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Elementary teacher weighs in...

Posted By: Paul Rigmaiden on November 10, 2008
"What if Congress had proposed that by 2014 no patient would die? Doctors, he argued, would stand up and say that medical science rendered impossible any such thing. The problem with education, he continued, was that no one in the field had sufficient courage or credibility to offer this rejoinder when politicians proposed making all students proficient by 2014."

These words from the article pretty much sums up one of the core problems with alleged school reform in the United States of America. The fact that working classroom teachers are not involved in policy making decisions regarding education is one reason that school reform schemes go wrong. The fact that the author's friend could say that "no one in the field had sufficient courage or credibility" to the debate on No Child Left Behind illustrates my point. Teachers are literally in the field, but had no part in the development of No Child Left Behind, our national unions notwithstanding. I know that teachers have spoken out against No Child Left Behind, so the courage is there. However, our beloved country doesn't afford teachers much credibility.

I believe that teacher involvement would add an essential perspective to discussions regarding how best to provide schooling for our children. However, if teachers got involved with school reform policy, they would have to be teachers who are honest, not intimidated by the political rank of others, not afraid to speak to power, not sycophantic, and not addicted to hierarchy. Hey, I would do it in a heartbeat if someone asked, but they never do. For that matter, No Child Left Behind is ideology-based opportunity program for the testing industry, textbook publishers, and education consulting agencies. Think about it. Who has benefitted most from No Child Left Behind? It hasn't been children, teachers, schools, or school districts.

The 2014 deadline for 100% reading proficiency one of the stupidest things about No Child Left Behind. I like the doctor analogy, but as the Chapelle saith, "Keep it real, son!" How about we end US involvement in Iraq on September 11, 2010? Nice symmetry that would be.

Paul Rigmaiden
Modesto, CA
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 Elementary teacher weighs in... by Paul Rigmaiden on November 10, 2008
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