What Do You Think?
Comments on 'Teaching At Risk: A Call To Action'
The Teaching Commission's final report sounds alot like Mao's Little Red Book. We should all be worried about the education-industrial complex.
Comments on "Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action" and The Teaching Commission
By Betsy Combier
The public school system in the US as it stands today is putting children and teachers in harm's way, and the outrage of parents, children, and teachers are falling on deaf ears. It is no secret that there is wide-spread violence in schools across America, and children are not learning what they need to know, despite trillions of dollars - yes, with a "t" - spent benefitting...well, who? Anyone who has investigated the flow of money through the system can see that the percentage of the funding that ends up assisting our children
obtain a "free and appropriate education" is indeed very little, and these are the white, Middle-class kids we are talking about, not the urban poor, and certainly not children of poor, minority families or those needing special education services or resources.
So, where's the money? The Principals who have graduated from the Leadership Academies (or "Principal schools"), established to train Principals who will implement The Plan, get the money. In fact, anyone who subscribes to The Plan, whether it be parents, teachers, or administrators, may find an easy ride through the public school system with great benefits to their careers, school performance, pension plan, and general well-being. The public education system, in other words, is being flooded with money, both public and private.
It's just not going to the children.
What is The Plan? Concerned citizens looking for it have been given various parts of it for many years through the media and the schools. We know who many of the well-paid administrators and supporters are as well as what They want. They are, in fact so wealthy that They can market Their Plan with multi-colored flyers that we, recipients of Their knowledge and information, are told to pick up at the door as we leave, so that we can go home and study Their Message. Part of The Plan is to bring to a higher level the lowest rung in the performance ladder the disadvantaged, poor, and failing student who is not in special education.
The gifted and talented can fend for themselves, because they have the basic skills already for an 8th grade education and therefore do not need The Plan. As so many teachers cannot teach higher levels of math, The Plan dictates a "fuzzy" watered down version which, if you are attending a New York City high school which does not require Regents and/or which does not care about or accept Title I or NCLB funding, will allow you to graduate with/without a diploma for a wonderful job in sales, assembly-line employment, or other non-managerial jobs.
The same goes for English, where The Plan dictates reading simple books by the end of 3rd grade, with a lot of help from specially-trained teachers, so that the 4th grade State tests can make The Plan look good because everyone will be held back who cannot handle even the watered-down Plan curriculum.
Excellent books that describe in detail the corruption within the public school system such as "Battling Corruption in America's Public Schools" by Lydia G. Segal, with James B. Jacobs, can be easily dismissed by supporters and funders of The Plan simply by printing a picturesque and colorful flyer about how all of this "good" and "bad" corruption will be the first process annihilated by the new reform. This and the homeless man sitting in his cardboard box under the Brooklyn Bridge saying
he's undercover for the Mayor are on the same level of credibility.
The Plan for our teachers is what The Teaching Commission outlined in Their "Teaching at Risk: A Call To Action" 'booklet, which, I might add, is red, just as Chairman Mao's was. I bought a copy of Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book" when I visited China many years ago as a souvenir, and chapter 25 says:
"We shall solidly unite all of the forces of our Party on democratic centralist principles of organization and discipline. We shall unite with any comrade if he abides by the Party Programme, Constitution and decisions." Recommendation Two of the Teaching Commission is:" We call on the presidents of all American colleges and universities to make a personal and institutional commitment, including resources, to tackle the problem of unskilled teachers. Ensuring that the best and the brightest college graduates are encouraged to teach in public schools, and that they receive high-quality academic training, should be among the top priorities of college and university presidents...The federal government, for its part, should be prepared to withhold funds from colleges and universities that fail to show the effectiveness of their teacher-recruitment and preparation programs."(p.35). How are these two statements different?
"Teaching at Risk: A Call To Action" is a full-scale attack on anything less than total commitment to The Plan, whatever the basic teachings are. The Teaching Commission's Commissioners have decided, for all the rest of us, what our teachers and teaching centers/colleges must have us learn so that we can teach it to everybody else, and Their call to action is to rally behind them with our full support. "The Teaching Commission has developed an action plan to ensure that our recommendations are implemented in a thoughtful and thorough manner" (p.54).
"In the next few months, the activities of The Teaching Commission will include the following:
(1) Reaching out to a broad coalition of education groups that are already engaged in work related to teacher quality. These partner groups will help inform their constituents about The Commission's recommendations and fine-tune strategies for implementation.
(2) Working with eight to 10 governors and their chief state school officers to implement
The Commission's agenda and pilot specific recommendations.
(3) Supporting college and university presidents who will assume direct responsibility for
improving the quality of teacher education programs and bolstering the recruitment and
retention of high-quality teachers.
(4) Working with the Federal Government to build support for the recommendations as a
means for helping states and school districts meet the teacher-quality requirements of the
No Child Left Behind Act.
(5) Developing a communications and outreach campaign at the national, state, and local
levels to encourage support for a new teacher compact and other recommendations." (p. 55).
But what happens when a teacher, exercising his/her right to free speech and due process under the US Constitution, says, "No, I don't buy it. The Plan is not right for me, my class, or my school."