Saturday, March 16, 2013

And once again, I'm back.

Hi everybody, I realize it's been quite a while since I last blogged. Over a year, as a matter of fact. I know; I'm such a slacker. Things have been very busy, so in my defense at least I wasn't just sitting around contemplating my navel this past year. I'm back again because I am in the last few months of my career as an educator and I'd like to write here a bit more frequently; there are a lot of feelings and thoughts to process as I change my life and here seems as good a place as any to do that. Over the past year, education has been changing. Swiftly and not, I believe, for the better. I am saddened by the direction in which I see this endeavor moving, and unfortunately, I can't get rid of the idea that there are somewhat nefarious reasons for this current climate. I do not, in my heart of hearts, believe that the people behind this particular reform movement have the best interests of students at their core. The changes that are filtering down from the people who do not have an education background are truly counterproductive. They are not educationally sound, and I cannot stand idly by and watch them decimate our schools. I can no longer be a part of this system, a system I have loved despite all its obvious flaw. Education was not perfect. There was and is much to reform, and for many years I was working to reform education-as a practitioner, as one who studied what worked and tried to make that a reality in practice. The reforms that are making their way into our education system fly in the face of what we know to work. It's appalling, really.

 About 23 years ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague bemoaning the ills in the education system and the shouting from the private sector about changes to be made. She said something that seemed a bit outlandish then, but now, 23 years later, I see the truth. She said that it felt like the higher-ups (politicians; school reformers looking for a way to profit; privateers) were trying to make a throwaway society. That eventually, they wanted two distinct education tracks. The rich would get true education; the rest would be "trained" to be good little workers; cogs in the wheels of corporate interests. Get them to fill in the little bubbles, push the right buttons; respond the way their corporate masters wanted, and you'd be a successful teacher. And now? Look at the private schools-rife with innovative programs, arts, humanities, and NO standardized tests. Look at what's happening in public education-test test test and then fire the teachers if the kids can't bubble in the right spots. We don't need art-it's not on the test. Music? Not on the test, get rid of it; we don't have the money for all those frills. Oh, and those English and Math teachers? Well, since right now they're the only subjects they test, looks like they'll be the only ones to be evaluated on test scores. How scary is this?

So what does that mean? It has already affected what I teach. There are several lessons that, while fantastic learning experiences that my students remember forever, have had to go because they do not "apply" to a given "Common Core Standard." Really. Thinking for one's self isn't a core standard. I promise you, I'm not making this up. This is not how I want to teach. Do I have "data" to back this up, since that's what the reformers are so crazy about? It's all about data you know. Well, yes, I do. Not necessarily in numbers and stats, but in anecdotal evidence. You see, reformers, there's this thing called Social Networking, and through it, I've connected with literally hundreds of former students from my career. I know I've done my job; they've told me so. It's validated my belief that I truly do know what I'm doing, despite politicians and for-profit education reformers telling me I can't possibly know better than they do what kids need. I have, indeed, done the job I was hired for.

 So in June, I'm done. I've loved what I've done, and I've loved my students. I've had some pretty awesome administrators, and some that were...well, less than awesome, but overall my experience until the recent political interference was pretty positive. Most days, I've loved going to work, and on those I didn't, it was mostly due to the ridiculously early hour and not the job itself. My heart goes out to my colleagues who are still in the system, fighting what they know is wrong and pushing to achieve what they know is right for their students. Despite the naysayers who swallow the nonsense they're being fed by big business and its political puppets, teachers actually care for their students, and want the best for them.

 What's next for me? Oh, so very much! I'm like my current crop of senior students, secretly sad to see high school end in some respects, but excited beyond belief at the prospect of my future. So much potential there, and I kind of can't wait to see what I do next!

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