Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Prize Winning Teacher Slams Common Core and Testing

Breaking News! Only 17% of Louisiana voters support the Common Core! 54% Oppose CCSS and the rest are undecided.

Winner of the first annual The Global Teacher Prize, said to be the most prestigious prize ever to be awarded to a teacher advises young persons to stay away from the teaching profession! She said  in an interview with CNN that at this time that bright young persons would be better off going into some other field. Click here for CNN interview.

When asked why she opposed teaching as a profession, prize winner Nancie Atwell, stated that "Public school teachers are so constrained today by the Common Core and the tests that are developed to monitor the teaching of the standards that it has turned teachers into technicians instead of reflective practitioners".
What a shame!

The Global Teacher Prize is said to be the Nobel Prize of teaching and includes a one million dollar cash award and a beautiful trophy. The prize is funded by the Varkey Foundation, and was presented in Dubai last Sunday. Teacher Nancie Atwell, a teacher and founder of an independent school in Maine that specializes in teaching literature and writing, won the international prize. She has pledged to donate the entire monetary prize to her school because "our students need better facilities".

Instead of inspiring our most brilliant, creative, and energetic young people to choose the career of teaching, the Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Pearson Corp., efforts to implement the Common Core and its unprecedented insane testing emphasis has actually resulted in turning away the best and brightest from the teaching profession. Here in Louisiana, I have spoken to countless teachers who have told me that they would never recommend that their children, their nieces and nephews and other young persons to go into a teaching career. In addition, many great teachers in Louisiana have retired early or simply left teaching in disgust because of the disempowerment and humiliation that has been foisted upon teachers by the misguided accountability and extreme testing environment in public education today.

I spoke to a principal who was discharged from her position at a charter school recently who said that charter schools no longer need real teachers anymore. All they need are compliant persons who are willing to be trained to do test teaching because that's just about all they do now to keep their charters and to make a profit for the managers.

If you are a teacher or a local school administrator, don't you just feel insulted when you read a pronouncement from John White or Arne Duncan about  how these reforms are"empowering" educators. We now know that this is just a code word for the enslavement of the whole profession by the non-educators that have taken over our profession.

My advice to educators and concerned parents is don't give up! One significant thing you can do is to participate in our Defenders of Public Education. This is an email system that notifies you of upcoming votes by BESE or the Legislature on critical education issues. You can then email or call your elected representatives and encourage them to finally do what is right for public education and the profession. Just send me an email at louisianaeducator@gmail.com and give me your zip code so that I can place you in the proper legislative districts. Please act now! The legislature convenes next month.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Myth of Broken Schools

I am sick of hearing about “our broken public school system.” Our public school system is definitely not “broken” but the reformers and privatizers and our politicians in both parties are working very hard to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy. To see why I say that our public schools are not broken, read this excellent post by former State School Boards Association president, Noel Hammatt.

The forces of privatization and corporate reform, by convincing the media to parrot their characterization of public schools as “broken” serve their own interests in profiting from the discontent they are creating.

What is broken is the takeover of most mainstream media by large corporations that have tentacles in the privatization and testing services that are being forced upon our schools.  Consider the Blomberg and Rupert Murdock media systems. These media giants have a direct conflict of interest, and it serves their bottom line to continue to report public schools as broken and to systematically ignore the growing scandals of graft and corruption in the privatization movement.

What is broken is the legislative response that is serving major political contributors who are allowed to use our tax dollars dedicated to public education to bribe legislators to give them even more of our tax money to further grow their profit making scheme.

Privatization grows like a cancer. It uses our society’s resources earmarked for public education to pay legislators to add more cancer-like charter and private voucher schools. The growth, which is in reality destructive rather than healthy, accelerates even as it destroys the host. To better understand where we are headed, see this report on the Chilean system, which is now trying to reverse the damage of privatization of their schools.

To better understand the myth of failing schools consider this excellent analysis of comparative PISA scores by Carnoy and Rothstein . Their study shows that if we compare student populations by socio-economic factors we will find that our public schools are still producing some of the best-educated high school graduates in the world. Where our society, not our schools, fail is in proper support for our high poverty, at-risk students.

But to characterize all public schools as "broken" because we have a disproportionate number of high poverty students in some schools is misleading and it was intended to mislead. It is not our schools that are failing, but it is our system of government that now is failing to serve as a proper guardian of our tax dollars and what used to be a champion of the ordinary citizens and their children.