Ask ANYBODY! Teaching is a LOT harder than anybody ever thinks it is:
Have you ever watched professional athletes and gawked at how easy they make it look? Kobe Bryant weaves through five opposing players, sinking the ball into the basket without even glancing in its direction. Brett Favre spirals a football 100 feet through the air, landing it in the arms of a teammate running at full speed. Does anyone have any delusions that they can do what Kobe and Brett do?The author then asks, sensibly, why do folks grant less skill or talent to good teachers? This piece, from a blog I hadn't seen before, is a very tidy, closely argued, thoughtful rejoinder to those who make light of teaching as a profession. I heartily recommend it to your attention. Might provided a needed jolt of professional esteem which is too often withheld or denied.
Starve the Beast: One way in which states and local school districts are trying to further reduce the dreaded power that teachers are said to have over young minds is to replace "teachers" with "baby-sitters." This has been occurring all over the country, in districts wealthy and poor. Just as at universities, adjunct faculty are displacing and replacing tenured faculty, so to in schools, "alternatively certified" teachers are supplanting experienced faculty.
Teach for America puts "teachers" in classrooms in (usually) predominantly poor, urban and rural schools after only FIVE weeks of training. TFA supplies a relatively miniscule fraction of the alterntively certified, too. Troops-to-Teachers, a program begun in 1994 directed many are former military into classrooms, and both the Bushevik and the LowBar regimes have actively recruited. TFA has recently begun to recruit military veterans, too.
The chart below illustrates the swiftness with which these changes have occurred.
In a similar vein: Blogger Julian Vasquez Heilig offers the following thought game:
He writes: "Unbelievably, I have travelled more than 20,000 miles over the past five weeks— Brazil, Princeton, New York City, Las Vegas and Oregon. Imagine a scenario where I showed up at the airport and the airline employee gave me the following choices:
1) You can fly on an airplane today with a pilot with 30 hours of alternative pilot certification training. 2) You can fly on an airplane today with a pilot who has five weeks of training in a special pilots corp. 3) You can fly on an airplane today with a pilot who has been certified to fly the plane and has a year of teaching experience learning curriculum planning, pedagogy, and classroom management. I mean flying the plane…It's a powerful parable, but it's not the only point he's making. Again, I commend your close attention to what he's got to say.
We know there have been many positive claims made for the Common Core:That is because it is a tissue of lies, exaggerations, dissembling and top-down imposition of what amounts to ED Hirsch's "trivial pursuits" version of the curriculum, nationalized, standardized and accountable-ized.
We also know that many creative, heroic teachers are seeking ways to use this latest reform wave to serve their students well. Especially in the current interim between the rollout of the standards and the arrival of the tests, some teachers have embraced the Common Core as an alternative to the scripted commercial formulas of recent experience, and are trying to use the space opened up by the Common Core transition to do positive things in their classrooms.
- That it represents a tighter set of smarter standards focused on developing critical learning skills instead of mastering fragmented bits of knowledge.
- That it requires more progressive, student-centered teaching with strong elements of collaborative and reflective learning.
- That it equalizes the playing field by raising expectations for all children, especially those suffering the worst effects of the “drill and kill” test prep norms of the recent past.
We'd like to believe these claims and efforts can trump the more political uses of the Common Core project. But we can't.
Hut-Hut-Hut: What if the NFL had a standardized playbook? Asked nobody ever. Though it is another interesting extrapolative exercise.
NFL Adopts Common Core Playbook–Copying Education Reforms
by John J. Viall
(Washington, D. C.) In a surprise news conference today U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced plans to improve NFL performance in coming seasons.
Unlike news conferences on education, which draw sparse crowds, representatives from hundreds of newspapers, television and radio networks, and ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN for Kids and ESPN Tales from the Crypt were in attendance.
Mr. Duncan spoke first. “We are pleased to announce a partnership involving the U. S. Department of Education and the NFL,” he explained. “We will call this new effort to improve pro football ‘Race to the End Zone.’ All the leading school reform experts insist this approach will dramatically improve the quality of football play.”
Your Weekly Ravitch: North Carolina's troglodytic, peckerwood Legislature and Tea-bagger Governor are working hard to cut the heart out of public schools in the state. A Tar-heel teacher writes:
Eliminating $110 million for teacher assistants, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating class size limits for K-3, no raise again this year, all of these unnecessary cuts wipe out three decades of steady progress. The most damaging is allowing for our hard earned tax dollars to be transferred to private schools. The privatization of public schools threatens the very cornerstone of our democracy and violates our state constitution.No small amount of the impetus to undercut, impoverish, asnd disable public schools comes form agents of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own "reform" ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the "reform" agenda for education.Founded only two years after the release of the infamous (though barely known) Powell Memorandum, which outlined how the financial interests could defeat the growing populism and egalitarianism of the 60s, ALEC epitomizes and crystallizes the document's underlying principles.
ALEC operated largely in the dark for years, but gained notoriety because of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. It turns out that ALEC crafted the "Stand Your Ground" legislation that empowered George Zimmerman to kill an unarmed teenager with the defense that he (the shooter) felt threatened. When the bright light of publicity was shone on ALEC, a number of corporate sponsors dropped out, including McDonald's, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars, Wendy's, Intuit, Kaplan, and PepsiCo. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said that it would not halt its current grant to ALEC, but pledged not to provide new funding. ALEC has some 300 corporate sponsors, including Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and AT&T, so there's still quite a lot of corporate support for its free-market policies. ALEC claimed that it is the victim of a campaign of intimidation.There is MUCH more to be said about the pernicious and malign influe4nces of the Grasping Oligarchz and Plutocratz. I wouldn't want to be a spoiler.
Meanwhile: It's not teachers only who are feeling the sting of stingy school boards and federal bureaucrats, to say nothing of the bite of the privatizers' profits. School support staff, too, are getting screwed. Nothing highlights the differences like comparing a union school with an "unorganized," charter school. That's what an Alternet writer did recently:
At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, two of America’s largest school districts, Chicago and Philadelphia, closed a total of 73 public schools between the two cities. Thousands of employees were laid off, including many food service, janitorial and security workers. In Philadelphia alone, 1,202 safety staffers who prevent violence when students aren’t in class, were laid off.Once again, Chicago is at the epicenter.
These cutbacks are only the latest instances of a sustained effort to cut costs by eliminating unionized positions in public schools either by hiring support staff through private entities—like Aramark or Sodhexo—or by replacing traditional schools with charters, which are usually aren’t covered by a school district’s union contracts. There’s a vast difference between working in an unionized public school district and working in an unorganized school of any kind. For employees, non-teacher positions at non-union schools usually means little job or retirement security, limited (if any) health insurance, sick leave, vacations, and much lower pay.(Emphases supplied).