Monday, October 8, 2012

Almost the same, to the NY Post fluff piece.

The best thing I can say is that your paper is just a notch above "Bat Boy" or "Elvis Spotted Working at a Gas Station!". Like other carefully orchestrated education reform efforts, the participants and strategies are no surprise, and what is presented as honest analysis is offered up by those with the most to hide. Having just read and responded to an opinion piece by Michael Gerson, I am now confronted with the Post editorial "Hollywood's Teachable Moment". I can respond to that piece in nearly the same way:

Throwing around Ms. Weingarten's name with her honest and accurate assessment of this movie does not adequately support your attack on the teaching profession, or less honest opinions of teacher unions, or those that serve despite the burdens ignored in the "reform" debate. Your "Teachable Moments" reveals itself for what it is when you suggest that the interests of unions and teachers are not aligned with parents and students. Sensationalist propaganda is an attempt to lend weight  to dishonest agendas and weak opinions. You even close the piece suggesting that liberal, union loving Hollywood is what stands in the way of a "best picture" award. Do you think that maybe it being crappy and predictable works in its favor? Did Bat Boy write that editorial?

I cannot speak for teacher unions as a whole, but I can speak as a parent, a teacher, and a union member. The fact that the wealthiest players, and the loudest and inexplicably most revered voices in the reform debate include folks who spent as little (or no) time as they possibly could in the classroom, and/or have a career spotted with questionable ethics goes unmentioned in ideological or bought and paid for opinion pieces.

And somehow, even though Won't Back Down (just like Waiting for Superman) is exactly that sort of misguided propaganda, paid for by people who stand to profit greatly from the damage they hope it will cause, that goes unsaid.

This movie is a distraction from what is truly needed. Public education needs to be wrestled away from the counter-intuitive testing/publishing and data mining industries growing fat off of the misguided education policy they have somehow managed to push upon us. The power to guide learners needs to be returned to the skilled educators who have dedicated their lives and their gifts to that endeavor, and the opinions of temp teachers ushered quickly into high-paying superstar status need more examination-less automatic respect. Funding needs to be returned to schools, not withheld pending acquiescence with time-consuming and counter-productive mandates. The large-scale "job creators and investors" who have abandoned the United States need to bring stable employment back to our communities to build local economies and create the supportive home environments that in turn support student success. In order to compare more favorably to education leaders in the world like Finland, we should adopt similar policies. There is much more we could do, and the research exists to support those efforts, but instead we continue to test, test, test...and expand reactive measures instead of those that are proactive. Why is THAT not examined?
I am a teacher, with more than ten years experience, three children of my own, making less than median income. I have no plans to illegally gain access to text messages, promote the publishing of nude royalty photos, of duct-taping kids mouths, leaving teaching for legislative councils, lobbying, speaking tours (making more for one show than I now make in a year) or movie-making. Like most, I give most of my time out of the classroom (summers included) to preparing for the classroom. I give my spare time, money, food and whatever pieces of my heart I can to kids when I see a need. I am eternally grateful for involved, caring parents. I'm not special or unlike most teachers I know. I cannot abide your disrespect of me, my colleagues or those protecting us, or your fervent support of those who would attack us with caricatures in a movie. Sensational is one thing. Shameless is entirely another.

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