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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Teachers Checking Their Hearts and Souls at the Classroom Door

A clip from a sad, yet insightful, commentary by high school teacher, Demitrious C. Sinor, at truthdig:
. . . .Amid perhaps the most important presidential election since 1932, the statements about education by our presidential and vice presidential candidates, even in the face of our current economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stuck with me more strongly than any other utterance in the debates. There is no secret why: I am a high school teacher. The night of the final debate, I was exhausted. My feet were aching—a consequence of standing on the job for the better part of 10 hours every day as a teacher of United States history. I wanted to relax, but my mind was racing; there is a lot to think about these days.

We have seen a “bailout” of corporate and Wall Street swindlers, with the working class being forced to pick up the tab. The administration has continued to escalate defense spending while cutting taxes, never seeming to consider the dire social, international and economic consequences. With all the burdens being loaded upon Americans today, we deserve a break. Struggling homeowners deserve a break, not the devastation of foreclosure. Hardworking families deserve a break, not the shock of unemployment. And public educators deserve a break, not the damaging mandates of program improvement and the threats of state takeover that have fallen on my high school and countless others like it due to the draconian quotas of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Sadly, NCLB doesn’t care about strong relationships in the classroom; NCLB cannot measure smiles, teamwork, camaraderie or the overcoming of adversity. It doesn’t allow for creative and authentic assessments and engaging activities in the classroom. And, tragically, it has demanded that we educators check our hearts and souls at the classroom door. . . .

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