Ages of my children: It was an honor to meet her. Oh, well, of course we are in the organic, basic rudimentary definition of the word—I hold the belief that education always begins at home, whether or not families are aware.
Those who scapegoat teachers may have much to gain, but students have much more to lose.
By Cindy Long Found In: Those of us in the education profession would define scapegoat this way: In his book, Kumashiro, president of the National Association for Multicultural Education and professor of Asian American Studies and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, explains how scapegoating public-school teachers, teacher unions, and teacher education masks the real, systemic problems in education.
He also demonstrates how trends like market-based reforms and fast-track teacher certification programs create obstacles to an equitable education for all children.
NEA Today Magazine caught up with Kumashiro Awesome science fair projects for 8th graders ask him about the teacher blame game and what we can do about it, as individuals and together as members of the National Education Association. For example, a Frameworks Institute study revealed that, when people think about education, they picture a classroom where a teacher stands in front of students.
Surely, just as in any other profession. But the singular focus on teachers prevents us from seeing how the system itself needs repair.
What we need to do is reframe the debate and remove the mask. What are the systemic problems that are being masked? One of those problems is funding. Our neighborhoods are even more segregated by income and race than ever before, and because so much of school funding is based on local property taxes, the historically vast wealth gap in our nation makes it easy to see why funding is not equitable, and therefore neither is the quality of education being provided.
Another problem is the narrowing of the curriculum as we place more emphasis on high-stakes testing.
Research consistently shows us not only that tests are neither valid nor reliable for the spectrum of consequences student graduation, teacher evaluation, school turnarounds that we tie to them, but also that schools should have a rich curriculum for kids to achieve more academically.
Finally, schools do not operate in a vacuum. An enormous challenge is the massive number of children living in poverty who come to school hungry and without access to health care, and who often live in neighborhoods plagued with violence.
What are those who scapegoat teachers hoping to gain? When a school is failing, they say we need to take more tests, spend more time preparing for those tests, and narrow the curriculum further so students focus solely on the test material to raise their scores.
In contrast, the most elite schools with highly successful students have a rich curriculum with far less testing and with a strong teacher voice in developing curriculum and assessment — why would we go in the opposite direction in our struggling schools?
What are the consequences of blaming teachers and distorting the bigger picture? A lot of really great teachers are leaving the profession in frustration. For those who stay, it affects how they feel about their jobs.
One group, which is rapidly shrinking, comes from the university-based preparation programs, and teaches in the more elite schools. Many of these programs include years of mentoring, student teaching experiences, and courses designed for managing classrooms full of diverse students, and the many other challenges teachers face.
These well-intentioned individuals are less prepared for what can feel like overwhelming problems of a troubled school district in an impoverished neighborhood. A great illustration is New Orleans, where highly prepared, veteran teachers are struggling to find jobs because the charter schools that now dominate the school district are turning to programs like TFA.
Why do some groups claim to champion teachers but denigrate their unions Kumashiro: What can NEA members do to help clarify the bigger picture? From the beginning, teachers should look for schools with energizing, professional learning communities that can support them in their work.
We all need to be engaged citizens. The reality is that we need to build a movement, because movements have the power to change society. When we think about advocacy, we usually think about actions leading to legislative or court changes.
What defined it was that it shifted the public consciousness and reframed how we talked about diversity and rights. So we need to build a similar movement to get us thinking differently about the problems and possibilities of public education.The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines scapegoat as one that bears the blame for others, or one that is the object of irrational hostility.
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