Please join the October 17 Campaign for Our Public Schools by writing a letter to President Obama! For more information, please go to Diane Ravitch's blog.
Dear President Obama,
I am a teacher and a parent writing to you about my deep concerns regarding your administration’s education policies. When I voted for you in 2008, I did so hoping desperately for change. I hoped that we would finally have healthcare for all. I hoped that Wall Street would be held accountable. I hoped that campaign reform would happen. And I hoped that the toxic education policies brought by the Bush administration, NCLB, would finally end. You were my hope for all of those changes. Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed.
NCLB policies have harmed an entire generation of children. Those policies have turned our schools into test prep factories. We no longer honor or teach the whole child; our curriculum has been narrowed to Language Arts and Math. All. Day. Long. NCLB affected not only our most poverty-ridden schools, but also our more affluent ones, due to the impossible growth model mandated by NCLB. It is nearly impossible to find a public school today that has not turned into a test prep factory focusing on one, problematic, time-consuming, standardized test given near the end of the school year. That one score determines the fate of schools, teachers, and students across the nation. And you’re okay with that.
Your policies have made George W. look like public education’s best friend. Race to the Top (RTTT) has been nothing more that a bribery scheme to force cash-strapped states to adopt and implement your administration’s unsound, punitive education policies, policies that do nothing to help our students, especially those children living in abject poverty. Rather than give money to our most poverty stricken schools, you’re awarding money to states that have capitulated to your Secretary of Education’s demands. Sadly, the awarded money will not even cover the costs of the changes you have mandated in order to be in compliance and none of that money will end up in the classroom. None. Of. It.
And then there’s Arne Duncan. That you appointed a basketball player as your Secretary of Education was insulting to teachers everywhere. That you have supported him in his efforts to force our nation’s schools to implement his failed education policies imposed during his tenure, as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, is unfathomable. You’re from Chicago, Mr. President. You’re clearly a very smart guy. I don’t believe for a moment that you are unaware of those well-documented failures. So I have to ask you, Is your endgame the planned failure and dismantling of our nation’s public schools? Because that is what it is looking like to me.
- Mandate that schools implement failed policies.
- Close schools and disrupt communities.
- Push out veteran teachers to make room for untrained, temporary Teach For America short timers.
- Support large class sizes
- Charterize our public schools and use our tax dollars to help your hedge fund buddies amass profits made at the expense our nation’s children even though you know that few charter schools do any better than public schools despite their ability to game their student population
- Continue with the test and punish agenda
So I have to ask you, Mr. President:
- Your daughters’ class sizes are 13:1. Why is it okay for my daughters to be in classes with 36 students?
- Your daughters’ enjoy a rich, well-rounded curriculum. Why is it okay for my daughters to spend their days on worksheets, test prep and testing, studying only Language Arts and Math?
- Your daughters are not given a scripted curriculum. Why is it okay for my daughters to be subjected to a boring, irrelevant, low-level, yet often developmentally inappropriate, scripted curriculum?
- Your daughters will not be subjected to the Common Core Standards, another product NOT developed by educators or child development experts. Why is it okay to subject other children to this possibly illegal idiocy? I guess like David Coleman, you don’t ‘give a sh!t’ what I, an actual, highly-qualified, veteran educator, have to say.
- Your daughters don’t have any untrained, temporary Teach For America corps members as teachers. Why is it okay for other children to have unqualified, temporary TFA teachers?
- Your daughters are not labeled based on one test score. Why is it okay for my daughters to be labeled by a test score? (And I don’t care if the label is Advanced!)
- Your daughters aren’t subjected to high-stakes testing. Why is it okay for my daughters to be subjected to high-stakes testing that robs them of receiving the education they deserve?
For me, I don’t have to worry about the affects of your education policies on my highly gifted daughters any longer. They chose to drop out of school. Their education stopped meeting their needs so they opted out completely. I allowed them to make that choice because I could not defend the system that had been imposed on them by the Bush-Obama education policies.
But I worry about the 4 and 5 year olds I teach every day. Your policies affect my students in harmful ways that can have long-term effects. I am expected to deliver a scripted, developmentally inappropriate curriculum, have them complete worksheets, and test them 3 times a year. Not only do the tests not inform my instruction (I assess my student in authentic ways daily to inform my instruction), my students are robbed of instructional time while stressing out because what I am asking of them is beyond their ability. Weeks are wasted each year due to the 1:1 testing that I am now mandated to administer. That testing has become more important than teaching should cause you great concern, but that is what your policies have created. It’s all about the data now, whether or not the data collected has any value at all. And speaking of the stress some children experience when being required to take these inappropriate tests, I have to ask you, Mr. President, have you ever had the joy of cleaning up a test that a distressed child has thrown up on it?
I hold Secretary Duncan accountable for the bad education he is forcing on my students. I hold you accountable as well, Mr. President, because the buck stops with you. You both should be ashamed about imposing your bad policies on my students, while protecting your children from these abuses. Thanks to NCLB and NCLB, The Sequel – RTTT, all I can say is sh!t is really @#$%&* up!! Don’t count on my vote this time around.
A Teacher Anon