Joseph Ricciotti, a former professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, wrote a powerful article in which he describes the sinking morale of teachers, weighed down by the dehumanizing and demoralizing policies of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top.

He writes:

“The war on teachers began with the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) program when George W. Bush was president and has continued with “Race to the Top” (RTTT) with President Obama and his non-educator, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Basically both programs are what is commonly referred to by public school educators as “test and punish” testing programs that are used primarily for closing schools, ranking students, demonizing teachers and for assessing teacher effectiveness. These programs have now morphed into the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in which the federal government has, in essence, usurped local control of education in the United States.

“Hence, the purpose of these so-called education reform movement with its high-stakes tests has been to rank students, not to educate them. The ranking consists of “winners”and “losers” which extends beyond the students to also include schools that are “successes” and “failures.”

Why the teacher-bashing?

“Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as the political establishment in Washington, D.C. realized that the true culprit in the achievement gap of many urban schools and their suburban counterparts was poverty. Moreover, both presidents decided that a war on teachers would be cheaper than a war on poverty. At a time when poverty of children in the country has reached epic proportions and has become a national crisis, politicians from both parties have refused to deal with poverty in a meaningful manner and have, instead, decided to scapegoat teachers.”

The attacks on teachers by the corporate reformers is a smokescreen for their unwillingness to do anything meaningful about poverty. Under steady attack from the reformers, the professionalism of teachers was steadily eroded. Reformers, they of high status in the world of politics and philanthropy, never really understood why anyone became teachers and often suggested that teachers were drawn from the lowest academic rungs, an outright falsehood:

“Public school teachers today are considered by the corporate education reformers as merely “clerks” whose expertise, craft and artistry are no longer valued. As an outgrowth of Common Core, teachers no longer have any say or voice in the curriculum and can no longer function as reflective practitioners as the corporations and testing companies now determine what is taught and how it is taught. Educators realize that Common Core is a top-down reform movement developed by non-educators and supported by Bill Gates. It is, in essence, sheer politics with no chance of succeeding. Is it any wonder why teaching has been dehumanized when teachers must adhere to the mandates of the corporate reformers even though they know that these mandates run counter to the interests and needs of their students? It is time for teachers and parents to push back against these corporate education reformers and to help restore the dignity of teaching and public education.”