Friday, January 27, 2012

When Teachers Are Seen But Not Heard

What would you say about a President who emphasizes improving America's schools in all of his speeches and invites a teacher to sit next to the First Lady during his State of the Union address, but fails to invite a single teacher to an "Educational Summit" he holds at the White House and appoints someone with no teaching experience as Secretary of Education? That is the dilemma teachers face in confronting the Obama administration's education policies. They are told the work they is crucial to the future of the nation, but find their voices are completely excluded from the discourse of how to remake America's schools, while those of America's business leaders are pushed to the forefront. The result is not only an explanation for failing schools that blames bad teachers rather than poverty and inequality for that condition, but the imposition of policies which take power away from teachers and turns them into automatons who do little more than administer tests while looking over their shoulder to see whether they meet "National Standards." There is nothing progressive about such a policy. It drips with paternalistic contempt. And it won't work. Ten years later, we will wake up and find that schools are actually worse than they were before universal testing became the measure of learning, but by that time, a generation of teachers and students will be beaten down and demoralized by a policies that represent the application of management methods honed by the pursuit of profit to a helping profession.

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