This space explores issues in public education policy, and it advocates for a commitment to and a re-examination of the democratic purposes of schools. If there is some urgency in the message, it is due to the current reform efforts that are based on a radical re-invention of education, now spearheaded by a psychometric blitzkrieg of "metastasizing testing" aimed at dismantling a public education system that took almost 200 years to build. JH August, 2005
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Time for Weingarten to Go
Too bad it took Randi Weingarten 10 years to "get arrested" when the writing was on the blackboard with the obviously insane, destructive and impossible goals of NCLB calling for 100% proficiency by 2014. The noose around the teachers' necks has been getting tighter and tighter and now the ones in the most vulnerable communities are gasping for air and about to expire. The stories form Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle and New York about what's happening to these communities barely made news at all. Does anyone even care that the head of the AFT was arrested?
The public schools, the unions and the freedom to teach and to learn have been under attack for three decades and today the results are playing out all across the country, but you won't find it on the evening news because censorship is alive and well in a country where most people get their information from corporate owned media.
Communities across the country have been and will continue to be devasted by these policies aimed at public schools in poor, urban districts with "failing schools, failing teachers and failing students. What a great way to motivate students to learn and build confidence. Shocking how such a policy could lead to such horrible outcomes. The same miseducation is seeping into the suburban districts as more and more white middle class parents, teachers and students choke on a steady diet of testing and measurement. What happened to adequate yearly progress? Oh, right, the new buzzword is value added measurement or VAM, so poverty, hunger and homelessness can be figured into the equation when it comes to holding teachers accountable for children's test scores. Even the students now see through the charade and are boycotting and opting out in increasing numbers.
The suburban districts won't go unscathed, as they are part of Phase II of the final solution for improving public education and American competitiveness, yeah, right. The Race to the Top and Common Core Standards will lead to a Golden Age for high stakes testing, corporate profits, religious revival, ignorance and blind obedience.
Here's Randi's Weingarten's response to what "teachers are talking about" in an interview she had with Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post Blog. It makes you wonder who Weingarten has been listening to all these years.
Q) What is the biggest problem you hear teachers talking about now as you travel the country?
A) Teachers are really frustrated right now. We are asking more and more of teachers while refusing them the time, tools and trust they need to do their job and then blaming them after setting them up for failure. Budget cuts are starving our schools of resources that help the poorest and most vulnerable students. The fixation on high-stakes testing continues to undermine real teaching and learning. Teachers are being denied the resources, the curriculum and the time to work together they need to effectively implement the new Common Core State Standards. So many are now legitimately fearing that the Common Core is simply another test fixation scheme, rather than a pathway to helping kids learn problem solving, team work and critical thinking skills.
So-called reformers who are the furthest away from the classroom are using their billions to attempt to dictate what happens in our schools—and by peddling top-down accountability, measurement, technology at the same time they ignore the effects of austerity and poverty. What we’ve seen is an unholy alliance of austerity-monger politicians and corporate interests, hedge fund managers and billionaires to starve public schools and services of resources and suck up as much profit as they can off the public dole. And then they have the gall to blame teachers when their top-down dictates and wrong-headed reforms fail.
Look at what happened in Los Angeles last week, where Mayor Bloomberg, Michelle Rhee and millionaires and billionaires came into Los Angeles and tried to spend millions to buy a school board race. When we have that happening, when we have what is happening in Philadelphia where this school closure plan is being pushed at the same time they push a contract proposal that wants to strike down limits on class sizes, no longer require that kids and teachers get adequate and up-to-date text books and instructional materials and even take away drinking fountains and teacher desks—this is really an attempt to destroy public education.
Teachers see it firsthand, and are incredibly frustrated that those who should be sharing responsibility are shirking their responsibility for our students through their silence or acquiescence with these so-called market reformers who more and more are about reaping the effects of the collapse of public education rather than improving public education.