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Must Read: The End is Near for American Education

October 5, 2011

Randy Turner is an English teacher in Joplin, Missouri.  He noticed something the other day that I have seen time after time after time, it is one of the main reasons that I started writing this blog.

Mr. Turner turned on his television set and watched how he was completely denigrated as a public school teacher while at the same time Charter schools were lauded.  Mr. Turner was so incensed about this that he sat down and penned this article which was published by the HuffingtonPost.

I have stated before that I have worked with many teachers in my teaching career and I have never met ONE who didn’t care about their kids and who wasn’t trying hard to make their students’ lives better by educating them.  I have predicted in these pages before that many would-be new educators are watching what is going on and are going to choose different careers than one in education.  This isn’t good for the long term prospects of our students, but it is certainly good for corporate education models where teachers can be fired without cause, and where there are no rules on how teachers will be compensated.  With that, I hand it over to Mr. Turner and his excellent writing:

Last Friday, as I brushed my teeth, shaved, showered, and dressed, I listened to the panel on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program tell me how worthless I am.

We are approaching the end of the second year of NBC’s Education Nation reports and last week I listened to the virtues of charter schools being extolled, the faults of traditional public schools being magnified, and the efforts that thousands of teachers make every day to connect with children being tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage.

In order for Education Nation to exist, there has to be a crisis, and according to all of the experts lined up by NBC last week, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Bill Gates, and the rest of the usual suspects, the problems of education are limited to what happens once children enter the schoolhouse doors.

It is an approach that is beneficial to those who promote privatizing schools, those who peddle tests and tests to prepare for tests, and curriculum based on tests to prepare for tests. It is also beneficial to those whose chief goal is to eliminate unions of all kinds, including those representing teachers.

The only people who do not benefit are the children.

I have not watched every program the NBC stations have aired about education last week, but in the ones I have watched, I have seen little contribution from classroom teachers, other than the town hall forum on Sunday. Otherwise, the field has been restricted to union leadership (usually AFT’s Randi Weingarten) or to those who have co-opted the word “reform,” poisoning schools with their idea of “accountability.”

When anyone mentions the real problems that face American schools, the ones that are not limited to what takes place on campus, that person is criticized for trying to shirk responsibility. It is much easier to ignore societal problems and shift the entire blame to classroom teachers.

Poverty exists:
It does not mean that a child who lives in poverty cannot learn, but it does add additional problems. Many times, students are more concerned with existing from day-to-day than they are with how well they do on tests.

Abuse is real:
All classroom teachers have worked with children who have been the victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. When this kind of abuse takes place in the home, many of these children can learn successfully, but others, understandably, are more concerned with survival, rather than school.

Absenteeism:
Teachers are considered failures when students who sometimes miss a week or two of school at a time are not able to learn. A student who is only in school a day or two a week counts against us as much as the one who shows up every day.

Transfer Students:
Many of the students who are in the most need of help are those who move from one school to another, never putting down roots long enough to benefit from having good teachers. Sometimes this is because the parents have jobs that force them to move on a regular basis. Other times, they have to move because their parents were unable to pay the rent.

These are not the problems discussed by Education Nation panels. They are simply the world that American classroom teachers have to live in every day.

While Education Nation lends voice to those who would tear apart public schooling and replace it with the same business model that put us in our current financial crisis, the voices of classroom teachers and the children who are being failed by this cynical “reform” movement have been silenced.

Sadly, not all children have parents who are invested in their education like those who were exploited in the movie Waiting for Superman.

For many of the students we deal with day after day, classroom teachers are their only advocates. Soon, politicians will finish crushing American public schools and ignoring the societal problems that are preventing tens of thousands of our children from receiving the best education possible.

No one will be left to speak for the children.

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