A letter from Diane Ravitch. The things Diane says here apply to all teachers fighting creeping (and sometimes sprinting) reforms in education:
Dear Members of the Badass Teachers Association,
I am honored to join your group.
The best hope for the future of our society, of public education, and of the education profession is that people stand up and resist.
Say “no.” Say it loud and say it often.
Teachers must resist, because you care about your students, and you care about your profession. You became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of children, not to take orders and obey the dictates of someone who doesn’t know your students.
Parents must resist, to protect their children from the harm inflicted on them by high-stakes testing.
Administrators must resist, because their job is changing from that of coach to enforcer of rules and regulations. Instead of inspiring, supporting, and leading their staff, they are expected to crack the whip of authority.
School board members must resist, because the federal government is usurping their ability to make decisions that are right for their schools and their communities.
Students must resist because their education and their future are being destroyed by those who would force them to be judged solely by standardized tests.
Write a haiku or other style of poem to reflect your views on education reforms in NZ or globally.
Share them below in the comments or email them to me at SOSNZmail@gmail.com
If you are feeling super creative, feel free to make a video of you performing your piece, and I will upload them.
7.7.13 STOP PRESS UPDATE: There are some great poems already entered – see them in the comments below – and don’t miss the SUPERB entry by Mr Boon.
Here are two crackers to get you started…
Hekia, so smug
You have no understanding
by Alison K
and What Teacher Make, by Taylor Mali (Badass ex Teacher)
Add your poems to the comments below…
Now go, create.
What do those in power want from education? Well, George Carlin explains it better than I ever could, and everything he says applies to Aotearoa just as much as it does to America.
I would apologise for the language he uses, but to be honest, I think he has good reason. None-the-less, please don’t play the video in earshot of kids…
From my piece in today’s The Daily Blog:
John Key is adamant that there isn’t much resistance to National Standards any more, saying that last year “there were about 300 non-complying schools, this year it’s only 13.” He trumpets that “resistance to National Standards is evaporating.”
As one observer noted “How can there be [resistance]? The govt has the ability to overide schools with the strong arm of the law – schools at the end of the day have no choice.”
Because what Mr Key doesn’t tell you in his sound-bite is that schools have all along been, at best, coerced to comply, and at worst, threatened with reprisals by the Ministry of Education if they do not comply with National Standards.
That is why many have had to back down.
Not approval or acceptance, but bullying and fear.
Is this what we have come to? In 2013 people worldwide are fighting to claim back a child’s right to a decent education.
Big business has taken over.
They saw dollar signs and little by little snuck in, a charter schools here, standardised testing there, rigid curricula and resource requirements forcing schools to buy only from certain companies.
And before you know it schools are about making money for corporations, not about a well-rounded and proper education for our children.
America has seen the worst, with 20 years or more of this.
If we want to stop this taking hold in New Zealand, if we want to prevent this disaster down the (short) road, then we all need to speak up now.
We want to improve out schools by making them better for our kids, not by making them into businesses for the few.
Parents – Students – Teachers – Time to start speaking up.
Well, they say that a week is a long time in politics (and I think Julia Gillard would agree). But it’s a new dawn and a new era, and I think the term needs a little updating:
A long, long time ago – say, a whole week ago, teachers all over the world were fighting against the global education reform movement (GERM) in their own ways. Protests, strikes, opting out of testing, resignations, blogging, writing to government, you name it. They were doing a great job, trying to put some sanity back into the education arena.
But this week a new kid arrived on the activist block; The Badass Teacher.
Started as a Facebook group to unite American teachers from across the country, the page has grown in just five days to 17,700 members* with a goodly handful of international members, myself included.
They have already coordinated a phone in campaign to the Whitehouse. Meet-ups are planned for the coming weekend. It’s early days, but a movement is forming right before our eyes.
Some people are unsure if BAT is for them, but it’s easy to check if you would belong.
You’re a Badass Teacher if you want:
In short, Badass Teachers Association gives voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education.
Oh, and there are Badass parents and Badass Students movements forming, too…
So, are you happy with how things are in education?
Or do you need to get a little Badass, too?
