Where are the voices of teachers in DeKalb mess? Here is one and he’s not holding back.

downeyart0726 (Medium)A DeKalb teacher sent me this piece, noting that none of the blog commentaries on the crisis in DeKalb have come from teachers.

I suspect teachers all over the country will agree with his comments about the lack of respect for the profession. (At his request, I am not using his name because of his concerns for his job.)

This teacher is responding to a recent DeKalb commentary on the blog  by Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall, but his essay speaks to the conditions facing teachers in many places:

I’ve seen so many commentaries over the weeks about the plight of the DeKalb School Systems – from interim superintendents to possible ex-board members to concerned politicians. The blaring omission of a teacher voice rings louder about our current state of affairs. I’ve shrugged all of them off and kept-calm-and-carried-on as has been the trickle-down mantra for years in DeKalb County.

Then, l read I read Lawrence M. Schall’s “wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing” commentary.

His manifesto of conservatism and privatizing the public school arena is, I think, a huge portion of what’s wrong with education today – it comes under the guise of common-sense solutions from informed think-tanks, but it’s really just the Trojan Horse that will finally do away with public education in this country. And, as I’ve said before, democracy in America won’t be far behind.

It’s a simple fact – public education is not and should never be seen as a business.

To suggest it is or could be run like one is itself the problem with education.

The agenda that Schall suggests is double-speak for fixing a broken educational system by doing away with it in piecemeal. “Creating paths for the recognition and reward of effective teachers” is pay for performance – pitting teacher against teacher to receive pay based on student performance is ludicrous and quickly becoming a reality.

I know virtually no teachers who think this would ever turn out well. If you think there was cheating on the high-stakes tests before (which includes the suggested model StudentsFirst organization by Ms. Rhee), wait until you tie a paycheck to some ridiculous exam written by a for-profit organization.

As far as “empower[ing] parents with real choice by providing them with easily accessible and understandable data and through equitable funding of effective charter school” – this is truly one of the biggest farces within school systems today.

If I can break down what I’m reading: we’re talking about vouchers for private schools that can produce the results that the businesses are telling the parents that students need. If a student in my class misses a question on a high-stakes assessment that asks the child to find the mistake in a sentence that’s missing the Oxford comma (an example one of the many hotly debated usage rules upon which we English teachers can’t even agree that test-writers love to target), then that student hasn’t met the standard for “Conventions” and must be remediated.

Or withdrawn and taken to a school where the child will suddenly master the elusive comma – a school that works. Frankly, there are some usage rules I have to look up every time I come across the issue, or I simply revise the sentence to fix what I don’t know.

That’s what I learned as a student before we traded learning for testing – to think critically and creatively. To use my strengths in my favor. These skills have fallen by the wayside in an era of manipulated numbers telling us what’s going on instead of visiting schools to see for ourselves.

Instead of working with teachers to help the students, parents have been empowered to believe that they know education better than the educator. And why wouldn’t they think that? It’s obvious that everyone thinks they can do a better job than teachers. Organizations like Teach for America are churning them out as people leave unfulfilling careers to enter the classroom and find purpose.

All you need to be a good teacher, apparently, is a dedicated heart – the thing that’s missing from those of us who went into education from the get-go.

The-Teachers-As-a-Second-Career-Crew will save education from the current teachers who just aren’t cutting it. Check out any news story that has anything to do with education and you’ll find the teacher featured at the center of the problem.

Even Schall suggests that the teachers are more to blame than the governance when he points out “performance of the school board, and more importantly, the school district have been abysmal for far too long.”

Dr. Schall, I’m a part of that district and you’re absolutely right – it’s broken, broken, broken. But, with all due respect to you sir, it’s not because of teachers not doing their jobs. It’s because the powers-that-be have not been focusing on student success and teacher protection – they’ve been running this district like a business complete with golden parachutes, missing monies and top-heavy management.

They, like so many in education, have forgotten that it’s about the students. And I don’t mean in a “Victory in every classroom” political slogans or the  “We do it for the children” false-selfless statement that six-figure administrators make. I mean the hard-fought and sometimes ugly battles that it takes when it really is about the students.

All the teachers I know accept that and are willing to fight for their students. Otherwise, we wouldn’t do what we do.

Here’s where I agree with you – we have to “spend tax dollars more efficiently by promoting better governance structures.” Those structures must involve the teachers and their protection along with students. If you want me to do right by your kids, ask for my input on their education. Protect me when I do speak out.

Don’t cut my pay or the number of days I have with your kids while adding more tests and then act shocked when the learning seems to have stalled – of course it has. The students were so busy pre-testing to show management that they didn’t know something that the teacher ran out of time to teach them something.

But it made for cool charts for the “data chats” and “war rooms.”

Instead of villainizing teacher unions, encourage them. Work with them. Teachers will be a lot more likely to fight for your kids if they know somebody’s got their back. As it stands, I can’t even sign my name to this commentary without possibly losing my job.

Now, I don’t have my own blog to fall back on or a doctoral degree in education, but even I can see that our system is patently wrong.

And I’m trying to do something about it. What I am doing is working from the inside to make things better. It’s a little more thankless than sitting on a higher perch and pointing out the mistakes that others are making, but those kinds of gigs are hard to get.

Still, in spite of my broken district, just like Dr. Schall’s two adult children, I’m also teaching at a public school that works. And it’s not because of the tests; it’s in spite of them.

Schall and I can agree on one more thing – we are focusing on the symptoms rather than the problem. The more we treat education like a business, the further away from ever fixing it we get. I’ve heard it said a million different ways (as have most of us actually in the classroom), but I’m not building the latest piece of technology or working on an assembly line of the latest mode of transportation – I’m teaching your child.

I want him or her to have imagination and creativity enough to make the future better for all of us. The more roadblocks and assessments of arbitrary questions put forth in the spirit of measuring my worth as an educator, the less likely your child is of actually being successful.

Because I have looked at them as only data and stamped the “product” with a big red label as defective.

Because my days are spent producing worthless charts and graphs for my “data notebook” so that my countless supervisors can justify their own jobs by showing that I’m not doing mine right yet.

Because there are so many corporate people whose job it is to tell what I’m doing wrong according to their business model that even I sometimes forget that teaching is my life, not just my job, and I didn’t go into it for the money.

The education system in our country is broken and we’re breaking it further with all of our uninspired solutions.

I guess if that’s our goal, then we’re “racing to the top” right on schedule.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

294 comments Add your comment

Middle Grades Math Teacher

March 10th, 2013
2:38 pm

AMEN! Not much else to say to this one. Thank you to this teacher!

CompetenceNotDiversity

March 10th, 2013
2:44 pm

Here’s the dirty little secret that nobody wants to confront: every child isn’t special. In fact, some are quite ordinary. And some, sadly, are broken beyond repair before they ever set foot in a classroom – and no amount of intervention or heroics will ever save them. oooohhhhh…that’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? But it’s true. We just don’t have the guts to acknowledge the truth and deal with it effectively. Maybe little Skippy isn’t cut out for college. Maybe he’d be a phenomenal welder. Maybe forcing him to stay in a college-prep curriculum is making him miserable and slowing down the kids who can actually grasp the material. Maybe we should (gasp) track kids into curriculum that dovetail with their interests and abilities. Nah – that would make too much sense. And it’s just not politically correct. After all, every child is special!

Bernie

March 10th, 2013
2:44 pm

I Love This TEACHER! WOW!….. BRAVO!…BRAVO! Excellent! Well Said! There is HOPE! :)

The WOLVES are definitely Circling Around ALL of US, BAYING and GNASHING their TEETH! For All to See!

They Do NOT CARE About The Children! They are only PRETENDING TOO!

Many of Us are Blindly following in agreement and without demanding accountability!

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
2:48 pm

I think the submission has a fatal flaw. many who participate in this blog, like myself, have firsthand knowledge of many things and have posted about them. and to protect our careers, have done so under pseudonyms.

-note I say protect our careers, not just our jobs. the sort of sociopaths who dominated educational administration would not hesitate to blacklist anyone who was found out.

many of us have been speaking out, and at great risk.

