Archives for category: Teachers and Teaching

In the past few days, there has been vigorous debate about whether California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing was lowering standards; some critics went so far as to claim that future teachers in core subject areas would no longer need a four-year degree of any kind. None of this was true. I reached out to friends across California who assured me that it was untrue. Just this morning, the Sacramento Bee published an article by Linda Darling-Hammond, chair of the CCTC, explaining exactly what transpired.

D-H explained that standards were not lowered and remain high in every field.

Here are the changes that alarmed teachers of physical education:

“The commission did vote to provide an authorization within the physical education credential for ROTC teachers. Those who pass a basic skills test and a test of PE knowledge and complete 135 hours of teacher preparation can earn this authorization. If they are to teach English learners, they must also meet the requirements for an English learner authorization. Under the new authorization, these individuals can still teach only ROTC courses. They cannot teach regular PE classes. However, they will have a stronger knowledge base in physical education, which will help them serve their students.

“Some of these instructors do not hold a bachelor’s degree, but they have relevant job experience that California has long recognized in lieu of a degree for ROTC instructors and other specific groups of teachers, like those from industry who teach in Career Technical Education programs.”

In short, ROTC instructors will not replace PE teachers.

Be it noted that Governor Brown is a strong supporter of ROTC, having started a military institute charter school when he was mayor of Oakland. With crucial decisions about the Vergara trial hanging in the balance, this is not a propitious moment to pick a fight with the governor when so little is at stake. He respects teachers; he loves learning. Message to California teachers: Unite on the big issues.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/12/6620786/another-view-teacher-standards.html#storylink=cpy

In her appearance on the Steven Colbert show, anti-union activist Campbell Brown refused to identify the names of her donors. One of her organizations is called, ironically, the Parents Transparency Project.

Veteran journalist David Sirota writes:

“As Brown keeps the identity of her financial backers under wraps, her organization describes itself as a group “whose mission is to bring transparency” to education policymaking.

“Politico has reported that under current law, Department of Labor rules require unions to “disclose more than many political groups about their internal operations,” funding and expenditures. By contrast, many political groups seeking to limit teachers unions’ workplace rights and replace traditional public schools with privately run, union-free charter schools have been able to keep the identity of their benefactors shrouded in secrecy, though periodic leaks have shed at least some light on the funders.”

“For example, the most prominent opponent of the teachers union, Students First, has rejected requests for a list of its donors. Yet thanks to a Pennsylvania lobbying disclosure law, the Huffington Post in 2012 was able to report that “New Jersey hedge funder and Romney backer David Tepper and the Texas-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation [are] among the largest donors” to the organization. Additionally, the board of Students First includes hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, News Corp. education-technology executive Joel Klein, and Dan Senor, Brown’s husband, who previously served as the Bush-appointed spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Likewise, in New Jersey, WNYC reported that a group called the Committee For Our Children’s Future spent millions on ads promoting Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s education agenda, while the funders of the ads remained anonymous. WNYC later reported that television station filings revealed that the group used the “same ad buyers Christie used for his 2009 campaign for governor,” and that the contact address for the group could “be traced back to Kevin F. Feeley, a Christie donor whose son has worked for Christie as an intern.” The radio station also reported that the documents linked the ads to a Republican consulting firm that had done work for former GOP presidential nominee John McCain. Christie has pushed for more privately run charter schools in New Jersey.”

Who are these shadowy groups who hide their names as they seek to eliminate academic freedom for teachers? Why do they never explain why teachers in our highest performing schools are as likely (or more likely) to have due process rights as teachers in low-performing schools? In an era when media pundits and celebrities claim to be experts about how to reform schools while teachers’ voices are silenced, you can bet we are headed in the wrong direction.

Lloyd Lofthouse is an experienced educator and commentator on the blog:

“In the Vergara trial—I think the verdict was bought and paid for in some way—the judge’s verdict was based on unproven theories that a few incompetent teachers would ruin a child’s ability to earn an education. The numbers presented in one theory were one to two percent of teachers could be incompetent—not “are incompeten” but “could be incompetent” because of classroom observations of one man over a period of years.

First, how many teachers can one person observe long enough to form a valid judgement and how long should each observation be? What if the teacher was having a bad day and the other 179 instructional days were perfect?

Anyway, let’s look at a few numbers based on the 2011-12 school year in California:

There were 6,220,993 students enrolled and attending 10,296 public schools. Another 438,474 attended 1,019 Charter schools.

