Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Price of What They Call "Reform" on the Nation's Teachers

Yesterday, I had two conversations with teachers which dramatize to the tragic, perhaps even catastrophic, consequences of what policy makers call "Education Reform" to the Nation's teachers. The first was with a brilliant former student who, after getting her master's degree in education had her morale, and love of teaching totally shattered by a year spent in a K.I.P.P. school. And we are not talking about a sheltered young woman either. We are talking about a black woman, was a great college athlete, a campus leader and a person who lit up every room she entered. She told me she still wants to find ways of empowering young people from the inner city, but wonders whether she can teach again after seeing teachers and students worn down by relentless pressure in a K.I.P.P. school, whose pedagogical methods,, ironically, are held up by many Education Reform advocates, like Jonathan Alter and Paul Tough, as a model for the nation. I that wasn't enough, I then spent an afternoon with a teacher in a Bronx elementary school, threatened with closing by the NYC Department of Education, and who have a difficult principal to boot, who told me that at least 30 teachers in his school are on medication for stress and depression and that some of them have trouble getting out of their cars in the morning to go to class. School closings, it should be noted, are an integral part of the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top" policy and are being implemented in schools districts around the nation as a strategy to allegedly improve educational performance in working class and poor communities. One thing they have definitely done, in schools throughout the Bronx, is ratchet up pressure on teachers to the Nth Degree, to the point that their health is threatened. These two vignettes are but a small example of a drama is being played out all over the country. How students will be empowered as teachers morale is being crushed is a mystery that Education Reforms have yet to satisfactorily explai

1 comment:

Clyde Gaw said...

This is madness. Learning should be a joyful adventure particularly from the standpoint of developing life long learners. If I could draw a parallel, the methods of education advocated by education reform policy makers and Wall Street privateers are reminiscent of the ancient medical practitioner who practiced bloodletting on their patients in order to cure them of illness. Thanks so much for sharing this important story Mark!