* As at 11.54 27/6/13 New Zealand time. By the time I have hit the publish button it will be out of date.
More Badass Reading:
“As a public school teacher in North Carolina—not an “outsider” that Governor McCrory alleges is at the helm of the Moral Monday protests, but an educator grounded in and devoted to the community of Durham—I am ardent to stand up for the future of my students.
When I came out of college straight into teaching seven years ago, I believed that teaching English was going to be about, well, teaching English. I thought that my task was to impart in my students a love of, or at least a less fervent dislike for, Shakespeare and To Kill a Mockingbird. Within a few short weeks I learned how mistaken I was.
Sure, there was still room for Boo and the Bard, but teaching was really about providing stability, respect, and compassion to teenagers desperate to learn in a system that was failing them. It was about talking to K about why he shouldn’t drop out. It was about visiting J in the hospital after her miscarriage. It was about tutoring 15-year-old T so he could move past a fifth grade reading level.
Because this was what my students needed, this is what teaching became for me. It is what teaching means for thousands of teachers, counselors, teaching assistants, and other public school workers across the state, as we prepare our students for successful futures, not just academically, but in every way.
We work long past our salaried hours to create instruction that challenges our students to grow as critical thinkers. We advise clubs where our students can express themselves. We coach sports to promote health and self-discipline.
We counsel the crying, laugh with the happy, protect the bullied, and motivate the discouraged. We are honest with our students about their struggles and successes, and about our own. We do all this not for professional gain but because we firmly believe that these children are worth everything we can give them. We do it because what we teachers want is no different than what our students need.
What the General Assembly wants, however, is in stark contrast to what the children of North Carolina need. In their pursuit to destroy public education via budgets that cut funding, school vouchers that favor private companies, and the elimination of master’s degree pay, the legislature shows how little they care about the quality and longevity of those educating our kids.
I am a seventh year teacher whose pay is frozen at the second year rung of the pay scale, in the state with the 4th worst teacher pay in the country. I have seen dozens of excellent teachers move on to other professions or other states so they could sustain themselves and their families.
At my school, students regularly ask new teachers “will you be here next year?” because they are so used to our terrible turnover rates.
It’s not just education legislation that is bent on destroying our most vulnerable communities through persistent instability. The General Assembly is curbing voting rights, letting unemployment benefits expire, and repealing the Racial Justice Act, all while giving tax breaks to corporate giants. My students aren’t naïve. They know that their communities are being marginalized.
Last year, a student at our school was murdered. In the weeks that followed, my students and I cried out in anguish and anger and asked the toughest questions one could imagine: Why did this student end up where he was? What could any of us have done? How can we keep this from happening again? Our teenagers know to ask these critical questions, but the leaders in Raleigh have failed to ask them: How do we make sure justice is served for all North Carolinians? How do we transform struggling communities into havens of health and stability?
My students create solutions, like organizing a march to the early voting polls and memorial for their classmate. Meanwhile, politicians ignore humanity and count capital.
Next school year, as I always have in the past, I will tell my students every day that they are important and loved. What I wish I could tell them is that the people in power agree—that our General Assembly believes in their futures just like I do. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do that.
I will get to tell them, however, that thousands of North Carolinians testified to their worth during the Moral Mondays, and that a movement that believes in them is coming.
This movement is not the work of “outside agitators,” as the Governor believes, but the best and bravest that our state has to offer. It’s a movement led by and fighting for the well-being of 9.7 million insiders—the people of North Carolina who desire a healthy, sustainable future in our state for generations to come.” Source
The few are bullying and mistreating the many.
Greed is winning over caring and community.
The few are creating crises that do not exist so that they can deform our countries.
How bad does it have to get in New Zealand before we shout no more, along with our America, English, Brazilian, and other worldwide friends?
How long before you act?
Let us frame our message correctly then act with unity
Congratulations to all concerned in bringing together nearly all the primary teacher organisations.
Now we have to frame our message correctly then act with unity.
To understand how significant this recent declaration of unity is, we need to look at the past. By looking there we will better understand our present to act more surely in the present and the future. I spoke to my friend and former NZEI president, Frank Dodd, about the matter.