There were 300,140 teachers in the public schools. If we go with the 1 to 2 percent observational guesstimate, that means 3,001 to 6,223 teachers might be incompetent, but there are 10,296 schools, so that means thousands of schools don’t have even one incompetent teacher, but the teachers in those schools risk losing legal due process rights that would allow them to challenge any accusations made against them that they were incompetence.

In other words, 292,917 to 297,139 could be fired for any reason at any time and there would be no way for the teacher to defend the accusations made against them.

If the Vergara ruling survives, every teacher in California would all be at risk of being fired at any moment by an administrator who could be incompetent or be stooge owned by the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, TFA, etc who had walking orders to get rid of as many teachers as possible and replace them with younger, less incompetent teachers.

It’s obvious that Bill Gates is in charge of deciding how many teachers should go, because it is his “rank and yank” system that is part of the Common Core agenda and all anyone has to do is look at the arbitrary numbers Bill Gates set in place at Microsoft to judge how many had to be incompetent and go to be replaced by another crop who had to prove their competence. That anal arbitrary nubmer that Gates must have pulled out of his crotch was 25% with no evidence to support the fact that so many Microsoft employee were actually incompetent.

In conclusion, it’s obvious where this is going. If President Obama’s partner in crime, Bill Gates, has his way, eventually 25% of public school teachers—not just the one to two percent who are alleged to be incompetent without any evidence to support that claim— would have to lose their jobs annually all based on standardized test scores.

If you read the recent headlines, Microsoft will lay off 18,000 workers this year in addition to 12,500 associated with the Nokia Device and Services team it acquired earlier this year. Microsoft has almost 130,000 employes across the world—the number losing their jobs is almost 24%.

How many teachers in California stand to lose their jobs annually and have to be replaced using the Gates “rank and yank” system? The answer is about 75,000 annually. At that annual rate, every four years, California’s public schools would get rid of 300,140 teachers for a complete possible turnover in every school.

This is all based on two unproven theories—with crucial evidence—that both are horribly wrong headed and when implemented they create nothign but havoc and chaos.

What are the odds of one of those 6.2 million students ending up in a classroom with one of those estimated 3,001 to 6,223 so-called incompetent teachers with no proven, accepted, valid method to judge the teacher properly?

Does anyone have an answer?

What about the odds of a teacher ending up with incompetent students who have dysfunctional, incompetent parents? Does anyone have a theory for that number? I think we could start with the number of children living in poverty and/or who have severe learning disabilities.

These numbers might help: California’s child poverty rates for Latinos (31.2%) and African Americans (33.4%) are much higher than the rates among Asians (13.2%) and whites (10.1%). The child poverty rate in families where neither parent has a high school diploma is high in California (48.5%).

http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=721

In addition, it might help to compare the poverty rates with the on-time high school graduation rates in California (2011-2012):

Asian/Pacific Islander 90%
White 86%
Hispanic 73%
Black 66%

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-high-school-graduation-rates-by-race-ethnicity.html

When I heard from Randy Hoover about his new website called “The Teacher-Advocate.com,” I asked him to write a post explaining his hopes and goals. I knew that he could describe it better than I could. Hoover spent 46 years as an educator.

Randy Hoover writes:

A Project to Reanimate Teacher Advocacy
(Teacher-Advocate.com)
Randy L. Hoover, PhD
Emeritus Professor, Youngstown State University

I began teaching in the late 60s, a political science major who never took an education course nor wanted anything to do with teaching or public schools but who fell into a 6th grade social studies teaching job in Madison, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. I will omit the somewhat sordid details of how I got the job and simply say that within a few weeks of encountering my first middle school students, my life took a 180-degree turn for the better, and I never looked back, at least not until recently. To make a very long story very short, I taught public school social studies for twelve years, acquired a master’s degree, and then earned my doctorate specializing in teacher education at The Ohio State University and headed into a temporary one-year job at Youngstown State University that morphed into a 30-year stint.

I loved my profession dearly because it was my calling, but I despised the politicization that began to happen with Reagan’s A Nation at Risk, which later led to No Child Left Behind, followed by Race to the Top, as they became the hitching posts for the reformist, state-level, pseudo accountability systems across America. My early experience in Madison was a time when both NEA and AFT aggressively embraced the philosophy of teacher advocacy, as it was referred to. My induction into the union and its philosophy stand as my baptism into consciously embracing the value of America’s public schools and the legitimacy of their educators. It was a time when the prime directive of my union was teacher advocacy in the noble pursuit of intellectual empowerment and social justice for the children of our public schools.

