Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here's one thing wrong with education in America

Okay, I admit it. I'm probably being a little touchy. This morning I got this email from what I consider to be a very well meaning group, The Forum for Education and Democracy. The email was announcing the release of something called "Democracy at Risk: The Need for a New Federal Role in Education Policy." What bothered me was its list of featured guests.

The Honorable George Miller, Chairman of the Committee on Education & Labor, U.S. House of Representatives (invited)

Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University;

John Deasy, superintendent, Prince George's County Public Schools;

Milton Goldberg, distinguished senior fellow, Education Commission of the States and former staff director for the commission that produced A Nation at Risk;

Peter McWalters, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education;

Deborah Meier, senior scholar, New York University Steinhardt School of Education;

Pedro Noguera, professor, New York University Steinhardt School of Education;

Wendy D. Puriefoy, president, Public Education Network;

Sharon Robinson, president and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education; and

George Wood, executive director, The Forum for Education and Democracy, and principal of Federal Hocking High School and Middle School.

As a teacher, I think that one major thing wrong in education is that so many policies--many of them well-meaning--have been imposed on us by people who are considered "experts," but who actually know very little or nothing about what really goes on in a classroom. Wouldn't it have been a good idea to include at least one classroom teacher in a group called together to respond to another new plan for education policy in America?

11 Comments:

Anonymous daniel simms said...

Dennis, you should retire and take that private school position you mentioned a few posts back. I'll bet in that type of setting teachers, parents and administrators have a great deal of influence regarding education policy (which is the way it should be). And if/when you do this, please keep your blog going and let us know how you are doing (often).

4/22/2008 4:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

Um, any FEDERAL role in education ought to get people good n' mad.

Naturally, they didn't invite any parents or just some general taxpayers supporting the system, either.

4/22/2008 5:16 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Daniel, I'm actually thinking of doing exactly that after next year. My wife and I want to get closer to one of our kids (Twin Cities, Quad Cities, or Orlando), so beginning next winter I'll be looking.

Mrs. C., you make a good point. The three groups of people closest to what is actually happening in public schools are teachers, students and parents.

4/22/2008 6:20 PM  
Blogger Amerloc said...

Dennis-

I started my teaching career in a brand new school building in '77. I parked my overhead projector in the back of the room in preparation for perhaps maybe using it (it came with the room - might as well). And I had to go scrounge up a 30' extension cord to plug it in to the outlet in the front of the room (right under the mounted screen). If I were gonna hang it up due to incomprehensible architecture, I should've done it then.

Policy is not the only area where practitioners have been uninvited to the party.

Off topic: my brother used to work at a Godfather's Pizza in the Quad Cities :)

4/22/2008 6:34 PM  
Blogger Chaz said...

Dennis:

Your missing the point. None of these groups have classroom teachers on it and for good reason. These so-called educational experts don't like their policy goals question by a teacher in the trenches.

For example the NCLB act requires that all students graduate by 2014. However, a high school teacher will tell you that a 100% graduation rate in an inner city school is as real as the tooth fairy.

4/22/2008 6:53 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Chaz, I may not teach in an inner-city, but I do teach in Warroad. Coming up with a scenario where we have 100% proficiency by 2014 is worthy of Mother Goose.

4/23/2008 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

Hey, there must be at least one Minnesota town where they will be able to reach 100% proficiency. After all, in Lake Woebegone, all the children are above average;-0.

Say, does anyone know how NCLB can continue if it is not 'reauthorized'? I thought it had a time frame of 6 years and then out, unless readopted but in an article today in the Washington Post, the author writes that they law will continue if not 'reauthorized'.

4/23/2008 4:03 AM  
Anonymous daniel simms said...

Of course, Dennis, it should be mentioned that the only possibility of having a school where the teachers, parents and administrators determine the education policy is in a private setting, where participation and funding is purely voluntary. In general: private schools = persuasion/entrepreneurial/flexible, while public schools = coercion/authoritarian/inflexible.

4/23/2008 4:56 AM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Dude, we IMPLEMENT policies that others make for us. We needn't bother with whether they work or not! That's why we lurch from paradigm shift to paradigm shift like a drunken sailor.

4/24/2008 1:55 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Oh come now, we teachers *love* to shift from paradigm to paradigm like drunken sailors.

Put a bunch of teachers on one of those panels, and you'd get as many stupid ideas as you get from the so-called experts. Oh, they'd be different ideas, all right, but just as stupid.

We teachers don't do ourselves a lot of favors.

5/06/2008 9:27 PM  
Blogger Chris Lehmann said...

In defense of that panel, George Wood is still a principal in his school. And Pedro Noguera and Deborah Meier are long time teachers / administrators who have the national recognition to speak truth to power and usually do so on behalf of those of us still in schools every day.

5/26/2008 7:59 AM  

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