Out here in Seattle we're blessed with lots and lots of power point enabled noble yuppies yapping at Billy's feet, pushing and jostling for the right to be the best boot licker.
Today, I went to the 46th Legislative District town hall put on by our Legislators to update residents on the grim budget news out of Olympia. Since "Waiting For Stuporman" was released to acclaim to the brain trust of Oprah, Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates in Sept., I've been to about 10? 15? different Democratic Party events & various community events to leaflet.
I went an hour early to spread my version of reality, and, as I tell people - I'm prejudiced:
I've been teaching high school math for over 5 years now,
I actually worked at Microsoft as a low level support serf for 5 years,
I was a chef for 15 years and spent a few cooking in fine dine (Boston Four Seasons Hotels form '85 to '87)
I KNOW what high priced consultants look like,
I KNOW how little they help my kids learn math AND how little they help kids at our school AND how little they help any kids in our district,
I'm prejudiced against well paid managers
and well paid CON$ultant$ who blame us working stiffs for problems we didn't create -
Bill Gates SHOULD Blame Teachers - he certainly can't blame hi$ $ocial cla$$.
From: A Math Teacher
To: Those Education Reformers With Whom I Disagree and Those Who Are Opponents.
TO THOSE EDUCATION REFORMERS WITH WHOM I DISAGREE -
The public education system is failing too many students, especially those without re$ource$, and the failure is as unjustifiable as it is inexcusable. When the focus of system reform is trained exclusively on teachers, I don’t have time to work with you. When you want to work on systemic reform, I’ll be your ally.
At times I want to apologize for all the excuses you hear from the leaders of the state and local bureaucracies, from the leaders of the colleges and schools of education, and the from the state and national leaders of my unions – however, I am only a teacher, I am NOT in charge of any of the failing systems, and I am not apologizing for the failings of those who’ve been paid to run the failing systems.
WHERE ARE THE PROGRAMS AND BEST PRACTICES WHICH WORK IN THE CLASSROOM?
Examples exist of good programs and workable best practices. For example, in Seattle there is a well regarded K-2 reading program from the organization Powerful Schools. On their website, they say that a $1400 donation will pay the same tutor to work with the same child for ½ an hour a day, 4 days a week, 28 weeks a year.
To my ex-chef math teacher brain it seems reasonable that there should be internet lists available of good programs and good best practices. The programs and best practices should be costed out in time to implement by required skill(s), AND, they should have estimated funding requirements, and there should be recommended priorities of programs and best practices for different situations. It wouldn’t be perfect ... yawn... but it would be a start beyond excuses or beyond blaming teachers.
This is my 6th year as a high school math teacher. Every year, I’m deluged with “Best Practices”. The “Best Practices” are never costed out in time to implement, and they’re definitely un-paid for, and the unpaid-for-deluge is never prioritized. I’m NOT in charge of creating the deluge – the time spent dealing with it is time stolen from helping our kids.
WHO ARE THE ROADBLOCKS TO IMPROVEMENT?
The economy I’ve experienced since I was a teenager on welfare in the 70’s has been pretty much a crooked gambling den with, incidentally, some accidental bright spots. The economy I’ve experienced has tens of millions of us working harder for less retirement security, less or no health care access (Insurance for health is a proven disaster), less housing security, little to no income security with our race to the bottom job market. The economy I’ve seen has been great for those of the top 10% and 5% and 1%.
I did spend 25 years working in that incredibly innovative private sector, where the Masters of the Universe harvest their own water and grow their own shirts, and rig the rules to line their pockets and wreck the economy and turn around and blame everyone else. I’d love to see a SYSTEM which works great!! We sure do hear lots of heart warming anecdotes.
I see massive bureaucratic incompetence in education as a problem. I wish I had an answer. Fire everyone who has had a management job for over 5 years in the last 30 years? We’d lose a lot of people extremely talented at running things into the ground and dodging blame.
The vilification of the teacher’s unions, lately by people who vote Democratic, would make Ronnie Raygun proud. I’ve NEVER seen any Democrats this unified on tactics or messaging – except when blaming teachers! Messaging and tactics this coordinated did NOT come out of the working stiffs, it came from the Big $hot$ who’ve been waging and winning cla$$ war on our communities for decades. Read what Smedley Butler wrote in 1935 – “War is a Racket”. When the Education Reform Big $hot$ are finished fixing another racket, they’ll be free to line their pockets and free to take care of their friends... and that is going to help the education of which cla$$?
WE do need to fix education – and helping the big $hot$ put in the fix is helping people who are using you.
TO THOSE WHO ARE OPPONENTS – YOU AREN’T ON THE SIDE OF STUDENTS, THE COMMUNITY, THE TEACHERS - YOU ARE ON THE $IDE OF YOUR CLA$$.
To the Arne Duncans, Michelle Rhees, Bill Gates, Eli Broads, Wendy Kopps, and their head honchos in the local, state and national astro-turf phake “grassroots” organizations –
YOU SHOULD BLAME TEACHERS!
We’re the easiest targets!
We’re trying to make the fix the world for all, which doesn’t help you fix your deck stacking work!
We’re about as politically incompetent as any group could be!
We’re NOT from YOUR social cla$$!
We don’t hire advocates who use “The Prince” for tactics and strategy!
From the Statistical Abstract of The United States, 2011, table 701, “Money Income of People ... 2008” .
There were appx. 240,000,000 men and women over 15 with Money Income.
There were appx. 24,000,000 with Money Income over $75,000.
There were appx. 216,00,000 with Money Income UNDER $75,000.
There were appx. 180,000,000 with Money Income UNDER $50,000.
How many of you Big $hot$ have spent 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 of the last 30 years in the top 5% or 1% of income?
What new computer chip or steamship industries have you actually invented, and what did you acquire through fixing and rigging the game so you’d be the winner?
WHY DON’T THE BIG $HOT MANAGER$ AND CON$ultant$ TEACH OUR KIDS HOW TO MANAGE COMMUNITY RESOURCES?
How to invest today to create family wage jobs, family income security, family health security and family retirement security?
Because it is NOT what American Big $hot Manager$ and CON$ultant$ do?
I’m 51 ... I haven’t seen it since the election of Ronnie Raygun when I was 20 in 1980.
WHY DON’T THE BIG $HOT MANAGER$ AND CON$ultant$ TEACH OUR KIDS HOW TO ACCEPT REPSONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILTY FOR SYSTEMIC FAILURE?
Because it is NOT what American Big $hot Manager$ and CON$ultant$ do?
Because this glib slick marketing of failure isn’t about Waiting for Superman, it is a “Christmas Vacation” fantasy, and we’re all just a bunch of Cousin Eddies getting pushed around by the well paid, well titled, well credentialed, well connected high flying yuppies Margo & Todd?
WHY DO BIG $HOT$ AND CON$ultant$ BLAME Teachers, Principals, Janitors, Secretaries... for SYSTEMIC FAILURE!
Because “truth, justice and the American way” is all about blaming the underlings!