Though I initially taught undergraduate courses at YSU, my professorial passion lay in teaching graduate studies, and my later years at YSU were spent entirely developing and teaching graduate courses for practicing teachers and administrators. I had always encouraged a sense of teacher and public school advocacy in my students, but as their thoughts and feelings about Ohio’s accountability system became their overwhelming professional concern, I worked diligently to give them more opportunity to learn the critical issues of reform mandates and especially the political realities that shape them.

With every new semester, my students expressed greater concern and more confusion about what was happening to them. They wanted to know why their professional worlds were being so drastically altered for the worse, why they were being singled out as a profession for demonization and ridicule by the media, the public, and both major political parties. Indeed, some of my students were even beginning to believe the rhetoric of reform. Sadly, the only explanations they had were the fragmented, shallow propaganda slogans the reformists were peddling to the media for public consumption. There was simply no reflective critique, no voices challenging No Child Left Behind and the cascading, anti-teacher, anti-public school mandates gushing from the Ohio legislature and the Ohio Department of Education that were inundating them.

For my students working in high-poverty schools, the isolation and alienation was palpable, with very good, dedicated teachers feeling demoralized and abandoned amid the very public, state-mandated accountability reports showing them to be professionally incompetent. Equally disturbing were those in the wealthier schools who were starting to become a bit smug because these same accountability reports portrayed them to be professionally excellent. Neither group understood that teachers in low-performing schools were no more the cause of low performance than those in high-performing schools were of performance success.

I became more and more concerned at how powerless and how far removed my graduate student educators were from even having a clue to the real nature and substance of the school reform mandates, especially in terms of their role as teachers in affecting achievement test outcomes. I tried my best to teach about the accountability mandates, especially the fallacies of the standardized tests as the vehicle for judging schools and their educators. As I did, one thing that became eminently clear was that our unions had failed entirely in educating their memberships as to what was happening. It was sad, but simple: our unions were now accommodating the politics and, to large degree, the mentality of the anti-teacher, anti-public school reform movement. The legacy of teacher advocacy I acquired back in my years in Madison was dead and the ideal of social justice for America’s children abandoned.

While mentally preparing to retire at the end of spring term 2013 after 46 years as an educator, I became starkly aware that teacher education, especially graduate teacher education, was also failing to address the fictions and fallacies of educational reform as well. My own experience and a lot of anecdotal evidence from my colleagues across the country made it clear that schools and colleges of education were just as culpable as were our unions in not providing our students the opportunity to learn the critique of education reform. Thus was born my vision of The Teacher Advocate project (Teacher-Advocate.com).

The Teacher Advocate project is designed to educate public school educators and others who seek a fair, valid, and credible education accountability system and to advance the ideals of intellectual empowerment and social justice through our public schools. The website offers a series of papers, commentaries, and links specifically identifying and addressing the critical issues necessary to understand why and how our test-driven educational accountability systems are replete with invalid metrics and false claims resulting in indefensible and grossly unfair high-stakes consequences for students, educators, and communities. The site is unique in that it is a one-stop source for acquiring most, if not all, the concepts and ideas needed to expose the pseudo accountability of the system and to expose the special interests that pseudo accountability serves.

The resources available in the project enable the reader to deconstruct the language, slogans, and especially the contrived metrics to show how the accountability systems violate both established scientific principles of psychometrics and nationally-accepted ethical standards for educational assessment and evaluation. The site brings together a variety of emerging concepts from different sources such as the false proxy, the metrics machine, and authentic vs. pseudo accountability to illuminate the fallacious arguments of the reform movement. The Teacher Advocate represents many themes, all focused on the principle that the claims, the ratings, and the conclusions that flow from the metrics of any educational accountability system must be demonstrably credible and warranted and also be absent of any political or corporate hidden agendas. The project is a personal reminder to me that being vigilant toward the well being of the public schools and especially their teachers is being vigilant toward social justice and the well being of our nation’s children. My vision is that if knowledge is power, then knowledge of the intricacies of the reformist accountability movement offered in The Teacher Advocate may empower us to become the advocates we must become if public schools and their teachers are to survive.

The Teacher Advocate
Teacher-Advocate.com

This is a great—actually an inspiring—interview with Stephanie Rivera, who is probably the most prominent student leader on behalf of properly prepare teachers and supporting public education. Stephanie started a student movement while studying to be a teacher at Rutgers University. She has also been a critic of Teach for America because she intends to make a career of teaching, not a two-year experience.

