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So wrote Gerald J. Conti, who taught for 40 years, the last 27 in the high school from which he is taking retirement at the end of this school year.

You can -  no, you SHOULD - read the entire letter, which appears here at the Answer Sheet blog at the Washington Post.   Over the past few years words like those offered by Conti have become ever more common from the lips and the keyboards of experienced teachers.

Allow me to offer two more selections from Conti beneath the fold.

First this:

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.
Please note especially the ideas of strangling creativity, assuming a one-size-fits-all mentality which cheats our students, loss of time to give appropriate feedback to students, a critical part of the teaching process, particularly when we want to help them improve their writing, their research, their thinking.  

Evaluation over knowledge

and then this, which is for those of us of a certain age a parody of a famous line from GE:  Process has become our most important product

The original that Progress is our most important product, was something we would hear each Sunday  on the GE College Bowl, moderated by Allen Ludden.

We have been travelling this "reform" route at least since 1983.  It has not work.  So we do more of it.

We claim students are not performing well enough, so our response is to raise the bar higher and then we are surprised when even more fail or drop out?  Well, did we even provide them the appropriate support to reach the previous targets?  And if not, why should we be surprised when we gain no more success from even more of the same?

Oh wait, Pearson - a British company - is making a lot of money.

Rupert Murdoch has initiatives that are making money.

Bill Gates is urging more use of computers so solve our problems -  I wonder why?

Lots of people are benefiting.

Who is not are our students.

Most of us who teach chose that path to make a difference.  In return we sacrificed income, time and other things.  Now we are going to be punished and pushed out for our experience.  We in some cases are denied benefits including pensions we were promised in lieu of higher salaries.  We are targeted, demeaned, belittled, and blamed.

I retired in June, taking a buyout.  In a two year period 13 senior faculty members left our school.  It was a loss of institutional memory and culture as well as of our specific skills.  The school is still good, but it is not the same.

Perhaps that is what the reformers want, to reshape schools in an image that will not only not be recognizable, but will be more subject to their machinations, which may lead to profits for some and has already led to exorbitant salaries and other forms of compensation for many who have yet to demonstrate they give any benefit to the students.

The students.  Those we should SERVE.  

The students.  No there to be treated like widgets without regard for their interests and passions.

The students.  Who maybe should be considered as something more than fodder for corporations to have  a compliant workforce where there are so many trained for the few what are now good-paying jobs that salaries and benefits can continue to be depressed and suppressed.

But you have heard all that and more from me before.

Let me let Conti have the last words, words with which many of us in public education will find ourselves in agreement:

For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 10:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives.

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  •  Tip Jar (145+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max, palantir, bookgirl, peregrine kate, anastasia p, Yellow Canary, Pinto Pony, Burned, Wonton Tom, a2nite, zenox, emal, One Pissed Off Liberal, zaka1, Ree Zen, ban48, turdraker, BlueDragon, radarlady, Railfan, NoMoreLies, Jollie Ollie Orange, Free Jazz at High Noon, greengemini, dotsright, Mother Mags, zerelda, ciganka, Lefty Coaster, DWG, Horace Boothroyd III, OldSoldier99, Skaje, Lily O Lady, Fabienne, psnyder, mookins, TechBob, fixxit, jgilhousen, Grandma Susie, tmay, notrouble, Barbara Marquardt, Brooke In Seattle, linkage, anodnhajo, PinHole, TheDuckManCometh, slatsg, flitedocnm, lapin, doingbusinessas, revsue, cyncynical, LamontCranston, salmo, blueoasis, OleHippieChick, Larsstephens, astroguy, daddybunny, prettygirlxoxoxo, marleycat, rapala, IreGyre, tofumagoo, the fan man, CT Hank, Karma for All, Mad Season, carolanne, Laurel in CA, FindingMyVoice, bbctooman, mythatsme, Shockwave, raincrow, luckylizard, peachcreek, seeking justice, Geenius at Wrok, ItsSimpleSimon, Just Bob, Cassandra Waites, KnotIookin, nupstateny, VTCC73, Blood, Jakkalbessie, Mostel26, liz, hungeski, Catesby, Milly Watt, Chaddiwicker, Bluesee, Temmoku, annieli, angelajean, Blu Gal in DE, Square Knot, pvasileff, Cassiodorus, Zinman, lostinamerica, celdd, HeyMikey, AverageJoe42, buckstop, not this time, JML9999, kaliope, ladybug53, FloridaSNMOM, Ignacio Magaloni, 207wickedgood, martini, AmBushed, onionjim, kurt, Shippo1776, Youffraita, Troubadour, winkk, mauricehall, truong son traveler, Gemina13, banjolele, Oaktown Girl, caul, JanL, riverlover, johnrhoffman, bluesheep, ReverseThePolarity, Randtntx, glitterlust, xaxnar, FrY10cK, hulagirl, JamieG from Md, Joieau, nomandates, splashy

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 10:39:54 AM PDT

  •  Conti is dead on. (57+ / 0-)

    I was hounded out of teaching after 21 years of exemplary service by a principal who needs a certain number of "scalps" on her belt to show she can Make the Tough Decisions and thusly vault into the upper echelons of administration. She wants to be a superintendent someday -- God help the system that hires her. But I was getting ready to exit anyway. The public school system is under attack from every vantage point, and is being torn apart by corporate privatization nuts and social-conservative goons. The teachers' unions are too gutless to do anything besides stand on the sidelines and wring their hands (there are exceptions to this). It's going very, very bad.

    •  My mother, too. (13+ / 0-)

      She taught for over 30 years and received nothing but the highest praise until a vicious school administrator decided it was time to get rid of all the strong teachers at the school who might disagree with her.  Teachers were forced to teach subjects they didn't know; to teach during prep periods; and to mix beginning-, intermediate-, and advanced-level students (in subjects such as middle school foreign language and music).  The administrator forced teachers to "swap subjects" so a biology teacher suddenly spent half her day teaching social studies and a social studies teacher took on a half-load of biology.  And so forth.  After my mother served as the union rep for a year, the administrator gave her a (false) poor classroom evaluation, even though my mother was loved by students and parents alike.

      This was after the union had agreed that teachers should work several instructional days each year for free and give up many of their benefits...while administrators' salaries and benefits continued to grow.

      Then my mother took early retirement.  God bless those who are still sticking it out and who aren't eligible for retirement yet.

