Skip to main content

I'm sorry I have taken so long to respond to your Open Letter to America's Teachers in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.  As a teacher, my highest priority is the needs of my students and until this evening, Friday, I simply could not justify taking the time to respond.

No matter.  You have heard forcefully from many teachers, both from the comments on the Department of Education website, and forcefully from two good friends of mine, Teacher Sabrina and Anthony Cody.  Let me offer a somewhat different perspective, but one that I warn you will be no less critical.  I hope you will remain appreciative enough of teachers - or at least of this teacher - to consider what I have to offer.

Simply put, I read the words in your letter and I look at the policy put forth by your department during your tenure and I have a simple question -  are you bi-polar?

Now hopefully I have your attention.  I apologize for the seeming rudeness, and also to those who do in fact wrestle with a bipolar condition.  I do not mean to make light of such a condition, nor to be gratuitously insulting.  But I wanted to get your attention.

There are fine-sounding words in your letter, that you have listened to us, that, if I may quote you,

I consider teaching an honorable and important profession, and it is my goal to see that you are treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society. In too many communities, the profession has been devalued.

You also write

You have told me you believe that the No Child Left Behind Act has prompted some schools—especially low-performing ones—to teach to the test, rather than focus on the educational needs of students. Because of the pressure to boost test scores, NCLB has narrowed the curriculum, and important subjects like history, science, the arts, foreign languages, and physical education have been de-emphasized.

It's nice that you "hear us."   But why then, when you yourself acknowledge that under No Child Left Behind more than 80% of our schools will soon fail to meet adequate yearly progress, when your department in theory recognizes the weakness of the current generation of tests sufficiently to devote something $350 million to the two consortia creating new assessments, that you continue to use the existing assessments to classify schools as failing and needing to use one of the four methods of reconstitution allowed by your department when those four methods have either failed to work when previously used or have no track record demonstrating that they work?

If you are so supportive of teachers, how pray tell could you support the proposal to fire all of the teachers at Central Falls?  After all, do not you also say in your letter

And you are frustrated when teachers alone are blamed for educational failures that have roots in broken families, unsafe communities, misguided reforms, and underfunded schools systems. You rightfully believe that responsibility for educational quality should be shared by administrators, community, parents, and even students themselves.
  Why then was all the blame to be assigned to the teachers?

Let's look just as some of the issues addressed in that last block quote:

broken families -  why is not the Department of Education leading the charge on some of the social issues that contribute to broken families, including loss of jobs, inadequate nutrition, inadequate access to health care, to name just a few?

unsafe communities - where is the requirement in the various proposals of the Department of Education to provide resources to even make the schools themself safe, with properly trained staff including school security personnel, with coordination with local law enforcement to provide safe travel to schools?  On this I cannot help but note that when you moved people around in schools in Chicago that movement ignored things like preexisting gang disputes which often made it unsafe for children to cross rival territory to attend school.  Is not recognition of issues like this important so that what we attempt to do with our decisions about which schools students attend do not put them at risk?

misguided reforms - We have been through several iterations of reforms that have built one upon another, presented by people who are not in schools, imposed on schools, and when they do not work we get more of the same.  In 1983 we were told we were A Nation at Risk and our schools were targeted as if they were a fifth column from an enemy force.  Then we were committed to Goals 2000, by which time we were supposed to be first in the world in math and science -  which, by the way, if we adjust for our degree of poverty we pretty much are, but somehow that never makes it into the scare stories in the newspapers.  Then we were told we were to have No Child Left Behind, and that by 2014 we would have all children 100% proficient in reading and math.  Except this is not Lake Wobegon, we will never have all our children above average, and the impact of the requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress has lead directly to the narrowing of education for our neediest children, for whom school could be the shining beacon, the chance to taste a greater and brighter world, but which is reduced to drill and kill on low level tests will little chance for the real joy of learning.  

underfunded school systems  -  there is a lot of data on the discrepencies in school funding around the country.  We can look at it nationally, where if I use this data from Education Week the range in 2009 was from $5,964 per pupil statewide in Utah to $15,139 in Vermont.   But that does not really tell the tale.  We can see incredibly differences within states.  For example, in Virginia where I live, my home County of Arlington - where your children attend public school - spends over $20,000 per student, whereas some districts in the state spend less than 1/3 of that.   Those districts able to spend more money often have smaller class size, more highly skilled and experienced teachers, more up to date facilities including lab equipment and computers, and text books that are not completely out of date.  

