professornana (professornana) wrote,

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D Is for Diss

For someone who proposed cutting the entire Department of Education when he was running for the republican nomination for President,Rick Perry is suddenly investing in education. Sort of. He has appointed a new Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams. Williams' salary: a raise from that of his predecessor, Williams will make $219,000 this year. All manner of word associations with "diss" come to mind: disillusion, disservice, disdain, dismissive, dis-tructive (OK, pushing it here, I know).

Given that the average salary for a beginning teacher in Texas (and it varies widely according to the half a dozen web sites I consulted) is about $43K with average salaries about $48K. That puts the commissioner's salary at least 4 times that of a teacher, a credential teacher, a certified teacher. Dr. Williams (he holds a law degree) has experience as an adjunct professor of law. I could find no reference to any other classroom experience.

But why should I be surprised given that there is the trend not just in Texas but nationwide to have leaders iin education who have not had much (if any) experience in the public school classroom? As a profession, we have an appalling number of non-teaching folks dictating policy and curriculum (yes, I'm lookng at you CCSS). For my way of thinking, this is one way to be dismissive of teachers; it shows the disdain leaders have for the profession. And I think it has been incredibly dis-tructive to education as a whole.

I spent 8 hours yesterday meeting with my new grad students in children's and YA literature. In addition to reviewing the syllabus and assignments, we talked books and reading and reading aloud and booktalking and motivating readers. We finished each class with students selecting free books from our bookrooms, books to take back and share with kids, with families, with teachers. I hope no one left dis-appointed. Judging from the swollen backpacks, that was not the case.

It would be easy to become disillusioned when I see what is happening. I refuse to give up, though. I know too many excellent educators who are using best practices and aligning those with the forced curriculum (or quietly closing the door to the classroom and doing it anyhow). I keep coming back to the incredible group of LS doc students and the work they are doing to continue to be literacy leaders. I remember that two of my colleagues just published an article in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL about their research that indicates administrators value their school librarians and libraries. And so I take heart and soldier on.

Thank you, teachers and librarians who will head off into the schools again tomorrow to inspire kids, to share books with them, to promote literacy for another generation. You are on the front lines. I admire you; I support you; I love what you continue to do in the face of all the obstacles. You are now DIS-MISSED! Go enjoy a refreshing beverage and get ready for Monday.
Tags: education
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