"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, January 06, 2006

Voices of Teachers Conspicuously Absent

Now that vouchers were struck down in Florida -- where will all those children in failing schools go? Jeb's plan to sell the state's schools to the highest bidder and indoctrinate Florida's youth into the neocon vision of The Rapture just hit a speed bump. Now what? Up until now the plan to leave the poorest and neediest children behind in those failing public schools seemed so perfect. The conservative ideologues who have been busy finding new and creative ways to bash teachers, destroy the unions and public schools by setting them up for failure just got their wake up call. This battle is just beginning and it's time for teachers to weigh in.

This article in The Boston Globe by S. Paul Reville, President of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, says as the number of failing schools ratchets up under NCLB, it's time to bring teachers to the table. Reville says the voices of teachers have been absent from the debate and attributes this to current reform efforts that view teachers as the problem, not the solution:

"Conspicuously absent in the debate on intervention has been the role and voices of teachers and teacher unions, arguably the front line troops in any 'turnaround' strategy. There seems to be a belief in some policy circles that school improvement can be accomplished in spite of teachers rather than with them.

"Some of the assumptions embedded in the prominent strategies, management prerogatives, turnaround partners, chartering, and privatization imply that teachers are the problem rather than part of the solution, that the source of expertise on fixing school problems is external rather than internal or that current leadership is highly competent. Although each of these assumptions is sometimes true, none is always or typically correct."

The dangerous and destructive policies being inflicted upon schools, teachers and students through a thinly-masked disguise for school privatization is starting to unravel. The setback for voucher proponents in Florida just provided an empty seat at the table -- it's time for teachers to speak up and take their rightful places.

1 comment:

  1. "it's time for teachers to speak up and take their rightful places."

    amen.

    how do you suppose we might help them feel comfortable, or in some cases, help them to recognize that what they are experiencing in their own schools is occuring nationally and as a result of the act...

    these are people on the treadmill... and often they are employees of institutions with political allegiance to and in compliance with the act...

    how do you reach them? they are oppressed, sometimes rightfully paranoid and they are struggling with their time and energy to meet all the demands...they don't always even have a grasp or understanding of the act; they are focussed moreso on the demands of their current boe and superintendent by way of the school's administrative control.

    i agree, it is time for them and important for them to raise their voices. how can we help? how can we let them know and also address their real concern for their professional security?

    teachers endure so many changes and so little consideration or power. with this perspective, how can we convince them that this is not simply another administrative policy which will be out the door next year if they just keep doing their job.

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