Is it trained professional teachers?
Is it a balanced and wide curriculum?
Is it appropriate buildings and equipment?
Is it policies based on sound pedagogical research?
Oooh tell me, tell me, I need to know, how do we make the education system magnificent?
“How we talk about reform, how we deliver our messages, and with whom we communicate will make a big difference when it comes to winning the education reform conversation.”
Ahh. I see.
So the key to successful education reforms is not good policies or trained professional educators, or appropriate equipment and staff – it’s … wait for it …. Marketing.
And who tells us this? The wise and kindly people at Canvas, who are – they say – all about excellence in education.
And they must be, because they promise to teach us to “refine messaging to different audiences”, and we all know that sound pedagogy = a good PR campaign. Doesn’t it?
You can see from their brief CVs that they are indeed passionate educators:
Oh, wait, you mean that not one of them has any background in education? Not even a brief TFA job. Go figure.
But look, let’s not be cynical – they must be good because the course is a full five hours long and can be done on your phone.
And it says that if you complete the course you get ‘a digital badge and a certificate’! Wahoo – gimme those pixels.
Annnd – unlike the tests these reformers like to foist on our kids – this course isn’t tested or examined! No siree, none of that testing carry on for the good ole education reform vanguard!
You’d think – given they are selling marketing skills – they might have done a better PR job on their own ‘boot camp’, eh? Unless, of course, it is aimed at those already on the reform bandwagon and they don’t really give a monkeys what us educators think…
Make no mistake, education worldwide is under an attack such as it has never seen before. Country after country fights the same battles, one after the other, with weary troops that are clearly disadvantaged when it comes to fire-power, funds, armour and propaganda.
Those with all the power do not fight fair. They control the media, they set the laws, they have their Quangos and lobby groups, they have access to the money, and they are not afraid to bend the truth or just plain lie.
How can teachers fight against that?
Well, we can, we must, and we are.
Worldwide, we are standing together and sharing our stories. We are spotting common modes of attack, we are helping each other unravel the double-speak thrown at teachers and parents alike so we recognise the lies for what they are.
And we are joining forces. Together, hand in hand, side by side, shoulder to shoulder across the planet we are saying stop the onslaught and respect public education.
Not one of these people thinks the system is perfect. Not one things it should be left as it is. But all know that the pressure to change is being used to push for changes that will not only fail to solve the underlying issues, but will make things worse. We don’t want the status quo and we sure as hell don’t want things to decline, so we speak out.
We need a call sign – those of us that are fighting the global education reform movement (GERM). We need a worldwide tag that is ours. My thought is #OneVoice – but I know you can think of something better – something catchier – something that speaks to education and is easy to remember. I am depending on you to find the right hashtag for us to attach to our posts, to let the enemy know we are organising and we are ready to stand up for education – so please share your ideas.
Meanwhile – as we keep up the pressure to put students first, to acknowledge that poverty has a significant impact on educational achievement and needs addressing, to respect trained teachers and include them in policy planning, to stop the relentless surge of testing and data collection – link up with fellow educators at home and abroad.
Together we are stronger – hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder we stand.
Educators who are fighting for change and who are worth following (please feel free to add your own details to the comments section):
@BadassTeachersA (worldwide but mainly USA)
Your choice – actively work to change the direction of these reforms or accept that you are as much to blame as the reformers.
This from HuffingtonPost:
As I watch the education “debate” … I wonder if we have simply lost our minds.
In the cacophony of reform chatter — online programs, charter schools … testing, more testing, accountability … value-added assessments, blaming teachers … blaming unions, blaming parents — one can barely hear the children crying out: “Pay attention to us!”
None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in [our] international education rankings. Every bit of education reform — every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things — is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.
As Pogo wisely noted, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We did this to our children and our schools.
We did this by choosing to see schools as instructional factories, beginning in the early 20th century.
We did this by swallowing the obscene notion that schools and colleges are businesses and children are consumers.
We did this by believing in the infallibility of free enterprise, by pretending [our country] is a meritocracy, and by ignoring the pernicious effects of unrelenting racism.
We did this by believing that children are widgets and economy of scale is both possible and desirable.
We did this by acting as though reality and the digital representation of reality are the same thing.
We did this by demeaning the teaching profession.
We did this by allowing poverty and despair to shatter families.
We did this by blaming these families for the poverty and despair we inflicted on them.
We did this by allowing school buildings to deteriorate, by removing the most enlivening parts of the school day, by feeding our children junk food.
We did this by failing to properly fund schools…
We did this by handcuffing teachers with idiotic policies, constant test preparation and professional insecurity.
[The] children need our attention, not Pearson’s lousy tests or charter schools’ colorful banners and cute little uniforms that make kids look like management trainees.
[Our] teachers need our support, our admiration, and the freedom to teach and love children.
The truth is that our children need our attention, not political platitudes and more TED talks.
Read the rest of the article here.
A warning to those countries (like NZ) that are getting ever more enamoured with the idea of testing.
The Network for Public Education (NPE)’s first National Conference closed with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing.
Two of the eleven areas the NPE has asked to be looked into are:
Testing worldwide has always been part of schooling, and was primarily an in-house, in-class affair that is done, reviewed and acted on by the teacher under the guidance of their team and principal so that the teacher knew what to help the students learn next and students knew where they were at and where they were going. Surely those two things are by far the most important reasons for testing?
As global reforms have taken hold of education, testing has become a stick with which to politically beat schools, teachers. communities, and students. The system has been taken down the wrong path under extreme pressure from the likes of Pearson, Gates, the Wal-Mart clan, Murdoch, Arne Duncan and other reformers. It’s no understantement to say in some countries, such as the USA and Australia, the tests themselves are less about education and more a political and money-making tool.
The Network for Public Education (NPE) states:
“True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test.
We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed.
We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Take note New Zealand.
Sources and further reading:
If tests don’t solve those problems for adults, why do reformers think they’ll solve things for children?
“…a reader suggests a simple way to evaluate the oft-repeated assertion that low test scores are caused by bad teachers:
A fabulous �idea from Diane Ravitch’s blog -�A Way to Test the “Bad Teacher” Theory. Would you be willing to do it?