I've labored the last few weeks writing articles about local issues for Huntington teachers to consider. This morning I waited out a little rain by browsing the web. I barely got around the fringes before I realized nearly everything I have written has already been written. In many instances, these ideas have been written, well-written, many times already.
It's a great big world out there. Honestly, sometimes changes come a little slower in small rural towns. It is comforting and encouraging to read that others have already been fighting where we are now headed.
School board sends state legislature resolution to dump flawed state system: (Let's vote in a school board this fall bold enough to do the right thing!)
It is because of the belief that poor teaching is the reason American schools are failing. The perception that our schools are failing, however, is based only on American students’ international test scores. Rarely mentioned is the finding that middle-class American students in well-funded schools score at the top of the world on these tests; our overall scores are unspectacular because we have the highest percentage of children living in poverty among all industrialized countries.
The problem is thus not teacher quality.
Not only will excessive standardized tests — now used to evaluate teachers — make children hate school, but the whole test-based accountability movement has served to narrow the curriculum and turn many classrooms into test-prep factories. Parents are discovering that their children are not only unhappy at school but not well prepared for higher education or challenging careers.
There are, though, signs of hope. In Chicago and New York, Occupy groups are uniting with teachers, parents and students to fight school closings; in New York, parents groups have rallied to the defense of teachers stigmatized by the publication of outrageously inaccurate teacher ratings; in Florida, a pernicious “parent trigger” law favoring charter schools was just defeated in the legislature with a big push from parents.
These actions are, hopefully, just the beginning of a transformation of public consciousness that will lead to an end of the war on teachers.
Did you see Newsweek last week? What a stunning and uninformed attack on teachers and teachers' unions. The cover of the magazine told the story: The Key to Saving American Education, by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert. It was printed on a classroom blackboard. In the background, on the same blackboard, was the handwritten phrase, repeated again and again, "We must fire bad teachers."
The story itself is a parody of a right-wing rant. It seems that the nation's classrooms are overrun with "bad teachers," pedophiles, "weak" teachers, ineffective teachers, dumb teachers, and others who remain in the classroom only because they have "lifetime tenure." Evil teachers' unions protect these people who are harming our nation's children. Researchers now know, the writers say, that if we could fire all these malingerers, the notorious achievement gap between the races would soon close and America would once again lead the world in education.