Is the message in Hunger Games considered non-threatening because it's fiction? Is the message in Bully threatening because it's a realistic portrait of what we're willing to ignore in a society that doesn't care for its most vulnerable members?

If a loose framework of common national standards was the end point of this adventure, I wouldn't worry so much myself. I can see value in a slim, overarching outline of essential content. It's the standardized national tests and the on-line curriculum Gates and Pearson are developing that freak me out.

Too much of what we do in education revolves around reproducing and reiterating, rather than playful creation.

What if we held a low-cost People's Re-authorization of ESEA? Kept in all the good stuff about equity, all kids deserving a custom-tailored curriculum and instruction. Lost all the stuff about constant, expensive testing of little kids, humiliating teachers with bogus data analysis, and trying to use one of our great public resources--education--as a marketing opportunity.

Good teachers can now be fired because of bad math. I refuse to be a victim of the Russian roulette nature of value-added models.

I just heard from my friend in Louisiana. Her Teach for America mentee is leaving teaching at the end of the school year, because she wants to "work in policy."

Is there a firewall, a line in the sand where "reform" could founder? If communities, parents and teachers can't muster the political strength and media savvy to save public education by themselves, who has enough muscle to force the issue?

Unsettling parallels to public education--the elevation of competition, the use of coded language, manipulation of truth by the powerful and privileged-- in literature and history.

How did we get so many new teachers and what happened to the old ones? And when did spending a couple of decades or more in the classroom become an anachronism--even objectionable?

What if I had been strictly adhering "with fidelity" to the highly structured scripted commercial curriculum I am mandated to teach? In this day and age, can I afford to deviate from mandates to pursue interesting junkets into authentic learning?

The opinions expressed in Teacher in a Strange Land are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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