"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.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 Medley #3

Obama and Race to the Top, De-professionalization of Teachers, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Teachers are Tired of Being Bullied, Teachers' Salaries

Does President Obama Know What Race to the Top Is?
In his State of the Union address...[President Obama] said that he wanted teachers to "stop teaching to the test." He also said that teachers should teach with "creativity and passion." And he said that schools should reward the best teachers and replace those who weren't doing a good job. To "reward the best" and "fire the worst," states and districts are relying on test scores. The Race to the Top says they must.

Deconstruct this. Teachers would love to "stop teaching to the test," but Race to the Top makes test scores the measure of every teacher. If teachers take the President's advice (and they would love to!), their students might not get higher test scores every year, and teachers might be fired, and their schools might be closed.

In what other profession...
In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer”, or “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”

...what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.

For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

21st Century Teachers: Easy to Hire, Easy to Fire
Just as the assembly line rendered all workers interchangeable, and thus, easy to hire, and easy to fire, the current education reforms focusing on teacher accountability, value-added methods (VAM) of evaluating teachers, and the growing fascination with Teach for America (TFA) are seeking the same fact for teachers: A de-professionalized workforce of teaching as a service industry, easy to hire, and easy to fire.

On the road again: State schools chief popular headliner across the country

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett takes his show on the road...
As the Indiana Department of Education implements an ambitious and far-reaching agenda, its leader is spending much of his time on the road extolling voucher programs, charter schools and collective bargaining limits to special-interest groups in other states. News coverage suggests the first-term Republican is the go-to state official for school reform tactics pushed by right-leaning organizations.

Teachers Tired of Being Bullied to Death
Imagine you've had one of the worst weeks of your life. You haven't slept in months, you have money troubles building, your relationships are failing, you feel unheard and unappreciated at home and at work, you worry daily about your future and whether or not you will have a job next year or even next week, and the idea of getting up to go to work the next day is practically unbearable. You need a moment to catch your breath, a moment to clear the clutter of worry, failure and fear from your clouded mind. But you don't get it. There is too much to get done. And all the while, you think, if I don't get it done, I am failing these kids. I have no choice but to keep pushing.

Now add onto that a vindictive, power-hungry boss who would fire you as soon as look at you, and colleagues at work who are themselves so tired, afraid and overwhelmed that they are one bad day from breakdown...

Now imagine turning on your TV...to see yet another story loudly proclaiming that the problem with America's schools is, well, you. "More teachers must be fired!" they scream. "Teachers are the ones failing the kids, we need to hold them accountable!" "Teachers are lazy and need to work longer, harder, for less pay!" "Teacher pensions are destroying our economy!" (Whoa, did I miss the part where newspapers yelled at the people who caused the financial crisis that is slashing education budgets around the country? Are the mortgage brokers, big banks and financial industries getting demeaned every five seconds? How about the corporations not paying their fair share of taxes which help schools? And don't forget the politicians and their horrible education policies. Surely no one reading the news is believing this baloney, are they?) And every time you hear the insults or name-calling you think to yourself, "Well what the heck are any of you doing to help these kids..." The unfairness of it all burns.

Alabama Republican Senator: Low teacher pay mandated by God

This same legislator voted himself a 67% pay raise because "by paying legislators more, they're less susceptible to taking bribes."
A Republican State Senator from Alabama claimed this week that keeping teacher salaries low is actually an order from the Christian deity figure, imparted in ancient texts written by Jewish tribesmen thousands of years ago.

Alabama ranks 31st in the nation in average teacher salaries, although the state did see an 11 percent increase in teacher pay from 2007-2009. The state’s Republicans have adopted so-called “right to work” laws that forbid public employees from collectively bargaining for better wages and benefits.

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