As you will read, she is deeply committed to teaching in urban schools, and she believes that students need to have teachers who look like them.

Here is a small sample:

“ES: You wrote a terrific post called Advocacy in the Age of Color Blindness where you challenged the idea that it makes no different what color a teacher is as long as s/he’s great. I’m amazed that it’s even necessary to argue about this, but the *best and brightest* first mentality seems to be gaining traction.

SR: The whole argument that if students are succeeding and all of their teachers are white then it’s OK to have all white teachers really misses the point. First of all, how are we measuring student success? Is it all test scores? Because raising test scores isn’t the only role of a teacher and it shouldn’t be. What do students learn from having teachers who look like them? I really believe that when students of color see teachers who look like them in these great professions it sends a powerful message that *hey, I can do something like that too.* It’s also about the ability of teachers to understand where their student are coming from.

ES: As a soon-to-be teacher I wonder what you think about the brewing battle over tenure.

SR: I strongly believe in teacher tenure because it protects teachers who have a more political understanding of what teaching is about. I really think that we need to be having some serious discussions in our teacher education programs about what tenure is. Future teachers don’t understand what it is, what it does and where it came from. Tenure does more than just provide job security. It allows you to speak out against things you think are wrong. It allows you to have a progressive curriculum. People who are going into teaching need a bigger, broader understanding of tenure.”

After reading Mark Naison’s account of the BAT’s meeting with DOE staff and the Duncan himself, Peter Green was delighted that staff at the U.S. Department of Education finally had to listen to teachers that were not hand-picked to be deferential.

He noted two important points that inadvertently emerged from the talk.

“First, Marla Kilfoyle expressed her concerns about the Department’s new policy of testing students with disabilities into a magical state of Not Having Disabilities.

Secretary Duncan deflected her remarks by saying that the Department was concerned that too many children of color were being inappropriately diagnosed as being Special Needs children and that once they were put in that category they were permanently marginalized. He then said “We want to make sure that all student are exposed to a rigorous curriculum.”

So… we’re afraid that too many children of color are being mislabeled as having special needs, so rather than fix that, we’re just going to operate on a new assumption that students labeled special needs don’t actually have special needs. This is perhaps not the most direct way to attack that particular problem (we might start by checking to see how big a problem it is).

Then this, in a discussion of VAM and school closings, leading to the subject of teacher evaluation.

They two officials [one communications guy and an intern] had no real answer to what Dr Wiliams was saying and deflected attention from his critique by insisting that we needed to hold teachers accountable by student test scores because there was no other way of making sure teachers took every student seriously and helped all of them reach their full potential.

It’s not that we didn’t deduce this already, but there’s your statement. Teachers are the problem. We don’t want to do our jobs and the only way we can be made to do our jobs is with threats, because that’s the only thing we will possibly respond to.”

There you have it. Teachers won’t do their job unless D.C. Is threatening them. Please understand that most of the staff at the U.S. Department of Education have never taught. They are bureaucrats or clerks or very nice people who landed a good job in government.

How dare they tell teachers how to teach and threaten their jobs?

Jeff Bryant wonders whether Campbell Brown will replace Michelle Rhee as the public face of “reform”? Bryant describes the movement as “Blame Teachers First.”

Bryant suspects that Rhee’s star is fading fast. Bryant describes her as “education’s Ann Coulter.” The lingering doubts about the Washington, D.C. cheating scandal never dissipate, and John Merrow’s latest blog about the millions that Rhee has paid to protect her image have not been enough to stop the slide. He notes that she never collected the $1 billion she predicted and that her organization is retreating from several states. Her biography bombed. She was unable to draw a crowd in many of the states where she claimed to have thousands of supporters. Bryant says she is yesterday’s news.

Campbell Brown is thus next in line to inherit the role as leader of the “Blame Teachers First” movement.

Bryant writes:

“With Rhee and StudentsFirst sinking under the weight of over-promises, under-performance, and unproven practices, the Blame Teachers First crowd is now eagerly promoting Campbell Brown.

“According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Brown launched the group Partnership for Educational Justice, with a Veraga-inspired lawsuit in New York State to once again dilute teachers’ job protections, commonly called “tenure.” The suit clams students suffer from laws “making it too expensive, time-consuming and burdensome to fire bad teachers.”