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
2:50 pm

I find it interesting that Schall has managed on thing. both the left and right of center had problems with his comments

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 10th, 2013
2:50 pm

Simple question: Why doesn’t the article’s author look for employment elsewhere, if he/she thinks DeKalb public schools are hopeless?

Answer: Because he/she wants to use the space given to promote the teachers’ union anti-reform, anti-parental choice line. With Maureen’s blessing.

One day those long-suffering inner-city parents will be heard. And they will demand an end to the monopoly the education establishment holds over their children’s future.

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
2:52 pm

simple answer: teaching is a calling, not a profession. think mother Teresa with a chalkboard.

you don’t abandon those who need you the most when the ship is sinking. you starting bailing and hope others will follow the example

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

March 10th, 2013
2:53 pm

If education were not a “for-profit” business, this teacher would not have so many supervisors. The “profit” goes to the central office. The profit goes to well-connected vendors. Many of the so-called non-profits nevertheless seek revenue for selling professional development for example. Then all the revenue less expenses gets paid out in salary and benefits. That’s quite profitable too.

We have so many principals and administrators now whose sole basis for being addressed as “Doctor” is what they promised the credentialing institution they would promote in education in return for that credential. How precisely is it not profit for them? They keep gaining promotions on the basis of a willingness to impose controversial ideas. And lying to parents and taxpayers about what they are doing.

Now this teacher obviously cares about her students but so of us parents do in fact understand the dynamics of what is going on in education far better than some principal calling herself Doctor because she sent out a survey to private schools asking what they value in hiring teachers. And that was a group project. Or a doctor whose dissertation was on math as a racist and sexist social construct. Now credentialed with a doctorate in math ed. Darn profitable for her too.

I wish some one was testing on grammar. This is one of my more recent posts laying out how those teacher evals are a means of coercing teachers into behavior in the classroom that is not in the children’s best interest. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/using-teacher-evals-to-coerce-irreversible-change-in-the-drive-towards-statism-globally/

echo

March 10th, 2013
2:54 pm

And this is why I quit. 16 years wasted.

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
2:56 pm

why is a union almost inevitable? get treated like crap long enough, and former enemies become allies.

would the DCSS, APS, Clayton, GPC et al problems have occurred if we had had a legitimate resource to advocate for us? we’ll never know. did they occur when we didn’t? you betcha

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
2:59 pm

@ serf

this is why I have long called for education administrators to have required years of actual in class experience before hitting the corporate ladder. and a requirement to teach a min of one course a year.

atlmom

March 10th, 2013
3:02 pm

Awesome. Also – how about we stop saying that all teachers are the same? How about we pay math teachers and science teacher more than english teachers?
How about we allow the teachers to teach? Stop micromanaging the classroom.
How about allowing the principal to be in charge of their school…allow them to hire and, more importantly, FIRE teachers. So that the principal will be responsible for the school?
AND – stop punishing teachers for switching schools….

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 10th, 2013
3:03 pm

If unions are “inevitable,” why do less than 9 percent of workers in the private sector choose to join unions?

Fifty years ago, that figure was 35 percent.

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
3:05 pm

@ atlmom

exactly good is a scientist who can’t publish a cogent paper?
or a math teacher who can’t express the concepts in plain english?

with the abysmal quality of intelligence and character in most principals, you’ll be giving the hen house keys to the wolf.

living in an outdated ed system

March 10th, 2013
3:06 pm

I feel sorry for this teacher. While courageous to write this letter, it does not highlight the reasons why teachers are feeling disenfranchised. There is a lot of NEA rhetoric in here, and that unfortunately makes this letter feel more like a rant you’d find on one of Diane Ravitch’s blogs than a letter that can truly be taken seriously. The problems in public education have to do with the “system” and how it is outdated. The way we test is flawed and not constructive. There will always need to be formative assessment, and test scores need to be a part of, albeit a SMALL part of, the accountability equation. There is so much I want to say here (I feel for this person), but I will reserve that for my own blog – there is no simple answer that will satisfy this teacher’s grievances.