Teachers are the most important in-school factor.  We know that.  We accept that role.  Many of us could make far more money doing other things.  Often we have left higher paying and far less stressful positions to work as classroom educators.  I know I did.  I left a job as a tenured civil servant in data processing making in the middle 60,000s in 1994 to get trained as a teacher at my own expense for a first job that paid less than half that.

But our influence pales when compared to that of family and community, which is why schools need to be very connected with both.  It is why schools need to be rooted in their local communities, and not broken up and the students distributed to other schools.  Often the school may the the most important anchor tying a community together.  Schools need to adjust to include the parents in the community in what they do.  Yet I read the criteria of Race to the Top, I read the proposals for the Blueprint for Education and I do not see those issues addressed.  Those are the policies of your department.  It is not, as has happened in multiple exchanges between teachers and representatives of your department - including you - that we teachers do not understand your policies.  We do, and we object, because we know the negative impact they will have upon the lives and learning of the students to whom we dedicate our working lives.

The really dedicated teachers know that major changes are needed in our educational system.  We also know that gearing everything towards tests is destructive.  Test serve some useful purposes, but they far too often fail to capture the real learning, at least, not the kinds of tests for which we are willing to pay.  Attempting to ascertain the effectiveness of a teacher, even by value-added manipulation of student test scores, does not solve the problem.  Students are not randomly assigned.  Much of what occurs on tests is influenced by things outside of that teacher's classroom - other teachers, family issues, learning from peers or from church.  Most psychometricians make it clear that the current status of value added assessment is not stable or robust enough to make any kind of serious decision relying upon such information.  

Teachers know a lot about teaching and learning.  That may seem a simplistic statement, but it is in its simplicity also very profound.  We might not all be versed in multiple regression of various data sets, but we can tell you about individual students, what works, what the issues are.  We could do more of it if we had less students.  When a high school teacher has, as I did this year, over 190 students, it is hard to get to know them the way I should.  An elementary teacher with 35 students in a class cannot give all the attention they need.   That is a simple statement, but one too often not given the attention it deserves.

You say you value us.  The policies of your department seem to indicate otherwise.

So let me make you an offer.  I cannot say that it is an offer you can't refuse -  we are not the Mob.  It is an offer if you are wise you will not refuse.  It is that you truly listen,

That is, that rather than pushing to get reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through the Congress on an expedited basis, you step back and really listen to teachers - and parents, who are the single most important factor in a child's success at school.  That means that when we engage in "conversation" you don't eat up all the time talking about your plans.  That means that you don't assume that when we disagree it is merely because we don't understand.  It is precisely because we understand that we disagree, and maybe, just maybe, you ought to stop and consider why.

You might be surprised how much support you would get in Congress if you decided to do this, to have your staff not talk at us, but truly dialog with us.

There is a reason teachers are angry and frustrated.  If you do not fully understand that, then nothing you plan for the future our our public education will succeed, because ultimately you need teachers - good, committed, dedicated teachers - for any proposal for education to work successfully for the best interest of the students.  

That means people who know that teaching is not just a two-year punching of the ticket on the way to grad school or law school.  It is a serious task that cannot be learned in a 5-week summer course.  

That means people who are committed to continually learning about their craft, and modifying what they do based on knowing the individual students before them.  And that knowing is not being able to parse how they did on the different indicators on the most recent "formative" or "benchmark" assessment.

There is an incredible resource that could totally transform our schools.  It already exists.  It is the knowledge and experience and dedication of many of our teachers.   Your task as Secretary of Education should be seeking how you can harness resource, rather than antagonizing and alienating it.

Are you willing to really listen, without preconceptions, without insisting on hanging on to ideas to which you may already have committed serious personal and political capital?  If you are, you actually could start to help meaningfully transform American public education in a positive way -  with the help and dedication of teachers and parents.

If not, then I fear you will succeed only in further damaging American pubic schools, to the detriment of our society, and in the process robbing our young people of the very richness of education to which they should be entitled.

So which will it be, Mr. Secretary?  The next move is yours.


Originally posted to teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by oo, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Teachers Lounge.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I don't ask often, but please make this visible (100+ / 0-)

    this is an important issue, and I want not only my words but those of Anthony and Sabrina to be more widely known.