What the teacher organisations have done is unique in its comprehensiveness and its focus. There was organisational unity in working with the government over the integration of Catholic schools – but that was a partnership with the government. The bulk funding issue sort of brought the organisations together in a kind of way around aims, but the unity was ragged as a result of a few right-wing principals (mainly from Auckland) undermining that sort of unity, indeed, a group of them undertook direct negotiations with Lockwood Smith taking some addle-brained principals with them. That fractiousness still remains a possibility with the present unity.
If genuine unity can be developed and maintained, it signals a huge change in the balance of power of education politics. But be warned, Hekia Parata and John Key will use a combination of the sirens and Caligula (to mix my cultural mythology). They will use seductive arguments, blandishments, and raw threats. Their attention will, in particular, be to the kind of grouping referred to, that is right-wing principals bringing along some addled-brain principals. (They are not really addled-brained just appearing to be so to avoid having to display a bit of moral courage.)
But we must frame our message correctly.
The stand is against national standards not PaCT. Teacher organisations should not be voluntarily involved in anything to do with national standards, and PaCT is national standards. This stand is not industrial action as Key has called it but moral action: we are not refusing to obey the law; we are refusing to be involved in the development of something that will be harmful to children. The stand against having anything to do with PaCT is because of our stand against national standards. And our main objection to national standards is not that they are flawed but because they are bad.
That must be the rock of our argument.
We should have nothing to do with ministry in relation to the development of national standards.
There is nothing about national standards we could learn that could possibly make any material difference.
A policy is that is harmful to children is made even more harmful in being made more efficient (not that PaCT has a snowball’s chance of being so).
There is only one message to deliver to the ministry and PaCT: national standards are bad, very bad for children. End of story.
And now to peripheral matters. Could I enumerate them?
In other words, what is being developed is a tool for national testing; a tool for results being sent to a computer in Wellington to establish its own judgements on child and teacher performance.
“New Zealand democracy at work! Today the politically powerful, the corporate and the wealthy dominate our society, economy and government. I believe that the charter school debate has become a test case for our democratic rights.
“Over the past weeks thousands of teachers, pupils and their parents, across the country have taken to protest marches against Novopay, charter schools, national standards and other education issues. Separate marches were held in several towns and cities around New Zealand, including Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill. The message coming across loud and clear is that the teachers and parents of New Zealand are not happy with the National Government’s agenda in relation to education. But instead of the cries being heeded what we actually see emerging is a new reality – and this new reality is being forced upon us. A reality being shaped by the ‘powers that be’ who seemingly care little for the common good and the success of New Zealand and its citizens.
“Those currently making the rules are often the ones breaking those same rules and I think it is fair to say that they have probably never been less representative of the wishes of the people of our Nation than at any other time in our short history. Their arrogance and indifference is shown clearly through their abuse of power- their policies clearly driven toward attaining power and money and in the process depriving other socio-economic groups of equal opportunity.
“I find myself deeply saddened and angered by that which I experience in New Zealand today.
“The truth is that in these days even our universities are rarely, if ever bastions of independent thinking, social scholarship and activism. Instead they tend to rely upon either government hand-outs or the favour of corporations and the wealthy for funding. Surely the preservation of equality is worthy of resisting the forces that would attempt to diminish or destroy it. There can be no more worthy cause for our traditional institutions and for all of us who care deeply about democracy and the way of life it represents? These deliberate and planned educational changes will have a disastrous impact on us all.”
Read the rest of this very thoughtful article here…
About the author: Sarah Miles
Hi, I am the author of “The Christchurch Fiasco: the Insurance Aftershock and its Implications for New Zealand and Beyond” I have a diverse educational background having trained and worked in the following fields: law and dispute resolution (mediation); psychology and gestalt psychotherapy; viticulture and oenology. I believe in the multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and idea creation. My goal is to make my voice heard for the causes in which I believe so as to improve and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society. I am an experienced international lawyer in the field of corporate and commercial law in a global market. During the past years my husband and I have run a psychotherapy practise in Christchurch. Since the earthquakes our usual business routine has been disrupted. During part of 2011 and most of 2012 I have dedicated my time to writing. It was my intention to expose the insurance industry and its’ actions during Christchurch’s post earthquake recovery. I believe in the enormous power of the human spirit and the power within each of us to effect major change. “The only triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing”. Namaste!
(Narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers.)
An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality.
Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don’t want to pay taxes any more.
They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren’t so sure.
This land bears a startling resemblance to our land.
For more info, http://www.cft.org.
© 2012 California Federation of Teachers
dedicated to my friend Nikki and her kids
They are mighty pigged off, that’s why.
This Saturday, 13th April, thousands of teachers, parents, students and other supporters up and down New Zealand will march to protest some very disconcerting things that are afoot in GodZone.
What are we protesting? Well I’m glad you asked.
Charter schools: The government is hell bent on bringing in charter schools despite massive resistance and rafts of evidence that they just do not improve achievement, least of all for minority groups. They are pushing an ideology that will privatise public schools. No amount of questioning elicits from the government or Catherine Isaac any answers on just how charters will improve anything.
They have no answers – there are no answers. The evidence is very firmly against them.
Community involvement is not guaranteed in charter schools (goodbye BOT), teachers can be untrained, money paid to run the schools can be skimmed off as profit. That’s your tax $$$ going not to resources of trained staff or even to pay for the building – just taken out as profit by the business owner. Nice.
The largest study of charter schools, by CREDO, showed that 47% of children did worse in the charter than in the local public school. Only 17% did better. Is that worth the cost, both financially and to communities? I think not.
National Standards and Testing: Teachers test all the time – we have to, to know where kids are and where to take them next. Tests are best if acted on speedily by the teacher, to inform their practice. National standards do nothing to inform teachers – indeed they eat up time best spent teaching or doing more useful testing. National Standards do not look at the progress a child has (or has not) made, it merely pegs them against a standard that has been deemed to be about right for their age. This is of no use to the child, to the parents, or to the teacher. Each student is different – what matters most is not where they are in relation to their peers but how they are progressing.
Add to this the growing and very real concerns that the tests used to determine students’ levels are faulty and are giving inflated results, and we have a huge, huge problem.
Teachers’ Pay and Conditions: You might think this is about Novopay; it’s not. The Secretary of Education wants authority to change teachers’ pay and work conditions without consultation. Like you turning up to work and finding your contract had been rewritten and there’s nothing you can do about it. Nice eh? Why would the SoE want to do that, you ask? Most likely so that performance pay can be brought in.
Performance pay is an anathema to teaching. By its very nature, teaching is collaborative, it means working in a team to get the best for the students. The minute performance pay rears its head, that begins to change. Why share your resources with someone who just got a pay rise when you got none? Why agree to have more than your fair share of the trickier students if it might impact your wages? Where it has been implemented, abroad, it has lead to some desperate teachers exaggerating test scores, and so on. It’s human nature, and has been documented widely by many reliable researchers, including those at the OECD. We just don’t want that. We want to continue working together as a team within our school and with other schools in the wider community for the kids.
Christchurch school closures and mergers: The schools in Christchurch just did not get a fair hearing. Information was and still is being withheld by the authorities, preventing schools from being able to put up accurate arguments against the proposals. Dame Beverley Wakem has deemed the Christchurch schools closures and mergers consultation process to be questionable enough to warrant an investigation. No-one is arguing nothing needed to change post-quake. But even schools with growing roles and good quality buildings and sites have been earmarked to go. It makes no sense.
Christchurch has been bullied, there is no other term for it. And teachers do not like bullies.
It’s time to say NO.
It’s time to insist it remains about the children and not about ideology.
It’s time to demand that changes are research based and not done on the whim of a one-man political party.
It’s time to include community MORE in schools, not less.
Join us – come and show your support.
“This is not a time for celebration.
The death of Margaret Thatcher is nothing more than a salient reminder of how Britain got into the mess that we are in today.
Of why ordinary working people are no longer able to earn enough from one job to support a family; of why there is a shortage of decent affordable housing; of why domestic growth is driven by credit, not by real incomes; of why tax-payers are forced to top up wages; of why a spiteful government seeks to penalise the poor for having an extra bedroom; of why Rupert Murdoch became so powerful; of why cynicism and greed became the hallmarks of our society.
