Lies About Public Education (Part Five) – Caring Teachers Will Change Things!Saturday, November 17th, 2012
Folks, it might surprise you to know that I get a lot of letters from teachers who work in public schools.
Given that my view is antithetical to their “profession”, why would they write me? Well, some of the teachers who write are obvious “shills” for the teaching profession, whose intention in writing me is to protect their very well-paid and well protected jobs. They make no bones about it sometimes, and I appreciate honesty for what it’s worth. Others of this type hide their actual intention behind a stream of well-tested rhetoric. You know, that garbage about teachers are there for students, teachers are poorly paid, and other such lies. The people who write such garbage to me get exactly the respect and response they deserve from me.
Some teachers write me write to let me know just how wrong I am. And that’s fine. After all, public education has been wrong for at least 70 years, now, so they’re kind of the experts on “wrong”. They each have a right to their opinion, I guess, no matter how self-serving and ignorant it may be.
And then there are the “good teachers”.
I get lots of these. Letters from teachers letting me know that I just don’t get it – teachers are Good! They love their students. And most of all, they AGREE with me! The system IS terrible! They HATE the way they’re forced to teach! They KNOW the methods used today to educate are destructive and harmful to kids.
Some of those “good” teachers bewail their fate. But, they ask me (often), what are they to do? You can’t fight city hall! Should they just up and QUIT their jobs, they ask me. To which I generally respond “YES, if you can’t fight the system or change it, and you continue to work within the system, then you’re SUPPORTING the system. In fact, you ARE the system.”
Teachers are the hands and the face of public education. Remove its hands, it can no longer manipulate children and families toward horrific results. Remove its face, public education loses it voice, its persuasive quality. So YES, I advise such people to quit their jobs and go do something more ethical and productive.
Strangely enough, I rarely hear again from such teachers.
And then there’s another kind of “good” teacher. They also know that the system does not work. They hate “teaching to a test”, and complain loudly that they are forced to do so. (Teaching to a test is when a teacher basically feeds students answers to an upcoming test, answers which are often unrelated to anything other than a test – you know, undigested and uninvestigated “information” that a student is not expected to actually understand, just memorize and repeat upon command.) These teachers KNOW that teaching to a test has nothing to do with educating a child, or so they tell me. But such tests are mandated by the state, and students must perform well in these tests, they say, for the student’s own good. How such a result serves a student beats me. No one has ever been able to justify or even explain this approach.
Such “good” teachers rarely admit that they’ve been offered incentive pay to see to it that students score well in tests, so that in turn, the school district or state can promote the “great results” they’re now getting through their public schools. In other words, these “good teachers” teach to the test in order to receive extra pay. They are given extra pay by the school district because advanced test scores allow the district to demand more money for their “sterling results”.
It’s about money, but “good teachers” still complain about that system. They cash their bonuses all the same.
Yes, the “good teachers” proudly hold their heads up to let me know that they KNOW. They AGREE. The system is garbage. But, they announce, they are going to change the system. From within.
And so they have been saying decade after decade after decade.
And the system continues to find new and better ways to under-educate and fail its students.
And the “good teachers” continue to accept their pay.
So let’s look at this honestly, and set aside the “promo” that spouts from the lips and pens of such people. First. I think it’s a good and fine thing to have good intentions. I do not think that such intentions “pave the path to hell”, as has been asserted in some ancient and wrong-headed aphorism. Good intentions, the desire to improve things, are the start of positive change in every activity. Without good intent, we would be in poor shape indeed, and civilization simply would cease to exist! But in the end, good intentions are nothing without accompanying and right ACTION.
I have a belief I’d like to share with you. I believe that you cannot really know a person by what they say or write. You can know what they say or write, but you cannot know the mind and heart behind the words, usually. But you can know a person through his or her actions. Actions do speak louder than words, an old aphorism I am in agreement with.
Good intent can be the fount, the initial impulse that leads to good and right action. But there is probably nothing in the world so common as good intentions never acted upon. And let’s be frank here. Good intentions do not matter when they are accompanied by destructive acts. I would argue that destructive acts may well pave the road to hell.
So. Atlanta teachers “care” about their students. And 170 of them gather at a weekend party to alter test answers in their student’s national tests, so the test scores will be higher. Teacher pay will rise if they are successful in this fraud, this crime. They were caught when this happened in 2011. What was their intent? Was it to serve their children? Had they justified fraud by saying to themselves “this will bring more money to the school district so that we can do a better job?” Maybe. I’m sure it did not hurt their rationale that they would each make more money themselves. Either way, it’s simply fraud, and a destructive act aimed at students and their families.
Chicago teachers struck earlier this year “for the children”. But all of the negotiation points they put on the table dealt with teacher hours of work, teacher job security, raising already bloated teacher salaries and perks, etc etc. Did these teachers rationalize away their fraud with “we are bringing attention to education in this country?” Doubtless. But telling the public that the strike was “for the children” was fraud, pure and simple and undeniable.
Fraud is an ugly word, I know. Fraud is an ugly thing. Public educators claim to be doing a lot of things that they are not actually doing. One of the things they claim to do is educate our children.
Fraud is a crime in this country. Taking money under fraudulent circumstances is a crime.
Public education is fraud. And the “good teachers” who continue to accept paychecks, talk up how they are changing it all “from within” while results continue to degrade year after year? They are frauds.
Let me suggest a way teachers COULD change things, and truly support their contention that they are “good teachers”, that they intend to “change the system to better serve their students”. (No, I’m not going to say “quit” this time.)
I mean what I’m about to say, I’m serious as a heart attack, here.
Teachers claim that national and state standards for education force them to teach to tests. Such standards force them to make certain that every student “keep up with the standards”, and hence, teachers are forced to issue homework by the ton to students who “fall behind” the standards. “Good teachers” claim that such standards are generally arbitrary and that they force the teacher to teach every student as if he is a part of a large group rather than an individual, to the standards.
In fact, they claim, such standards force the teacher to fail at educating the child.
Okay, well, we’d agree on national and state standards. National and state educational standards are the source of many educative evils.
So my advice to “good teachers?” STRIKE.
Strike for children.
Strike to eliminate all state and national educational standards.
Accept that you will not be paid during the strike as a sort of penance for your earlier failings.
Stay out on strike until these standards are eliminated. And stay out until you’re sure standards are ELIMINATED, gone, not-to-be-replaced. Make sure no new “standards”, “better standards” will be negotiated at a later date. Nope, get rid of them. Free your students from arbitrary and controlling standards that have nothing to do with the individual student and his future. Free yourselves to actually teach the student sitting in front of you what he or she really wants to learn about. It would be one huge step in the right direction.
Strike today. Don’t talk about it for a few years, and set up committees. Just walk out as a group, and know why you’re doing it. You were able to organize over night test-changing parties in Atlanta and teacher strikes all over the nation where your own interests were at stake. Now strike for the kids you claim you serve.
I will be watching what you do without much trust or hope.
Others are watching, too. There are millions of people in this nation who no longer buy the “P.R.” about good teachers and good schools. We have seen what you “caring teachers” really do with your time and your intentions. We have seen the results.
Well, I’ve provided you a real and bright idea, a way to express and wield your power and authority to truly benefit yourselves and your students. Ready to change the system? Strike to change it.
And if you do not, if it’s all business as usual, well then, actions do speak louder than words.
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