  •  at the time I left teaching, the carping was very (57+ / 0-)

    loud about teachers working 9 months for a 12 month salary, working a 5 hour day, and so on.  I did the math of teaching 6 classes a day, each one taking an hour of prep each day (12 hrs) and then my before and after school requirements (2hrs), not to mention being expected to attend all sporting and social events as an unpaid chaperone or working the concession stand or whatever or coaching intramural team and other odd things a teacher is expected to do (BTW on the days I assigned papers, I made a goal of returning them graded within 2 days at the outside, preferably the next day)

    Then those summers off were usually spent in university taking continuing ed courses required for my license and either teaching summer school or working at other jobs and competing with my students for the jobs to piece together a middle class lifestyle.  This does not include the time I spent "on my own" planning for the next year or reading professional journals and other professional activities I was expected to take part in.

    Sure after a few years, you learn to cut corners, go through the motion and clock in and out.  Those folks are on every faculty.  I just decided to bail before I got to that soul killing state because it is humanly impossible for a person to do every aspect of teaching that the public expects and retain even a modicum of time for himself and family  

  •  If Students "Passed" The High Stakes Test (42+ / 0-)

    All of these corporations feasting on them would make no money. All of the players, with the exception of teachers and administrators, have strong incentives to create tests that students will fail. This is a disaster.

    Not just process -- but also failure -- is the product.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 11:08:21 AM PDT

    •  I teach anatomy and physiology in college (11+ / 0-)

      I have been in despair for years, really; it seems liked my students keep getting dumber every year.

      I got a little dose of reality recently.  I was talking about the urinary system and about how an enlarged prostate was a problem for aging males.

      Two of my students who were already working as vocational nurses started comparing notes about how difficult it was to catheterize patients with prostate cancer.

      I have never had to catheterize anybody, and hopefully I never will.

      I only hope that something that I teach my students will be as useful as the technique involved in catheterizing a man with prostate cancer.    I wish I could give them extra credit, or something, for that.

      The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

      by MadScientist on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 05:11:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe look into this first (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Midwest Meg, Sparhawk

      before making such a harsh statement. Measurement companies are not "feasting" on students and there is no desire to see students fail- there is no benefit in student failure. These high stakes tests are designed by teachers and are scored by former teachers or scholars with MA's and PhD's. There is a tremendous respect for students,teachers,administrators and parents. The process is supportive. The product is a standardized measurement tool.

      •  wrong on most of this (14+ / 0-)

        most of the essays on non-AP tests can be scored by anyone with a college degree even if they know nothing about the topic - you should read Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry by Todd Farley

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 07:13:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I will find that book. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          It is true that the minimum requirement is that a potential employee have a basic 4 year college degree, but that isn't necessarily the type of person being selected.
          I can't go into details about the measurement process, but I can say that in my experience, the large measurement companies (at least one in particular) are full of very professional supervisors and directors who care about the students,teachers and parents of the states that they serve. The employees are vigorously trained, focused and supportive to students in their work. The work is done with accuracy, great care and awareness of how the scores make an impact on students.
          Consider that the measurement process may not be what you think it is. Farley is just one person, but I'll check out his book.

          •  that was not Todd Farley's experience (8+ / 0-)

            and I can also tell you that the quality of multiple choice questions on Maryland's High School Assessments, at least in Government, sucked.  There were questions with more than one correct answer and questions with no correct answer, and that never changed over all years I saw it.

            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

            by teacherken on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 08:43:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I remember the MSPAP in the 90's (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Karma for All, qofdisks

              which was the MD standardized test prior to the current one.  Our third grade students did poorly on a portion of the test dealing with map reading skills.  We were dumbfounded by the test results because those were skills that had been thoroughly taught and the students had done well on teacher created assessments.  We came to find out that the reason the students did poorly was because the test used the word "legend" and the teacher had used the word "key" while teaching map skills (it may have been the other way around).  The students didn't know the meaning of the word on the test so they didn't answer the questions.  Students cannot ask "what does 'legend' mean?" and get an answer.  Teachers cannot offer any help at all.  They can only say "Read it again, do your best" when a student asks a question.  So the kids really knew the information but they didn't demonstrate it on the test because of the way the questions were worded.  Teachers cannot view the tests until the morning they are given.  These tests might have a purpose but they shouldn't be the be all and end all of everything we do.

              “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

              by musiclady on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:45:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I worked with MSPAP for 3 years (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Karma for All

                at Kettering Middle School, 1995-96 through 97-98.

                One thing I remember is that it required the use of skills across domains.  It was a performance assessment.

                One problem some of our students had.  If their measurements were wrong and they knew it, rather than use their actual measurements their further work would be on what they knew should have been their measurements, which would lower their scores.

                There were no stakes for students on MSPAP, only for schools.

                "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:55:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I began my teaching career in that part or PG Co. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  teacherken, Karma for All

                  in 1976.  I was in one of Kettering's feeders.  I got riffed in the big budget cut of 1982.

                  That being said--my oldest child enjoyed the MSPAP.  However she was frustrated during one performance task which involved a cooperative group.  One kid didn't do his measurement properly and the group had to start over.  No one got to the writing part of the task.  She was so mad about that.  There were a lot of issues with the implementation of that test but it was far superior to the MSA.

                  “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

                  by musiclady on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:12:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Here is how measurement companies accelerate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karma for All

        the weakening of the academic world: in both links, the comments often contain even more useful information to gauge what is occurring.

        http://www.wiredacademic.com/...

        http://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/...

        The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

        by Ignacio Magaloni on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 09:47:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  scoring (0+ / 0-)

        I've worked for a measurement company for 3 "seasons" and I saw no evidence of bias though I found a few scoring rubrics odd.

        •  some of the questions themselves are biased (3+ / 0-)

          and that has happened at least once in the free response questions on the exam for the AP course I took

          in this case the bias gave advantage to Mormons and kids from Utah, because it required knowledge of a case they would all have covered but others might well have not -  there is no fixed list of Supreme Court cases on which students might be tested, which makes preparing for the AP test a bit of a crap shoot.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 03:54:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The "Nation at Risk" report played a huge... (28+ / 0-)

    part in turning schools into test prep institutions instead of  centers of learning. We spent more and more time on improving our test scores as they compared to our neighboring towns and less and less time on content. I had 33 years of joy with my students and fellow employees but  felt that we were headed in the wrong direction with little say in our course.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 11:15:44 AM PDT

  •  I recommend my recent "diary" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    ...as a response.

