Saturday, April 21, 2012

Teachers deserve our trust

"As former United States Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch pointed out recently in the New York Review of Books, "The 'no excuses' reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not.

That someone is invariably their teachers.

"Nothing is said about holding accountable the district leadership or the elected officials who determine such crucial issues as funding, class size, and resource allocation. The reformers say that our economy is in jeopardy, not because of growing poverty or income inequality or the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, but because of bad teachers. These bad teachers must be found and thrown out. Any laws, regulations, or contracts that protect these pedagogical malefactors must be eliminated so that they can be quickly removed without regard to experience, seniority, or due process."

Ravitch should know, being something of a reformed reformer who once believed in the kinds of market-based education policies infecting countries like ours.

Symptoms include standardized testing, charter schools, creeping privatization, test-based accountability, and performance-based pay for teachers.

It all sounds rational and appealing, until you look at Finland."

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