Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trying to go Viral

This week I joined with fellow TLN'r Anthony Cody in sending an open letter to President Obama and Arne Duncan. Rather than reform through policymakers, we want reform through teacher voices.
I post the link so any fellow teachers can join their voices with others from around the country in getting lawmakers to heed the advice of career educators. We now have the electronic tools to make the classroom teachers' voice loom large. In addition, we are not affiliating ourselves with a union message - just talking about good practice and what works with our most struggling students. If you wish to have your voice included, please take a look at the site and add your vision.
From perusing some of the messages posted thus far, it is clear that accomplished teachers have a similar messages: Teaching is about building relationships, creating safety so young minds are willing to take risks, and running alongside our developing students rather than standing at the finish line keeping score.
From my own perspective, I see the creeping influence of organizations and companies that have profited from the last eight years of testing as a measure of what students are learning: the testing companies themselves. If teacher voices are to take center stage, we need to be aware that large corporations with money, resources, and the time to lobby and influence decision-making may be speaking in our stead. Though everyone wants accountability, a reliance on test scores is a dangerous, easy way out. In my experience, tests damage education by narrowing the scope of outcomes.
This is a national mistake.
Historically, America has led the world in innovative thinking. Narrowing our curriculum, and rewarding students for "think alike" or "think little" by testing through the narrow window represented in multiple-choice format and other standardized responses will damage our future prospects. Who will lead innovation? Only those who drop out or resist the current reforms.
Please take a moment to add your perspective.