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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why Would Teacher Satisfaction Be Falling?

It is hard to understand why teachers’ satisfaction has dropped to an all-time low during the Obama Administration.  Yes, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has doubled-down on the bubble-in madness of NCLB.  Duncan has pushed the agenda of the “Billionaires Boys Club” which threatens to kill the principle of public education.  The administration has dumped  “innovation” after “innovation” risky gamble after risky gamble on teachers, and set us up as scapegoats when they fail.
But, hasn’t the President who we supported also said nice things about us?  Even though he forgot about it, did President Obama not promise to start treating us with “RESPECT?”
Seriously, even the Obama administration, and perhaps even Bill Gates, must have some inkling of how their experiments have wrecked the morale of teachers.  When they propose a new medical cure, surely they don’t think that it will make the lab rats happier.
A new Metropolitan Life survey shows that teachers’ job satisfaction has dropped 23% since 2008 (which was the year that teachers and our unions helped elect the President.) And, it is bound to get worse.  As the Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovitz reports, “The survey comes as states are implementing education reform policies favored by the Obama administration, raising teacher stress as they try to improve student achievement benchmarks. The changes, including teacher evaluations that stress students' standardized test performance, curbs on tenure, and Common Core ... [are] beginning to take effect now.”   
Resmovitz also notes that President Obama  “proposed a new teacher satisfaction initiative in his 2012 State of the Union address, but failed to deliver on it.” Follow the link to the President’s election year promises and it is easy to understand why his policies are driving the joy out of teaching.  He asked for our votes by promising RESPECT.  RESPECT, to him, meant more merit pay, more “accountability,” fewer due process rights, and “innovations” driven by bubble-in testing. 
The President’s initiative was a grab bag of mutually contradictory missions.  The administration coerced states and districts into firing teachers using standardized tests, while promising to liberate us from teaching to the test!?!?  His Secretary of Education praised teacher autonomy, as he gave us the “burden for securing our economic future.” If Secretary Duncan respected teachers’ autonomy, would he have imposed mandates that most educators and social scientists believe are destined to fail?.
And, as Resmovitz stresses, we ain’t seen nothing yet.  After years of being forced to teach to primitive high-stakes basic skills tests, now we must turn on a dime and teach to the completely different Common Core assessments high-stakes gamble.
I wonder what the Obama Administration would think if the table was turned.  What if teachers union presidents had issued our State of the Schools election eve address?  What if we held President Obama (who seems allergic to using the word “poverty”) accountable for ending generational poverty and violence so that we could teach for mastery with all children?  What if we’d given candidate Obama the choice – it is “the Billionaires Boys Club” money or our votes? 
Of course, teachers do not have the power to make such an ultimatum.  We’ll be doing well if the corporate powers that Obama needs do not privatize our schools.
Perhaps we have gone full circle. Are the job satisfaction levels of Democratic presidents dropping as they are forced, more and more, to do the bidding of the billionaires? Should we not expect everyone’s job satisfaction to drop as America becomes more and more like an oligarchy?

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