    Link

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 11:17:33 AM PDT

  •  The old saying that (18+ / 0-)

    "money is the root of all evil," in my humble opinion has more truth in it than not.  Today we are seeing the roots of this evil in almost every area of our lives take hold and it is smothering us.  We are drowning in a "for profit," sea of corporate and political insanity.

    Professions such as teachers, social workers, and even labor professions have been privatized and shipped overseas.  We have been placed in corporate chains that kill creativity and the freedom to find ones place in the world.  

    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

    by zaka1 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 11:34:41 AM PDT

  •  coming soon to a country near you (15+ / 0-)

    the equivalent collapse of college and universities.

    we don't need to teach or do research: we just need to count beans of all sorts.

    •  ah, but your beans are corporatized (20+ / 0-)

      and your eating them will be treated like Monsanto treats seeds -  the corporation wants any benefit back

      that means the corporation is going to put meter on your anus and charge you for the energy value of your farts

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 11:42:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Private colleges that are not name-brand (7+ / 0-)

      ...and rely mainly on tuition are already struggling.

    •  We are close to that here... (12+ / 0-)

      in Louisiana. Our higher ed institutions have lost $650 billion in state appropriations since Bobby Jindal took office. And it's not because of the recession... it's because of tax cuts (for the rich). But the hammer will really come down in 2014 when GRAD Act, the higher ed "reform" law that was passed two years ago, is fully implemented. I'm one of the few people who have posted on that at length... most people have paid more attention to the corollary public primary and secondary ed reforms passed a year later... and they go hand in hand. The law supposedly gave institutions more "freedom" but really what it will accomplish is disenfranchising a huge proportion of our population (disproportionately African-Americans) from higher education. Most will be forced into our horribly underfunded and understaffed community college system.

      Also, ALL students here will be forced to take the ACT as a requirement to graduate from high school. (Right now approx 90% take the ACT.) I am an enrollment management professional and have a vested interest in getting students in college. But this is insane on several levels.  (1) not all students will go to 4 year schools (2) in 2014 about half our high school graduation classes will no longer be eligible to go to a 4 year school (3) it raises unreasonable expectations that a student can get into a 4 year school (and might not be able to get into a 2 year school because there either won't be room and/or won't be access in their geographic region)... thus forcing more students through the cracks and into the economic underbelly of our already horrifically poor state. Which is, I believe, how many in our state's leadership would have it, for it makes for a more compliant and not "overeducated" workforce. Beans to be counted to paraphrase the last commentator. And I think the other reason why students will be forced to take the ACT whether they need it or not is generate MORE DATA TO TRACK.

      The only reason why we have a community college system at all is because of the 1994 desegregation agreement... which lapsed several years ago after a little over a decade in effect.  Ever since the deseg agreement lapsed it has been open season on higher ed here, and particularly on access to the education students want and need. And I don't mean just traditional 4 year degrees. Note there are waiting lists for the 2 year programs that students really want to get into... just not enough space.

      I predict several 4 year closures and/or mergers by the end of the decade. Our state HBCUs will be faced with the choice to privatize or die. I'm not a fan of privatization by any stretch but our HBCUs have very active and supportive alumni networks and if the state doesn't kill them first that may be their only way out of this mess.

  •  Very noticeable this year (31+ / 0-)

    Everything and every teacher worker bee is reduced to a number.

    The buzzword is DATA.

    Show me the data..

    data data data

    That is all they care about in my district.

    Had a new teacher this year get observed for 7 minutes as part of the new evaluation format. It was an unannounced drop in evaluation by our adminstrator during a transition time for her students to a special.

    As she had completed her lesson plan and had some time to spare, she brought out some routine activities with regard to math facts / activities to fill the extra time. She easily integrated and took advantage of some extra time to work on some fun rote math skills in a fun format in lining up her students to head out of class to the special.

    On her written and computerized evaluation write up of that brief 7minute encounter, she got a "needs improvement" on one line item that said she wasn't collecting data.

    She was so discouraged. She is frustrated. Mind you this is a very dedicated, hard working, enthusiastic and IMHO very talented up and coming teacher who is excellent with kids. And she has some very challenging students with severe emotional issues as well as some other special Ed students...she has an inclusion class.

    I tried to reassure her not to worry about it. She is finding it unreasonable that she is expected to take data on everything her students do and say. She says she can't possibly teach if she is constantly trying to take data...especially if she is trying to keep some of her students just emotionally stable.

    Of course the uniform data collection isn't all about improving and assisting the kids. It's about using their performance from the data in evaluating teachers. ..because if the data doesn't show enough improvement for the students and class..the teacher will be graded non proficient on his/her evaluation. Because as we are told by the corporate powers that be who have never taught a day in their life that are driving education policy, that if a student doesn't learn, it's always the overpaid lazy public education teachers' fault.

    Too bad kids are not uniform pieces of machines..with no other variables that impact their performance and ultimately their DATA.

    Btw..I have no problem with some uniform assessment or even collecting data...but like everything...in moderation! It's too much. We and students are complex and unique individual humans, we are not robots...needing to be programmed. We think, respond, and learn differently.

    /rant

    Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. We are the 99%-OWS.

    by emal on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 12:02:09 PM PDT

    •  The problem is (7+ / 0-)

      that she does need to worry about it, or be prepared to lose her job if she isn't already of the mind, as the author of the letter in the diary, that her job has left her.

      •  This particular teacher (11+ / 0-)

        Is already contemplating leaving teaching...she is very discouraged as she knows this is what she has to do to work in public education. She says she has some friends who work in other districts where this is not quite as bad. She is not naive and knows it is bad and getting worse. Which adds to her being discouraged. She is young, 2 years out...she is thinking of getting her advanced degree in another related area, but not stay with teaching...even though that is really what she enjoys and what she is good at doing.

        Of course she is worried, I told her to just keep that data clip board of hers with her at all times. Even if she isn't taking formal data, it is nearby so that she may refer to or use it quickly should she get another unannounced visit.  She was worried because she saw that she had a one needs improvement on her teacher eval write up and worried about her job...and I said rightfully so...but that she has 2 more evaluations by end of the month so just to be prepared and get her data clipboards ready.

