Monday, January 25, 2016

Staying Ahead of the Curve

I don't  know much about the writer of the quote at left. Oddly, I found it on Facebook, posted by the writer himself. I'm wary of people who quote themselves, but I love this sentiment. Look at Andrew Cuomo, with no moral center, doing any damn thing his contributors want. He only rolls it back when his popularity is swirling the bowl, and even then, not nearly enough to change much of anything. NYSUT and UFT leadership appear not to notice, and spend millions of our dues dollars on what appear to be pro-Cuomo commercials.

Thinking teachers and parents are paying close attention, though, and don't buy the "moratorium" nonsense that rolls back just a little bit of the test-based drek that passes for teacher evaluation in New York State. Our kids are still taking the same number of tests, including the ones that now seem to count for nothing whatsoever.

It's surreal that we live in a country where Bill Gates can dictate that test scores dictate the life and death of schools (not to mention the careers of teachers). Yet Gates sends his own kids to schools that aren't subject to his whims and caprices. Reformy folk like Gates, Rhee, King, Obama, Cuomo and Bloomberg opt their kids out of programs they impose by opening their wallets. When we do the same by declining to allow our children to take the tests, it's an outrage. The taxes we pay for our children's schools can be withheld, they say. Our children will suffer, they say, because we didn't conform. That's not taking care of those in their charge.

Of course, the folks above appear interested in taking care of only their own children. Otherwise, why would they impose a system they deem unfit for their own children on our kids? Of course there is hope for our kids. Opt-out is burgeoning in New York State, despite the druthers of test-happy zillionaires and the politicians crawling through their pockets. Parents and teachers aren't blindly accepting this nonsense anymore.

Classrooms don't need to be test-prep factories. Classrooms can be windows of kindness and encouragement in a tough world. A test-obsessed America makes that tougher each and every day. How can you be kind to children when you're gonna lose your job if they fail that test? It's an awkward balancing act, and every thinking teacher I know feels that pressure pretty much every moment.

Despite that, most of the kids know whether or not we care about them. Most of the kids know whether or not we have their interests at heart. It's harder for us, of course, because we're subject to all sorts of external pressures that have little to do with their welfare (not to mention ours). I can't imagine being a new teacher today, and trying not only to learn a very complex job, but concurrently dealing with all the red tape and nonsense that make actually doing the job a near impossible dream.

It's a balancing act, a juggling act, and it's really getting tougher to maneuver every single day. It's too bad we can't just do our jobs, help our students and give them that little bit of guidance they need. It's too bad these kids will lose so many people who could help them due to myopic to outright hostile leadership.

But we stand, we stay, and we care. How we broadcast that message over the Gates-propagated noise machine is just one more issue for us.
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