Saturday, February 14, 2015

Obama and Education

Congratulations, President Obama.  On your watch, the billionaires have set the agenda for public education and you not only let them, you actively encouraged them.  You've bought into the narrative that public schools are failing then endorsed a process to make that so.  What were once places of thought and creativity are guided by unproven tests and assessment rubrics that make teachers feel as if they are only valued by their scores.  You have pitted parents against each other and against their school leaders.  Its like it all one large cock fight, with principals fighting with superintendents, teachers fighting with principals, parents fighting with school administrators, while the billionaires and test developers and state and federal departments of education all snickering.  "See, we told you it is all a mess."  Its rare these days to have a kid come in and say he wants to be a teacher.  It used to be that was something worthy of respect.  Now it seems somewhere between heroic and foolish.  Who would want to go into a job where the profession is constantly under attack?  National "leaders", from Scott Walker to Chris Christie, have gained their prominence from their attacks on teachers.  Sure, they always mouth the words that they are not attacking teachers, but the unions, but everyone knows this is not true.  They want to make everyone pay attention to the benefits that teachers have and ignore that this is one of the hardest and most meaningful jobs on the planet; that what appears to be a short work day is perhaps one which requires the most time of any job.  And Mr. Obama, you have set the stage for this.  Your silence in support of teachers is telling.  Your support for the corporatization of schools has allowed this to happen.  It is time for you to stand up and say "teachers matter", "great teaching cannot be measured on tests", that "relationships between students and teachers is as valuable at that between children and parents in moving children in the right direction." Anyone who has spent anytime in schools knows that great teaching cannot be measured any more than great art.  President, you have begun to stand up for immigrants, for the environment, for victims of sexual assault.  Hooray for you.  But it is time, Mr. President, to stand up for parents, for teachers and most importantly, for students in abandoning this false premise that testing and assessment is the path to better public schools.

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