        I think this young teacher just wants to make sure that if she leaves teaching or this job,  it is her decision and not because she was let go by some new, naive and unreasonable administrator who is also trying to prove her own worth to her boss.

        Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. We are the 99%-OWS.

        by emal on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 12:49:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have a problem with collecting data. The purpos (14+ / 0-)

      e of education, at its best, beyond a minimal level in a such as math and communication skills is to produce folks who can educate themselves and think critically.

      Anything else is a social experiment in how close to drones we can remold people.

      For the former, very little data or assesment is needed.  For the later, very little but data and assesment is needed.

    •  We are now "human capital." (15+ / 0-)

      I hate that term.  It sounds so impersonal--which I guess is the point.

      Everything and every teacher worker bee is reduced to a number.

      The buzzword is DATA.

      Show me the data..

      data data data

      I find that often we are collecting data for its own sake.  It doesn't matter if the data is meaningful--just that we have data.  The sad thing is, the collection of that data took time that could have been used for a meaningful learning experience.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 01:21:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are collecting data in my school district with (7+ / 0-)

        no standardization of what our grades mean.  Teachers are weighting things in many different ways.  So my data does not mean the same thing that another teacher's data means.  And somehow, no one has noticed this yet.  When I brought it up at a grade level meeting it was dismissed.  

        Last year all of the data that I collected was placed into a cardboard box and put into storage with the rest of the school.  It is a dog and pony act for the state that is going on, a complete waste of our time.

    •  Yep that is the way they see it! (3+ / 0-)

      I have been out of the profession for some time but agree with teacher ken it is not the same as when i left.

      This story is soo true because she is trying to incorporate what they want with what is relevant.  My last student teacher was the same................the kids loved him, he was relevant and his supervising teacher did not like what she saw so...............off he goes................

      My last year of teaching was the first year of social studies exit level testing.  My students did fine 99% to the point the principal asked if I wanted to stay on.  No thank you but sure can feel the frustration here!

      'If you are curious, you are not bored. If you are bored, you grow old.' Lillian Gish

      by Jakkalbessie on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 06:01:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As someone who very recently (17+ / 0-)

    dealt with this (I graduated high school in 2010) your points are all spot on. Schools with more funding will allow their teachers to actually teach, while poorer districts get shafted. Over my years of public education, I noticed a definite shift towards examinations as a basis of skill. I was never any good at math and science, because nobody really had time to sit down and explain it to me. So when I got D's in those classes it made me look like one of the dumb kids because I had a 2.7 GPA by the time I graduated.

    This is the problem with American education. I was always interested in politics, history, government, etc. but those classes aren't really offered at the high school level anymore. My specialty isn't important in the eyes of administration, I must be competent in math and science, even if math and science don't lie in the fields I wish to pursue. The one-size-fits-all mentality is definitely a problem, because it doesn't take into account that we all have differing goals and ideas. I'm all about getting more STEM folks into the work force, but when American companies are importing foreigners to do STEM jobs when there are three times as many STEM majors as there are jobs, I feel like we missed the boat. Very Serious People and the talking heads are being disingenuous to my generation. We want our fucking jobs when we graduate! Education reform is going to be an important issue for someone to tackle, on both the K-12 level and the university level.

    •  I have a daughter a few years younger than you (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raincrow, Mostel26, FloridaSNMOM, JanL

      She is interested in the sciences, specifically biology, and I am giving her exactly the opposite advice I would have expected to give when she was younger.

      That is to have a good background in humanities, public policy, and languages in case the science thing doesn't work out.

  •  Teachers just gum up the works. (12+ / 0-)

    The young are on one of two tracks: worker or criminal. The educational system shall be the winnowing machine, separating one from the other. Either way, the masters will profit from both process and product.

    Humanity is all that is left in the lurch.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 12:55:28 PM PDT

  •  When "education" completes this transformation, (5+ / 0-)

    we won't need no education.
    education will only produce bricks.

    "A developed country is not where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation." - Mayor of Bogota

    by Time Waits for no Woman on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 01:01:25 PM PDT

  •  18 years in... i am ready to go (22+ / 0-)

    to say teaching is my life is an understatement. It has put my marriage in peril more than once.I am gearing up to spend two weeks pumping in countless hours to make another prom dream a reality (17 hours in planning so far. On my dime).

    In the midst of this,  I will be evaluated( cause August-March were too busy?) and be prepping my kids for another writing assessment AND their end of course tests....before the first week of May. English 1 began in January. I get less than four months to prep them for a test over a year's worth of growth.

    So I am looking, networking, etc. Good luck finding someone to teach high school Eng 1 and 4, speech, journalism, reading, drama K-12, do proms and four student showcases per year. Good luck.

    “Reason must be our last judge and guide in everything.”~John Locke

    by sfsteach on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 02:31:21 PM PDT

  •  "Some" want an uneducated, but obedient society... (9+ / 0-)

    "Don't Let Your Mouth Write A Check, That Your Butt Can't Cash."

    by LamontCranston on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 02:31:44 PM PDT

  •  It is not just New York... (10+ / 0-)

    this is happening all over.

    We just heard in my Wisconsin district that there may be a "committee" that will review all "assessments", insuring, among other things, that they are worded and formatted correctly.  Don't like a question on the "assessment"?  You can't be trusted to change it; refer it back to the "committee".  As I read the letter it was very easy for me to substitute the name of my district.  

    Teachers, keep your options open.

    Teacher candidates, I understand your passion.  They don't want your passion, they want your compliance and they want it cheap.  Teach for a few years if you must, but don't make a career of it.  

    Wisconsin, Forward!

    by astroguy on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 03:00:35 PM PDT

    •  they will not be ALLOWED to make a career of it (10+ / 0-)

      the watering down of tenure means teachers will be let go long before they accumulate too many expensive years on the salary guide.

      •  And before they are vested in the pension system. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karma for All

        My state (MD) just changed that.  One used to be vested after 5 years.  Now it takes 15 years.  How many people will pay into the pension plan but not last 15 years in the classroom?

        “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

        by musiclady on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:51:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  most of them.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Karma for All

          this is a war on public schools and teachers ( workers ) it is as much about destroying the last vestiges of worker rights as much as anything, gussied up as school reform.

          •  I don't think teachers are being singled out (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leftangler

            It is a war on all workers, and most vehemently all public employees.  

