Chris, I have to side with you on this one and I am a public school teacher. From an insiders perspective it is as bad as you think and probably worse in many respects. Teachers have lost all control over what happens in the classroom..
In many places we now have “walkthroughs” which is the latest fad quick-fix and principals and boards love them because they are all about keeping teachers “accountable” and under control.
Administrators and district employees do frequent, short drive-bys in classrooms with checklists of what they “should” be seeing in “effective” classrooms. There is no discussion before or after in most places but rather a notice in your mailbox of how badly you were out of compliance and how short a time you have to remedy this error.
The very idea that a 3 - 5 minute inspection provides even a tiny snapshot of the dynamics of teaching and learning with a group of diverse children is offensive yet this is a major tool in evaluating teachers now in most of the country. Horror stories from teachers abound, from kids hiding under the desks when the “scary people” come through to kids challenging the visitors on their rudeness in interrupting their learning.
Curriculum is carefully controlled from on high and one of the checklists’ major foci is to make sure each teacher is doing the prescribed lesson in the prescribed way at the prescribed time. You will be penalized if off track no matter how well-reasoned your explanation, such as individualizing instruction.
Our president, whom I campaigned and voted for, stated in his big education speech last month that teachers need to “stop teaching to the test!” which was very cognitively dissonant since his own education department’s Race to the Top program has required all participating states to make test scores anywhere from 40 - 60% of a teacher’s evaluation, which elevates a single test score to prime importance. So we’re supposed to ignore the biggest part of the decision on whether we get to remain employed or not and/or even retain our teaching license and risk losing years and years of college education, continuing education, and thousands of dollars invested in both?
Discipline was married to test results by the political and business “experts” and created such monstrosities as PBS. Teachers are held accountable for everything from reducing incidents to attendance as part of our yearly evaluation and pay package. I guess we should awake before dawn and make home visits to make sure kids are awake, fed, dressed, and sent to school?
You already know about the time crunch test prep has created in our day and how recess, arts and crafts, music, and PE have suffered. We are told quite frequently that we are free to leave and find employment elsewhere if we don’t like the current models since they are based upon “research” (which is anything that is published and uncritically accepted as gospel truth).
Hucksters by the dozens are making millions off school boards by selling untried, unproven, and unfounded reforms that sound politically appealing but have no basis in reality. The new Common Core Standards are a good example -- they will be in full force by 2014 and they have already subsumed every educational publisher and training system yet they have no proven record of success.
Because I care so much about children I would urge any parent who can to remove their child from public school. It is a sick, deteriorating system that is only getting worse and the forces arrayed against it, from Bill Gates to Arne Duncan have billions of dollars backing their interference. There will be no good change anytime soon, at least until they succeed in destroying the system completely and losing a generation of children in the process of proving their political theories.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Teacher: “It is as bad as you think and probably worse”
Commenter “Another Chris” posted a comment on the previous post (“Are liberal homeschoolers hypocrites?”) that deserves a post of its own, so I’m reprinting it here in full: