Sunday, August 3, 2014

Advocating for students should not mean silencing teachers

I've only just recently become aware of the controversy surrounding former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown and her mission to end teacher tenure, but you can be sure I'm getting myself up to speed after her appearance on the Colbert Report. 

Once again, teachers are receiving the brunt of the media's ire as the conversation revolves around teachers, yet we are not given a seat at the table. So educators must resort to writing tweets and blog posts (sometimes anonymously for fear of their jobs) because no one in the media is inviting us on shows like the Colbert Report to rebut the arguments of non-educators who think they know the best way to educate children. Who needs undergraduate and graduate degrees in education along with years of classroom experience when you have corporate backers with lots of money to tell us how to educate children, am I right?

So since I nor any other teachers for that matter have been invited to the debate that I'm supposedly trying to silence, I must write my rebuttals here on this blog.

Brown stated that 91% of teachers in New York were rated either effective or highly effective despite the fact that only 31% of students are reading, writing, and doing math at grade level. She then followed up those statistics with the question "How does that compute?"  I'll tell you how that computes: it's called "standardized tests are not an accurate reflection of a student's abilities and have very little to do with students and everything to do with politics and money." Education blogger Jersey Jazzman said it more accurately than my emotional diatribe, so I'm just going to quote him directly:

What Brown neglects to mention, of course, is that New York's test scores plummeted this past year when the state changed to Common Core-aligned tests.  Everyone who knows anything about testing knows that New York has been monkeying with the passing rates for years, as cut scores shift for reasons having nothing to do with actual changes in student achievement. 

In her Colbert interview, Brown called teacher tenure laws anachronistic, outdated, and antiquated. It seems to me that in 2014, if a teacher can get fired for teaching evolution as Colbert pointed out, or working for a school and writing a blog post about homophones can result in a dismissal, that tenure is needed now more than ever.

And let's not fail to see the irony in the fact that Brown founded a group called the Parents Transparency Project, yet she is choosing to ignore transparency about the people who are funding her efforts to end teacher tenure. Once again I will quote Jersey Jazzman:

And that is precisely the problem: the debate about tenure is now dominated by telegenic partisans who have no knowledge of education policy and won't reveal their funders -- all the while, the voices of teachers are excluded. 

I encourage you to read Jersey Jazzman's entire blog post because it is incredibly enlightening.

Meanwhile, let's not forget that in her crusade to end teacher tenure to rid the system of ineffective teachers, the people Brown and her "educational" crusaders are likely to end up hurting are passionate, caring teachers like these:

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