What is Wrong With Public Education… Briefly Revisited
Thanks to all for the comments on “What is Wrong With Public Education… and What To Do About It.” (If you have not done so, please read “What To Do…” before you read this.) I apologize if it came across as bitter, or as “sour grapes,” if it came across as rambling or confused, if it came across as some kind of rant, especially near the end. I made the mistake of trying to cover too much in too few words in order the post would not be so long. Trouble is, when taking short-cuts and cramming, the tone, inflection and emphasis only oral communication can convey gets lost in the typed world of words that is cyberspace.
I am not bitter, for to be so would make me no better than the world of Eduway that I slam. I am in a better place now, professionally speaking, and have no axe to grind with those who are bringing, in my opinion, lowered standards and grave problems to our beloved system of public education. It would all be laughable, a joke even, were it not for the fact Eduway is eroding the quality of all student potential in public education, and, as I recently found out to my surprise, in private education also.
I try to stay away from ranting by seeing the humor in all of it. For instance, unionization of teachers was mentioned. It is ironic that if teachers unionize, they are playing into the hands of those in Eduway, confirming they are in effect blue collar workers and not professionals, like lawyers and doctors. States who unionize our public and private school teachers build impediments to achieving the goal of true professionalism, which is, I think, for teachers to be as main stars on soap operas as doctors and lawyers — the “soap opera” test of true professionalism. (Some of my best friends are soap opera fans.)
I know students can be empowered. Former Waxahachie administrator Jerry Colosimo and I were part of the leadership in forming an actual research group in Waxahachie High School that, under the guise of demonstrating what computers can do for schools, affected the functioning of the school by using student-written software to actually schedule the students of the entire school and writing software that analyzed grading patterns in all the classrooms — a genuine stab in studying learning scientifically and mathematically. I shall have more detail on this unusual phenomenon in another post, but, here, suffice it to say the Eduway administrators and Eduway “educational professionals” were appalled, ignoring the implications of our findings and squawking about students having unprecedented access to official grades. We were first treated like innovators, then, when it was seen that the work was done so much by students, we were seen as violators of teachers’ privacy rights. Religious-like, we wound up going from heroes to heretics. (Some of my best friends are heretics.)
Students, such as these pioneering researchers, were not potential problems for the school or community; they were leaders in improving the schools in ways benefitting the students, not Eduway. They were examples of how public (and private) education can be saved from Eduway. (Some of my best friends are these former student researchers.)
Also mentioned was that the business model does contain elements useful in an institution of collegial professionals, like performance-based pay, merit pay, or bonus pay. This is a point well said and well taken, but does not justify one iota the Eduway goal of running entire schools as if they were a business. I think it would be wise to remember the joke I always heard at A&M, “If you flunk out of engineering, you can always go to the college of business!” (Some of my best friends are business entrepreneurs; some of my best friends are engineers.)
Eduway administrators do not want on their faculties true professionals, “good” teachers. They want “good little soldiers,” loyal and unquestioning. They want “yes” men and women. If these administrators were true professionals, they would treat their faculty members like graduate school administrators treated theirs. Delightful, funny, delicious moments came to me in my teaching career when we caught the Waxahachie administration tying to prop up the facade of teacher approval on an issue the administration had already decided upon. Or, when a group of teachers stopped the Waxahachie school district from violating separation of church and state, having to do with the distribution of Gideon Bibles at the high school front door.
Even administrators who are former teachers seem to suffer from the need to have their ass kissed. Ass kissing is the Eduway way. Teachers are expected to be ass kissers, instead of ass kickers. Too many teachers are too willing to kiss ass. (Some of my best friends want their ass kissed.) (Some of my best friends are accomplished ass kissers.)
If you let them, Eduway administrators will treat both teachers and students as mushrooms — kept in the dark and fed bullshit! (Now, that is funny, I don’t care who you are!)