I read a comment on a blog about our new national curriculum "Common Core" and it was one of those aha! moments. The moment when you finally really realize something. I retired from teaching in 2005, NOT BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE, but because I COULDN'T STAND working in the new system. Virtually every teacher I talked to said the same thing "It's not the kids, it's the administration". The comment on the blog said that our schools have become a dictatorship and that our best teachers are retiring or quitting as soon as they can. This comment was dead on target, our teachers now work in a dictatorship.
When I was behind the wall in Romania in 1975 they had a little joke that went something like this "The Russians can't even go to the toilet alone". The Soviets did not believe in the individual. The individual had no value to them. In fact, their purpose was to stamp out any individualism at all (remember the uniforms?), and coerce everyone to think the same ( remember the reeducation camps?). Karl Marx represented these ideas of sameness . How are our schools falling into this world of Marxist coercion to sameness?
Let's look at the Common Core. In Bedford, Massachusetts - "Bedford schools will see changes in how teachers are evaluated.These revisions are due to the new national Common Core Standards....". The new regulations require school "committees" to "establish evaluation systems and performance standards for ALL teachers" in order to sic "promote teacher growth and development and to place student learning at the center of education." ALL TEACHERS need growth and development? The best teachers in the school that everyone loves need to have a committee to tell them how to teach? What makes this committee so special and where did they get their training to all of a sudden become the experts? What a bold statement to say this committee will teach these teachers to PLACE STUDENT LEARNING AT THE CENTER OF EDUCATION!!! Are you seriously kidding me- ALL hardworking teachers of whatever number of years, need a committee to ensure that they put student learning at the center of education?? Who determines what "putting student learning at the center of education" is? Come on David Coleman, is this you and your behind closed doors committee again? Did your benefactor Bill Gates or Charles Johnson put you up to this, or was it Barrack Obama and all his billions from Washington ($250,000,000 just to Massachusetts here) and his minions (Bill Ayers, Bernadette Doran, Cass Sunstein) that gave you the crown of educator in chief?
The evaluations are also intended to "recognize excellence in teachers and 'educational leaders', to set a high bar for professional status and to shorten timelines for improvement". If you are a good boy or girl you get a lollipop , but if you're not, you better watch out! ALL TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS, AND ADMINISTRATORS MUST ATTAIN A RATING OF PROFICIENT, AT LEAST. Everyone's on a short leash now- you better do everything we say just the way we say it- or else!
The schools have been pushing "collaboration" for a long time. Teachers had to do things the same, the individual who goes rogue is not accepted- take it from me- the rogue teacher was the good one. Teaching is an art and a lot of it comes from the heart, it's more a vocation than a profession if you're a good teacher. There are as many good ways to teach as there are good teachers. No matter how much the federal government tries to make this one size fits all approach, people are still individuals and they always will be. It's just that the teachers who are good at compromising all their standards will be the only ones left standing in public education when all of this is done.
In case you think all this Soviet Style group think is for the best here's a comment from an educator of more than 50 years from Kansas "Over my more that 50 years in public education I've come to know young children pretty well, and I am sure that 8-9 years olds are not ready to 'describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect' as decreed by one of the standards for third-grade readers informational text." I think I would have liked that lady as my teacher. I'm sure she's retired now too. How will public education attract the best and brightest among us when this is how teachers are treated? One comment to the blog was that "Everything must be done in stealth, except the teacher bashing". Haven't the communists always done things stealthily?
Soviet Group Think is not the way to run our schools. Let freedom ring in our schools. Go back to the constitution and put control of our schools back to the states where it belongs. The federal government doesn't run schools any better than it runs economies. Free markets work and so do free schools. Governor Romney, trash your "education plan"and simply refuse to reenact the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). The Soviets never did have any good ideas!