    I hope you will feel inclined to recommend this.

    I hope you will feel free to redistribute this widely.

    This is not something carefully crafted.  It was written in one sitting, but I have been thinking about it on and off for the past several days.

    It is raw, because as teachers we feel raw pain and anger.

    There are others who perhaps can say these things better than can I.  This is what I can share.

    Thanks for reading.


    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:04:00 PM PDT

    •  apologies (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pinko Elephant, ladybug53, JanL, elwior, caul

      there was a stray sentence from a paragraph that I cut that somehow was hanging around the end. I have now removed it.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:40:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There still seems to be a stray sentence... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, caul the end of the paragraph where you ask Duncan to listen and refer to teachers as ¨not the Mob¨.   Maybe it is just a punctuation issue but that paragraph hung me up as I was reading, so you might want to have another look.

        Thanks for the diary and thanks to Anthony and Sabrina for their words as well.  I think of teachers as a precious life-giving resource that we need to nurture and protect every bit as much as the air we breath and the water we drink.

        Tipped and recc'd.

        •  the punctuation is correct (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drnononono, elwior, wahineslc, caul, abe57

          "an offer you can't refuse" is a reference to the movie the Godfather.  The line first appears in the opening wedding scence, when Michael explains to Kay why Lucca Brasi is such a scary guy -  that he held a gun to a man's head while Don Corleone told the man either his signature or his brains would be on the contract.  The line comes up again with respect to the movie producer and Johnny Fontaine. Duncan is old enough to get the reference.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:32:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Duncan is old enough to get the reference." (10+ / 0-)

            I'm also old enough to get the reference.  

            My three children are all public school students.  Their teachers work hard and, for the most part, care deeply about the students.  

            This hits close to home.  Our middle kid is brilliant, but has attention issues.  When we contacted his middle-school teachers, each one volunteered to help and, if necessary, advocate for a 504 plan--even though this would mean extra work for them.  They're heroes.  They should be paid more than I am paid, and I don't begrudge them one bit for their benefits.

            Anybody who feels the need to bitch about how easy it is to be a teacher ought to spend a couple of days trying out the "easy" job.

    •  I generally repost (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, drnononono, elwior, caul

      your posts to my Facebook.  It's the easiest and best way for me to spread the word.

  •  Well said (9+ / 0-)

    Hopefully it is well listened to.

  •  So many people tell stories (11+ / 0-)

    of the one teacher who changed their life. Someone who had a lasting impact years later. I don't think any kind of direct or year over year testing can measure this well.

    •  Though it's 40 years later, I still (8+ / 0-)

      think about Mr O'Dea, who taught me that all the figures in history were actual people like the kind we all are and know, with the same human and daily concerns. Thus opening up a lifelong appreciation of, and ability to comprehend and judge, history. Which means being able to predict things as well.

      And just last night I thought of Mr Clifford, who taught me that in English if there are two different words, there are two different meanings, no matter how close they may be. Which made me alert to the richness, and the subtleties of language.

      40 years later, and I still have them drift past my awareness from time to time, with a smile and a blessing sent their way.

      Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

      by Jim P on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:54:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very Sad News Today Here (26+ / 0-)

    In NYC -- Mayor Bloomberg's new budget proposal requires the city to cut more than 4,000 teacher jobs.

    We keep hearing our political and economic elites tell us that education is the key to the future.

    Now this?

    I don't get it.

    Find me fast on Daily Kos by following me.

    by bink on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:38:20 PM PDT

    •  I saw - (15+ / 0-)

      and in our building - in a system under real financial stress -  several teachers apparently got notices that they will not be in the building although they may still have a job elsewhere in the system.  One gym teacher is now actively seeking to move elsewhere, because she does not want to leave our school.

      I found out today that I will have 132 AP students next year, fortunately distributed over 4 sections.  That's 33 per, a bit better per class than the 37-38-38 I currently have.  I will be able to remove 6 of the 39 student desks.    But that is going to be a LOT of reading of student papers.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:42:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Isn't that called coginitive dissonance? Weird too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, elwior

      many ed "reformers" got it.

      I understand Blizzard Bloomberg's Ed dept is ponying up tons of money on tech contracts leading to lots of waste & fraud?

