Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘Education reform’

Buffalo Wild Wings and Teaching!

Buffalo Wild Wings introduced a 15 minute lunch guarantee:


“We want to prove to our Guests that they can get the Buffalo Wild Wings experience they have come to know and love within the limited time they have for a traditional lunch break,” said Todd Kronebusch, vice president of food and beverage for Buffalo Wild Wings. “Our standard was already to deliver Fast Break meals within 15 minutes, but the new guarantee adds a promise to our Guests, and some fun, friendly competition.”

“Servers will start a timer when they leave the table and stop the timer when the food is delivered. Any Guest who doesn’t get their meal in 15 minutes gets their entire meal and any fountain soda for free.”

Every time I hear this commercial I cringe….READ MORE

Are Teachers Too Tame?The Hijacking of Public Education!

Public education  has been hijacked.
It has been taken hostage by “ed reformers”, standardized test creators, and “teacher accountability”.

How did this happen to a profession full of intelligent, passionate, outspoken people?

Are we uninformed?

 Are we choosing bliss via ignorance?

Why is this happening?READ MORE

I have some thoughts…

The Teacher Code of Silence:Yeah, We Have One Too!

You know you saw it. You saw her go up one side of him and down the other. You felt so bad for him. But what did you do? You walked past, eyes averted, hoping to save him from further embarrassment. She looked at you, eyes locking, and shared a smug, “Yeah, I got him”, enveloping you in her meanness.READ MORE

Does School Audit = School Accountability? I Don’t Think So!

It began in September. We received news that our school was going to be audited.  They called it CSR, the Comprehensive Success Review. We were told it would be for our own good. A group of people from the state would come in, observe us for one day, and then offer their wisdom on how to make us better. (I found out later that this was originally done for “under improvement” schools, but the district thought it was so great, all schools in the district should benefit. Hmm..I wonder how much this cost?)

So, from September to November, everything we discussed was related to  CSR. Copies of our Mission statement were copied and pasted all around the school.  Teachers who were going to be interviewed were given copies of the questions.  Meetings were held to come up with the “right answers” for each question. Anything we talked about were followed by the words, “We have to be ready for the CSR.”  Every week something else was placed before us, something else we had to do to prepare for CSR. We had to prepare our students for the day, letting them know that total strangers would be walking in and out of our room, at will, all day long.  Talk about stress!

The day arrived, and we had total strangers/ District people walk in and out of our rooms. They would watch a lesson for about 5 minutes, take notes, and then leave.  Most of the people were from the District, 2 or 3 from the state.(?) I still don’t know. And as suddenly as it began, it was over.

They came back to meet with the principal, and then came back again to meet with the staff. As you probably guessed, they posted an over 100 page document on the Smartboard and proceeded to go through what they felt was the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I sat there, amazed at what they believed to be important to help us educate our children as opposed to what I know is important.

The funniest(and not ha ha funny), was when a former principal (hasn’t been in a classroom for years), proceeded to explain to us (many times)that:

1. The people who observed us, used to be educators and they are experts in their field. (When was the last time they were in a classroom?)

2. The one day they observed us actually counted as 3 days, because x number of people observed y number of teachers z number of minutes. (If you understand his logic,  please enlighten me.)

3.  The use of the word “rigor”, and how they did not see “rigor” in most of the classrooms. (I am all for raising the standards for our kids, however, I am against the use of  the “word of the month.”)

The torture finally ended and they left us. My principal kept us another 20 minutes to go over what he said, and ask us how we would implement these wonderful suggestions in our classroom.  Her coach assured us that she was there for us, and any research we needed done, she would be glad to help. Wow!

There was a bright spot. Three teachers were considered exemplary because, when they were observed, they were using Words Their Way (District mandated program)in an innovative way! Really? Not taking away from those teachers, but was that the only good educational practice they observed in one (ooops, I mean, three) days?

Anyway, it’s over. Well, except for the fact that the district will check to see how we have implemented the recommendations offered.  Aaaargh! I don’t mind constructive criticism, ideas , and strategies that will make us better educators, but is this really the way?  Is this really about teacher accountability or is this a way to validate what we are doing with RTT funds? Maybe I’m missing something, but there has to be a better way!

“The Teacher and the Politician” – NCLB and RTT

This “conversation” takes place over a period of  years. The politician represents all politicians(any party) and the teacher represents all teachers (those who are affected by these ridiculous ideas our politicians and CEOs’ come up with.)