            •  yes it is a war on teachers (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              leftangler, Karma for All

              well beyond the war on other public workers such as that waged by Scott Walker and others in the thrall of ALEC.

              This is war on those who would help the "other children" to be successful.

              This is a war on those who might teach students to think independently, which is a major threat to the corporate domination of American politics

              This is war to take resources and privatize them in a grab for more than half a trillion of annual spending on public schools

              This is a war to "prove" that public schools are "failing" to justify, a la Shock Doctrine, abandoning them from their essential mission, which includes preparing them to be active citizens in a liberal democracy, and created a compliant, submissive work force that will not challenge authority

              This is war to take away models of people who do things not primarily for the profit motive, which by their example inspires others to think beyond the profit motive

              This is war to create a Hobbesian world of a war of every man against every other man -  by calling it Race it implies that most will be losers, to which when that is pointed out corporatizers will say that represents real world reality.  

              NO IT DOESN'T.  It represents a particular distortion of reality which privatizes profits and the use of public resources and socializes the real costs on to those who are excluded from the decision making process.

              Cato kept repeating that Carthage must be destroyed.  The "reformers" keep attacking teachers because that is the foundation on which meaningful public education is built.

              And perhaps I should turn this comment into a post of its? own?

              "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

              by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:54:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes you should turn it into a post (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Karma for All

                I keep telling people who shake their heads when these proposals come up that they are missing the big picture; the elimination of local public schools.

              •  Yes, it would be a good diary. Yet... (0+ / 0-)

                Not sure I agree with the vehemence.   Here in Georgia I see little outrage about what or how the kids are being taught, though it is far more socially and scientifically enlightened and inclusive than it was 30 years ago.  Rather, the disgust results from gross misconduct among school employees, administrators, and board members.  And it's not just the cheating scandal, which, as extensive as the prosecutions seem to be, was likely to have been far more widespread, involving a number of other districts beyond Atlanta.  No, it's the never-ending tales of corruption in the school districts, the stupefying incompetence of the school boards,  the persistence of a large number of lazy, crappy teachers, the everyday frustration that parents and students encounter when trying to deal with the school bureaucracy.  Talented and hard-working teachers have been contaminated by these forces.  I really don't think it has anything to do with whether evolution and the history of the civil rights struggle are taught.  If anything, my kids learn more about heroes of social justice than I ever did.  If I don't see evidence to support your thesis in Georgia, where would I see it?

                And don't discount the generalized effect of the incessant hate campaign directed against public workers.  In most states and communities, teacher salaries and benefits represent the largest single public employee expenditure.  Almost all state, county, and city employees have taken salary cuts, pension and health benefit takeaways, and are "enjoying" unpaid furlough days every month.  Of course teachers have a bulls eye on their foreheads.  We are all being pitted against each other in a race to the bottom.  We've all got those targets etched with acid into our skin now.

                •  since GA doesn't have tenure why would there be (0+ / 0-)

                  crappy teachers? sounds like tenure isn't the problem.If you don't see evidence of an attack on teachers in GA, then maybe you should look at WI,NJ,NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and MI. is that enough for you?

                  •  I didn't say there weren't attacks on teachers (0+ / 0-)

                    But Ken says this:

                    This is a war on those who might teach students to think independently, which is a major threat to the corporate domination of American politics

                    This is a war to "prove" that public schools are "failing" to justify, a la Shock Doctrine, abandoning them from their essential mission, which includes preparing them to be active citizens in a liberal democracy, and created a compliant, submissive work force that will not challenge authority

                    This is war to take away models of people who do things not primarily for the profit motive, which by their example inspires others to think beyond the profit motive

                    I just said that I do not see much evidence here in GA that supports that hypothesis, and I would think this would be a place where those motives would be evident if widely true.  I cited other reasons that in my view are more immediately responsible for attacks on teachers.

                    Whether or not teachers have tenure in Georgia doesn't matter too much.  Like most government employees who have passed their one-year probationary period. it is hard to terminate them.  Instead, as in other government settings, they get moved around from school to school, or to different teaching subject areas, so that they will be someone else's problem.  With hiring freezes, they are even less likely to be let go.  You also need principals and administrators who are willing to get rid of the lousy and lazy.  Most are not.  Instead they are worried about dress codes and how they can swing that new high school gym contract to their son-in-law's construction company.

                    •  funny, I have friends in GA who describe it (0+ / 0-)

                      in a great deal of detail

                      friends include

                      parents

                      teachers

                      someone at GA Dept of Education

                      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                      by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:36:09 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What is "it"? (0+ / 0-)

                        Have your contacts actually heard ordinary citizens articulating the reasons you cite?  

                        Have they heard it from the mouths of people using those rationales for why they wish to attack teachers and destroy public education?  Do they say it is based on their desire "to take away models of people who do things not primarily for the profit motive, which by their example inspires others to think beyond the profit motive" and destroy "those who might teach students to think independently, which is a major threat to the corporate domination of American politics" and make sure they are not prepared to "to be active citizens in a liberal democracy."

                        I have no doubt your contacts believe or surmise those are the reasons.  And at some level, they could be right.  But the ordinary average Georgia citizen does not buy into that stuff.  There are some right-wing radio kooks, and some flavors of teacrazies that spout those lines, but even in GOP GA they are far from mainstream.  I just don't see it, or hear it.

                        I would be interested in hearing the details though.  It could be a sensational expose'.

                        •  you need to get out more eom (0+ / 0-)

                          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                          by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:42:00 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You need to be less certain of facts you can't see (0+ / 0-)

                            or hear.  But, but...it MUST be true, because it fits MY worldview!   I don't need no stickin' evidence...

                            I don't think you're up to it though.  Better to hypothesize and let others deal with the real world.  We'll get back to you.

                          •  I do not depend upon "my worldview" (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            leftangler

                            I talk with others

                            I read professional literature

                            I read legislative proposals in a number of states

                            I am fact-based in my assertions

                            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                            by teacherken on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 04:35:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  to be fair, his view is that of a professional (0+ / 0-)

                            who has been in the business and writing about it and studying it for many years, while yours is anecdotal and pretty much at odds with the very obvious facts, which are plainly evident to the most casual observer. The ordinary GA citizen, whom you claim to speak for, may not be aware of these facts, but that would make them rather ill informed.

