Teachers have long been the target of the Education Reform movement but after years of abuse teachers have began to push back. Then after the Sandy Hook and Moore tragedies it has become harder to straight up demonize teachers. Education deformers no longer feel comfortable blaming them for society’s problems especially after a few gave up or risked their lives for their children. That however hasn’t stopped the corporate reform movement; no they just switched targets going from educators to their schools of education.
Before I debunk their latest attacks I want you to first think about the amazing hypocrisy of the education reform movement. Teach for America is the darling of the ed reform movement. It takes non education majors and puts them through a five week course and then places them in our toughest classroom or what people in education like to call the exact opposite of what should be happening. Yet somehow that is supposed to be okay and college of ed graduates who spend years studying and at least a semester teaching is somehow substandard. It’s worse however as the right often uses a study by Arthur Levine, who complains about lax requirements to get into colleges of education to validate their concerns but they never mention how the same Arthur Levine rails against TFA and saying it is not the answer. This however will not be the only example of the right trying to have their cake and eat it too. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-to-improve-teacher-education-now-and-why-teach-for-america-isnt-the-answer/
Jeb Bush likes to take credit for Florida’s improvement over the last dozen years and there has been some modest gains the thing however is most of these gains are the results of the efforts of Florida’s teachers and the majority of them are graduates of the state’s colleges of educations not his Florida miracle which has been thoroughly debunked. These are the same colleges that Jeb Bush said he wanted to blow up at the Champions for Education meeting. Jeb Bush should not be allowed to have his cake and eat it to, not that that has ever stopped a politician for taking credit for something they had no control over while simultaneously and erroneously bashing their enemies.
Their main argument seems to be that people who go into the college of education have low GPAs and SAT scores. First there is a lot of debate about where the education deformers got their information and its reliability http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2009/11/15/do-teachers-really-come-from-the-bottom-third-of-colleges-or-is-that-statistic-a-bunch-of-baloney/ and
I get it though, each side could say I’ll see your study and show you one more but I want you to think about this. Only slightly over 30% of all Americans over the age of 25 have a four year degree. 100 percent of public school teachers have to have a four-year degree. So in effect the education reformers who are so critical are saying that teachers are the worst of the best.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/education/census-finds-bachelors-degrees-at-record-level.html
Then according to the national center for education statistics, 52% of teachers have advanced degrees where only 10% of the general public does and doesn’t that shoot a hole in the poorly educated teacher theory? http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28
Once again however in their zeal to bad talk teachers they don’t realize or they do and don’t care hoping that the public will miss it, that this argument points to inconsistencies in another one of the other crown jewels of education reform, vouchers. Private schools play by different rules including the education levels that their teachers are required to have. Sure all the teachers at schools like Boles and Episcopal have bachelor’s degrees or above but what about the small private schools in strip malls or on the recesses of town, you know, the ones that advertise on their web sites that they take vouchers. Many of the members of those staffs don’t have bachelors’ degrees at all let alone degrees in the subject areas that they are teaching. Yet the powers that be aren’t calling for universal certification requirements instead they are just screaming that colleges of education are substandard.
These reformers, many of who are seeking to make a buck off education, with their most sincere faces say, if of only children had better teachers they would graduate better prepared for life. That teacher quality is the number one in-school factor that determines how children do. They say in-school mind you so they can continue to ignore poverty which is the number one factor for determining success in school. Kids in poverty don’t do as well as those who aren’t and over a fifth of our kids live in poverty and another fifth just above it.
To those education reformers who say those things I respond instead of demonizing teachers for not being able to overcome the dehabilitating effects of poverty, parental indifference and so many other factors beyond their control, I believe we should get down on our knees and thank them because the vast majority of our children would be much worse off without them.
This isn’t to say every teacher is great or graduate from a college of education made the right choices to get into the profession but when one of my kids’ acts up I don’t punish the whole class because of them but that is the road that the education reformers have chosen to take. They see a few bad teachers and instead of working to replace them they decide to kneecap the entire profession instead.
During my third year of teaching, like many teachers do to hone their craft I went back to college and was taking a nature of the learner class. One day the professor showed a couple videos of teachers and asked the class to rate them zero through four, four being the highest. One of the videos showed a rather shrill woman who I found a bit boring and short with the kids. After the video was over I turned to my buddy and said I am giving her a zero, what are you giving her? He said, one.
At first I was a confused, I asked quite dismayed, what, how can you give this lady a one? He looked at me and said Chris, she showed up. So many people bitch and complain, blame and point their fingers at teachers not knowing what they do or go through but you know what they don’t do? I was silent. They don’t show up. They don’t go through the training and make the sacrifices. They don’t fight for better conditions for teachers, a fair wage and curriculums that give teachers and students a chance at being successful. They don’t do any of those things and as flawed as this lady was, she showed up and that is worth a point in my book. Feeling a little ashamed for my initial reaction and my short sitedness, I to gave her a one too.
And if above doesn’t make you wonder about the true motives of the education reform movement, most of whom have never been in a classroom and none of whom have fought for decent wages and working conditions for teachers, who blame them for societies ills, and many of who’s main goal is to make a buck off of education then nothing will.