Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A glimpse of teaching today...

Say a Massachusetts school is struggling, and the Department of Education is concerned. Do they bring in veteran teachers from other districts come in to share ideas? Do they free up emergency resources No. They send a group of academics whose classroom days are long behind them to judge teacher performance according to arcane and unproven criteria. A veteran teacher in Worcester describes it:

I am stunned. A dozen men and women file into my room like a colony of ants, invading every nook and cranny of my second-grade classroom. Poking into files, looking for evidence to prove that I, the teacher, am the reason my students are not passing MCAS, the Massachusetts state test.

What they notice:

Observers from the Department of Education (DOE) want to see if I use "best practices" to teach my 7-year-olds "higher level thinking skills." In this 30-minute period, I must demonstrate that I use probing questions, a technique called "think-pair-share," that I am not the center of attention but a "facilitator,"

What they don't notice:

A little mouse poking his head between my metal racks, somewhere in the midst of the glue cups and scissors...wannabe gang members wearing their gang colors in second grade...[a beating] by a child on the playground when I tried to stop him from striking another child’s head into the ground.

I wonder how many times government bureaucrats decades removed from practicing medicine crowd into a dilapidated operating room during surgery, scribbling on notepads about the absence of leeches. I wonder how often they try to blame the surgeon for not saving a morbidly obese, elderly man dying of his fourth heart attack.

I wonder how many times paper-pushers who enjoy Matlock sit in run-down courtrooms taking notes on the use of English legal strategems bt the attorneys. I wonder how often they to blame the district attorney for not convicting a suspect with no record and an ironclad alibi.

I wonder how many times desk warriors clog up antiquated firehouse, scratching copious observations during training on worn-out equipment. I wonder how often they blame the firemen for not putting out a raging fire at a hardware store when they receive the call 30 minutes after it starts.

I don't wonder why so many people are clueless about what's going on in public schools.

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