The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.

Brief Statement

An anonymous commenter on the blog that I linked to a few days ago left the following response on that blog:

And, yes, I have heard teachers and administrators say, “Given the population we teach, we can’t possibly be expected to meet the NCLB benchmarks.” That is code for, “the students in this school are too dumb to learn.”

That, my friends, is one completely ridiculous and asinine statement. So I responded, and wanted to share my response here, too:

Actually, it is code for, “our politicians who know nothing about education have set artificial boundaries to determine whether or not a student has learned when in reality we, as the professionals, know that learning happens in different ways for each child, and you can’t possibly determine if it has occurred simply by setting a numerical value and telling teachers that if students don’t achieve the value then they, the teachers, have failed.”

My life is about to get busier, what with me training for my summer job (finally! huzzah!) this coming week, in between an interview on Monday and a summer school sub assignment on Tuesday, then leaving for the Illinois Teen Institute for a week, and then starting said job when I return, but I am more and more wanting to get involved with the political aspects of my profession. My state representative has indicated that he is sincere about wanting input, and I want to see what I can do to help. Comments like this anonymous person’s are strengthening this resolve. I want to be a part of the process that puts us all back on the same team, rather than allow the status quo to continue with slanderous comments like this.


3 responses

  1. Lars

    At the risk of putting my foot into something I’m no expert in… It might be that what educators and “education reformers” would both agree on is to eliminate conflict of interest. Or I should say, appearance of conflict of interest. (Having been required to take yearly ethics training while I was still in Illinois, I can attest that the training covered as much of avoiding any appearance of impropriety as any actual improper behaviors, either of which could have been grounds for losing my job. Which is why a certain former governor insisting he did nothing improper doesn’t cut it for me, but that’s another topic entirely.)

    I think that may be where the disagreement comes in. Reformers want to have someone say the teachers are doing a good job without that person having any inkling of a vested interest either way. Conversely, teachers want to be given more autonomy because someone else imposing standards on them that has no contact with the children whatsoever is obviously being motivated by something/someone besides the children themselves.

    No solutions from me, I’m afraid, just file that under “Personal Reflection” along with your blog post. 🙂

    July 10, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  2. Just a thought: Has no one proposed that teachers monitor and assess themselves? Who would know better that good teaching and learning is going on (within the context of student abilities) than other teachers in the school?

    July 11, 2011 at 9:02 am

  3. Lars – I definitely agree that we need to remove the apparent conflict of interests. That is kind of where the teacher I linked earlier was coming from, too. For some reason, the discourse has been shaped as an Us vs. Them issue, when really it should be Us vs. Us – constant self-reflection in order to improve.

    I see this as what most teachers are already doing. And I think most administrators are doing this, too. But the political reformers think the teachers and administrators are in cahoots, and news stories such as the one out of Atlanta are only reinforcing that notion, so the politicians are trying to protect the education system from the educators.Once we get over that notion and the politicians work with the educators, I think we will see meaningful progress.

    MW – I have proposed that as one of the many data points used to evaluate teachers. It is my post addressed to my brother (found here.

    July 11, 2011 at 11:05 am

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