First Responders For The Nation’s Children

I urge you take a very few minutes and read this New Yorker piece by David Denby.¬†I want to second one of Denby’s points and elaborate on another.

I agree with Denby when he writes that what is currently called “reform” in education should be put in quotation marks. There is no reform when those who know nothing about how young children learn write the standards for early childhood education. ¬†There is no reform when one man, David Coleman, single-handedly mandates how all students should be educated as readers and writes when he has zero knowledge of how to best do that. There is no reform when taxpayer money is used to run schools for the few when the many are deprived of the use of those taxes. There is no reform when segregation is increased due to charter schools in both the North and the South. There is no reform when the public schools of a democracy become privatized and run for the profit of the rich. Branding the efforts of entrepreneurs and charlatans as reform in public education is wrong. Nothing has been reformed on their watch. Nothing has been improved.

David Denby writes about the Common Core aligned tests as being harder. But are they? Harder than what? Harder than another standardized test? Any teacher can make a hard test, one that everyone in the class would flunk. Being hard means nothing. It is what is on the test, what is being assessed that matters. It is how the students’ expertise is being assessed that matters. A standardized test may be as hard as nails, but it can never ever assess competence.

Hats off to David Denby who recognizes that teachers are the first responders to what ails our society, not the cause of it, and that those first responders deserve our support.

Wanted: The Best Teachers

Betty Sternberg, former Connecticut Commissioner of Education says that Connecticut education has “lost its way”.  I agree. Education in Connecticut has lost the capability to attract the best new teachers and to keep many of the best experienced teachers because it is clear that people with excellent minds, innovative spirits, and collegial leadership are not valued. The Connecticut State Department of Education has put in place an evaluation system that mandates ordinariness and compliance.

Let’s change the message. Let’s give our  teachers an environment to work in that values them as strong thinkers and independent learners.  Only then will our children discover their own potential as thinkers and learners.