I do not agree when this teacher says that public education is being further privatized. What we see happening in public education is no different to most other government funded programs (e.g., AMTRAK, USPS) which are all in financial disarray. The system doesn’t work, and all stakeholders need to collaborate on the solution. But self interest groups on both sides are preventing favorable reforms from taking place. Teachers DO need to be part of the solution, but by aligning themselves with organizations such as the NEA, this ed reformer feels they are doing themselves more harm than good. Teachers are critical to a child’s success, but they need to be trained and evaluated appropriately.

elvis horkheimer

March 10th, 2013
3:09 pm

This is extremely well put. I differ slightly as to the matter of privatizing/charterizing schools: The real allure to the charter model is for large corporations to get their hands on taxpayer dollars. Instead of Eisenhower’s military industrial complex, we’ll have the military industrial educational complex. The goal isn’t education at all, it’s corporate bottom lines. Of course, to maximize profits, it’s crucial that wages be compressed, pensions cut, and benefits butchered. And that’s what we’re seeing now, as well as slimy legislation like the carter amendment passed here in Georgia that was pushed so hard by Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst and other corporate front groups.

Anyone who thinks corporations will fix education is sadly deluded, and their children (as well as mine) will suffer the consequences.

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
3:10 pm

what state has the highest growth in union membership? Georgia.

and society swings wildly from generation to generation.
50 years ago soldiers were called baby killers. today we call them heros.
50 years ago teaching was considered a respected profession.
50 years ago we could paddle, suspend, or expel unruly and dangerous children

but thanks for the plug for the importance of social sciences in school.

atlmom

March 10th, 2013
3:15 pm

bootney; someone has to be in charge. How about a school where no one enrolls their child? then it will fail – why not tie a principal’s pay to the number of students? Here in Portland (I just moved here) the focus/magnet schools typically get at least double the number of applicants they can handle – which shows that they should have more of them. And that people are probably unhappy at their local school. Why not have the money follow the child? people seem up in arms with that – but the alternative is what we have now. And it ain’t working so well, is it?

Why is it only the wealthy have school choice?

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
3:17 pm

@ outdated

while I tend to agree overall, I understand the desire for aligning with NEA and such. when you are constantly abused by management and criticized by a willfully ignorant public, its natural to seek allies and shelter.

despite my feeling a teachers union is only a few elections away, I don’t want one myself. what I DO want is a genuinely independent advocate for faculty/staff who has the power to put breaks on abuses.

during the failing days of the Tricoli experience, I knew of faculty who went to the BOR and the GEA with documented issues only to be told, in essence, so what?

For the children?

March 10th, 2013
3:17 pm

@living in an outdated…

I think if you took the time to read what this essay says, it’s not about picking a side, and it doesn’t seem to be about unions to me. This teacher seems to be suggesting that we all work together to fix education — I’m not sure why you immediately took it as an opportunity to once again point out more problems with teachers (one of the overall concerns of the original letter). I’m not sure if being pro-student is NEA rhetoric, but I’ll sign up if it is.

I’m curious if you’re a teacher or just someone who knows it all. How else could you say that this is “not why teachers are feeling disenfranchised.”

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
3:20 pm

@ atlmom

of course someone has to be in charge. just be careful who you give the keys to.

everyone has school choice. to say it is a province only of the wealthy is total and rank BS. choice often requires parental sacrifice of things like new cars and vacations, tats and bling.

those parents ARE engaging in school choice – and choosing themselves

atlmom

March 10th, 2013
3:20 pm

No matter what public school system you are looking at – they are pretty much failing (private schools are no solution, but people have this idea that they are…but I digress).
Taking out the school board isn’t a solution. Next year or whenever, they will elect new board members…and then what? Do we think that suddenly the people of dekalb will spend all sorts of time and energy and recruit and vote for the best of the best and everything will be hunky dory? okay, say that that happens. What about 5 or 10 or however many years from now – who’s to say we don’t get a crappy board again?
It’s not like anyone can point to an elected or appointed board of the best people ever for the job. We just can’t.

bootney farnsworth

March 10th, 2013
3:23 pm

@ atlmom

then you get what you pay for. or more accurately voted for. if voters/parents can’t be bothered to be involved in their local schools and local school boards…..

you broke it, you bought it

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 10th, 2013
3:26 pm

A prime reason a teachers’ union isn’t in Georgia’s future … is the National Education Association’s joined-at-the-hip relationship with the Democrat Party.