“An article in The Washington Post noted, “Brown has raised the issue of tenure in op-eds and on TV programs such as ‘Morning Joe.’ But she may be just getting warmed up.”

“Actually, Brown has already been warmed up and is plenty ready to take the mound and pitch. As the very same article noted, Brown started her campaign against teachers some time ago, claiming that the New York City teachers’ union was obstructing efforts to fire teachers for sexual misconduct. Unfortunately for Brown, the ad campaign conducted by her organization Parents Transparency Project failed to note that, as The Post article recalled, at least 33 teachers had indeed been fired. “The balance were either fined, suspended or transferred for minor, non-criminal complaints.” Oops.

“Further, as my colleague Dave Johnson recalled at the time, Brown penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal accusing the teachers’ union of “trying to block a bill to keep sexual predators out of schools.” It turned out, the union wanted to strengthen the bill, not stop it. Double oops.

“Nevertheless – or as The Post reporter put it, “undaunted” – Brown has now decided to take on teacher personnel policies on behalf of, she claims, “millions of schoolchildren being denied a decent education.”

Who is funding the new anti-teacher drive? Bryant describes the familiar organizations that promoted Rhee, such as TNTP, which Rhee founded, as well as Republican operatives.

He writes:

“What emerges from these interwoven relationships, then, is a big-money effort led by a small number of people who are intent on the singular goal of reducing the ability of teachers to have control of their work environments. But to what end?

“Regardless of how you feel about the machinations behind the Rhee-Brown campaign, what’s clear is that it is hell-bent on imposing new policies that have little to no prospect of addressing the problem they are purported to resolve, which is to ensure students who need the best teachers are more apt to get them.

“Research generally has found that experienced teachers – the targets for these new lawsuits – make a positive difference in students’ academic trajectory. A review of that research on the website for the grassroots group Parents Across America concluded, “Every single study shows teaching experience matters. In fact, the only two observable factors that have been found consistently to lead to higher student achievement are class size and teacher experience.”

The new campaign looks very much like the old campaign, with only this difference. Brown does not pretend to be a Democrat.

In 2010, Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston took credit for a piece of legislation called Senate Bill 191, which he said would produce “Great Schools, Great Teachers, Great Principals.” Its main feature was tying teacher evaluation to their students’ scores, which counted for 50%. But it included other time bombs. One allowed districts to lay off teachers for various reasons. Now seven teachers and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association is suing.

One of those who lost her job was Cynthia Masters, a special-education teacher in a K-8 school. She was one of only 3,000 to lose their job.

“In the four years since the law was passed, nearly 3,000 DPS teachers have lost their positions due to what the district calls “reduction in building,” or RIB for short. The reasons that teachers are RIBed vary: Some lose their jobs because their schools are “turned around” or closed. Others are cut because school enrollment drops. In Masters’s case, she was RIBed due to a decrease in the number of special-ed students.

Of those 3,000 teachers, 1,240 had at least three years’ worth of positive evaluations, including Masters. And not all of them have been able to find new jobs. According to the law, still widely referred to as Senate Bill 191, RIBed teachers with three years of positive reviews — officially known as “nonprobationary” — who can’t find a position within a certain time frame are put on unpaid leave, a move that both unions believe violates the state constitution……”

“Brad Bartels, an attorney with the Colorado Education Association, says these teachers are victims of DPS’s brand of musical chairs. They didn’t lose their positions because they were bad teachers, he insists: “They just didn’t have a chair when the music stopped.”

“Seven DPS teachers and the DCTA have now sued the district. (The statewide CEA is representing the DCTA in the matter.) The lawsuit is a class action, and the plaintiffs represent several different classes, including all teachers in Colorado who were considered nonprobationary prior to the passage of Senate Bill 191 and all nonprobationary DPS teachers who were RIBed and ended up on unpaid leave.

“Westword spoke with five of the seven plaintiffs and found that they have several things in common: All are older than 45 and have good teaching records. Upon losing their positions, all five applied for hundreds of teaching assignments within DPS but, inexplicably to them, received just a few interviews. Only one managed to avoid being put on unpaid leave or being forced into early retirement.

“I applied for over 700 positions in the district,” says plaintiff Michelle Montoya, who got RIBed in the fall of 2010. “I thought, ‘I can deal with this. I’m going to go get a job. My skills are definitely needed.’ And I just never got a second interview.”

Will Senator Michael Johnston live long enough to declare that Colorado now has great teachers, great principals, great schools, thanks to Senate Bill 191?

