Over the weekend, I caught up with my reading. Okay, in all honesty, Mr. Mimi and I changed a home office into a nursery and, as a result, in between some pretty intense naps and doing all that stuff I had a moment to catch up on my reading.
Because I am a TEACHER and we are SUPER HEROES when it comes to Multi-Tasking.
Someone hand me my cape, please!
And because I always have my friends, bitter and cynical, with me I saw the following question, "Are educators' opinions factored into reforms?" and my immediate thought was, "NO. Duh."
I know, my knee jerk reaction is to utter words of brilliance. It's a gift.
You see, I was reading this piece in EdWeek about how much or how little the opinions of real teachers factor into decisions made by policy makers.
The article begins by saying that "...at no other time in the history of American education has there been more publicly available information about what teachers think about their profession, their students and the conditions under which they work."
Really? I mean, yeah, I guess we have blogs, and books (buy mine!), and surveys and things, but really? Who is looking at those? Other teachers? And who is listening? Because while I heart my readers, don't you feel like sometimes we're all just talking to a wall???? Just because we're saying it doesn't mean that the Powers That Be are listening, taking us seriously or think that we have anything intelligent to offer. I've worked at educational research organizations and more often than not, the concerns of Real Teachers are met by eye rolling. EYE ROLLING! By people who claim to care about education...
Perhaps I need a table for three - bitter, cynical and hopeless.
(insert Debbie Downer music here)
Later in the article, a few recently compiled teacher surveys are referenced. You know, like the one done by the Gates Foundation? But everyone who has a brain knows that you need to consider the source when reading reports of that nature. Criticism of this survey in particular has been all over the blogosphere and while I don't really want to get into it all here, I do wonder:
Can we just hear and listen to the voices of teachers? No surveys, no filtering, no compiling, no bubble sheets...just real, honest voices of the people doing the work that EVERYONE ELSE seems to have so many opinions about.
I mean, do we really even need to debrief on this whole situation where teachers get to weigh in and comment on the proposed National Standards? Does anyone else think that this feels a bit like flushing a twenty down the toilet? Like the proverbial tree in the forest?
If a teacher posts a well thought out response to the National Standards but nobody listens, did she even make a noise?
I don't know about you, but I feel all trippy just thinking about that one.
In MY SCHOOL (Friends, one of the biggest arguments used to discredit our words is that they are too contextually bound...meaning, they are too tied to our actual schools rather than the system at large. But me thinks that looking at the system at large, you know, with all those numbers? Me thinks it just ain't working.) teachers took an annual survey about overall satisfaction. The results were used in many ways, but perhaps most interesting, is that they were sent back to our school principal, The Visionary. One year the survey revealed that an overwhelming number of teachers felt that they could not trust their colleagues or administrators. It also revealed that a majority of our teachers felt as if they could not speak up in regards to school wide decision making.
I know, sounds fantastic, right?
These points were brought up in a staff meeting and then guess what happened?
How about we say enough with the surveys? How about we actually invite a REAL TEACHER (or better yet a WHOLE BUNCH OF TEACHERS) to the table when these policies and decisions are actually being made?!?!?
(insert jaw dropping on the part of policy makers everywhere)
(Close your mouths boys, you'll let all the flies in.)
I know that the article states that it is difficult to get teachers to donate their time to take a survey but maybe JUST MAYBE if someone offered to REALLY LISTEN and not just count our bubbles on a survey, I think the Powers That Be, who are so superficially concerned with the opinions of teachers, would find themselves with a line out the door.