Category: Recovery

Good News: Money!

Now that you can see why teacher led schools are essential, we want you to know about resources to support you in developing your own schools.

But be aware that in the movement to destroy public education, every initiative that looks like a promising alternative is not teacher-friendly or teacher-powered.

One example is the Community Based School Movement of the Institute for Educational Leadership out of Washington, D.C. With massive and official backing, this organization for the most still creates an administrative approach to creating and operating the school that is not necessarily committed to teacher power.globe word

Their website(http://www.communityschools.org/resources/how_to_start_a_community_school1.aspx ) shows the process of creating a community based school, which can look like a throw back to smaller communities and times but promoted on the national level. They have much useful Continue reading “Good News: Money!”

A Successful Model

Now that the decimation of public education is official policy in Washington, teachers can resist or use this as an unprecedented oppportunity to return to the solution that was abandoned in the early 20th century: the proven success record of schools developed and administered by women educators.Kalsu Book

In spite of the profit motive that sparked the charter school movement by private corporations using public monies and posing as non-profits, a few women educators have been able to seize the opportunity to find funding for their vision of school today.

We will begin featuring such women educators and their schools so others can see how to finance and approach organizing professional autonomy once again in our field.

The first one we will examine Continue reading “A Successful Model”

Our Voice Dims

One of the persistent battles that women have in their work is making their voices heard or counted. Teachers are perhaps the most obvious and prominent example of this effect of a gendered profession.

As early as the 1920s, others were writing about how teachers should be trained and how education should be measured. Again, as this blog asserts, women who opened their own schools were in a stronger autonomous position to manage the education they provided. Feminist activists founded the Brookwood Labor College in 1921, the same year Bryn Mawr was organized for women workers.   fam

The very next year, the push to structure education from outside the profession began. William A. McDall proposed 14 theses on measuring student achievement and William Kilpatrick published Foundations of Method three years later on teacher education. The American Historical Association in 1927 charged Continue reading “Our Voice Dims”

A Teacher’s Bill of Rights

A Teacher’s Bill of Rights

I  To ensure that there is authority commensurate with responsibility for the instructional task. The teacher has the right and responsibility to ensure her professional needs are met before engaging in instruction.

II. To determine student level of readiness and freely devise a plan for growth based on the understanding that the teacher is a professionally prepared person with expertise and access to required resources.

III. To educate the student, parent and other stakeholders on the rights of the teacher to practice her profession.

IV. To define “respect” for students, parents and stakeholders in order to establish a foundation for positive outcomes. The desire, willingness and availability of a teacher is the first sign of respect.

V. To practice free of slander, harassment, disparagement or hostility whether from  personal, media, legislative, parental or community sources.

VI. To practice professional skills and expertise without administrative interference or hostility.

VII. To organize the educational setting, according to variable configurations, based on the professional determination of teacher and student need, including teacher-student ratio.

VIII. To elect a paid sabbatical every five years in order to replenish, renew and reinforce professional skills and the mental and emotional stamina required for the practice.

IX. To withdraw teaching services if they are not being received with the foundational relationship necessary for the practice of education. If the baseline respect, rapport and trust necessary for teaching has not been reached or cannot occur without outside pressures,hostility or distractions, the teacher will not be available for instructional endeavors.

X. To exercise professional autonomy in all factors necessary for education to occur, including the commensurate authority to hold stakeholders accountable for the disruption they promote which impedes instruction.

mandela

So Stop Trying To Do It Without Respecting Teachers as Professionals

Women Teachers Get It Done

By now you must realize that I maintain the way for women teachers to reclaim academic freedom and professional autonomy is to operate their own schools. This is not a new idea, but it is an idea that was lost after the diversion of women teachers’ efforts into the suffrage movement. In many ways we never returned as advocates for ourselves. Whether publishing, college teaching, organizational leadership, or governmental Boards, the woman teacher continues to lag in power and leverage.