Raising a glass to the death of an infirm old lady changes none of this.
The only real antidote to cynicism is activism.
Don’t celebrate – organise!”
New Zealand, this should all sound very familiar – a Prime Minister leading a government hell bent of penalising the poor and enriching the rich further, that protects the mainstream media, that doesn’t provide affordable living wage or housing, and who promote hatred of the weakest in our society to divert attention away from those really causing the harm. One who tries to break the unions and lower wages. One who undermines education. One that sells off everything imaginable in order to turn a profit for those who already have enough.
Don’t sit and wait for Key to die before you say something: Protest this way of government and protest it now.
You can start by showing your displeasure (fury?) at the undermining of education: Protest with parents, students and teachers this Saturday 13th April at the cenotaph in Wellington or at any of these locations around the country.
Marches and rallies all over the country to fight the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and stand up for kids.
These are the events listed so far. (There will no doubt be more that have not made the list yet, so please let me know of any more I should add.)
Whangarei – 11am march from Library (Rust St) to Laurie Hill Park
Auckland – Gather in Queen Elizabeth Square (bottom of Queen St) from 11am, march up Queen St at 11.30am, arrive at Aotea Sqaure for rally approx 12.15pm
Hamilton – Meet 11am at Band Rotunda (Memorial Park cnr Bridge & Victoria Sts). March across Bridge St bridge, into Grey St, through shopping centre to Steel Park for BBQ and speakers.
Rotorua – Meet 10.30am Kuirau Park BBQ area, march to City Focus for speeches and back.
New Plymouth – 11 am March from cnr Gover St & Devon St East through to the Puke Ariki Landing for speeches and sausage sizzle.
Hawera – 11 am rally in town square
Palmerston North – Meet 11.30 am Square (quadrant opp. Plaza) – march around the Square and back to Plaza quadrant for speeches and sausage sizzle.
Whanganui – Assemble from 10.30 at Chronicle offices in Taupo Quay. March at 11am to Majestic Square for rally & sausage sizzle.
Napier/Hastings – 11am gather at Civic Square, marching to Sound Shell for rally with speakers
Wairoa – 8.30am marching from town library to town bridge.
Gisborne – 11am march from Lowe St through Main st – Gladstone Rd
Wellington – Meet 12pm at the Cenotaph to march up the path to Parliament grounds
Marlborough – Meet 11am, The Forum, Market Square, cnr High St & Market Rd, Blenheim
Kaikoura – Meet 11am, Dolphin Encounter, 96 Esplanade, Kaikoura
Motueka – Meet 10.30am, Motueka Museum, High St
Nelson – Meet 11am, church steps, Nelson Cathedral
Buller – Meet 10am, The Clock Tower, Westport
Golden Bay – Meet 10.30am, The Village Green, Takaka
Christchurch – Meet 11am, Gerry Brownlee’s ofice, Grahams Rd, Burnside
Mid Canterbury – Meet 11am, East St, Ashburton township
South Canterbury – Meet 11am, Caroline Bay, Timaru
Dunedin – Meet at Dental School (310 Great King St) 11am march to the Octagon
Invercargill – Meet Middle School Jed St, 11.15am march down Tay St, rally at Wachner Place 11.30am
Take time to attend. Voices are needed.
“Hi! It’s me! Yeah, that teacher who got way too much press just for quitting his job.
What kind of world do we live in where a teacher leaves and is celebrated by his colleagues and several dozen parents for just up and leaving?
Well, we live in a world where teachers don’t really fit in any more. You see, there’s a cohort of three groups of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing (and school-bus-yellow superhero capes) that have decided that they know better than teachers how kids learn.
In fact, they’re very good at spreading the idea that teachers are to blame for failing schools, teachers get paid too much, teachers have pensions that are crashing the economy, and teachers like to get a little too friendly with their students. Oh, and they tend to just up and leave when the heat of standardized test pressure gets too high (I was actually accused of that).
But let me tell you the truth….”