Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sell Outs.

I just read a government document entitled Transforming the Teaching Profession which is signed by – among others – Randi Weingarten (AFT president) and Dan Van Roekel (NEA president).  I read this document and was highly impressed by the vague wording that made it sound like a kumbaya moment – yet, for those who know the true meaning, it’s more of the same garbage which hinges everything on teachers, standardized test scores and throws in a few lines about student health and nutrition at the end.

I shared the document on Facebook and commented, including Randi directly in my comment so she could see my thoughts. I wrote, “And signed by those who negotiate with children's lives - Randi Weingarten and Dennis Van Roekel. Love the vague wording. Just spit it out and call it what it is. The layman would need a secret decoder to understand it. But no worries, as they say, ‘It is in this spirit of collaboration that we offer this joint statement on elevating the teaching profession to improve the education of our students.’ ”

Randi wrote back, “Actually it is similar to what the countries that outcompete us do- its a value statement

I wrote, “Yes, and it is clear to me what is valued by those who signed it. Yet, as I stated, I don't believe it is clear to the rest of the country. Lots of vague wording that really translates to a focus on standardized test scores with minimal if any attention to sheltering children from poverty. Stephen Krashen says it best.

Let me give a few examples from the document.  This statement comes toward the end of the document – rather telling simply in its placement at the end:  Further, we must be prepared to get the best teachers and principals to the highest-need students (including low-income students, minority students, English learners, and students with disabilities), and to ensure that all students have access to the other resources (such as technology; instructional materials; and social, health, and nutritional services) necessary to support their academic success.

Yes – first teachers who supposedly can overcome anything and then.....the other resources

So, in order of importance concerning “the other resources” we have:

Instruction materials
Social, health and nutritional services.


And last but not least we have a discussion regarding communities – you know - those communities they are destroying as organizations charged with protecting children embrace corporate education reform ideology?  

Here’s the “Engaged Communities” piece at the end of the document: Finally, no community can flourish unless its children are safe, healthy, well-nourished, and well-educated; and no school can be a strong pillar of a thriving community without deep community responsibility for and ownership of the school’s academic success. Thus, recognizing that the fate of communities and their schools are inextricably linked, we must make schools stronger by educators embracing community resources, expertise, and activities; and we must make communities stronger by anchoring them around highly effective schools.

It really sounds lovely, especially the whole flourishing part. This final piece is going to be damn hard to put in place with kids scattered all over the map as they jump on a bus headed to a charter school.  It’s going to be really hard for teachers to engage with their communities when they are fired and replaced by SCABS – also supported by those who signed the document - as noted in the section titled Top Talent, Prepared for Success (where they discuss embracing alternative pathways to entering the teaching profession).  Can't imagine where all these community resources are going to come from considering all of our tax dollars are spent on high stakes testing.  And what ownership? Really?  They've stripped communities of all ownership.

The introduction to the three page document makes the focus and the need for collaboration clear – and it doesn’t include protecting children from poverty.

Improving student learning and educational equity require strong, consistent, and sustained collaboration among parents, teachers, school boards, superintendents and administrators, business leaders, and the community. And such improvements require that we all take responsibility for the academic and social well-being [underline added] of the students in our charge. It is in this spirit of collaboration that we offer this joint statement on elevating the teaching profession to improve the education of our students.

Academic and social well-being? Kind of hard if you’re hungry, tired or sick like the 21% of our children currently living in poverty.  What about them? How about physical and mental well-being?  Quit feeding the children high stakes tests while placing student and teachers in institutions ruled by fear – try that for starters.

Can you imagine how different things would be if they would write value statements about protecting children from poverty?

These are the kind of documents that make me want to spit nails – BS documents that are signed by those who are charged with protecting children.  Sell outs. Get them out of office and get in some real leaders who don’t negotiate with educators’ and children’s lives. And visit us at United Opt Out National to join our new Don't Negotiate campaign.


  1. Well said Peggy! It's sad when we have to educate our own education leaders. What happened?

  2. good post, peggy - our unions are really messing up right's up to those of us in the trenches to build the movement against corporate "reformers"

  3. Sells out, indeed. With members and "thought leaders" in the media being too afraid to counter this thinking, and instead trying to curry favor with Famous Educators. Thanks for this piece and for all your outspoken blogs, telling it like it is.

  4. This week the Board of the Massachusetts Teachers Association voted to proceed with a "legislative compromise" they negotiated with Stand for Children to eliminate seniority as the first criteria for layoffs, replacing it with performance and "the best interests of the students." It will probably go to the legislature next week. They are rushing it through this month to try to prevent Stand from filing for a ballot initiative for this fall that includes this provision along with many others. Many members are furious and would have liked to have had the opportunity to fight rather than to give in without even a fair fighting chance.