directors. Pick any one. Now imagine me, a teacher, showing up at the CEO's office and saying, "Hey, some of us at my high school formed a study group and we've come up with some recommendations about how your business should be run. And if you don't want to listen to us, we'll call up our friends in DC and make you listen to us." – Peter Green in Curmudgucation: The Wrongest Sentence Ever in the CCSS DebateDoing Education
Education doesn’t go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools. And the people who do it are the teachers and the students... – Ken RobinsonFixing Schools
Attempting to fix inner-city schools without fixing the city in which they are embedded, is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door. – Jean Anyon in Ghetto Schooling.Difference in Schools
In schools for the rich, children get taught. In schools for the poor, children get tested. – Diane Ravitch.Hypocrisy of "Leaders"
"...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." Corinne Driscoll, Syracuse, NYPoverty is not Destiny
"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....What other nation would accept a poverty rate of almost a quarter of its children?" Me in Reformer's ExcusesTeach What you know
"Teach what you know, regardless of when you have learned it - teach what you learned yesterday, sagely, as if you have known it all your life, and teach what you have known for decades with enthusiasm, as if you learned it only yesterday." Mercedes Lackey in OwlknightResentment
"Fox News – whose TV personalities resent the idea that a public school teacher who imparts facts might receive a tiny fraction of what they are paid for broadcasting lies..." -- Joe Conason, Oklahoma Observer (Subscription required)Inspired Learning
"I just finished reading 'Henry Huggins' to my third grade class. We stopped and discussed the choice Ribsy had to make and that there was no right or wrong answer, just like many times in life. They broke into applause at the end and begged me to read the sequel. Many of them are now checking out other Beverly Cleary books from the library to read on their own. They not only learned about moral dilemmas, but it has helped inspire a love of reading." -- Third Grade Teacher, Daily Censored, 10/18/11, Crocodile in the Common Core StandardsOne Size Does NOT Fit All
"[F]orcing all schools to teach the same thing the same way discriminates against those who may differ, punishes those who are innovative, and deprives local schools and educators of their autonomy and resources to actually help their children." -- Yong Zhao, in Mass Localism for Improving America's Ed, 4/24/12A Feudal System
"A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs." -- Chris Hedges, in Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System, Common Dreams, 4/11/11Teachers as Temps
"Teachers are the biggest obstacle in the way of the corporate educational coup, which is why the billionaires, eagerly assisted by their servants in the Obama administration, have made demonization and eventual destruction of teachers unions their top priority. -- Glen Ford, in Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps, Black Agenda Report, May 25, 2011How About Professionals?
I was in a doctor's office in Manhattan last year getting tests done to try to determine the origin of some weird chest pains when the doctors asked what I did for a living. I told them, and they asked if I was in Teach for America. My expression must have betrayed my feelings because they asked what problems I had with the organization. I just shook my head. "Who's going to teach those kids if not for TFA?" they asked. "How about qualified professionals?" I said coldly. "I wouldn't feel very good right now if you two were just out of undergrad and about to go to med school, would I?" -- James Boutin in An Urban Teacher's Education - Teach for America: Here We Go AgainWhat Motivates Teachers
Teachers are neither mercenaries nor missionaries. They do the best they can in spite of - not because of - the salaries they receive. Reformers who have never taught do not understand what motivates teachers. I don't think they ever will. All the more reason to be skeptical about "innovative" merit pay plans. -- Walt GardnerTime to Throw Money at the Problem
It’s a well-worn phrase: you can’t just throw money at the problem. Well, what if the problem is a serious lack of money? -- David B. Cohen, Accomplished California TeachersEnding Poverty’s Influence on Education
"To ignore [the reality of poverty] and make bold assertions that all children can achieve while doing nothing to address the outside-of-school challenges they face is neither fair nor a sound basis for developing public policy." -- ‘Broader, bolder’ strategy to ending poverty’s influence on education by Pedro NogueraCampbell's Law
"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor." -- Donald Campbell
"Kids can’t be taught to think better using tests that can’t measure how well they think." -- Marion Brady
Unleash Human Creativity
"Somewhere along the line we've forgotten that education is not about getting this or that score on a test, but it is about enlarging hearts, minds, and spirits. It's about fulfilling human potential and unleashing human creativity. It's about helping children understand that the world is a place full of wonder, truly wonder-full. It's about giving children the tools they will need to participate in a complex global world where we can't imagine today what the next twenty years, let alone century, will bring" -- Susan Zimmerman in Comprehension Going Forward
Science is True
It's Not an Excuse, It's a Diagnosis!