Politician: (Talking to a teacher) I have this great idea. It’s called NCLB, No Child Left Behind, sounds good right? No Child Left Behind, every child can and will learn. Like it?

Teacher: Hmmm, it sounds like a good idea, what does it mean?

Politician: Well, (stroking chin), it means no child will be left behind. It means we’re going to test the hell, I mean, heck out of those kids, and by golly, they will become really, really, smart!

Teacher: I don’t think testing them is going to make them really smart, as a matter of fact, all it will do is create a nation of test takers.

Politician: Hmmm, I never thought of that. (Waves hand) We’ll look into that. But (pointing finger), in the meantime, here are the consequences if a measurable amount of students in your school don’t pass these tests.

Teacher: Consequences?  I thought you said you would look into it.

Politician:  We will, we will. If your school does not show measurable growth, we will notify the public that your school sucks. Did I say sucks? I meant that your school is horrible.

Teacher: Are you serious?  If our students don’t pass one test, our school, no matter how well we have been doing, will be judged according to those test scores?                                                                                                                                                                                   

Politician: Yes, how else will the public know what schools are crappy?  We’ll post your school scores in the paper, to make sure you are properly humiliated, and, just to make sure we’re helping the students, we will fire all the teachers and administrators. And here’s the plus, the parents can move their kids out of the crappy schools and put them in Save Our Schools March & National Call to Actionthe better schools.

Teacher:  Better, as in test score better? (shakes head) Let me say if I got this right. You are going to humiliate a school, fire staff, and have parents move their students to another school,  based on one test score?

Politician: Yes, we are going to hold you teachers accountable! You have gotten away with doing nothing for our children for far too long!

Teacher:     What about Special Education students? Or non-English speaking students? Will they take the same test?

Politician:   And why not?  Why should they be left behind? 

Teacher: You do realize there are far too many factors that affect a students’ ability to learn and function in a classroom that would enable us to say “No Child Left Behind?” And what do you think is going to happen to critical thinking? differentiated instruction? gifted and talented programs?  special education? the arts? Recess? Field trips? Do you realize that schools will only focus on testing?

Politician: Hmmmm, never thought of that. Oh well, we’ll work on it. How about if I give you more money than other teachers in your school if your kids do better? It’s called Merit pay. No? (Years go by) Hey, I have a new idea, it’s called, you ready? Race to the Top! Like it?

Teacher:    What does it mean? Who’s racing to the top?

Politician:   It;s a competition among states, vying for millions of  federal money to throw at any education problems you have. The states with the most points out of 500, will win the money!

Teacher:      And we can do whatever we need to do with the money?

Politician:   Of course you can! As long as you follow the federal governments rules AND you keep testing your students. It’s a win-win situation!

Teacher:    But it’s been proven, again and again, standardized testing doesn’t work! Throwing money at schools doesn’t work! Education reform designed by non-educators doesn’t work! Aaargh! (Tearing at hair)

Politician:    Oh by the way, we’ve decided you teachers have too much power. We’re taking away your collective bargaining power.

Teacher:     @#$^&*!

Politician:    And, the economy is really bad now, so we all have to make sacrifices. We’re increasing class sizes.

Teacher:     *&^%$!

Politician:    I don’t think that language is necessary,ok listen, we have another solution.  If you go along with Arne Duncan’s vision, we will waive some of the rigorous requirements of NCLB. How’s that sound?

Teacher:        Jump from the frying pan into the fire? How is that better?  Why aren’t you listening to us?

Politician:    We are listening. (starts to walk away)

Teacher:       Good luck to your kids who are in public school!

Politician: (Chuckles)  Are you kidding me?  My kids don’t go to public school!

EdVoices- Teachers Talking!

It’s funny, but teaching is a profession where it seems that everyone’s opinion is important, except the teachers. It almost seems as if our opinion, our knowledge, our experience, doesn’t really matter.  We need to be heard. We need to have a voice. We need  a place where teachers can share and discuss all things education.  EdVoices was created by  NEA (National Education Association) to be a site where “bloggers committed to improving public education” share fresh viewpoints on all things education.  Their blog categories include Classroom Management,Education Technology, Education Policy,Lily’s Blackboard, and an “Around the Web” section that includes education blogs from, of course, all around the web.  As of today, I will post blogs from time to time on EdVoices. Check out my introductory post, I am that ‘ordinary” teacher! I’m really excited about adding my voice to EdVoices!

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