Saturday, February 05, 2011

What Parents Across America Need to Know

A new special interest group has emerged to join the misguided education conflict. It's called Parents Across America and on it's home page is a posting that explains; Why I Am Not A Defender Of The ‘Status Quo’ In Education. The post is written by a fellow blogger, Sue Peters. She says,
Help bring parents’ voices to the education debate and support progressive, positive, constructive education reforms that work.

In her writing she gets some things right but mostly she repeats 20th century teacher union platitudes and political talking points (see: Diane Ravitch's tweets). And while she "calls" for desirable changes, most of the remedies she suggests are precisely the prescription that got us where we are - at the doorstep of a public education system that is corrupt, intellectually bankrupt, and disingenuous in it's complicity.

Here's the response I submitted;
With all due respect, the status quo as you call it, is a far different phenomenon than what you describe.

You are absolutely correct in asserting that NCLB and it's perverse successor, RTTT, are educational abominations. But if it takes a village to raise a child then it took a nation of complicit, selfish, and ruthless special interest groups to so totally undermine the public schools of this country. And this includes teacher's unions.

Schools cannot mask this nation's rising caste system. The gaps that schools measure is the speed at which the rich have moved away from what is left of the middle class and the growing lower classes. To believe test scores is to believe the children of wealth are smart and gifted and that the children of poverty all have irresponsible parents and teachers who should be fired. But even that is not enough.

Nothing is left to chance in this brave new classroom. Grades need to be shaved to ensure that the children of privilege will make competition for entry into the good colleges and Universities a sure thing rather than a true comparison of worthiness. This system is not broken, it is finely tuned. It is intentional. It is sugar-coated with Orwellian goodness to disguise the ugly truth.

The fact of the matter is that teacher bashing is a natural political reaction by parents and tax-payers who are oblivious to the paradox that education policy has become. Like cult followers they are being promised something that the system is precisely designed to prevent - that is the opportunity of all children to realize their true potential. That idea is anathema.

And that idea is anathema because teachers unions have become self-absorbed with every issue except that which are healthy for children. Today, education lawyers consume every bit of intellectual oxygen with tread-worn, industrial revolution policies that prevent teachers from teaching in the name of workplace and employment entitlements. And enough is never enough when it comes to salaries and benefits.

The children's issues are treated as throw-away, sentimental platitudes used for political gaming. The platitudes are noble and the execution non-existent.

Privatised schools are not a panacea but the quality of education they represent is a breath of fresh air to those of us who do care about kids and education and teaching innovation.

The best thing parents can do is demand a end to the lies of class-size, funding, and federal control of schools. Demand an end to standardized testing regimes. Demand that every public school do it's best to increase the size of the so-called education gap so that we can know how good all schools can be.

The best things teachers can do is to stop whining and propose through their unions new workplace rules that allow innovative teaching and curriculum reform. Demand that your professional peers be held expeditiously accountable to termination if need be. And demand that schools exercise the best practices teaching can offer instead of the meager practices that still exist despite retarded education policy, brain-dead administrators, and a teacher's union that is better suited for day labourers than professionals.

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