Too many women who gained Continue reading “Women Teachers Get It Done”

The Only Way to Win: Pt.2

1900 school  The first fifteen years of the 1900s revealed the early controversy about what public education should accomplish, who called the shots, and the role of women. There are not many records of women establishing and administering their own schools, but Margaret Haley Continue reading “The Only Way to Win: Pt.2”

The Only Way to Win

school

Lauren Schiller quoted a development specialist in a May 30, 2016 article for Fortune on how office politics can hold women back:

“I don’t know that they need something special, (special professional development programs) but I do think they need something that’s different than their male counterparts, especially if they’re seeking to advance their careers. Women have a different experience in the organization than their male counterparts, mostly because the organizations’ dynamics were designed by the people who founded them—basically white men. (my emphasis) And since we have different expectations than our male counterparts, we need help decoding the organizational landscape that we’re a part of. So that’s what development programs can help women understand.” Continue reading “The Only Way to Win”

Diane Ravitch…and all the rest of us

Maine Teacher Wins $1 Million Prize, Advises Young People Not to Enter Teaching Because of Common Core and Testing

Nancie Atwell, a teacher of literacy in Maine, won the Varkey Foundation’s $1 million prize as the Global Teacher of the Year. This is like the Nobel prize of teaching. She was interviewed on CNN about teaching, and she talked about encouraging children to read and write, following their interests and passions. She is donating the $1 million to her school, which needs a new furnace and other improvements. When one of the interviewers asked her what she would tell a young person interested in teaching, she said she would tell them to go into the private sector, not into public school teaching. The interviewers were taken aback. Atwell explained that the Common Core and the testing that goes with it had turned teachers into “technicians,” making it hard for them to teach the best they knew how. She would urge them to find an independent school where there is no Common Core and no state testing.”

Nancie Atwell’s comments, which any seasoned teachers and most new ones recognize as absolutely accurate, were then criticized by male teachers as either misguided or irresponsible. As in nursing, a man’s experience in a female profession is not the same, but they feel free to think it is because, well, they have de facto the right to evaluate women’s work.

Ravitch,  a leading contributor to the teacher status debate, articulates perhaps more clearly than most how teaching reflects the cultural resistance to women receiving professional equality. She joins over a hundred years now in the discourse about teachers’ low and undeserved status accompanied by studied determination to keep it that way.

Why is teaching’s low status so intrinsically intractable in our culture? Because it has always been a gendered servant role. Men were only teachers until they could move on. Allowing women to teach was acknowledged as a lower cost alternative early on. We will be looking at the foundational attitudes toward teachers and why, even after severe protests and costly effects of ignoring teachers’ professional wisdom, teachers will remain a servant class.

Not only overt historical development of public education but educational reform movements and research are primarily instituted by men: men in law, men in business, men in legislatures, men in psychology, to name a few of the fields. Most of the time men who have never taught or have never taught at the level they are trying to reform. While anyone can find reams of books, articles and other materials about what should be done in education, very few materials are available on the teacher’s actual experience or on ways for teachers to have professional autonomy and authority. This is because the teacher doesn’t have time to pursue writing books and articles and developing programs because they are teaching. So the reality is not that those who can, do and those who can’t teach; the reality is that those who teach, are; and those who aren’t, study it and mandate the latest “classroom innovation”. This amounts to not much more than hubby coming home and telling wifey how she can do better. A gross simplification? Perhaps. But see if you find very many exceptions to the management of education that do not smack of this attitude.

It has been long understood that the younger the child, the more women are prevalent in their education.  Women became preschool and elementary school principals earlier than at other levels. With each level up, the number of women decreased while the number of men increased, until we have many male professors studying teaching and introducing
“reforms”, which earn the college lots of positive PR, until that comes under attack and the next horse on the carousel comes around.

In subsequent posts, I will list some of the historical milestones, educational reforms, and cultural contradictions and whether or not a woman educator with experience in the classroom was the originator. Hopefully this will help demonstrate that a teacher who thinks there will be an improved status change in our country should look elsewhere for professional fulfillment. This does not negate the influence that women have made; it demonstrates that there is a foundational commitment to keeping women out of any major authority in their profession. Like nurses, we can only dispense medicine if the doctor says so. And when we begin to become doctors, the status and pay in the field decreases and the amount of oversight increases.

My hope is that those who have an opportunity, will stop burying their talents in the ground without demanding proportionate respect, acknowledgement and compensation. And if that means not teaching, it may have to.  History will show that there are as many pressures to remove teachers as there are pleas for them to stay underemployed. A teacher needs to face the fact that she is disposable and will never be acknowledged in any numbers as an autonomous professional; in fact, every attempt will be made to remove her ability to made decisions about using her skills.

Atwell appears to understand this, but she still gave away the million.

Twelve Steps of Recovery*

With thanks to AA

  1. We admitted we were powerless over educational insanity, and our lives are unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that we could stop being victims of our own ideals.
  3. Turned our careers over to our common sense.
  4. Made a searching and fearless admission of how we were being dehumanized.
  5. Admitted we could no longer accept these conditions.
  6. Were entirely ready to begin a new vision of our role in education.
  7. Decided to create our own profession.
  8. Made a list of all people we were no longer responsible for.
  9. Made amends for not being honest about our inability to be superpeople.
  10. Humbly dedicated ourselves to a more realistic approach to our professions.
  11. Sought to continue daily in a rational approach to our role in education.
  12. Having experience sane living as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other suffering, overwhelmed, mind-numbed, brainwashed, and soul defeated teachers who deserve better.

