I wonder if you have heard from the silent majority of teachers about their frustrations with the slings and arrows being tossed from outsiders into our classrooms? I read your tweets; I visit the web site (http://www.ed.gov/teaching) regularly. What I see, though, causes me to question if you are in touch with education, with teachers, and with our students. You seem to think that a slogan here or a new campaign there will do. You appear to be content to let corporations and folks from outside of education dictate policy. I do not know any other explanation for the decisions to implement CCSS and RttT. I see no response to the critics (and there are many) who are more than willing to talk if only you will listen. Instead, those of us who question the standards that are, in some cases, developmentally inappropriate and in other cases simply a rewording of the curriculum already in place, are branded in rather harsh terms. We have low expectations for students or do not want to see all children succeed or we question the very foundation of the corporate jargon that has entered education, likening it to a business.
I wonder if you or your office has something to say in response to this week's faux-report from NCTQ about teacher education programs across the country. I wonder why you are not questioning the closing of schools in Chicago (surely you still care about the kids there). I wonder why competition and various forms of the word are being used to describe teaching and education and funding and learning. Surely you know that competition requires a level playing field. Otherwise, it is akin to letting the Spurs play Montgomery High School's basketball team (to use a metaphor I know you will understand). I wonder why, to celebrate teachers, your staff spent part of one whole day shadowing a teacher. Why not enter into the classrooms daily, routinely? Why not teach a semester or maybe even just 6 weeks to demonstrate your expertise compared to those that you and the other naysayers say are mediocre at best? I wonder where is your voice raised in alarm as teacher unions are busted and pensions are removed.
You see, I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt, really I would. But I just do not see you giving me the same due, trusting that I am doing a more than mediocre job, that I have high expectations for my students, that I am competent to know my curricular area and provide effective instruction and assessment (beyond tests, because you see, I do not give ANY tests but use real assessments that are meaningful), and that I am still furthering my education, integrating new information and technology on a continuous basis.
One more thing, Secretary Duncan: I am not alone here. My colleagues at all levels of public education are doing the best we know how with the limited (and shrinking) resources available. We make purchases for our classrooms; we attend PD at our own expense; and we can tell you at any given moment where our students are in terms of mastering the skills they need. I am one of LEGION. If I am wondering why you do not support us, I suspect they are as well. So, how about cutting back on the photo ops and the basketball games? How about letting the critics have their day with you? How about telling those corporations to focus on another profession (maybe the legal or medical profession or better yet: mind their own business, literally)? How about speaking up for the kids, ALL the kids? How about truly being a secretary of education and not one of corporate reform? I urge you to join the LEGION of teachers who are doing their jobs, ducking the slings and arrows, and going about being teachers despite the criticisms from beyond the walls of their classrooms. Please, Secretary Duncan, SPEAKLOUDLY for us?