professornana (professornana) wrote,

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teaching, a soapbox speech for the new year

The promo trailer for FREEDOM WRITERS has been airing every 30 minutes or so over the past few weeks. Part of me is thrilled to see a movie that celebrates what my life is all about: teaching and writing. However, the snarky part of me thinks, "CRAP!" Sure, Hilary Swank will work hard to help her students achieve much in the movie (based on a true story). But what folks who go to see the movie need to know is that this miracle happens day after day in hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands) of classrooms across this country. Teachers take the raw materials given them and create freakin' miracles. They do it quietly every single day. Not many of them have their lives made into movies, though.

Juxtapose this movie with what Oprah did this past week in Africa: she opened a school. Would it not be a more fitting tribute to teachers if all the celebs (especially those who write children's books) took their $$$ and invested them in children? I keep hearing from politicos that throwing money at the problems in education will not solve anything. My question is, "How do you know? You have never thrown money at us." When NBA players' fines for fighting on the court are more than most teachers can make in several years,it is clear that money is not being thrown into an area where our children might benefit.

OK, new Congress and Senate: time to put money where your mouths have been. First, take NCLB and rewrite the legislation so that we leave no child begind. Fund the mandates that will help us educate all children. Eliminate the testing and come up with authentic assessments that truly demonstrate the progress each child is making. Tests do not do more that give us a snapshot of how each child performs on a test on one day out of her or his academic career. Pay teachers what they are worth. Build safe, clean, and welcoming schools for ALL kids. Involve the community but do not mistake the fact that someone has been to school for someone who knows what education is all about.

And to my LJ friends, speak out. Sermon over. Go forth in peace.
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