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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Krash Course #6: Educators Know, Reformers Don't

When Diane Ravitch asks "What do teachers want?" we must be diligent to clarify that educators know what reformers do not.

As I have noted recently, education has been driven historically by non-educators, and the current self-identified crop of "reformers" have no expertise or experience as educators, resulting in an important inverse relationship between what educators identify as important education reform and what "deformers" claim is reform but is actually perpetuating and expanding the status quo.

Two messages must come from the teacher survey so well examined by Ravitch:

(1) Teacher expertise and experience are calling for the following:
"1. Family involvement and support (84 percent said it would have a 'very strong impact');
"2. High expectations for all students (71 percent said it would have a 'very strong impact');
"3. Fewer students in each class (62 percent said it would have a 'very strong impact'); 
"4. Effective and engaged principals and building-level leaders (57 percent said it would have a 'very strong impact')."
And reject:
"1. A longer school day (6 percent);
"2. Monetary rewards for teachers based on the performance of the entire school (8 percent);
"3. Monetary rewards for teachers based on their individual performance (9 percent);
"4. A longer school year (10 percent).

"Other factors that teachers thought were relatively less important: common assessments across all states (20 percent thought these would have a 'very strong impact' on academic achievement); and common standards across all states (29 percent)."
Thus, we must emphasize that characterizing educators as anti-reform is inaccurate (thus calling into question not only the lack of expertise by reformers but also their honesty).

(2) Self-appointed reformers are perpetuating the status quo of accountability/standards/testing, not calling for reform or change. Self-appointed reformers are interested in sustaining the hierarchy of authority, creating a compliant work force, and de-professionalizing teaching to build teaching as a service industry to support privatized schooling.

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