February 2012 Archives
The principal of an outstanding elementary school in Brooklyn wrote me to say that the release of the ratings made her "absolutely sick." One of her teachers was rated for a year when she was away on child-care leave.
But there is also some renewed optimism that we might, just might, see a resurgence of energy for saving democracy.
Does anyone seriously believe that teachers in New York state will dare to stop teaching to the test? How many will be fired if they take that risk?
When will we stop worrying about our own organizational fiscal et al condition for a few days and call for united action?
The leaders of one of the most economically depressed and racially segregated cities in the nation have decided that the answer to its problems is to fire teachers, close public schools, expand the number of charters, and possibly to expand the voucher program as well.
It seems clearer than ever to me that we need to re-explore issues of choice, so that they are not used to undermine the political communities that are at the base of our political democracy or to glorify the segregation of schools by race.
The turnaround approach assumes that it is bad principals and bad teachers who stand in the way of school improvement.
There is no perfect curriculum, but I base my preferences on precisely the principles underlying democracy. It's our teacherly obligation to consider what students will "need" to join fully into the life of a democratic community.