Our achievement gap is an opportunity gap. Our education problem is a poverty problem. Test scores don't scream bad teaching. They scream about our nation's systematic neglect of children who live in the wrong zip codes.
Listen to me, Arne Duncan: It's poverty, stupid. And that's not an excuse...it's a diagnosis. We must as a nation stop assuaging the symptoms and start treating the disease. -- John Kuhn, Superintendent of superintendent of Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, Perrin, Texas
"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." -- Neil deGrasse Tyson
We Help Them More
"...John Jackson of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. He said that he had recently visited some high-performing nations, and at each stop he would ask someone from the ministry of education: 'What do you do about bad teachers?' The answer invariably was, 'We help them.' And he asked, 'What if you help them and they are still bad teachers?' And the response was, 'We help them more." -- Diane Ravitch in What Works Best: Help or Punishment?
The Irrelevance of Teachers
"Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither." -- Jill Gorman (who got this quote from a friend, who got it from a friend...)
"The school curriculum is where the world (could be) explained to the young...it is where...academic knowledge meets the neighborhood, where the abstraction of knowledge encounters the concrete specificity of students. The crucial character of the school curriculum is why even "democratic" governments have taken hold of the schools. Not explicitly, as that would disclose political agendas. Instead, 'democratic' states take hold of schools indirectly, through standardized examinations whereby the curriculum becomes a means to an end. Rendered irrelevant in such 'accountability' schemes is teachers' professional obligation to interpret their subjects - and through such subjects, the world - to their students. In Orwellian language, 'Leave No Child Behind' is disguised as the political agenda to control what children know and think: No child shall be left behind in the charge of intellectually independent teachers, now consigned to speak others' scripts" -- William Pinar" in The Worldliness of a Cosmopolitan Education: Passionate Lives in Public ServiceEveryone is an Expert
"It’s hard to think of another field in which experience is considered a liability and those who know the least about the nuts and bolts of an enterprise are embraced as experts." -- Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine in Teachers Aren't the EnemyJohn Kuhn
"Bail out the bankers and bankrupt the school teachers -- we will still teach...I will never follow the lead of those who exclude the kids who need education the most so that my precious scores will rise. I will never line up with those whose idea of reform is the subtle segregation of the poor and desperate. I want no part of the American caste system." -- John Kuhn, Superintendent of superintendent of Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, Perrin, Texas
A Moment of National Insanity
"Our schools remain subject to a failed federal accountability system. We are packing children into crowded classrooms, ignoring the growing levels of child poverty (the U.S. now leads all advanced nations in infant mortality), and putting fear into the hearts of our nation's teachers. Who will want to teach? How does any of this improve schools or benefit children? Do you understand it? I don't." -- Diane Ravitch in A Moment of National Insanity
Educators Should Be Heard
"I know Obama's heart is in the right place when he urges young people to become teachers; but I am finding it harder and harder to see why anyone would want to go into teaching, given the outrageous abuse the profession is enduring from the politicians, the press, and the choruses of amateur edubabblers that are drowning out the voices of real educators at every level." -- by ahasting0, commenting on the blog, Race to the Top of What? Obama On Education, By STANLEY FISH
Who Do We Blame?
"Breathtaking. We continue to go through the worst recession since the depression in which the American taxpayer bailed out some of the most wealthy people who ever lived and it's labor unions who are given the blame. The people who teach your kids take the blame. The people who plow your snow take the blame. The recipients who we bailed out, get richer and richer and they serve no tangible purpose. They exist to create their own wealth. What a country." —Reader Comment, New York Times, 1/4/2011, quoted in Notable Quotes by Susan Ohanian
1/5 of American Students Live in Poverty
"The relationship between SES [socioeconomic status] and achievement was consistent across all 20 countries. Students with highest levels of SES, as measured in this study, had an educational advantage over their lowest SES counterparts. This reinforces the associations previously documented in the literature both in the United States and abroad between SES and student educational achievement." — U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, April 2006)
A Major National Fraud!
