Responding to Ravitch
Diane Ravitch, you are awesome! You hit the nail on the head with “Stop the Madness.” It is refreshing to read an article that addresses the true problems with NCLB and private education foundations. These laws and foundations are created by non-teaching people who think they know how to educate students better than teachers. I would love to have Bill Gates or a U.S. congressman come to my classroom, and teach my students. These people are big about telling teachers how to teach, but when it comes to putting their words into action, they hide like mice.
Diane Ravitch’s article was welcome, but I believe she got one thing wrong. She says that the consequences of NCLB were unintended. I think ample proof exists indicates otherwise.
It is quite plain in reading NCLB that its authors were hostile toward public school teachers. Indeed, NCLB is but one expression of a larger view among conservatives that liberalism is a threat that must be eradicated, and that just about anything should be done to accomplish that end. Public school teachers and the humanism they teach have become symbols of what conservatives hate and fear most: progressivism. Ms. Ravitch surely must be aware of this. In which case she has purposely glossed over an important point—or she is naive.
Asbury Park, NJ
I think that every teacher who is serious about making a change in the current mainstream thinking about public education should begin by reading Diane Ravitch. The research she cites effectively debunks the arguments our legislators, state superintendents of instruction, and others use against public education and public educators.
Knowing that my legislators won’t read her book, I will use the information in it to persuade them to change their thinking about us.
Is Experience Undervalued?
I read “I Thought I’d Stay Forever...” with great dismay. I understand the sentiments expressed in the piece all too well. I spent 36 years in the high school language arts classroom, and I know that folks like me are dinosaurs. I retired in 2009 after realizing I could no longer do the job the way it was expected or needed... given the societal proclivities of our age. The notion of experience, which used to be so highly valued and sought after in the workplace—any workplace—no longer holds the sway it once did, and that idea, for better or for worse, has finally made its way to the American classroom.
Good Teaching Doesn’t Require a SmartBoard
Sometimes teachers are asked, “Do you want this new technology in your classroom?” by the administration (“Do Smartboards Make Smart Students?” August/September 2010). Without knowing much about it, we have to answer how we would plan to use the new technology, then tell them if we would like it. I think we should be taught and informed about the technology before we make decisions about its usefulness.
I don’t think all subject areas need these Smart/Promethean boards, but they are valuable in some classrooms. Could we do without it, since we may have other technology or ways available to teach the materials? Absolutely! I have often remembered “If what you have ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!”
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