AIN'T. GONNA. HAPPEN.
Never before in my 30+ years in education have I ever felt so unsure of the future of education. Friends have lost their jobs as teachers and librarians and curriculum coordinators. Colleagues are losing positions in higher education as well. Partly, that is because enrollments are down in tough economic times. Part of the reason is the loss of grants and scholarships for kids who want to attend college (thanks for the timing, too: my youngest granddaughter goes off to college this year with less money to help her pay tuition). And, our lovely state has cut funding to all levels of education while our governor lives in a $10,000 a month apartment while the mansion is being redecorated) with the university taking a HUGE hit over the past 5 years at least. "Raise tuition," we were told when the state pulled some of our funds. We did; now we are the bad guys for making college less affordable.
Never before in my 30+ years in the field have I seen so much attention paid to folks who have never taught at any level. Bill Gates, for instance, knows exactly what makes for a good teacher? Really? Secretary Duncan has the answer just like he did for Chicago schools (and look at that data if you want curly hair and heartburn). Charter schools are touted despite the cold, hard facts about their level of success. New standards are written with little input from the leaders in the field. Texts are suggested for the new canon which are out of print or have an average date of publication more than 80, 90, 100, 150 years ago. The curriculum is narrowing at the same time.
"We are falling behind other countries," is the rallying cry, and yet the data indicates this, too, is not entirely true. Unions are to blame (we are not permitted to have unions here and guess where our salaries rank?; teachers are to blame (we have to pass tests to get into college, to get our certification, and to maintain certification; what else can we do to prove our merit?; schools of education are to blame (I cannot start to address this one as it will turn into a rant that will make me seem paranoid). Never is the finger pointed at other problems: poverty, decaying buildings, out of date materials, unfunded mandates, and more. I admit that I feel disheartened more now than ever before.
So, Mr. President, do not expect me to send any of my hard earned monies to your reelection campaign until you demonstrate that you truly care about our children and our future. You can do that by replacing Secretary Duncan with someone who has experience in schools, particularly in classrooms; someone who has done research and knows the truth and is not afraid to speak it. You can do that by restoring the funding of education and repealing the punitive, limiting, disheartening NCLB and RttT. You can do that by giving schools what they deserve: funds sufficient to provide ALL that students need. The teachers are already there in the schools fighting the good fight, doing more with less, supplying things out of their own pockets, working hours beyond school time.
On this day when we celebrate our independence, it is time to take an heroic stance. Show us again the person we supported and voted for. Be the CHANGE we need.