Every day, I get emails and facebook messages from teachers around the country describing the demoralizing conditions they are working in as a result of the "School Reform" movement unleashed by No Child Left Behind and y Race to the Top-conditions which are forcing teachers to retire en masse, seek medical help, and lose the ability to inspire their students or give them individual attention.
Since the press and commercial media have refused to tell this story, I suggest that teachers, with or without the help of university based scholars, start telling these stories themselves. One way to do this is to start teacher oral history projects in which teachers, either under their own names, or using psudonyms, describe what has been happening to them individually, and to their students and colleagues. This way, education activists, policy makers and historians of the future will have a record of a collective tragedy whose full dimensions have never seen the light of day.
It is one thing to show, as a Met Life Survey has, that teacher satisfaction has plunded to the lowest level on record, dropping 25 percent since Barack Obama took office, it is another to describe in detail why this has taken place, and what the texture of teachers lives has been since policy makers have started evaluating schools and individual teachers on the basis of student test scores, closing failing schools, giving preference to charter schools, and deluging schools with tests, all in the context of a relentless attack on teachers in the commercial media.
In many societies, story tell is a time honored way of building community, and giving people the courage to resist unjust conditions. It can play this role today. It's time to start documenting the damage, as a way of building the resistance.
If you want to start such a project in your own town or school district, please contact me at email@example.com. I have experience in creating community based oral history projects (see www.fordham.edu/baahp) and can give you some advice in how to get one started