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04 September 2013 @ 09:17 am
Q and A but mostly BLAH BLAH BLAH  
Followed this link to a Q & A for back to school week with Secretary Arne Duncan: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/08/q-and-a-back-to-school-with-arne-duncan/. I wonder how something like this can be posted without someone's pants catching on fire. In the first paragraph in response to the question about the greatest challenge facing teachers as they return to the classroom (and never mind the fact that many teachers have already been in class for a week or two or three), there are three outright lies. The piece might serve as a useful Exemplar Text on propaganda and prevarication.

1. CCSS was not a state-led effort. I wish we could put that one to rest right now.
2. Teachers have NOT embraced CCSS. It has been forced on them. It is yet another example of top-down "reform" in which actual classroom folks had little input.
3. CCSS brings unprecedented reform and change. Change, perhaps. Reform? Hardly.

But, wait, there's more. In answer to the second question about attracting, retaining, and supporting teachers, Secretary Duncan manages to get in a nice body slam for teacher prep programs (I wonder if he is referring to the faux report from NCTQ?) that do not provide for hands-on, in-the-classroom experiences throughtout the preparation. Maybe I am an ostrich with its head buried in the sand, but I know the teacher prep programs in OUR state have those experiences and are constantly searching for new ways to extend the opportunities for teacher-ed candidates to work with kids before graduation.

And then there is this quote: "Almost two-thirds of novice teachers feel unprepared for the realities of their classroom. " You know what, Secretary Duncan? I suspect the number may be closer to 100%. Even though I did my student teaching all day for a semester and received terrific evaluations from those observing my efforts, I still felt ill-prepared for my OWN class that first (and maybe first couple) year. It is one thing to work as a student teacher. It is another to start your first day in a new job. Is there any profession where the first day is not daunting? I doubt it.

These types of quotes that provide some sort of statistic abound. Here's another: "Yet, today, fewer than 20 percent of educators say their school’s Internet connection meets their teaching needs." I think perhaps there is more here than bandwidth. You see, there is this filtering issue that prevents teachers from using social networks and other sites that are filtered, banned, or restricted. Teachers cannot show a You Tube video without petitioning layers of beaurocrats for permission. Ditto Facebook, Twitter, SlideShare, Vine, etc. I take my own Wifi connection when I do staff development because, even in buildings where there are no children present, there is heavy filtering. How does this help us connect to others? It is not just about having computers and Internet. It is about being able to access sites, too.

Please, please, please let us focus on the challenges, the real ones. I hear from teachers who are drowning in a quagmire of scripted curriculum, who are being told whan and how and what to teach each day and in each class with no individualization permissible. Texts are mandated; there is NO choice. Teachers are told that they cannot have reading doors or certain classroom decor because it does not fit into some mandate or other. This micro-management serves to further control freedom, especially the freedom to teach without suffocating limits and rules.

This week I completed a "training" in how to spot child abuse. I am a university professor with 35 years of teaching experience. I work ONLINE with adults, and yet this training was mandated. This is exactly the type of mind-numbing rule that gets imposed: one size fits all. And, again, as a woman of some size, I know the fallacy of this philosophy of one size fits all. It is a shame that this has extended beyond clothing and into the classroom. Now excuse me while I try to squeeze into something a little less comfortable.
 
 
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