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Rage Against Teachers as Ed Reform Scapegoats

Mrs. Mimi's Chalk Talks

An Open Letter To Anyone Who Will Listen and Has the Power To Do Something:

My heart is breaking.  Literally breaking.  I have a mountain of data to analyze and write about, a website to develop content for and an article to write this morning and all I can think about is this whole Let's Fire The Teachers and Only the Teachers business. 

Is this really what education has come to?


From my experience in the classroom, it often feels like those of us who are actually doing the work, are teaching the kids are enacting all those ever-changing and sometimes absolutely insane policy mandates are the ones with the least amount of power. 

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You want us to randomly change our curriculum because there is one that's newer and trendier?  Done. 

Oh wait.  Now, you want us to teach hours upon hours of mind numbing test prep to get ready for the federally mandated tests?  Done. 

Hold on, okay.  Now you're saying you want us switch the curriculum, include hours of test prep and now write it all down into little graphs and checklists so that you can make sure I'm doing what you told me to do at the exact moment you told me to do it?  Well, um, do you want to hear what I think about that?  Because I think that...oh.  No? You don't want to hear it?  Huh.  I guess I have no choice then.  Done. 

And now, when all of those decisions, all of those changes are not going well, are not producing the numbers that make you say you are politically worth our votes, you fire THE TEACHERS?   And ONLY the teachers?

I just can't get past this.

I know first hand that there are many teachers out there who suck.  SUCK.  SUCK!  It is both frustrating and exhausting to work with these people.  Because of those suck suck sucky teachers I had to think about ways to pick up their slack in between checking administrative demands off my list while still finding the time to teach in ways that I knew were going to make a difference. 

I would never stand up blindly for all teachers.  How many times do I have to say that?  But I never thought we would blindly fire them all either.

Did some of the teachers in Rhode Island suck?  Probably.  Did ALL of them suck?  Probably not.  There were probably a bunch of them like my Super Colleagues and I, that were swimming upstream trying to make something positive happen for children and without a hesitation, they got fired too. 


Honestly, they should have just blind folded them all, given them a cigarette and handed them their walking papers.

And this is our solution to failing schools?  No one else wants to admit that perhaps they played a role in all this?  No administrators, federal legislators, policy makers...nobody?  No?  You just want to stand there with the president and Arne Duncan and clap?  Is this the change you were talking about?  I kind of wish you had been more specific then...

As one of my lovely readers (Thanks Maestro) pointed out, it seems as if no one has considered that the larger ramifications of this decision may be to scare teachers and other schools into raising their test scores, whatever the cost may be to the actual education their students are receiving.  And can we blame them? 

Is inducing fear really the 'radical political action' our federal government wants to endorse?

Why is it so easy to hate us?  To demonize us?  To take the few of us who do suck and generalize that the rest of us do too?  Is it because most of us have just taken it?  Just done what we're told and then done what we believed in quietly behind closed doors?  Yelled and cried about the ridiculous conditions we have to work with during our lunch hours in private when nobody could hear us?  Is it our fault for staying quiet for so long? 

Well I don't want to sit quietly anymore.  I don't want to just roll over and take it.  I don't want to work in a system which ties our hands and then fires us when they are unhappy with the results their decisions have caused. 

I've got to think of something we can do. I just don't know what it is...my hands have been tied for so long.  For awhile, it felt like this blog was enough and now I know we need to do more. 

Would you look at that?  A whole post and not one joke, reference to urine or curse word...my spirit really must be broken.  Does anyone know Stella personally and can you have her tell us how she got her groove back?

How do you feel about teachers being the scapegoats of education reform? Share in the comments section!

Originally posted on Jennifer Scoggin's blog It's Not All Flowers and Sausages. Jennifer also writes The Chalk Talks blog for TeachHUB. Reprinted with author's permission.

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