I'd like to quickly start this blog by saying- I wish I could have had some of the people at my district's budget meeting Monday night read this article or listen to Stan Karp speak! Every individual who bashed the teachers (and many did) should consider reading this article and better yet visit my classroom and watch me do my job for a week (they probably wouldn't make it past the second day)! Ok, I'm done ranting; on to the article.
Here is a You Tube link to watch Karp's speech
Below you will find Micaela’s talking points.
The article/lecture "Not Waiting for Superman" by Stan Karp is all about the politics of education. Personally, I have always turned away from any sort of politics because it makes my head hurt and I tend to live in my own bubble. After reading this article though, I found that I had become a victim to the central argument that "public education is failing because of bad teachers and their unions and that charter schools are the solution." (4) As an educator in today's public schools, this statement directly threatens the accountability of my peer teachers and myself saying that through the results acquired through testing that we are doing a shitty job as teachers. I support Stephen Krashen who says that, "If we spend as much on protecting children from poverty as we are willing to spend on testing children and evaluating teachers, we can reduce the problem considerably." (7)
The problem is that our democracy, who collectively operates the public school system, has been slowly weathering down on our system- demanding more from us teachers and giving us less resources to work with, which is due to their dysfunctional financial system. As I hear from many non-educators, teaching is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world. It is very demanding and yet they keep wanting more. With the government on the Oh-Snap side, they see wealthy individuals with money like hedge fund managers, like Whitney Tilson, who is interested in investing their money to make a profit, to start up charter schools as a way to help out. Those in support of charter schools see this as a corporate business, where they are in control of the policies and pay based on merit (merit pay). My principal can be quoted as saying, "you get what you pay for." Charter school teachers get paid less and only later realize the benefits of working in a public school system, where your voice is heard and backed up by a union and the pay is based on step/seniority not merit. It was interesting to learn that 1 out of 4 charter school teachers resign every year.
Obviously, we all connected to the Central Falls HS portion and how it IS the poorest community in our state and how LOW these students are.. I related Karp's comment to Kozol when he states, "(A)nd it's the kind of punitive test-driven policy that the Administration is proposing to impose on over 5000 schools in the nation's poorest communities." (5) Will the test results be any surprise when 65% of the learners are ELL? Honestly, who benefits here? Its wrong to use testing data when there are other factors that belong in the picture. It's not just the teachers. We are a part of it, but not the only ones accountable. Parents have to have a place in this equation also. Karp agrees with me that this is the key to improving a school. (7)
Karp also goes on to say a universal daycare/preschool system would benefit ALL to get the necessary start to an education. This definitely relates back to Kozol also.
I want to tell Bill Gates and his foundation to screw for proposing that class sizes should increase to say money, and to end paying teachers so that they can advance to higher degrees, close down schools, and have more virtual high schools or online classes. It is obvious that I am a "defender" of this "education reform(ation)" who "support(s) increased school funding, collective bargaining and control of school policy by educators."
I very much agree with many of Micaela’s comments. In the first paragraph she states that she doesn’t like to get involved with the politics of teaching because it makes her head hurt. This really made me laugh because I hate being involved with the political side of teaching because in my eyes I am here to do a job and that job is to educate my students the best that I can and to look out for their best interest. My job it to take into consideration the way my students learn most effectively and do my best to use that method or strategy as much as I can to give them the best education possible. My job is to provide my students with and environment that is student friendly and student centered. My job is not to listen to talk shows or watch political on TV bash me as an educator. Karp empowers educators in his speech. Being a teacher himself was helpful. He was not some businessman off the streets or some “billionaire with now educational experience who couldn’t survive in your classroom for two days, but has made privatizing education policy a hobby.” Karp just gets it!
Micaela’s next paragraph talks about the situation Central Falls was facing just last year. She talks about how wrong it is that so much of what our government and school systems look at for progress is a giant standardized test which should not be. When you thing about it, many people do not test well (and we all know this). A standardized test does not give us a complete picture of a student’s overall knowledge and progress. It is simply a very small piece of a very large puzzle. If we spent all our time teaching to the test, sure our students would test well. However, we would be doing them such a disservice!
Both Micaela and Karp make a great point when they talk about where the fingers should be pointing. I think we should put more pressure of our politicians to help us fix our educational system without blaming teachers. We works so hard because we love our jobs and we want to make a difference in the lives of our students. I don’t think it is unjust for us to be criticized for doing what is best for our students.