* Originally published in 2005 by Shirley Fessel on spaces.msn.com

Since the time I wrote this, it occurred to me that the major omission is the systematic attack on public education that is not acknowledged as creating this insanity.

In future posts, I plan to address the lack of women’s voices in this predominantly woman’s profession and how the political agendas in America, serving greed, systematically stripped teachers of their professions. Those outside the classroom do not know the story. I will also be looking at the skills that teachers are currently burying that they could transfer elsewhere with mental and physical health benefits for themselves.

I want to quote here an excerpt from a more recent post by a teacher who has left the profession, showing the current end result of testing on teachers and students. In urban areas, it is even worse. When I left in 2008, urban children were being tested up to 5 or 6 times a year in order to make money for testing companies, which then led to textbook changes and increased textbook sales. We are only narrowly escaping the gun lobbyists desire to sell guns to every teacher, a money sign on every trigger. It is the final insult to the teacher-student relationship by those in power who do not care and see education as a way to make profits from tax monies.

“So why did I leave? Clearly, it means a lot to me to be a teacher. People assume that maybe the kids were too much, or the parents were a lot, or the pay was too low, or any number of reasons that have been trivialized on memes and complained about on Facebook. Taking a hiatus from teaching didn’t have anything to do with any of those reasons…..Jan 2016 Import 015

The solitary reason that I chose to leave teaching has to do with the politicized environment of education. People may wonder what politics have to do with teaching, and the answer is everything. When policies are made, the impacts come into our lives and change them drastically. Over the past few years, there has been widespread ‘educational reform.’  These reforms have increased the importance of spreadsheets, columns of data, evaluations by inexperienced observers, and the accounting of data in every teacher’s life. The focus has gone away from people; students, parents, teachers, staff, volunteers, and onto data. The most important elements of teaching cannot be quantified onto a spreadsheet and put into a power point. When data is given importance above all else, time and resources are directed as such….

About five years ago I gave a presentation at a staff meeting dealing with recognizing childhood hunger in the classroom. Oregon leads the nation in childhood hunger, with about 30% of children living with food instability; they don’t know when, if or what they will eat. I was teaching in a county with 25% of our children living with childhood hunger…

I have offered to give this presentation every year since then (with different principals and different schools), and I have consistently been told no, there is not enough time. Not enough time. For one-third of our children. There is not a place in my heart in which this is acceptable.

We are in a people business, not a numbers business. It is not that teachers do not value data and information systems. We absolutely do, so that we can know where each child is in their mastery of the concepts that we have taught. Record keeping, evaluation of scores, and calibration of lessons based on the data are important parts of being a teacher. Data is just not the entirety of what it means to be a teacher. Teaching and learning are about more than test scores. There are so many more verbs that describe good teachers other than data collection. However, this piece of our profession is now emphasized above all other traits and qualities. It is more important to value the child, work with the family and teach at a pace that makes sense for the learners than it is for teachers to know yet another way to compare data on spreadsheets. Current teachers are doing all of this and it is too much, and too unnecessary. The only educational reform that should be considered should be designed by experts; our experienced teachers, parents, community leaders and students.” -Elona Schreiner  October 22, 2015 “The One Reason I Quit Teaching” wordpress.com

Elona is being charitable. It’s been more than a few years: it’s been decades. Unfortuately, those who legislate and lobby and profit do not care what any teacher thinks. Since the 80s, it was decided that education, and especially teachers, were an educational free for all football, and we’ve been kicked around ever since. And when we don’t submit to being kicked around, well, we are replaced by a myriad of options: homeschooling, temporary teaching certificates, union busting, and online K-12 isolation.

That is why we need to face the fact that we have  no leverage. Our schools are not appreciated or acknowledged for their strengths. It is time to stop accepting the heaping coals of criticism. It only enables the abuse. The same chauvanistic message husbands would criticize wives with (even those who “help you babysit the children” not “our children”- I  heard a principal actually say this to a teacher in 2005 when  he asked her “Who will watch the children?” ) will be hurled at us: but what about the children? To which I say, “Yes, what about them? You have created an impossible task, what I call making bricks without straw, and I am not going to pretend it can be done anymore. You take responsibility for what you have created. I cannot participate in dehumanizing the students anymore.”