As any former member of GAE will attest to.

ref: http://goo.gl/rtJIZ

KB

March 10th, 2013
3:28 pm

We’ve raised a generation of students to believe that they can’t be left behind because if they fail it’s their teacher’s fault. They’ve come to expect make up work even when they’ve slept through class and more than likely they’ll get it because their teachers will be judged by their failure rate. Students believe that they can “multi-task” so texting and web surfing during instruction is no big deal and as far as I can tell their parents agree. And since, with few exceptions, failing standardized tests will not cause them to fail the class, why should they care enough to actually read the test and make an honest attempt to increase their score? The minute school failure became the total responsibility of the teacher public education’s demise was set in motion. Nothing will change for the better UNTIL the students and their parents share equal responsibility for their academic progress. Teaching is the only profession where outsiders with no classroom experience make all the rules, earn the most money and keep their six-figure positions as long as the ones doing the work are perceived as failures. I began teaching on January 2, 1975 and May 31,2013 is my retirement date. I never thought I’d be counting the days until my departure so early in the year.

Teach

March 10th, 2013
3:30 pm

Im kinda of the anti-teacher here. I believe that parents should have their best interests at heart. If they want choice and vouchers, fine go on ahead. If you think this is the best course, I am not going to stop you as long as you dont stop me doing the same. Do “for profit” educrats irritate me, you bet they do. All these diploma mill educrats with the acronyms behind their names who think they are “doing it for the cheeldreen.” Do I think unions might have some validity in Georgia? Yes to an extent. I believe you should be able to negotiate your salary based on experience and achievement, but I shouldnt have to be a member to teach in the state.

To be honest, its not the kids who are driving out teachers in DeKalb, its the golden parachute, F&F, and “lets try this educational BS this year and see if we can make it stick” We wasted so much the last two years to my knowledge on multiple intelligence (MI) and Marzano strategies courtesy of Beasley. I spent about 10k in grad school learning this stuff, and I do it all the time, so why do we need to waste money on it. We have a RT3 coordinator in our school who does NOTHING except run staff development until 5pm on faculty meeting days.

I will never send my kids to a DeKalb county school after what I have experienced in the classroom as a teacher in the system and the instructional models implemented so hap-hazardly. I just feel sorry for those who cant get out as easily, but I am not exactly hostile to the parent choice crowd.

Joseph

March 10th, 2013
3:31 pm

My youngest daughter taught me one thing. Education should be about teaching people “HOW TO LEARN”. She went to college with no idea of what she wanted to do in life-took classes she was interested in, and classes that she enjoyed. Her degree happened because of her interest in one area and in her desire. Schools have probably forgotten that concept and instead concentrate in test scores and in showing off their scores. Much of DeKalb County, and Georgia is overly concerned with test scores. Let’s concentrate on learning.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 10th, 2013
3:32 pm

Anonymous Simple question: Why doesn’t the article’s author look for employment elsewhere, if he/she thinks DeKalb public schools are hopeless?

Answer: Because he/she wants to use the space given to promote the teachers’ union anti-reform, anti-parental choice line. With Maureen’s blessing.

Or maybe, just maybe, like many of us, he cares enough about his students to continue to fight from within to do his best to educate them, despite the obstacles. Maybe he figures they NEED him and he is unwilling to abandon them, even if it might be best for HIM. Many of us who are in teaching, went into it with idealistic and altruistic intentions. We wanted to “make a difference.” I know that is hard to understand for those who see careers from a purely business model, but we chose this career because we wanted to help shape the future and because we care. That kind of dedication isn’t tied to a paycheck or management conditions. What drives us is far more intrinsic, and our anger is fueled by knowing that it is the children who are suffering most under the yoke of “reformers” who have other priorities besides student growth, learning, and self-realization.