                          •  The fact is, I see little evidence to support (0+ / 0-)

                            his rather paranoid view, even in a place like Georgia, where it should be obvious.  I wonder what he thinks would constitute evidence for his rather dystopic theories.  Schools being shut for teaching about civil rights?  Teachers fired en masse for helping students develop critical thinking skills?   Widespread talk advocating such measures?  Strong evidence of a hatred of teachers as opposed to corrupt and inept administrators and school boards?  PTA meetings with parents shrieking about demon teachers?  Soaring private school enrollment?

                            I suppose we are just supposed to believe it because it's in the DailyKos, right?

                          •  Ok, calling Ken paranoid is ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

                            given that people like Linda Darling Hammond and Diane Ravitch are saying the same thing as Ken, and given that they know his work and respect it, and given that I am in the field and know what he says is true, I'd suggest you get your head out of the sand and maybe go post somewhere else where the folks are not as informed as they are here. Because you are embarassing yourself here. if you are not part of the solution, pardner....

                          •  Why is it so very hard to discuss facts? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Linda Wood

                            I don't really care who is saying the same thing as Ken.  I have no idea if he paranoid, though he doesn't seem to be as far as I can tell.  His view on this, however, tends toward the paranoid, an apparent preference to ascribe events to nefarious malign influences.

                            To get back to facts.  If his view is correct, what would someone who is trained to think critically expect to be seeing in a place like Georgia?  Does his paradigm really fit, or are there other explanations (some of which I noted)?  

                            For example, wouldn't we be seeing an exodus from public schools if Ken's view is correct?  But private school enrollment hasn't gone up at all.  Why not?

                            I recognize that there are in fact people who would like to see public schools destroyed.  The fact that they exist does not mean they are the primary motive force for what Ken sees as a war on teachers.  

                            I cannot imagine why a desire for critical thinking should be embarrassing.

                            Solutions are going to be hard to find if you are intent on arranging the facts to fit your theory, or ignoring them altogether.  There are plenty of things we can work on that don't require buying into a Shock-Doctrine style view of public education in this country.  

                •  note: I'm not saying other public workers (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Karma for All

                  are not being aimed at; just that teachers are being reserved for more active vitriol. No one is telling cops they will be fired unless they reach a certain target on their beat, or that they will all be canned if crime doesn't go down.

  •  John King's answer to New York State educators (15+ / 0-)

    actually includes an admission that our students are NOT EXPECTED TO PASS the test we have paid for richly, and that we will have them sit for this year.

    I am on a list for lay-offs after 8 years in a district plagued by poverty, so I may not even get to see the outcome of this insanity to assess.  It is very, very clear to me that people that have no idea about education are calling the shots.  In New York, we have a test students are taking on the Common Core BEFORE the students have been taught the Common Core.  There is literally little to no curriculum at every grade level.  It pains me that education has come to this.  To see the Democrats at the helm in this ignorance fills me with hopelessness.

    I have worked until 7 p.m. all year creating my own curriculum, practically writing my own text books so that I would not have to live with the guild of having my students sit for a test they have no chance of passing.  Even still, my students came in reading in a range that topped at 360L, and the first sample question for the NYS test is a passage by Leo Tolstoy that registers at 820L.  I am not a miracle worker, there is no way that these kids magically grew overnight.  I was proud of bringing my class average up to 490L.  

    I would like to survey the people in government to find out whether the majority even understand what a reading level is.  We are closing elementary schools in my district.  Public education is self destructing.
     

  •  My father became a teacher on the GI Bill (11+ / 0-)

    he wanted to teach American history,   He loved teaching but circumstances caused him to not pursue teaching as a career.   I was fortunate to be a boomer, when public education mattered and teachers were dedicated and school was important.    Now it's different...   Don't know when it all changed.   Sad that our once unrivaled education system has become another subdivision of corp America

    "You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and a humorist to stay one" - Will Rogers

    by KnotIookin on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 04:58:17 PM PDT

  •  my educational experience (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liz, Cassandra Waites

    although i agree that process over knowledge is prevalent and right wingers distrust and want to neuter the public school system, and that the business/factory model dominates and is destructive, i don't see it manifesting as a constant stream of bubble sheet evaluations. i am in a conservative state (NE), and those are very rare. our state guidelines are very sparse (a liberal group gave NE an F in civil rights education because none of the points they wanted were in the code, but i got taught every one of them). yes, there are those joke NCLB tests and all that, and the teacher evaluations never say anything useful like "do you think this teacher is smart?" "do you think this teacher puts in a reasonable effort" and only asks if they're racist or sexist. standardized tests are given huge importance resulting in ungodly pressure, and only rich schools ever prep you for them, and then huge financial incentives are attached to them. this is horrible and needs to be changed, i agree. (but how are grades better?)

    but what i observe is:

    -teachers don't have an expertise in their subject and simply lessen the amount of knowledge they dispense while not trying to distill it for the student as a result; many courses i feel the instructor is trying to avoid actually teaching me anything and they treat fisrt grade level thinking and incredibly complex topics identically, and often go into vast detail on the first grade stuff and get through the hard stuff as fast as they can.

    -maybe administration rules and/or cheating is to blame, but they make it so that they have the lowest number of evaluations possible, and these evaluations are almost always subjective; they also believe they have to keep a regimented schedule which i personally disavow. i think if teachers just realized that, they would be able to cater to individuals

    -they put too much work into social activities such as prom that most students find pathetic; just give this crap up

    -teachers apply flawed hr strategies to the classroom that students will find worthless

    -they test on their pedagogy instead of what they have taught you, especially in the liberal arts subjects; believe it or not, this also happens in math and science; dominance of essay tests that grade on essay structure in a non-english class; dominance of t/f in which both answers can be justified, but they want you to be of one opinion in math/science, taking off for format of paper (single instead of double-spaced for example) in non-formal work, taking off for doing more than they want you to, never actually grading their own tests and papers, etc.

    -they use their position of authority as a way to ensure conformity and regression to the mean rather than a way to promote their student's discoveries and encourage intellectual development, especially at the hs and college level and in honors programs. when i get a "this is over my head. F" "you are an amazing writer. F" comment i want to scream

    -grades received have no correlation to the student's intelligence, or even to their work ethic; they reward students who do not think for themselves and mindlessly follow the teacher word for word while gifted students will often dismiss pedagogy they know is flawed out of hand, then be evaluated on it, to their surprise; also, gifted students are not willing to compromise their integrity for a grade, and their definition of said compromise is broader than cheating. needless to say the less-bright kids will do whatever

    -these things make gifted students loathe their education and see it as an obstacle to overcome in life, and it makes them believe that their worst nightmare will always happen, no matter what, hindering their future development and success in the real world

    •  Sorry you have had such a terrible experience. (5+ / 0-)

      Good teachers are facilitators that know how to differentiate lessons and have a sound knowledge base.  In any case, moving toward more standardized assessments and requisite standardized curriculum will only exacerbate the issues you are concerned about.

