I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, September 28, 2012

Obama's Teacher Enthusiasm Gap Is HIS Fault!

So the latest, greatest viral video is apparently Samuel Jackson's profane tirade at apathetic Obama supporters.

Forgive me, Sam, but you're really rubbing me the wrong way. Yeah, I'll vote for Obama; Supreme Court nominees are reason enough. But don't expect me to go into the voting booth when any sort of enthusiasm: I'm a public school teacher.

And I know that no one has done more to fortify the regime of standardized testing, expand charter schools, or threaten the professionalism of teachers than Barack Obama. 

Standardized tests under Obama have now become commonplace in kindergarten!

With the stakes so high, many administrators have decided to start testing in the earlier grades, to give kids practice and to identify students who need help.

The Obama administration accelerated the trend in 2011 with a $500 million competitive grant to bolster early childhood education. States that pledged to assess all kindergarteners earned extra points on their applications.
So now state after state is falling into line, testing the littlest students to find out what they know and what they don’t know. The experts are strangely silent about whether this is developmentally appropriate. It is never too soon to start compiling data, it seems. [emphasis mine]
This is insane. We know the damage the proliferation of these tests has done to education. We know it's completely inappropriate and potentially harmful to administer these tests to children this young. We know the tests are poorly constructed and graded. We know standardized testing is ruining schools and corrupting the curriculum. We know these tests are unethical and promote cheating. Yet the Obama administration promotes them for kindergarteners!

As for charter schools:
The U.S. Department of Education announced grants totaling more than $14.4 million to support high-quality charter schools in more than 25 communities across the country. As a result of today’s grants, an additional 20,000 students in schools in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and the District of Columbia, will have access to a quality education in charter schools. 
Through this funding, Democracy Prep Public Schools will receive more than $4.1 million for the first two years of a five-year grant, and the KIPP Foundation will receive more than $10.3 million for the first two years of a four-year grant. Both organizations will be able to continue and expand their work in schools that have demonstrated success in improving education outcomes for students. [emphasis mine]
Yet we know from many, many, many, many, many, reports that KIPP spends more and engages in more student attrition than public schools. In other words, what KIPP does is not replicable on a large scale. Even they have acknowledged this! But the Obama administration wants to give them more money, instead of putting money into the "failing" schools that are only "failing" because they serve the deserving children KIPP left behind.

Both of these policies are de-professionalizing teaching. The rigid, autocratic style of so many charters keeps their teachers from becoming creative practitioners of their craft. And the requirement of Race To The Top to tie teacher evaluation to test scores assures that good teachers will be misidentified and fired. What's especially infuriating is that Obama claims he doesn't want to "teach to the test," even as he implements a teacher evaluation policy that assures schools will do exactly that.

This is a record of educational failure on multiple levels. It's not so bad that I would sit out this election and let Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan come into power - lord only knows what those two chowderheads would do to this country if they ever won the White House.

But there is no doubt that I and many of my fellow educators and parents will be holding our noses while we pull the lever for Barack Obama. That is not our fault - it's his.

So, Sam Jackson, I love you - but you can shut the f#{% up, thank you very much. Because I'm wide awake, and I don't very much like what I see.

Can you guys believe it? Romney's so bad, teachers will vote for me anyway!

ADDING: Yeah, sure, let even more air out of our tires...
If President Obama wins a second term, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will stay in his job, he told National Journal on Thursday. Duncan is likely to spend much of his time in a second term focusing on ways to rein in spiraling college tuition costs—a significant barrier toward the president’s goal of doubling college graduations by 2020.
“I am staying, unless the president gets sick of me,” Duncan said after speaking at a K-12 Education Forum sponsored by the Hamilton Project. That’s unlikely to happen, considering that Obama and Duncan both cut their teeth on politics in Chicago and have a strong personal relationship.
What I wouldn't give for a viable third party candidate...


Galton said...

Educators and those who believe free public schools are the bedrock of a strong middle class have nowhere to go this election. Next year will be interesting though. Many more educators than anyone would believe actually voted for Christie last time. Many of them are Republicans, many believed his lie about pensions and benefits. Next year, if he runs, I would bet heavily he will not, he won't get 4% of the educational vote.

G. Gales said...

No teacher in NJ should vote for Obama. He is well ahead of Romney in this state. After he is reelected his win will no doubt be framed by the press and DNC as a national endorsement of his education "reform" policies. If the courts are the reason to vote for the latest corporate tool Democrat, when will the courts not be the rationale for supporting a corporate tool Democrat? This man and his party are incapable of change and the next four years will make that abundantly clear. Nothing will ever change as long as Democrats can take our votes for granted.

briandharris said...

I was really disappointed at the AFT convention this summer when we spent three days talking about all these terrible things happening in education that the Obama admin is responsible for, then on the last day it was like, "Shit, Joe Biden is here? Woo-hoof! Four more years!"