Friday, March 21, 2008

Excellence in Education?

The other day I received a flier in the mail for an 'Excellence in Education' summit in Florida this summer. Assuming I received it because I was a teacher I didn't think much of it, but when my husband came home and said he got the same one at the office, I realized I most likely got it the same way I got my 2008 Ronald Reagan Calendar, from one of the mailing lists I am on because of my husband's political alliances.

I should have known that it was not a summit for teachers when the cover of the flier features John Strossel, Jeb Bush and Barbara Bush. No, this is not for teachers. It is for "education policymakers to develop a plan to put Excellence into Action" with the main focus being school choice. It promises to:
  • "Arm you with the latest research on data-driven education and teacher quality provided by nationally recognized education leaders" You are going to show me that the best teachers are in the private schools that do not require teaching degrees or any sort of teacher training. Data I'm sure taken from your own school choice think-tanks, surveys you've developed yourself.
  • "Provide you with a primer on policies to increase accountability for student learning and empower parents with more choices" Oh good, because if those parents and policy makers don't hold me accountable I might leave a kid behind or something. Maybe just not teach math one year. After all, I just do this for the high salary and summer vacation. I don't actually have a passion for whether or not kids learn.
  • "Spark your intellectual curiosity with provocative proposals to return rigor to our curriculum." because, you know, us teachers don't believe in rigor in the classroom. No sir, we like to teach the easy stuff so we can enjoy our summer breaks.
  • "Give you strategies to turn high schools from drop-out factories into graduation machines" Well, I don't want my high school to be a drop-out factory! What is the world coming to? Better for the high school to be a machine.
Ok, I'm so bitter I'm not even making sense. I am tempted to go and blog, just to be aware of what is out there. I believe in hearing every side of a debate and that every side has some validity. I love listening to people who don't agree with me, because I learn so much and strengthen my own arguments. I do, however, have a very hard time with people who develop their own data and form arguments without looking at the other side, or without trying to develop an informed opinion. There are times I have talked to a school-choicer and completely agreed with his argument. I left with a new found respect for the school-choice movement. But you need to give me more than reactionary statistics and phrases like 'return rigor' and 'drop-out factories'. At least, give me, my profession, and those of us who work so hard, some respect.

Anyone interested in sponsoring my trip to Florida? It's $149 if I register by April 30th. :)


Jenny said...

Your ability to keep an open mind always amazes me. I'll chip in for your trip!

Unknown said...

If you get a chance to go, could you bring up the fact that education funding has once again been cut in most states for this coming school year, class sizes are going up, due to the funding cuts, and yet "they" still expect for us to do the impossible?
School districts in Arizona and California are having to pink slip teachers because of funding cuts, and yet they expect teachers to do more with less.

A friend of mine put it like this:
It will be very interesting to see if NCLB goes thru...with the budget cuts looming ahead, all of the hoops we are jumping thru have to be funded in order to appease NCLB. But if there's no $ for the hoops, than do they still exist?