Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Entrance Closed

Lately, my faith in public education has been shattered. I'm even considering private school for my children. Remember, in my previous life (not so many months ago) I was a teacher at a public school, with aspirations to be a teacher at a public school for the rest of my life (minus the years as a stay-at-home-mom). But these days, public school is failing. And public school reform is failing. I continuously remind myself that these are very good days NOT to be a teacher.

The problem with everything is the emphasis on The Test. Oh, I'm all for figuring out where kids are and how they're improving, but that's NOT what The Test does. Michigan has 91 benchmarks for High School English Language Arts. That's 91 things that a student should be proficient in (in English Language Arts alone) by the time he or she graduates from high school. And they're great benchmarks. They're things that kids really need to know in order to be successful in life after high school. This is what ELA teachers are supposed to be teaching. But The Test doesn't test for them. The Test isn't written with these things in mind. And since students, teachers, and entire school districts are graded and funded on the results of The Test, what do you think teachers are doing?

I'll give you a hint: they certainly aren't focusing on the 91 benchmarks. Nope. They're teaching to The Test. And some teachers are cheating on The Test because the pressure is so high. What does that teach our kids?

For a wonderful example of what Race to the Top is doing to the great teachers out there, read this article by Michael Moore of Georgia Southern University. What would Donna Stowe, the teacher who inspired me, think about RTTT? How would her teaching have to change? Well, she's retired and lesser teachers have taken her place (this is not a bash at Skar - ANY teacher would be lesser after her).

A classmate of mine has been in DC this week and decided to go to the Department of Education on her spare time, just to see. I mean, she's a teacher and it's the Dept. of Ed., right? Here's the result:

"Entrance Closed" - pretty much sums it all up for me.

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