Linda in Connecticut is one of the regular commenters on the blog and also one of the wittiest. She often makes me laugh out loud.
But her last comment was serious, and other readers responded positively. She said we should write a letter to the President. And she wrote a draft indicating what she thought it should contain.
Here’s the thing. President Obama is preferable to Mitt Romney, who would dismantle public education without a second thought. But Obama has so demoralized teachers that many may sit home or not encourage family and friends to vote. The teachers who feel betrayed by this president might cost him the election. He doesn’t seem to have noticed.
So the letter must help him change his policies so that teachers feel excited about him again.
What do you think of Linda’s letter?
In this atmosphere of teacher bashing, it’s imperative for teachers to go on the offensive and come up with their own answers. I too am incredibly disappointed with President Obama and have refused to send money this time around (But I will vote for him – what choice do I have?)
For me, a far better approach would be to stress what we know in regard to the education of impoverished kids and then ask the President to support these measures. We need to remind him that he wanted to be the “data president” but he is in fact ignoring over 50 years of data on education. He is also ignoring what we know from countries such as Canada and Finland. Everything about Canada is so similar to the USA that there should be no reason why we trail them in education. Let’s just find out what they do and copy it.( Oh, I forgot that our country doesn’t do that. Sorry).
So basically I would like us to ask President Obama if he would take the common sense applied to the education of his own daughters and apply it to other children, at least to some degree. He needs to be reminded that other kids also need good health care, two teachers to a room (with one being experienced) low class size and an enriching curriculum devoid of a year of test-prep. We need to remind him of the voluminous research that informs us of the critical importance of the child’s first five years of life. He needs to be reminded that testing experts have told us repeatedly that test scores correlate with the socioeconomic status of the child and not the perfomance of a teacher. To evaluate a teacher fairly other professionals must be personally familiar with the progress of the students in her class. I’m certain he is smart enough to know that this can’t be done with one whole group test!!! ( But Arne Duncan doesn’t seem all that bright and likely does not understand the function and limitations of standardized tests. I’d be willing to bet that he thinks the kids at Sidwell Friends score above the 90th percentile because they have “good” teachers while the kids in Chicago public schools have low scores because they have “bad” teachers).
And of course I’m certain the President knows that our American habit of educating kids by zip code is a national disgrace that has to stop now. Is there something he could do to support low-income housing in ALL communities? Could he stop our American tradition of placing the least experienced teachers in schools located in the poorest neighborhoods? How about open enrollment for all public schools?
About twenty years ago I sent a letter to the Department of Education telling them that we need to have high quality preschool for all impoverished children so as to get them ready for formal education. I received a reply from an “aide” who told me that “everyone” suggests that. If this is the case why don’t we do this one thing to help our least privileged children?
It’s time for parents, professors and teachers to go on the offensive. There is a mountain of research telling us what to do. How about a letter citing that research and asking the President to respond to the data?
(Yes, I’ve done it myself but my writing skills never get more than a form letter in response. A better writer needs to do it.)