Catlady

March 10th, 2013
3:38 pm

I liked this letter!

I began teaching in1973. I was a baby– had turned 21 the week before. But what I had was respect– from the principal, the superintendent, parents, and students. A combination you rarely find in public K-12 nowadays. I feel sorry for teachers just starting out. They truly don’t know what they have missed.

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 10th, 2013
3:38 pm

@love/hate: Parental choice won’t put you out of business. Parents who want traditional public schools for their kids—will choose them. The rest will go elsewhere.

How can you support denying them that choice?

WilieJo

March 10th, 2013
3:43 pm

The writer shares a few code words like “profit” and slams business and parents in general but has no effective prescription for fixing anything but to leave him alone and give him more money.

This taxpayer is done with giving education more money until it’s accountable and responsive to the taxpayers and the parents. There is a sea change brewing among taxpayers who are going to see change in how their money is spent.

Of course we should treat teachers with respect. However, don’t you ever get confused about who is most vested in what is good for my child. I AM. NOT YOU. I respect your professionalism and your skill but I am not going to abdicate my responsibility and my rights to you. If you are an inadequate teacher you should be prepared to hear about it. I have sat through my last arrogant, condescending parent teacher meeting trying to be polite to a would be professional that I would not hire on a bet.

ShooShee

March 10th, 2013
3:46 pm

So, juxtapose this brilliant, talented teacher against the memo that went out from Kendra March, the head of curriculum for DeKalb:

=========================
INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
=========================
To: All Principals
From: Kendra March, Deputy Superintendent, School Leadership and Operational Support
Subject: Using Data to Drive School Change Training Sessions
Date: March 5, 2013

As mentioned in the February 19, 2013 Administrators’ Academy, sessions on using data to lead school change are scheduled to be offered beginning this month. You were asked to begin thinking about the two team members you would like to have join you in this training. Attached is a document detailing the dates, times, and location each of the sessions will be held. As a reminder, there are two half-day sessions as described below. Please make certain you and your team members know your IDMS login and password as it may be required during the training.
Session #1 is a highly interactive professional development dialog focused on using research- based strategies to create and sustain high performance learning cultures in schools. The training will introduce the school teams to a six-step model for taking baseline data, such as those required by CCRPI, and creating meaningful action plans to increase student achievement. Session #1 will focus on the school view.
Session #2 will build on the same six step planning model introduced in session #1 with a focus on the teacher and the use of data at the classroom level. As teachers begin to implement school change strategies, use of formative data to guide their decision-making is critical if the needs of all learners are to be met. This session will discuss lesson planning, design, and implementation.
**Please note: This training is mandatory and the expectation is that your 3-person team will re-deliver these data analysis fundamentals to your school staff. The training objective is for your school to ultimately develop an instructional action plan that will support the goal of increased student achievement and success.
Principals are asked to log in to PD Planner and register the school team for their desired Session 1 and Session 2 dates no later than Friday, March 8, 2013, 4:00 pm. Centers should register for the level most appropriate for your grade levels. If you need assistance with the PD Planner registration, contact the Professional Learning Liaison in your building.
Thank you in advance.

Kendra D. March

Dunwoody Mom

March 10th, 2013
3:54 pm

Why is the name of all that is holy is Kendra March still around? She should have followed Cheryl Atkinson out the door.

For the children?

March 10th, 2013
3:55 pm

@ShooShee

So do we laugh or cry about that?

Dunwoody Mom

March 10th, 2013
3:59 pm

Sorry that should have been “Why in the name”…

living in an outdated ed system

March 10th, 2013
4:01 pm

@For the Children – there is a difference between being “pro-teacher” and being “pro-NEA.” I’m for the former.

@Bootney- appreciate your POV here. I just think we’ve let the NEA wield far too much power and there are countless examples where sound decisions cannot be made because of NEA protest. Having said that, there does need to be a new kind of teacher advocate.

