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