All propaganda has a grain of truth in it, otherwise it would not be so successful. No doubt there are a small minority of incompetent teachers who should not be in the classroom. But molding the perception that bad teachers are the primary reason for the low achievement of poor and minority students is a gross and irresponsible distortion of the truth.
Such a narrative serves to divert national attention away from social and economic policy changes that are desperately needed to help these children. I do not mean to diminish the importance of quality teaching and quality schools. It's part of the needed mix. I believe the number one IN SCHOOL factor affecting academic achievement is the quality of the classroom teacher. It's critical. However, when it comes to factors impacting academic achievement, especially the achievement of our nation's most disadvantaged students, we know that circumstances outside the classroom over which educators have no control dwarf what takes place in the classroom.
Until our nation's leaders stop using our public schools and teachers as the national scapegoat for poverty and societal ills, until social and economic injustices are confronted and ameliorated directly, we will see little change in achieving a more just and equitable society for all of our nation's children. Can we please stop pretending?
Edudaddy pronounces that public education is failing, that this is beyond any doubt. Baloney. That false assumption lies at the very foundation of decades of misguided and destructive education "reforms".
It is quite amazing that America's public schools do as well as they do given decades of unrelenting, multi-pronged attacks, given the wildly unreasonable demands placed upon them, given the unprecedented challenges they face, given that reforms have served to literally manufacture failure and undermine public educatioin rather than strengthen and support it (consider the absurdity of NCLB's AYP requirements)
As Professor Stephen Krashen notes, US schools with few children living in poverty, less than 25 percent, outscore children in nearly all other countries in math and science. American children only score below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. The US has the highest level of childhood poverty of all industrialized countries (25%, compared to Denmark's 2%).
Are incompetent teachers responsible for this?
When it comes to the shameful and hypocrisy-laden national narrative about America's public schools, the guiding principle has been to believe the very worst about them and accept any claim made about them as fact as long as it is bad.
And where has this merciless blame and punish game gotten us? Does the profound disrespect demonstrated toward our nation's teachers serve children well?
But remember, ed reform has been about tearing down, not building up.
Edudaddy, if you accept that public education is failing, consider that it is not teachers nor a well-informed public who have engineered more than twenty years of failed reforms - reforms that have done precious little for poor children while simultaneously undermining public education itself and diverting billions of taxpayer dollars into private hands.
Out Of School Factors
A public comment from Diane's newest at Bridging Differences: