The purpose of this blog is to know and understand the teacher's perspective concerning current issues on education reform and the teaching profession. Inputs from the ones who probably knows what is best for students academically -- the teachers -- are rarely considered in decision making of policies. Yet, these so-called education experts and lawmakers dictate how we do our jobs and what we should teach. That's not right!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Compilation of Sensible Rhetoric

I worked hard at memorizing lists of facts and figures, and carried with me a book of facts ~ Charles Van Doren

For the past two days, there has been a couple of interesting "lists" based on common-sense logic, experiences, and "white lies", from likely and unlikely sources. I would like to share and compile some of those lists below:

Yesterday, accomplished teacher/instructional coach-turned-activist/writer, Anthony Cody, created a list of nonsense ideas being touted by ed deformers and complementing each item with a common sense approach he and other educators (including myself) believe is necessary for meaningful school reform (in colored bold and larger font) -- see here for article:
  • Poverty is just an exuse; poverty matters.
  • Class size doesn't matter; class sizes matters in many ways
  • Test scores are the way we measure student learning; when we focus all of our energy on only one set of measurements, we miss so many other crucial aspects of learning
  • Reform MUST be driven by external measures such as high stakes tests; assessments are most useful and reliable when they are closely connected to classroom instruction
  • [Classroom] experience does not matter; experience matters very much
  • Tenure provides teachers with lifetime jobs... Teachers do not have "jobs for life"; we have due process.
  • Charter schools are deserving of public funds and support; actually, charters have not even been shown to have better test scores, on average, than regular public schools
  • The heart and soul of a school is in our passion for data; the heart and soul of a school is in our passion for children
Today, from of all places -- the Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney magazine, author Sarah Morgan included in her compilations of "10 THINGS" a list of truths charter schools would like to keep out of public domain:
  1. We're no better than public schools
  2. Our teachers aren't certified
  3. Plus, they keep quitting
  4. Students with disabilities need not apply
  5. Separation of church and state? We found a loophole
  6. We don't have to tell you where your tax dollars are going
  7. We'll do anything to recruit more kids...
  8. ...but we'll push them out if they don't perform
  9. Success can be brought
  10. Even great teachers can only do so much
As a supplement, SmartMoney has a similar "10 THINGS" list for public school districts as well; you can view that list at your perusal.

Finally, in a call for more activism from educators and public education advocates, Failing Schools' blogger Sabrina Stevens Shupe included in her plead an accurate list of characteristics that makes schools "sick environments":
  • The mandated curriculum and teaching practices are often drastically out of step with what is known about how people learn
  • Children have little to no time to play (especially if they don’t pass the tests), and people are openly hostile to the idea that joy and learning can co-exist, or the idea that creativity is as important as basic skills
  • Children are so anxious about work and tests that they cry and vomit in class. (There’s also something pathological about a paper that reports on such occurrences as if they’re positive developments…)
  • Bullying is committed not only by errant children, but by school leaders
  • Parents are pressured to medicate their young children, while older students illegally procure the same drugs in order to survive the schooling experience
  • Teachers who routinely work 10 to 12 hours a day have trouble keeping up with all of the demands on their time and energy, and develop severe health problems like exhaustion, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, and anxiety as a result
  • Children who routinely work 10 to 12 hours a day have trouble keeping up with all of the demands on their time and energy, and develop severe health problems…
  • Lying is all but required in order to keep your job, and competitive/punitive assessment practices for students and teachers create such desperation that cheating is increasingly common.
  • The most “accountable” people in the system are the least powerful, being told everything from what to teach and how and when to teach it to the specific manner in which the information on their whiteboards should be arranged (and if you dare to question such things, well…)
  • Veteran teachers who found joy in teaching for decades are now itching to retire because their working conditions have deteriorated so badly, while younger teachers leave much sooner, feeling undervalued, burned out and unable to imagine how we might balance such work with families or lives of our own.

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