Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Veteran Teacher Resistance (A Letter to The Advocate)

     In "Generational Shifts..." by Will Sentell, the difference in veteran teacher to newer teacher attitudes towards recent "reforms" gets only superficial examination. It is wrapped in a tidy package by a quote from the beginning,

"What the evaluations are looking for is what I was taught to do,” (Sandra Ardoin, who is a first-year teacher)

and a quote from the end:

“This model is either going to make them (more veteran teachers) change or make them leave,” she (Julie Stephenson) said.

     The problems with this is that it is willfully ignorant of the societal decay that public schools are being forced to support, and the burdens schools must deal with get a dismissive (if not disingenuous) acknowledgement with the claim that

"State officials have said the job reviews make allowances for a wide range of nonacademic issues, including household poverty."

     Newer teachers are coming up through a society and a system where increasing wealth at the top, and increasing poverty, under-employment and joblessness at the bottom are accepted as the norm. Those benefiting in this system are among those looking to reform schools into a "data" driven system that falls into line with this approach to our country and its economy: keeping the infrastructure working in a way that preserves inequity. Narrow measures and complicated (and sometimes dishonest) formulas are being used to disrupt communities to suit the formula-makers (reformer-lobbies, charter school companies, testing/curriculum/data industry...).

     Revealing to schools and students the coercive data path to a poorly or ill-defined goal ("college and career ready") is much different than supporting the creation of critical thinkers capable of making this world a better place.

    That might be the source of some of the resistance from more veteran teachers.

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