Posts tagged RTTT
Posts tagged RTTT
By now many of you will have heard of the Missouri law that forbids teachers and students from becoming Facebook friends. I’m sure it was a reaction to the few bad apples who have abused their positions as educators to take advantage of students. However, this is just the type of overreaction we have come to expect from our lawmakers. When there is a hint of a problem, apply a steam roller to stamp it out. I won’t even get into how this law is going to be enforced…
Nevertheless, reading about the Missouri legislation led me to think about other types of legislation that have been passed to eliminate an educational problem (mostly perceived) and the harm so many of these laws have caused.
In 1983 at our yearly district convocation day, our superintendent waved a copy of A Nation at Risk and informed us that changes were coming and education was getting the blame for the ills of society. As a young teacher, I tended to believe there was an educational crisis - just not at my school. Later in my career, I read The Manufactured Crisis and realized what chumps we educators had been to swallow the Reagan commission’s findings.
During the Bush administration educators again came under attack with the infamous No Child Left Behind legislation. Fear that America is being left behind in the competitive global marketplace led to a pronouncement that ALL children will learn and that ALL students will meet the legislation’s goals. To ensure this happened, punishments were put into place. Of course the best way to measure performance was through testing, and high-stakes testing became the norm throughout the USA. Students were forced to endure hours of drill, and teachers spent countless days preparing to teach to state (and soon national) standards. For those of us who were children of the ’60s and ’70s, creativity had flown out the window.
President Obama’s election gave educators hope that sanity would return to education policy, but that hope was dashed with his selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, and then the announcement of Race to the Top. States were to compete for federal money (a ruse to get compliance with RttT ideology) and high stakes testing was now to be tied to teacher performance. Big money (Gates foundation, et al) have gained the ear of the Democrats as well as the Republicans, leaving educators without advocates. To make matters worse, it appears there is a very concerted push to break teachers unions and privatize education. Professor Yong Zhao has written an excellent overview of government mandated education reform over the past 25 years in the first chapter of his excellent book, Catching Up or Leading the Way.
Is there hope? Perhaps, but it will be slow in coming, and when we get there society and education will be different from what we have now. We are in the middle of a shift from an industrial culture to a knowledge culture. Richard Friday talks of this in The Great Reset. It will be a long and protracted shift, with fitful starts and stops, but it will happen as sure as the shift from an agricultural to an industrial society occurred in the 19th century. I hope it occurs sooner and within what’s left of my lifetime.
Yong Zhao of Michigan State tells of the potential harm that may come from putting all your eggs in one basket, in this case high-stakes testing. Citing the story of the destruction of the civilization that once inhabited Easter Island (and built the large statues there) Dr. Zhao draws a link between reliance on test scores to judge a student’s future productive ability and the Easter Islander’s race to build larger and more statues than their neighboring clans. Both, use up precious resources in a pointless contest. In the case of Eastern Island, it led to the destruction of their civilization.
I have been a fan of Dr. Zhao ever since reading his book, Catching Up Or Leading The Way, last summer.
“It was not local teachers and principals and school board members who decided
that states should increase the number of privately managed charter schools. The big
foundations made that decision. It was not teachers and administrators who demanded
merit pay, but business leaders. It was not educators who demanded that teachers
should be evaluated by student test scores, but economists who think that test scores
are the best and possibly the only measure of school performance. Nor was it teachers
or principals or local school board members who proposed to turn around struggling
schools by closing them. Nor was it locals who want to change the basic principal of
federal aid by awarding it to states based on a competition, rather than sending the
money to the schools and the districts to serve the neediest students.”
Formerly a supporter of NCLB, Diane Ravitch has made an about-face and is now a fierce opponent of both NCLB and Race to the Top. In February, she gave a keynote at the AASA conference in Denver, Colorado. She defended teachers and public education and came out strongly against the current attack on public education. The speech is a bit long, but it is well-worth the read for those of us who advocate for the average citizen getting a proper education.
Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. At this point I don’t know if I can support you if you choose to run again in 2012. Your education policy has catered to big business, charter school proponents, and a devastating attack on one of your key constituencies, classroom teachers. You listened to the wrong people when formulating education policy. You created Race To The Top, which pits states against each other to gut tenure, weaken unions and, this is really telling, to deny children in “losing” states financial resources to aid them in preparing for their futures.
This country needs to get its educational priorities straightened out, and your way is not the correct way to do so.
Race to the Top strikes again. Teachers suffer from this scourge of a program which pits states against each other at the expense of students and teachers. Race to the Top indeed!
The NY Times reports that New Jersey governor Chris Christie says, “tenure should be granted and maintained for those who show they know how to teach.” Excuse me governor, but isn’t that what tenure is about now?
This is the case of another clueless politician blaming teachers for the supposed “education crisis.” Christie also wants to change salary structure so that compensation is not granted for step increases or getting advanced degrees. Evaluations should depend on value-added assessments of teachers. Guess we’ll just teach to the test and be called effective, “master teachers.”
This guy needs to get a clue about public education. Test, test, test. I hope someone with some sense runs against this guy and gets him out of office. Teachers - rally against this. Don’t let the idiots run the schools! Don’t get me started…
A letter from Alabama state superintendent Joe Morton to Arne Duncan is scathing and asks some pointed questions that need to be addressed.
There’s something so wrong about the whole concept of Race to the Top. Instead of helping all, state are forced to compete with each other. We’re talking our future citizens here!