      •  Very much so (4+ / 0-)

        you could go down that list and see, for example, why standardized testing discourages teachers from spending any time on advanced topics that aren't going to be on the state tests.

        many courses i feel the instructor is trying to avoid actually teaching me anything and they treat fisrt grade level thinking and incredibly complex topics identically, and often go into vast detail on the first grade stuff and get through the hard stuff as fast as they can.
        Because the teacher knows what's in the standards and what isn't.

        "with rights come responsibilities." Wrong. Responsibilities continue to exist even if you abdicate your rights.

        by happymisanthropy on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 08:10:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The corporations do not want or need an (6+ / 0-)

    educated populace.  It's far easier to control the levers of state when everyone just reflexively acts like dogs to whatever outrage of the day The Other Party* is performing.

    Obama: self-described moderate Republican

    by The Dead Man on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 05:35:23 PM PDT

  •  My home form teacher, my English (4+ / 0-)

    teacher, and mentor throughout high school at Holland Park - the "socialist Eton" in London, Ian Whitwham, now writes for The Guardian.

    If you read this story, you will see he feels much the same http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    The funny thing is, although I left school at 16, I had a better education than any person I know with a BA, and most with Masters.  Because I was given a love of learning.

    I ended up at a very high level in advertising by the age of 27, then blew it all to start my own computer business, which became very successful, and I still own.

    My friends at that school have had equal success.

    But yes, we are all extremely lefty, and that apparently was a problem.

    Thank you, Ian.

  •  Standardized testing is definitely out of control. (4+ / 0-)

    This is sad in many ways, one of which is that standardized testing is an excellent tool when used properly.  Its true purpose has been diverted onto that good old path that leads straight to the corporate trough.

    It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

    by ciganka on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 05:51:00 PM PDT

  •  The entire gun arguement caused me to lose last (6+ / 0-)

    semblence of faith in teaching. Being pressured into carrying a weapon into a Kindergarten classroom is so disheartking, I can't imagine inspiring children to want to read or getting them to love school or even to trust that school is even a good place to be.  I throw up my hands before I literally throw up wtih a gun forced on me to teach.  NRA has backed off a bit saying that only one gun is needed in per Elementary School, but you know as well as anyone that not accepting this gun assignment would mean horrible evaluations.  The ability to teach children and maintain test scores will takea distant second place to shooting range scores.  It's a set up!

  •  something fundamental changed after the 70's (4+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a family where both parents worked.  I got up every morning, after they were gone, fixed myself breakfast, got myself to school.  I listened to the teachers, and interacted in class.  I did my homework.

    My parents never helped me with my homework.  My Mom would sometimes ask me...did you do your homework?  And I would answer yes.  I got my report cards, and my parents went to the parent-teacher meetings.  If my grades slipped, which they usually did not, my Mom would question me about it.  That was the extent of their involvement in my education.

    My sister and BinL were your typical hands on parents...doting on their daughter throughout her school years, actively participating in her homework assignments over the years as if she couldn't possibly do them herself...hiring tutors when she struggled with math.  They are representative of so many parents these days.

    I don't know what changed, but I can tell you that for the most part students these days get much more feedback and active participation from their parents than they did 40 years ago.  

    That the level of learning has not improved is a matter of concern.  I don't pretend to know what's going on here, but something sure as hell is going on.

    _"Love is the rosebud of an hour; Friendship the everlasting flower."_ Brook Boothby

    by Keith930 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 07:03:51 PM PDT

    •  I think part of the problem (4+ / 0-)

      was the Nation at Risk study that put the blame for economic problems on the public educational system.
      How many times do we still hear that a strong educational system is crucial to our economy's ability to remain competititve?
      Problem is, workers in the U.S. are already the most productive in the world. Given an equal playing field we should be extremely competitive. Unfortunately that isn't the case.
      There are many very well educated people who can't find jobs.
      Education won't make up for bad or predatory corporate decisions, or faulty tax and economic policies.
      Education just gets blamed for them.

      •  here's the odd thing (6+ / 0-)

        you had that scary executive summary of ANAR that was NOT supported by the data in the study.

        And remember the scary thing was that the "Asian Tigers" were going to economically eat our lunch, only it was their economies that cratered.

        ANAR was wrong at the time.  You have The Manufactured Crisis>/i> by David Berliner and Bruce Biddle that took it apart.  You also had the Sandia Study which totally undermined it, but which was suppressed for a number of years.

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 08:46:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was living in Japan at the time the study (0+ / 0-)

          made its debut.
          What I saw of and knew about the Japanese education system made me wonder about the origin of all the doom-and-gloom predictions.
          I did read The Manufactured Crisis and again wondered.
          I ascribed the study's conclusions to two things at the time:
          First, group think. Too many people involved in the ANAR movement didn't actually bother to get to know the competition. I had a friend and former colleague, for example, who only talked to Japanese government officials rather than research things himself when he needed information about the Japanese system. Frankly--what were they going to tell him about their system that was bad?
          Second, a desire to undercut public education in the U.S. Those were the days when some very serious attempts to obtain public financing for religious schools were getting underway, supported by the Reagan orthodoxy that government was the problem in all cases. As I recall, the public in general wasn't enthralled at the time and I thought this was a way of cracking their resistance.

    •  You have nailed the entire issue. We are not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Keith930, Cassandra Waites

      missing assessments, data, or curriculum.

      We are missing studies of generational deficits in learning.

      There are many societal changes that have occured that require changes in education.

      But we did not start with observation, research, study, and adjustments to the structure of education as well as our methods,

      We started, instead, with making a new test.

      That is the insanity of today's educational reform.

  •  we dont educate kids (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ree Zen, Cassandra Waites

    we condition them.  We condition them to accept and bow to authority. We condition them not to ask too many questions that may embarrass or challenge long held "beliefs". We condition them to accept and believe propaganda both corporate and governmental.