      NYT reader comment (via Susan Ohanian) : Arne Duncan great example of peter Principle. Failed in Chicago; then promoted so he could repeat failure on national scale.

      by Funkygal on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:29:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hey, you can invest in tech companies (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, elwior, caul

        and make a profit.  So who needs teachers, right?  How do you invest in teachers and make a PERSONAL profit -  except the benefit accrues to the entire society in what we do for our students.

        Some of my students are apparently plotting to throw me a party on my 65th birthday.  We'll see.  That is after the APs and the state tests.  All they will have left are my takehome final and the free project.  

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:35:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And that is what the Charter Schools (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drmah, millwood, elwior, caul

          are all about. PROFIT. Many banks and corporations will make tons of money. It is another transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich with teachers and kids getting screwed again. Democracy Now had a great segment on this last year. Search their archives and see what is really behind this.
          Great diary.

          Obama,how many innocent people did you kill today with your drones for the corporations?

          by snoopydawg on Fri May 06, 2011 at 08:59:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! (9+ / 0-)

    You express so cojently what we all know is true.

    President Obama made recent comments about too much testing (but I think he might have later walked them back because it clashed with Sec. Duncan's dogma...)

    'We can make the trains run on time but if they are not going where we want them to go, why bother?' Neil Postman

    by history first on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:38:40 PM PDT

  •  Which of our political and money elites (9+ / 0-)

    see advantage in having children come out able to think critically, able to identify gaps in their information and know how to fill them, and are well-rounded?

    That is, most children, not just their own.

    I suspect what is going on now has a lot more to do with getting money into the pockets of the people who design and publish the tests, while at the same time hobbling the ability, and inclination, of future generations to challenge the status quo, than it has to do with providing a solid education.

    "Enough education to make change and make deliveries, and nothing beyond" seems to be the real goal of these education policies.

    Plus, divest from public schools, and you further undercut teachers unions.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:48:24 PM PDT

  •  This. (11+ / 0-)
    narrowing of education for our neediest children, for whom school could be the shining beacon, the chance to taste a greater and brighter world, but which is reduced to drill and kill on low level tests will little chance for the real joy of learning.  

    Couldn't have said it better myself (and I am vain enough about my writing that I rarely say that about anyone).

    This is what is so heartbreaking. We enter the teaching profession passionate about opening those doors to the future for the students to whom the future appears most bleak and meaningless. But everything the purveyors of reform, budget repair and accountability are doing to us and to our students in the name of "reform" makes that a more and more distant dream.

    Instead, each day is a battle to try to engage students and get their buy-in to a learning process that is carried on at breakneck speed and is all about covering way too many standards, rather than about allowing students to savor the experience of learning, to become scholars and askers of questions, to begin to understand how any of this might relate to their own future.

    "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

    by NWTerriD on Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:55:19 PM PDT

  •  You nailed this one, teacherken. (7+ / 0-)

    Imagine how we feel as teachers in Wisconsin, where we have a long and successful tradition of collaboration, being told that our input was part of the problem, rather than being the essential ingredient in the solution which it truly is.  

    •  And in Michigan too (7+ / 0-)

      Cuts in funds are tearing the heart out of our schools.  There is no way we can improve in all the mandated areas with fewer books, aides, materials and support.  Hey - all you need is a piece of chalk and a blackboard - right?

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." A. Einstein

      by moose67 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 06:45:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you need chalk? since when? (7+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, wowser, JanL, Cassiodorus, elwior, drmah, caul

        certainly one of your governor's contributors will provide defective smartboards at an exorbitant cost -  but of course you won't have the computers to properly use the smartboards, but no matter, they can simply copy down what you write by writing with their pencils -

        why pencils?  because they have to have their own pencils to bubble in the ovals on the low quality tests prepared by another of the governor's contributors, right?

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Fri May 06, 2011 at 06:51:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Funny you should mention smartboards..... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, sandblaster, elwior, caul

          I teach science teachers how to teach science....and we have student teachers all over SE Michigan.  Only one school has smartboard technology available.  Even in the prestigious Ann Arbor Public Schools, teachers have to share materials because there aren't enough classroom supplies to run labs on the same days.  Most courses aren't as reliant on a textbook anymore, and that's primarily because they can't afford to give each student a book.  Most teachers generate their own reading materials.....and purchase those necessary pencils for the kids that continuously come to class unprepared.  I had more materials and support back in the 60's and 70's then the teachers have today.....and more academic freedom and flexibility.

