Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tears of Frustration

I should be grading papers at this very moment but I can't stay away from the train wreck that is about to occur in the national media.  It's called Education Nation and has been ginned up for more eyeballs on the screen.  There will be a week long festival of Bashing Teachers, always good for ratings.
It has already begun.
As I scour my links where teachers are expressing their frustration at being shut out of yet another reform effort, I feel more like crying than grading.
I can see how the argument has already been framed.
Teachers are bad.  Any expression of what it is really like to teach in our current system will be attacked as more complaining from a group of entitled professionals who do not want to be held accountable for the obvious failures in our system.
We cannot win.
To get a sense of the mood, read this letter to Oprah.
So, Oprah, Arne Duncan, Brian Williams and others have not invited classroom teachers to the table to discuss the failures of a system that has imposed impossible poor teaching methods on legions of teachers and then turned around and blamed teachers for the reform that was imposed.
Also cut out of the discussion are leading reformers with real suggestions on how to build a professional teaching force (Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, Forum for Eucation and Democracy.)
AUGH.
But who is the Superman we are waiting for?  Apparently our hopes lie in Teach for America teachers like Michelle Rhee, who admits that her own first year of teaching was a disaster.
The new teacher in my building has better sense than Michelle when it comes to handling children. Apparently, if you are a missionary to inner city schools, it's OK to treat the natives inhumanely by taping their mouths shut or shuttling them off on a field trip without emergency information (like where they live or forms with emergency contacts if something goes wrong.)  Flying by the seat of your pants is okay for OPC (other people's children) but would bring a law suit and outrage from most parents.  (Plus, even the least PC among the crowd can recognize a stereotyped view of inner city African Americans in Rhee's comments.)
These are the unresearched programs about to be foisted on our most vulnerable citizens.
Teachers do know what needs to be done, and it doesn't include leaving our children with misinformed novices, teachers who are short-timers of two years or less, a haphazard professional development program, dismantled neighborhood schools for a "get-tough" policy that will also conveniently wipe out systems for classroom teachers to organize, and minimizing the importance of education in our country.
The most successful teachers in America have been educating themselves (by-and-large) on best practices and risking careers through insubordination in the current testing climate in order to see real achievement for their students.
These are the teachers who will be removed under "new reforms."
The plans are to wipe out the professional side of education.
It's time to get active.  Join the real teacher town hall on Tuesday by following this link.