link....anyone who brings up out-of-school factors such as poverty is both defending the status quo of public education and claiming that schools can do nothing to overcome the life circumstances of poor children. The response is silly and, by now, tiresome. Some teachers will certainly be able to help compensate for the family backgrounds and out-of-school environments of some students. But the majority of poor children will not get all the help they need: their numbers are too great, their circumstances too severe, and resources too limited. Imagine teachers from excellent suburban public schools transferring en masse to low-performing, inner-city public schools. Would these teachers have as much success as they did in the suburbs? Would they be able to overcome the backgrounds of 15.6 million poor children? Even with bonus pay, would they stay with the job for more than a few years? Common sense and experience say no, and yet the reformers insist they can fix public schools by fixing the teachers.
Where Barkan doesn't go in this piece – and there may be follow-ups – is the motivation of the ed deformers in the "blame the teacher" campaigns: Defanging the unions (non-unionized charters, Teach for America/Educators 4 Excellence shock troops, merit pay) - not that the unions have put up a strong fight - but at least they have the ability to bring a unified teacher force to the table. In the ed deform world each teacher is on an individual contract and competing with each other. That is the holy grail of ed deform. While luring teachers with the promise of higher pay through merit pay, they will be able to lower the average teacher salary substantially - think of the south.
This ties in to Barkan's next article on the rise of education entrepreneurship where there's a whole lot of money to be made out of education. First you kill of the only force capable of putting up opposition. Then you milk the cow until a generation later - or less - it is clear what it was all about. By then it is too late.
Thus, my intense anger at the UFT/AFT/NEA (which opens its meetings today in Chicago) for basically laying down in front of the ed deform juggernaut. Every single UFT official talks about how they are not against charter schools or even co-locations when they are done right. When I talk to them they seem to understand what is afoot but are helpless to get in the way other than trying to make the procedure work - procedures set up in a stacked deck. Thus the law suit to "make them do it the right way." I won't get into the whys of how the union functions because that is a longer story about the ideology behind the AFT/UFT, an issue some of us will be exploring this summer in study groups.
Here is a short video of my speech to the PEP on Monday about charters.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.