          "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." A. Einstein

          by moose67 on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:19:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Pencils? We don't need no steenking pencils. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, caul

          How about ten-year-old computers that take 20 minutes to boot up?  How about taking the Reading and Science tests up to three times in order to boost scores?

        •  My "favorite" education boondoggle (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, teacherken, caul

          has to be the Ignite! learning machines. Ignite! is a company run by Neal Bush (yes, THAT family; this is another of the dimmer sons - the one involved in the Silverado S&L scandal).

          These were incredibly expensive weird plastic boxes on a rolling base that projected video lessons. Somehow, our middle schools were convinced to buy these pieces of crap. A quick review:

          (1) Content. I didn't get to see much. Teachers obviously realized these were not very useful, and mostly they sat around taking up space and gathering dust. The social studies lessons I saw were painfully lame - like a "rap" song about the Texas Constitution. Student groans were audible.

          (2) Physical packaging. The design was terrible. Top-heavy, on a skinny stand, means one bump, and there go thousands of dollars.

          (3) Technology. Let me compare with BrainPop here. I love BrainPop and have seen teachers make great use of their lessons in the classroom. Kids love the characters. With BrainPop, you pay for access to the website (some content is free). That's it. You use your existing computers and projector. When BrainPop adds content, you get it immediately. With Ignite!, schools had to maintain and troubleshoot these additional standalone, single-purpose machines. Can you say completely stupid business model? But if you are a politically connected do-nothing Bush, it appears that you can lean on friendly states like Florida and Texas to use taxpayer funds to buy your overpriced garbage.

  •  I Hope We Can Do Something (8+ / 0-)

    I saw a presentation on the Core Math Standards today. They are absolutely horrible--it's a thoroughly hypocritical document, claiming to favor depth over breadth but actually doing the opposite. They are completely disconnected from reality. I feel powerless--I put a lot of time and energy into teaching in a system that is getting worse.

    I'm glad you're fighting the good fight. I'm feeling like a bug fighting a windshield.

    "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

    by Reino on Fri May 06, 2011 at 06:23:09 PM PDT

  •  Yes, well said. (13+ / 0-)

    After teaching at the elementary level for 35 years it became apparent to me that much of what I had done best was not measurable by an achievement test.  Many former students who were average achievers at best went on to become successful citizens and good parents.  Some of them thanked me saying that they knew they were not the best students academically but that I never made them feel "dumb" but made them feel they were "good at something".  That kind of comment moves me to tears as it was one of my major goals in addition to teaching content.  Those things cannot be measured by a test or even informally evaluated until years have passed.

    •  by george i think you've got it... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leap Year, elwior, caul

      "Many former students who were average achievers at best went on to become successful citizens and good parents. "

      I have no experience in education (other than getting one), so I am reluctant to critique what's going on.  But I keep thinking that the goal of k-12 ought to be to create good citizens.  That says a lot.  It says knowing how to manage your money, knowing what's expected of an employee, knowing what your rights are and what to do if you get in trouble, knowing how your government works and being a voter, knowing how a business works, knowing something about music and art, and lots of other practical stuff.

      I am really uncomfortable with all this college prep stuff, and focus on math.  And in my town, the HS graduation rate is under 60%.  That's a complete failure.  I just don't understand how things have gotten so screwed up.

      Frankly, I blame everything on Nixon.

      by J Orygun on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:36:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Though I have a limited knowledge of this issue, (8+ / 0-)

    it bothers me to see how our school programs are suffering so much with little to nothing being done to speak out about actual reforms.  I mean, for a school to have to earn its money by making students pass tests seems quite backwards, honestly.  The ones that meet the standards are appropriated more money while the failing ones are robbed of it?  How can they be expected to succeed with their funding being pulled?  I sincerely hope that we can re-examine this issue in politics with a more intelligent dialogue.  

    •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...schools don't have to make students pass tests to earn money.  Schools that do not make AYP become eligible for more funding, not less.  I hope this fact contributes to a more intelligent dialog about this issue.  

  •  Teaching is not a priority. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, mightymouse, elwior, Leap Year, caul

    Farming out that school money to special interests -- that's a priority.

    Economics 101.