Teacher2

March 10th, 2013
4:03 pm

This article makes many excellent points but I would like to highlight a few issues:

“I know virtually no teachers who think this would ever turn out well. If you think there was cheating on the high-stakes tests before (which includes the suggested model StudentsFirst organization by Ms. Rhee), wait until you tie a paycheck to some ridiculous exam written by a for-profit organization.” Absolutely! Most people regardless of the profession when threated with their job will feel coerced (i.e. the cheating scandal and APS). In addition, the education received will simply be reduced to testing drills all day everyday (is this the desired result?)

“Instead of working with teachers to help the students, parents have been empowered to believe that they know education better than the educator. And why wouldn’t they think that? It’s obvious that everyone thinks they can do a better job than teachers.” I think no one is more guilty of this mentality than the Georgia legislatures followed by Bill Gates in second place and Michelle Rhee in third place.

“It’s because the powers-that-be have not been focusing on student success and teacher protection – they’ve been running this district like a business complete with golden parachutes, missing monies and top-heavy management.” Absolutely! The millions of dollars do not trickle down to the students and teachers! The percentage of the millions of dollars that actually affects the classroom is so minimal. The mismanagement of funding by the school board and county office is appalling! The mere fact that superintendents make well over a quarter of a million dollars in salary, bonuses and other perks each year speaks volumes, especially considering that actual work done in that position.

“Because my days are spent producing worthless charts and graphs for my “data notebook” so that my countless supervisors can justify their own jobs by showing that I’m not doing mine right yet.” Amen! The people in supervisory positions (superintendents, county office staff, administers) usually begin at the $85,000 to $125,000 salary range each year. These people are in only concerned with self-preservation with no regard for “what’s best for children”. I have observed that they will not risk losing their income, thus, they become part of the status quo.

Spedteacher

March 10th, 2013
4:10 pm

When we get to pick the students that we teach, then we can treat schools as a business. We teach them all. We need to get politics out of education, and allow teachers to teach the way teachers were allowed to do before all the testing. Not every child needs to go to college…we will need plumbers, welders, and other types of careers.

Teacher2

March 10th, 2013
4:12 pm

Correction- Georgia Legislators

Dr. John Trotter

March 10th, 2013
4:14 pm

Maureen: You will find below exactly what I wrote in response to Mr. Schall’s hollow analysis to what is wrong with public education. He, like the politicians, educrats, college professors, and non-educators who are running the educational foundations, make the unpardonable mistake of not asking the teachers what is wrong. I have noted on this blog and elsewhere time and time again that it is the teachers who are on the front lines each day, and they are the ones who ought to be consulted. This was just one of my many posts addressing the fact that the problem is not the teachers. You will recall that I stated very explicitly that if Mr. Thurmond did not consult with DeKalb teachers post haste that he would be committing a grave error. Our mantra at MACE is simple: “You cannot have good learning conditions without first have good teaching conditions.” I think that it is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that no one or no organization have been advocating strongly for consulting the teachers. I now that my friend Beverly Fraud and I have this as our number one theme. I have said here and elsewhere until I am almost blue in the face that the Three Big Problems in Public Education are: (1) Defiant, Disruptive, Spoiled, Unmotivated, and Lazy Students; (2) Irate, Irresponsible, and Sometimes Crazy Parents; and (3) Angry, Small-minded, Petty, Impotent, and Abusive Administrators. How’s this for continuing my policy and practice of bluntly telling the truth?

Below is the post that I submitted when I first read Dr. or Mr. Schall’s pitiful analysis of what should be done to resolve the problems of public education. His stuff was more of the same and unconscionably ignored input from the teachers.

Dr. John Trotter
March 4th, 2013
10:27 am
Well, well, well. Mr. Schall sort of sums up the problem. Here he analyzes the situation and tell us that it is a flop. We know that. But, he misses it when it comes to the answer to the problem. In typical fashion, he thinks that the teachers are the problem. He tells us that an educational phony like Michelle Rhee is the answer…probably because he, like Rhee, wants to blame the teachers for the problem. You never hear him talk about empowering the teachers. You never hear him talk about what the major problem in urban education is…the complete and abject lack of student discipline.

