Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not My Normal Thing

My reader produced an interesting article today from the New York Times...Obama Calls for Changes to the Education System. First a quick thought on the title...Don't we all. Now to the message:

"President Obama called for...teachers, parents and students to embrace a renewed commitment to learning from grade school through adulthood."

Not to be a smart-alek...okay, I am a smart-alek, but... I'm so glad that he wants us to renew our commitment to learning, because we as teachers were really starting to give up. Seriously, for someone to question a teacher's commitment is a slap in the face. Though I am 100% sure, President Obama is smarter than I am and knows more information on this than I do, to my knowledge he is not a teacher and never has been one. The educators who advise him are also so far removed from the classroom that the technology they used to teach in their classroom had a dark green screen and light green writing. Plus, to do anything on that computer you probably had to press the "open apple" or the "close apple."

I don't know anything about charter schools. The thing that scares me the most of what the New York Times is presenting as President Obama's vision for education is the rewarding of "good teachers" and the removal of "bad teachers." How are they going to determine the good and the bad teachers....probably test scores. Well, classroom teachers know something that those not in the classroom do not. Test scores are not solely based on a student's knowledge or how well they know the material. A student's test score is made up of:

  1. That student's home life.
  2. That student's personality.
  3. That student's study habits.
  4. That student's temperment on the day of the test.
  5. That student's like/dislike for reading.
  6. That student's attention span.
  7. Then you can include their knowledge of the material.
PS - I forgot to metion his idea of extending the school day and the school year. Hey! I wonder if our pay will be extended. Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't remember the last time I didn't get to work an hour early and leave two hours late.


  1. Hear Hear. The politico establishment is a bunch of over paid do nothings for the most part. If they did care about education(which they should because we as teachers are trying to educate our countries future) they would pay us more for the tireless hours we spend before and after school and all of the time we spend at home. They would also create expense accounts so that we did not have to fund our own classrooms and our activities. We keep hearing we need change. WELL, YES WE DO AND IT NEEDS TO COME FROM THE GOVERNMENT, With full support and all of the funds necessary to pay for it. If we as AMERICANS don't start teaching what our kids must know, then we will fail in society and fall further behind the rest of the world.

  2. I actually woke up yesterday morning to my clock radio AM news talk DJ reporting the information above. That jolted me awake right then and there. Normally, I snooze for a bit longer. Then my husband says, so sweetly as he adjusts his tie, that he thinks we should get some kind of bonus-that way we're motivated to do better. And then I'm even more awake than ever! Now, my husband isn't a dope, mind you, he's just like so many others who don't teach and do not know the stress and pressures we deal with. I know he means well and probably thinks I deserve a bonus, but I had to quickly explain the reality to him. These bonuses could be a scary thing. They could turn teachers on one another, start bidding wars for the "best" students, etc etc. Because as we know the rewards are not based on whether or not a teacher puts in the extra effort, goes the extra mile, gets his/her students to progress whether it be a grade level or two, or just to encourage a non-reader to read one book on his own--no, it will be based on test scores, which Jessica so aptly detailed for us above all the factors that go with those. Incentives that work in the business world for motivating employees just doesn't fit in education because we're not selling products. We're not crunching numbers and meeting yearly quotas...or at least I don't think we should be. I shouldn't be completely one-sided; I know accountability must be paramount, but look at what this brand of accountability is doing to us.

  3. Yes!!! We deserve a bonus. But...not to "motivate" us. We are already quite motivated and quite committed. I think that arguably the teaching profession is the most committed.