    "I'm not going against ten thousand years of Ferengi tradition." Quark, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

    by Cassiodorus on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:18:40 PM PDT

  •  My reply to Arne is simple... (7+ / 0-)

    Talk is cheap.  Anyone can blow a little sunshine hoping to catch a bounce before the next election.  And that's exactly what this smells like.

    If you believe any part of that feel-good crap you just spewed, how about you back it up with some actions to match it?

    How about actually listening to teachers in the classroom, rather than running to the local governor, business leader or billionaire for advice when setting education policy?

    How about showing you value teachers by coming out in support of collective bargaining rights and working with unions, instead of against them, to promote policies that support good teachers, rather than applauding when a whole staff is laid off?

    How about respecting teachers enough to treat us as professionals, recognizing that we are the success in the classroom, and that you are powerless to do anything but make the problems worse without us.

    Talk is cheap.  Ball's in your court, Arne.

  •  Duncan should visit Rev. Burgess in Pittsburgh (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, elwior, caul

    Do you see Rachel Maddow's hourlong show on gun violence and the NRA, Friday May 6th?  If not, make sure you do.

    Rachel interviewed Rev. Ricky Burgess, City Councilman from Homewood -- the poorest most violent neighborhood in Pittsburgh.  Arne Duncan needs to meet Rev. Burgress.  He should listen to Burgess explain the gun related destruction of Homewood and its businesses, schools, and housing stock.

    NO more bs talking points.  Go to Pittsburgh and set up US Education policy to fit the needs of students in Homewood.  There is no time to waste.  

  •  I wanted to become a public school teacher. But (8+ / 0-)

    the privatization zeal, toxic atmosphere  and the vitriol against teachers today gives me pause. So I gave upon the idea. Meanwhile I will do my  best to support public education and teachers from outside. My contribution to the National Teacher Appreciation week :

    NYT reader comment (via Susan Ohanian) : Arne Duncan great example of peter Principle. Failed in Chicago; then promoted so he could repeat failure on national scale.

    by Funkygal on Fri May 06, 2011 at 07:26:29 PM PDT

    •  I am so very sorry to hear this. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, caul, Funkygal

      Education is my second career. I never in my life dreamed that public education would come under such wicked attacks; and certainly never thought that these anti-education and anti-teacher memes would take root so deeply and so quickly.

      It'll be a long battle, but I have to believe we WILL get through this. I'm in Texas, where Republicans have just decimated education funding. Thousand of teachers have been shown the door. Parents are incensed, though, and I hope they are starting to wake up.

      We do NOT have a funding problem - we have a problem collecting taxes from the wealthiest, most fortunate members of society, who have abandoned their obligation to this country (after they and their families made great use of educational and social benefits provided to them by other taxpayers).

  •  Well worded critique... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, caul

    a tip and a rec for this.

    Breathe. If you can, you ain't dead yet.

    by Socratic Method on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:45:12 PM PDT

  •  Not until 2017. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, caul

    This Administration simply believes that they know the answers and will not be swayed by facts.

    The two things Teabaggers hate most are: being called racists; and black people.

    by Punditus Maximus on Fri May 06, 2011 at 09:45:51 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Teacherken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CentralMass, elwior, caul

    Great commentary & right on target.

    I hope that Mr. Duncan reads and acts on it.

  •  Take Dept of Ed $50B emply 800,000 teachers. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, caul

    US faces continuing high unemployment and every school district plans more teacher layoffs on top of the three previous years of layoffs.

    This is a dual crisis for US employment and for public education.  

    Obama should take the entire $50B in discretionary Dept. of Ed budget and give it to school districts starting with poorest districts serving most economically disadvantaged and put 800,000 teachers to work.  Instead of wasting money on No Child or Race to Top and other pointless programs.

    It will cut unemployment.  It will boost economy.  It will give a huge boost to public education of US kids.

    PS Duncan nor Obama are listening to teachers or anyone else.  They have a political agenda and that is all they are focused on.

  •  In the ten years that I've been teaching (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it has gotten worse yearly--the desperate administrative decisions that send us reeling from one program to another in order to "fix"  problems that don't really exist, demands of testing and data collection, community poverty, etc...and the cherry on top it flat out disrespect, derision, and hatred from the country at large.
     I'm going to the NMSA meeting this year and Duncan is a keynote speaker. I will be visible and verbal.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site