Jeb Bush? What? Is the Mr. Schall kidding us? Bush and his money-grubbing Foundation for Educational Excellence is actually pushing tor the content-bashing Common Core Curriculum. He even lobbied the money-minded ALEC to go along with it. Bush has interests in a private educational company which stands to profit from the implementation of Common Core.

No, Mr. or Dr. Schall, your solutions are not solutions at all. Until someone like you comes along and really has the insight and the temerity to state what the real problems are in urban education, then he or she too is just making hollow statements which won’t amount to a hill of beans. Mr. Schall, can you understand the following which we have been asserting at MACE for 18 years? You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.

The problem is not the teaching or lack thereof. We don’t need a better class of teachers. We need a better class of students, parents, and administrators. Period. This is the problem and the answer in a nutshell.

Teacher2

March 10th, 2013
4:14 pm

Correction- Administrators

Funny

March 10th, 2013
4:17 pm

If only all teachers would wise up and join the NEA education could be fixed.

Dr. John Trotter

March 10th, 2013
4:19 pm

I commend the teacher for writing this letter. More teachers need to speak out. The teaching conditions were reprehensible. You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. This is MACE’s Law of Teaching. It’s like other laws (principles of action) like the Law of Gravity. You cannot ignore this law of teaching but only to the peril of the students and the school system.

Dr. John Trotter

March 10th, 2013
4:21 pm

NEA has been around since the year of the Dred Scott decision (1857), and it hasn’t fixed much by now. Ha!

Ella

March 10th, 2013
4:23 pm

Teaching is definitely becoming more difficult each year. The stress is getting to me at my elderly age.

However, as educators we do produce a product when is educating students. It is important that this is measured and it is important that comparisons are made to continue to make improvements in what we do. There is no perfect system in the evaluation process and I also see problems to come if teachers are paid on performance.

I believe DeKalb County is lacking the right data collection systems in order to collect data by subject and different standards. I think that was one of the problems SACs indentified. Due to lack of the appropriate data collection system electronically this has causes the teachers in DeKalb a great deal more work which is an administrative issue that hurts the teachers.

I disagree in the fact that as teachers we absolutely do need some accountibility and I am in support of bonuses based on performance of achievement of the students. However, there are some gray areas in this processs. The upper level teachers of high performing students will alway do well while the lower performing students teachers will have a harder time getting those bonuses. However,there are some measurement systems out there which take this type of information into consideration.

I do believe that there will be changes coming in the DeKalb County School System. I am so optimistic for the changes that I see in the future. I am excited for the change in the school board. I am just sorry that a few school board members who sincerely were doing the right thing are caught in the middle of this process and probable will not be re-instated. If the governor were to re-instate any one of these individuals it would become a bigger problem so I do not believe it will happen.

I would like to see everyone in the county support Mr. Thurman and the new board (whomever they might be) and work together as a community to improve the DeKalb County School System. The interest is there so I hope the community will get involved.

Ella

March 10th, 2013
4:26 pm

Dr. Trotter, I totally agree.

You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.

If the teachers are not happy this will affect the outcome of students’ achievement.

Ella

March 10th, 2013
4:27 pm

Dr. Trotter, what does MACE do that NEA does not do?

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 10th, 2013
4:33 pm

Maureen, Dr. John Trotter continues to use your blog to shamelessly flog his third-rate outfit and thereby stuff his own pockets—for free. Ha!

living in an outdated ed system

March 10th, 2013
4:34 pm

I can see why Dr. Schall would not respond to the post articulated of Dr. Trotter. People have forgotten how civil discourse works. I found the note to be absolutely reckless and hostile, just like all of the people who post on Diane Ravitch’s blog, or blog’s that the NEPC promotes (e.g., Bruce Baker, Edshyster, Paul Thomas, etc.). They do not dignify a response because they are heartless, personal attacks. Folks need to try and take the emotion out their rebuttals if you want them to have the effect you desire.

living in an outdated ed system

March 10th, 2013
4:35 pm

Thanks, @Anonymous in Dekalb for stating what many folks are already thinking!