One of these is "freelance writer, humorist and educator, Brock Cohen, who wrote a funny, biting assessment of ed reform called "The Fairy Tale of School Reform." He has a section called "Once Upon a time..." that starts like this:
There lived a group of altruists known as the public school reformists. These munificent spirits selflessly set aside their unfathomably important lives in addressing such a dire issue. What this rarefied collection of heaven-sent do-gooders lacked in basic knowledge of classroom pedagogy and actual firsthand contact with nanny-less human schoolchildren, they more than compensated for in name recognition; soaring rhetoric; and the blind, unwavering conviction that nothing less than a systemic upheaval of the current school system could salvage public education.
Yup, that's pretty much the story. Here's his second part, "Debunking the Fairy Tale of School Reform."
The other blog post I really enjoyed was from teacher, Sabrina Stevens Shupe, entitled, "How Do Successful School Systems Treat Teachers?" I was really looking forward to her describing a well-functioning district in the U.S. where teachers feel good about their work and the support they receive from their district. But she writes about what other countries do so that was a let-down. One line says it all:
One of the key things that such systems have in common is that they take teaching seriously.
Because honestly, ever read the comments in the Seattle Times after any education story? You'd think teachers were involved in devil worship except the writers seem to think they are union zombies so how smart can they be? It's ridiculous. Even Oprah, who gives a lot of lip service to teachers, let her head get turned by Gates and Rhee.
Next good part?
Recognizing that "teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible," other nations devote considerable time and resources into teaching. Note, too, that all of these investments are based on two key assumptions:
- That teachers should teach, develop and evaluate each other (and that every facet of education -- from teacher training to school leadership -- should be informed and led by professional educators).
- That teachers will stay in teaching until they retire, thereby allowing them to continue the cycle of developing other teachers and leading schools, and making such extensive investments worthwhile.
Last great section:
Rather than guaranteeing teacher quality before teachers take responsibility for students, we're growing a system where we put teachers in the classroom, then try to figure out if they're good enough after the fact. This experiment-and-punish approach is remarkably cruel to both teachers and students, especially the neediest ones -- who are often subjected to strings of over-worked, under-supported, and under-trained instructors year after year. If we really want to build a world-class school system, why waste time and money on witch hunts and magic bullets?