Common Core State [sic] Standards
466 in the collection
A Real Teacher Appreciation Week
Ohanian Comment: Steve Owens is right on the mark. I no longer teach but my long years in the classroom mean I always identify myself as "teacher." A couple of years ago I decided I should attend as many State Board of Ed meetings as possible--and make a "public comment." I just felt someone should be speaking for the needs of teachers and the needs of the children in their professional care.
There is no "public" at these meetings. Like teachers, most people are at work when the State Board of Ed meets.
But I went, and I spoke a number of times against the Common Core. Fat lot of good it did.
At least some people sitting on the State Board have intimate knowledge of schools. Now with Gov. Shumlin taking over, education policy will be even further removed from classroom reality. Gov. Shumlin's perception of public schools does not come from teachers--or parents. On education, he listens to the Bill & Melinda Gates-funded National Governors Association much more than he listens to Vermonters.
And so we end up with the Common Core.
What Bill Gates wants, Bill Gates gets.
Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Steve Owens, president of the Washington Central Education Association and a member of the VT-NEA board of directors. His blog, Education Worker, can be found at http://educationworker.blogspot.com/. His views do not represent the views of NEA or VT-NEA.
by Steve Owens
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I suppose we'll get some sort of luncheon. Parents will show up to take my recess duty, which I generally use to get caught up on planning. Sometimes there's a mug involved. I often feel like the week is more about the appreciators than the appreciatees.
What would real teacher appreciation look like?
Teachers are professional education experts. If one week a year, teachers could make that expertise known in tangible ways in the places that education policy is made, that would be real teacher appreciation.
Much policy discussion happens during school hours. The state Legislature and the State Board of Education meet while we are teaching children. Our State Board of Education makes momentous decisions that have real impact on our work — decisions like adoption of Common Core State Standards and application for an NCLB waiver — while we are busy actually doing the work. The Legislature decides on issues like fair share and pension reform during school hours.
Yes, we have our union, and we have our paid lobbyists, and there are former teachers who represent us in these forums, but it isn’t the same as flooding these rooms with professionals whose situated expertise is essential to the implementation of successful policy.
The other night a colleague was noting the irony of a local board member testifying at the Statehouse on a policy matter of interest to our union, and the impossibility of our being there to counteract that testimony.
In my ideal world, all teachers would have a paid floating Teacher Appreciation Week that they could use for leadership and advocacy at the local, state or national level. This week could be used for policy or political work, but must be used to bring the professional voice of teachers to the broad decision-making process.
There are those who would characterize this idea as just another benefit. But if one week of access — and the broad leadership development it could foster in the profession — makes the other 170+ student contact days more effective because of a combination of grounded policy and superior implementation, it seems to me to be a very small but wise investment.
Driving leadership and policy work into after hours, when we are exhausted, when we are taking care of families and ourselves (and yes, planning and grading …) is a formula for detachment. Empowering people means creating the time and space for meaningful democratic engagement.
Creating the conditions for democratic engagement by education professionals — that would be real teacher appreciation.
Steve Owens with Susan Ohanian comment.
May 10, 2012
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