Stephen Sawchuck did a good job reporting the heated debate about the Common Core standards at the AFT convention. The Chicago Teachers Union wanted to dump them. The head of the New York City United Federation of Teachers mocked the critics of the standards. One union official said that the critics represented the Tea Party. That’s pretty insulting to the Chicago Teachers Union and one-third of the AFT delegates, as well as people like Anthony Cody, Carol Burris, and me.

As far as I can tell, no one explained how states and districts will find the hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for hardware and software required for “the promise of Common Core.” Early estimates indicate that Pearson will have a contract of $1 billion to develop the PARCC tests. Who will pay Pearson? Who will be laid off? How large will class sizes go?

There were no Martians on the committee that wrote the Common Core standards, but there were also no classroom teachers, no early childhood teachers, no special education teachers. There were a number of testing experts.

Frankly the best and only hope for the future of these standards is that they are totally decoupled from testing. It is not likely to happen because doing so would deny the privatizers the data to prove that schools are failing and must be closed at once. That’s where the next big fight will occur.

Will they prepare all children for college and careers? Nobody knows. Will they help prepare our children for “global competition?” Not likely if the global competition works for $2 an hour for 18 hours a day under unsafe conditions.

The Common Core standards will never be national standards. They were developed in haste, paid for by one man (the guy is Seattle who thinks he knows everything), sold to the public via a slick PR campaign. They were never tried out. The tests connected to them are designed to fail most kids. Arne Duncan and Bill Gates thought they could pull a fast one and bypass democracy. Sorry, boys, you are wrong. Public education belongs to the public. Children belong to their parents. Neither public education nor children are for sale.

A teacher from North Carolina wrote the comments below. I don’t agree with his conclusion that unions are responsible for teachers’ loss of control over their work. What he describes can be found in states that never had unions, that were always “right to work.” Who is the villain of the piece? Testing companies? NCLB? I would put the blame on the accountability movement, which now belongs to Congress and legislatures. They want to know “are we getting our money’s worth?” Can’t trust teachers to tell you, must trust standardized tests.

Mr. Worley of North Carolina writes:

There was a day when teaching was considered a profession. As a profession, those who taught were trusted with the education and the evaluation of the student. I grew up in schools that worked that way. Many of you did as well.

My first few years in teaching, it was still pretty much that way. While I dreaded the work of creating fair final exams and then grading them, there was satisfaction in knowing that my kids were doing the same kind of work they had done all year, and that I was the one doing the grading of it.

What has happened?

In my 18th year of teaching now, I no longer write any finals – the state writes them all. I no longer grade any finals – a bubble reading machine does that. I no longer have to consider whether and how to set a curve on their final exam – the state does that. I no longer am even allowed to administer the final to the students I have spent a whole semester with – a teacher outside of my content area must do that. I can’t even proctor the exam.

I spend months building a relationship with my students, slowly but surely getting to know each of them, and them getting to know me. We laugh together, we struggle together, we get mad at each other sometimes. Some days are hard, some not so much, but all of them are interesting.

My favorite comment from my kids remains, “Mr. Worley, you don’t understand. I so look forward to coming to your class each day.” It doesn’t matter whether they like math or not, whether they are particularly good at math or not. In our class, we are united in the notion that our day can be better as a result of having been in math class that day. For whatever reason.

What has happened?

It’s easy to point the finger at politicians and power-wielders who have precious little understanding of just what K-12 education looks like on a daily basis. And certainly these people continue to harm public education for what appear to be selfish reasons.

But we in the education camp have to take some responsibility as well. For far too many years we allowed union representatives to dig in their heels on issues related to rethinking education. We tolerated teachers who should have been quickly removed, protecting with union rights instead of taking a stand for a high level of professionalism. And with every story in the news, trust deteriorated.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have belonged to the teachers union. I was a building representative and believe strongly in the value of collective bargaining rights.

What I’m saying is, we allowed the union to take our voice. And, as a result, we lost our place at the discussion table. Now that sentiment is generally anti-union across the country, teachers are no longer welcome to have a voice, because they don’t feel they need to welcome us. Here in North Carolina we see a state General Assembly passing one piece of vicious attack legislation after the other against educators.

At some point we, the teachers, the ones who love this profession and who are passionate about the kids we serve, need to rise up and reclaim our rightful place as professionals. I’m not sure how. I’m not sure who can or will lead such a rising. But I am certain it needs to happen soon, before public education is dismantled and turned in to a private sector business.

Because education will be dead then…

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