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when you said "something is wrong with this picture" you're right on the money. That "something" is that teaching is not a true profession. Only when we gain control over our own membership (the last hurdle to teaching being a true profession) will we cease to be beggars at the table, and become a co-equal partner in creating policy. I hate to say it but, why should policy makers listen to us when we have no power?
Creativity is really running low here. When money is scarce, that is when you get to appreciate the worth of a decision maker, his ability to come up with innovative solutions that do not tamper with equity. I support this president and still would like to see him succeed... But this is certainly not a path to success.
I agree! This is taxpayer money and we all pay for it! Why should some students and schools and teachers be penalized because the people in their state dept. can't write up an application as good as the people in the next state... We are all responsible for educating America!
What I *think* will happen is that districts will accept race to the top money and lie when it comes time to send in reports. They need the money desperately. So desperately they may be willing to compromise their integrity.
I work in Tennessee too and I am tired of politicians telling us what our goals should be when they have never taught a day in their lives! I can not think of a fair way to judge all teachers equally when we all serve such diverse populations. Teachers can not solve all of their student's problems and teach them adequately without the support of the parents. It's time that parents take a more active role at home in encouraging and working with their children so they can "reach the top" of their potential.
[quote]Mr. Gusky is correct that this isn't a simple issue. In Tennessee, the teachers' union supported the grant because we didn't have a choice. TEA managed to make the proposal more teacher-friendly than the original. Race to the Top is an Obama modification of NCLB. In spite of the trendy name, NCLB has left many children behind. It's disgusting that politicians make education laws without the input of teachers. No one would have a medical procedure that wasn't done by a doctor or other appropriately trained medical personnel. Yet, it's alright to make education policy without trained teachers. Something is wrong with this picture.[/quote][quote]Mr. Gusky is correct that this isn't a simple issue. In Tennessee, the teachers' union supported the grant because we didn't have a choice. TEA managed to make the proposal more teacher-friendly than the original. Race to the Top is an Obama modification of NCLB. In spite of the trendy name, NCLB has left many children behind. It's disgusting that politicians make education laws without the input of teachers. No one would have a medical procedure that wasn't done by a doctor or other appropriately trained medical personnel. Yet, it's alright to make education policy without trained teachers. Something is wrong with this picture.[/quote]
This is not a race. It's an education. To teach is to meet your students where they are and take them where they need to be. It is not one size fits all. To take money out of public schools is to guarantee segregation. In California, public schools are at the bottom of the food chain of State Government. Schools that succeed are ignored. All schools and teachers are villified equally. Children in the San Fernando Valley are flocking to private schools. Soon the only students left in public school there will be the poor, the immigrant and the learning disabled.
It is considered 'best practice' among educators to differentiate instruction so that it is accessable to all students. Then why do we not partner those schools that succeed with those who struggle? Why do we not support them?
In my school district the knee jerk reaction to immigrant students was to put them all in the same school.The result was white schools and brown schools, high scoring schools vs. low scoring schools. The teachers at the low performing immigrant magnet schools fled like rats off a sinking ship under the oppressive mandates that come with teaching in this demographic. Surprisingly, their students score just fine now that they are in a 'better' (whiter, richer, educated and involved parents) demographic.
In any race there is going to be a loser. We need to drop the word 'race' altogether. What's wrong with "Yes we can!"
One of the major problems with Race To the Top is the assumption carried over from No Child and perpetrated by not having teachers running the Department of Education that the teachers are the problem instead of the solution. This program has provisions that schools need to re-organize and get rid of teachers! The problem really is uncertified teachers lacking experience and education degrees and incompetent, unqualified (not teachers) in administration. Washington DC schools are still struggling because, first they had too many politicians running the schools and now they have a non-teacher as Superintendent.
The unions exist to take care of the teachers. Of course some teachers are in the wrong job, but those are exceptions, not the rule. When policies such as "staying on the same page", scripted curricula, and graduation "on time" are implemented the students get behind and the teachers are disrespected. One non-teacher superintendent even took the teachers' desks and wanted them to stand up all day! He called it "stand up teaching". He had been in special education (Behavior Disorders, of course) and hated special education--probably because they made him behave. Actually he was nothing but a politician with a huge ego. He was disposed of in about a year, but the damage lasted and the Board had to pay him off.
If the teachers are blamed for the problems in the schools the good ones burn out and the bad ones stay only because it is a safe job and they can't do anything else. Some of the worst teachers are the ones who kiss up to the principal. Then they use their relationship to keep their job. These are also the ones who mistreat the children.
The solution to low school achievement is removal of regulations and letting the certified, experienced teachers run the schools. The further solution is the elimination of temporary teachers who don't have education degrees. If they come in through a group like Teach for America the required committment should be 5 years instead of 2 so that they have time to learn to teach (normally takes about 3 years) and become valuable professionals. During this time, since they have a BS, they should be required to get a Masters in Education.
By the way, the value of an advanced degree should not be questioned. A Masters shows that the teacher is a committed professional. The only way it would not be of much value is if the teacher is only teaching to the test and using scripts and pre-digested information.
I love President Obama. He is a massive improvement over the oppressive dictatorship of the Republicans. But he is not a teacher. He does not know schools except as a student and a professor. His Secretary of Education is not a teacher either. They both need to listen to the teachers and work with school culture, the unions and take a long look at the better achieving public schools that have diversity of students or even many poor students and spread the good.
First off, the title of this is as misleading as No Child Left Behind was. There are many districts already at the top. What are they racing toward? Yes, it would be great to be able to use this money to help with the budget issues so many schools are now facing, but what are the long-term costs of this grant once the money runs out? And with No Child Left Behind, it has ended up moving districts away from advancing the advanced learners, often leaving them behind, even though they are reaching the established benchmarks. The benchmarks were established as minimums. Why would any teacher want their students to only achieve the minimum?
With Race to the Top, there are many issues that arise. What will the evaluation tool look like? It's not developed yet. What will the testing be like? It's not developed yet. How would the money have to be used? It's not established yet. There are so many unknowns that go into the grant that, for those not required to submit, it is near impossible to commit to.
To answer the question, I believe the unions should support the districts that required to apply for the grant, as the unions should be working to improve those schools as it is. But for districts that might possibly be giving up much more than could be gained (potentially), I don't see how the union could offer support.
Think of it as a lottery. You can enter to win the lottery, but if you win, you will be required to do a list of things (many things you don't know yet) that would tell you exactly how you must spend the money. Some of the money would have to be spent within the town you live, and would have to be agreed on by everyone in the town. And you would have to spend all of your lottery winnings within four years, but for things that you have bought, you'll have to continue buying after your lottery money is gone. And you can't invest it, you have to spend it. If this were the case for the lottery, do you think anyone would play?
Why are we competing against each other for Federal money? This is crazy. Spread the money out among all schools that need help. The competition for taxpayer money seems ridiculous.