    A truly educated and critical thinking populous is the last thing the 1% want.

  •  Getting the kids from their privatized (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnrhoffman

    schools and quickly into their privatized prisons is the key. The less lag time in getting the H.S. grad into the privatized prison system the more profits for all. Well, all that invest in those privatized prisons. The near-perfect scam...
    make $$ off the kiddies in your "school," then make a fortune incarcerating their butts for years and years. And, if we can't incarcerate their butts (for some lame reason like relaxed drug laws - damn hippies!), then we'll send them off to some "war" somewhere, or put them to work in one of our "right to work" (for peanuts) states. But, by God, we're going to continue to make some bucks on the backs of these kids! You can take that to the bank!

  •  I've always read your posts (5+ / 0-)

    with enthusiasm.  And this one goes to the heart of the matter.  As a university English professor with 39 years of experience, I am sick of sniveling MBASs telling me how to do my job.  

  •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

    I read the entire set of posts. Kids who have been inculcated with a love of reading and learning will not be harmed as much as the lids who need to be helped in school. It's easy to see where we're headed, and it isn't pretty.

  •  Yes, that's why I left, too (3+ / 0-)

    I was very lucky for many many years teaching exactly what was best for the students, which I determined mainly by "studying" them, and not by simply noting their scores on standardized tests. After all, a lot of the education that they needed was not covered by the standardized test, anyway.  The parents were happy, and it was a blast. But then, more and more prescriptive guidelines began creeping in from that netherworld beyond our local site, from places that really didn't know our community.

    I had the chance to teach instead in China, so I followed it. China has its own problems with education, which I could tell you about had I a few hours on a soap box, but I have been lucky for the last five years to again be where I can study the students, determine what's best for them, and then teach it to them.

    On the one hand, I've been incredibly fortunate in my teaching career.  On the other, I recognize that most teachers, particularly these days, don't have the sort of freedom that made my job so . . . well. . . wonderful. Just wonderful.  I can't think of a better way to have spent my life, even if I did work 60+ hours a week, and rarely had time for anything else.

    None of this makes a bit of difference if they don't count your vote.

    by Toddlerbob on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:33:17 AM PDT

  •  This is easy to understand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karma for All

    when you look at in the context of what the power elites are doing.  They don't care about americans anymore.  So obviously they couldn't care less about education.  They are just trying to make a buck off of education but results don't matter.

    It's time for americans to face the awful truth.  Those in power have given up on us!  They plan to outsource as many jobs as they can to cheap labor and our skills don't matter to them.  They also don't care about health care except where they can make a buck on us.  Nor do they care about our ability to find employment and ultimately to retire.

    In fact, I'll go as far to say that the global elite don't care about anyone on the planet.  Global warming is no concern to them.  They think they can always find another place to live.  Pollution, not a problem for them.  Gun violence, not a problem for them as they have hired mercenaries to protect them.

    We have a two tract society where even the legal system works differently depending on your wealth.  The system is broke and the only fix is changing the fundamentals of the system.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:26:18 AM PDT

  •  To homeschool, or not to homeschool (0+ / 0-)

    I am currently struggling with the decision of whether I will go "full bore homeschool".   I would probably simply put my child in many of the same virtual classes as the accredited online high school, but it is still a big decision.  

    The intrusive policies of the school, the forced STAAR tests, for which there are no exemptions, the intrusions into diet and exercise, the attendance requirements, are an enormous burden due to my child's illness.   It's not the actual learning part that is a problem.  She's great at learning things and taking tests.   It's just the trappings, the nonsense and foolishness, the taking of 6 hours to get something done that could be done in 2 hours.

    Getting a doctor to work with the school is like trying to perform a circus act with untrained housecats.   Actually, just getting a doctor is nearly impossible.   And, the egos in the room during an IEP meeting are so obnoxious that it's nearly unbearable.   They all have strong opinions, none of them truly understand the medical situation as it is an invisible illness, and none of them bear the responsibility for their decisions.   We, the parents and student, are ignored in these discussions, while they debate our best interest, and when they have come to their conclusions, it is we, the parents and the student who bear the full brunt of trying to make all their grand ideas work, and suffer the most when they don't.

    Which is why we go to a virtual school, and quit doing the IEP's.   But, with PE requirements hitting us next year, and arduous full-day sessions of standardized testing that exacerbate her illness, the lull in the storm is over, and we're either going to have to battle them to a draw, or we will have to be the ones to withdraw.  Drop out.  Quit.  Whatever you want to call it.  They are about to "help" my child right out of an education.

    I am down to the final determination.  If I can find  a new doctor, and develop an IEP such that I can alleviate the PE requirements and set some accommodations for STAAR testing, she can remain in school.  

    Otherwise, we're dropping out.

    I have come to realize what the major failures in our system are, from my point of view:
    - distrust and lack of respect for teachers, students and parents
    - an attitude of forcing compliance, instead of offering options and working cooperatively to resolve issues
    - a loss of focus.   Our schools are so obsessed with attendance, diet, exercise and standardized tests, that that is now all that schools focus on.  
    - a lack of options, and a system of deliberate barriers that prevent parents from finding workable solutions, such as not allowing kids to take high school credit courses from another school without a counselor's approval, and not allowing kids to take entry level college classes without a high school diploma or a counselor's approval, etc.  Everywhere we look, there are barriers.  What we need for high school, is a system like junior college.

    I am now a strong advocate for "local control".  The Feds, and even the State, are going to be the death of our schools.  They should exist in an advisory capacity only.

    What the schools are teaching our kids right now is...
    -  a healthy diet is fake cardboard whole wheat "pizza" with over processed meat substitute, skim milk cheese and nasty skim milk to drink (substances NOT occurring in nature),
    - that exercise is something that we are forced to do against our will
    - that "education" is the ability to fill in the bubble correctly, and if you can learn to do that, you are finished.
    - that the purpose school is as a holding facility to detain children during daytime business hours, or, as my child put it, Courtyard (a popular daycare) for teens.
    - that we must have zero tolerance.   Never compromise.  If in doubt, assume the worst and over-react.   And, it's working.  Kids are definitely learning this lesson.  Just google "school shooting".

    The teachers are the saving grace, teachers who try to stay human while being consumed by the machine.  I honestly don't know how they do it, and I doubt know how long they can keep it up.   I'm seeing signs that they are losing the battle.

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