I wrote an extensive post on all the current ed reform hype, and lost it somehow. I'll attempt to collect my thoughts on this again in a much more succinct and less eloquent manner!
My main points were:
I'm concerned about fevered pitch of anti-teacher rhetoric in the media today. The American public needs to critically examine the current ed reform hype generated by the release of Waiting for Superman. Specifically, citizens should look at:
- The buzz around Superman, particularly Oprah's spin and subsequent initiatives which don't give much credence to teachers
- The recent mayoral election in Washington DC and the work of DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee
- The decision by the LA Times to publish value-added data on LAUSD teachers. (Make sure to read the extensive comments in this blog post.)
The education landscape is a complex picture, and more standardized testing, firing of teachers, and charter schools will not alone solve our current crisis.
- Yes, bad teachers exist and should be removed from classrooms. However, our current teaching force needs to be inspired and prepared to meet today's challenges.
- We're facing a teacher shortage with baby boomers retiring over the course of the next few years and we must not throw the baby out with the bath water.
- While some teachers are born great, it takes time and professional development for most teachers to evolve into truly effective ones.
- Teachers must stand up and make sure their stories (positive and negative) are told. Clearly, the American public is only getting one side of the story.
- Teachers also must advocate for developmental and pedagogical best practices. We are at risk for ignoring research.
- Parents need to be a part of this formula for success. In Singapore, parents feel immense amount of pressure to do what it takes to make their children successful and their system is considered one of the most successful in the world.
- Administrators do not seem to be the focus of current reform rhetoric. We must examine the role of school leadership in motivating and engaging school communities.
- We need positive messaging to encourage all stakeholders to work together towards the common goal of doing what's best for children. Effective change will not happen with divided factions.
A voice for reason in all of this has been Diane Ravitch, a prolific writer, professor and historian of education. A former appointee to the Department of Education under Bush I, she has reversed her views on what truly works in education. Read her latest book, follow her on Twitter, and check out this interview featuring her. Also, consider signing this petition for her to appear on Oprah (a complete long shot, but my hope is that her work is brought to Oprah's attention). I want to be Diane when I grow up. :)
Please share additional readings on these topics via the comments here in my blog. Articles and posts that have caught my attention on this are:
- Movie Review: Waiting for Superman: Or Just Another Clark Kent Playing Dress-Up?
- Superman, Rhee and Everything in Between
- Dear Ms. Winfrey
- What DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee Got Wrong