Monday, October 27, 2014

#AACTE is "anxious" about Duncan. #notgoodenough !

Once again we hear that Duncan wants to go after schools of education.  While some have pointed out how silly this idea is and just another "test and punish" reform, the leaders in the field still remain silent.  

Instead of down right disdain the profession offers this little snippet from AACTE president Sharon Robinson in Politico,

“Anxious is not too strong a word to describe the degree to which we are waiting and watching,” said Sharon Robinson, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. “These regulations could well be a seminal statement for this administration.” Robinson is concerned that the administration will tie financial aid to a rating system that relies on metrics such as how many graduates of a given teacher prep program land jobs after they graduate — and how well their students perform on standardized tests. She says education colleges want to track that data and use it to improve their programs — but they don’t want it used against them, since they can’t control crucial variables like the strength of the local job market or the conditions inside local K-12 classrooms.

We're "anxious" and "concerned?"  I don't know who "we" are but if Ms. Robison is speaking for the profession we have a huge problem.  Why are "we" not OUTRAGED?  And why do our leaders and organizations that represent us still present some possible middle ground appeasement?

If teacher educators in the trenches don't stand up and demand that our leaders (Deans, Department Heads, Program Leaders, etc) and professional organizations (AACTE, and all the state AACTE affiliates) take an aggressive stand on "test and punish" teacher education reform, then we truly have no one to blame except ourselves.  In fact here is a blog I authored for Huffington Post in October of 2011 that tried to move rank and file teacher educators.

Reports the Website "Schools Matter":In recalibrating what information the Feds will require of ed schools, a graying and sallow Arne announced that his Gates and Broad handlers have come up with a scheme to reward and punish teacher preparation programs based on the scores from tests taken by students who will one day be taught by the ed school graduates. 
HELP! Where are all the credible teacher educators? Where all of my colleagues? Do you really think that hiding behind your "research" agenda shields you from the reality of this new push to destroy the American public school system along with quality teaching and learning? WAKE UP! PAY ATTENTION! The corporate reform movement is coming for you and me now. 
AACTE and CAEP, now support "accountability" as defined by the Obama/Duncan Department of Education. As reported by Stephen Sawchuck, "Momentum appears to be gathering behind a U.S. Department of Education plan to hold teacher education programs accountable for the achievement of students taught by their graduates." If you need to, go back and read that statement again and again until it sinks into your thick skulls. 
We are now going to be responsible for the test scores of children that end up being taught by our graduates. In other words, if my son fails and his teacher was your student, it's now your fault! And if you don't make the changes needed to help your students "teach" my son how to do well on his standardized tests you, your department, your school, and/or your college will be slapped and eventually shut down. When that happens please tell me about how important your "research" was. 
I'm sorry was I too harsh? Did I offend you (my colleagues)? Did I dare pick on your research? Yes I did. Now get over it and start speaking, writing and screaming about how "No Child Left Behind" for teacher education is at best a bone-headed idea and at worst an absolute assault on our academic freedom and an unethical attempt to make us do what we know is absolutely wrong. 
Remember NCLB? Yeah, some of you complained and some of you even managed to turn it into a productive line of research. And what was it that you complained about and what did all that research reveal? You complained that testing would not do anything to the achievement gap, that the curriculum will narrow, that the "least among us" would be hit hardest, and that linking student test scores to teachers and schools was problematic. Then after years of conducting research you found out that all of your complaints were substantiated. The achievement gap still exists, public school children now receive little to no instruction in the arts or the humanities, the children of poverty are bearing the brunt of this misguided ideological attack on public schools and value-added measures of teachers are extremely unreliable and the public reporting of these statistics causes harm to all involved with public education. 
It is our turn to join with the children, parents, teachers and public schools. All across the country there is an "Opt Out" movement occurring. Parents are refusing to allow their children to take standardized tests (hereherehere), teachers are refusing to administer the tests, administrators are speaking out against the negative consequences associated with the tests, and some schools have actually stopped administering the tests. 
What should we do? How should we respond? Who's willing to be the first teacher educator to say: "No. I opt out too. I will not abandon everything I know about children, teaching learning and schools. I refuse to take part in a rigged political system designed to dismantle public education and thwart democracy."
Isn't it our turn to tune in and "opt out"?
I'll ask again three years later:

  • Teacher education colleagues are you ready to organize and speak truth to power?  
  • Can we move beyond simply complaining about Duncan and the reformers?  
  • Can we look within the profession and demand that our leaders not offer "anxious" compliance?  
"I don't want to be here anymore!"

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