"I now freely concede that I was wrong to support the expansion of testing and accountability. I believe that this approach has created a major national fraud, as the more we rely on testing, and the more we emphasize accountability, the less interest there is in anything that you [Deborah Meier] or I would recognize as good education." -- Diane Ravitch, Bridging Differences, Ed Week, 11/2/10
"Don't label a school as failing one day and then throw your hands up and walk away from it the next. Don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of a year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test...You didn't devote your lives to testing. You devoted it to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do." -- Barack Obama, Summer 2007
"I just wish that people wouldn't refer to this as reform, because when we talk about Race to the Top, we're talking about a principle that is antithetical to the fundamental idea of American education. The fundamental idea, which has been enshrined at least since the Brown decision of 1954, was equal educational opportunity. Race to the Top is not equal educational opportunity. It is a race in which one or two or three states race to the top to have more privatized schools, more test-based accountability, more basic skills, no emphasis on a broad curriculum for all kids, and no equal educational opportunity. I think that's wrong. I think it's also not the role of the federal government to do what's being done and to call it reform." — Diane Ravitch, Democracy Now, March 5, 2010
No Child Left
Lower the Standards
"When Congress passes No Child Left Unfed, No Child Without Health Care and No Child Left Homeless, then we can talk seriously about No Child Left Behind." -- Susan Ohanian
"In a prime example of Orwellian logic, Arne Duncan's corporate bosses have declared that the best way to getting test results in the poor schools that need the most highly qualified teachers is to lower the standards for teacher education..." -- Jim Horn at School's Matter
Always the Teacher's Fault!
"...DID ANYONE ANYWHERE EVER STOP TO THINK THAT MAYBE JUST MAYBE NOT EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH EDUCATION IS THE FAULT OF THE TEACHER? Or that constantly blaming teachers is like beating a dead animal...nothing is going to change if it's already dead, people! The horse is not going to jump up and run away. And the teacher is not going to suddenly stand up and say, 'You're right, thanks for beating me senseless with your incessant criticism yet odd lack of viable suggestions! Let me revolutionize my teaching on my own time with little to no support.'" -- Mrs. Mimi
Higher Test Scores
"If people want higher test scores, they'll get higher test scores. I just hope they don't complain when that's all they get." -- Richard Mandl
Education is a Civil Right
"...states and districts should not have to compete for federal funding to guarantee the civil rights of their students....But, as we saw in Race to the Top, the children in 39 states saw no benefit at all from billions in federal education spending...If the money were truly intended to strengthen education as a civil right, then it should have gone to those who needed it most, not to those who wrote the best proposal or had the best consultants." -- Diane Ravitch
When people have said "poverty is no excuse," my response has been, "Yes, you're right. Poverty is not an excuse. It's a condition. It's like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty." - Gerald Bracey
"I continue to believe that everyone who opines about education should first be required to spend several months in a public school classroom...Only that way can their writing have authenticity. It's called walking around in the other person's shoes." -- Walt Gardner
Can We Afford the Losers?
"I had the opportunity last night to download and look at the blueprint, and my concern as I read through it is the number of times competition and competitive grants is mentioned in it -- that monies would be allocated by competition. Whenever we have competition, we have winners and losers. I don’t believe that we can afford to have losers in education." —- Gary Anhalt, Cedar Rapids Board of Education, 3/14/10
"Accumulation of material should not stifle the students' independence. A society's competitive advantage will come, not from how well schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate the imagination and creativity...Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein
Children Are Not Shoes
"[The Chamber of Commerce] says the public school system, the country’s most important civic institution, should be run like a business, a philosophy championed by some of the most high-profile school reformers today.
"It would be a good idea if it could work, but it can’t, because teaching children of all varying abilities and backgrounds and isn’t like selling shoes. Business people can wish it were all they want, but education is a far more complicated process that can’t be reduced to spreadsheets and charts of data.
"The effort to do so -- now being supported by the Chamber of Commerce, some of the country’s biggest philanthropists, and the Obama administration -- is weakening the public schools and, ultimately, will make it harder to build a dedicated cadre of effective teachers and improve the achievement rates of minorities." -- Valerie Strauss