Saturday, May 7, 2016

Amy Achtermann, Jewell Elementary School Teacher, Speaks in Opposition of Relay Graduate School

On May 6th, the Colorado Commission of Higher Education gathered to take a vote on the proposed certification of Relay Graduate School. Here is Amy's testimony in opposition to Relay:

My name is Amy Achtermann.  I am a 4th grade teacher at Jewell Elementary in Aurora, Colorado and I am speaking in opposition to Relay Graduate School of Education and my opposition to its damaging practices, programs, and philosophies regarding teacher training.

Disappointing, stressful, unhealthy, demeaning, unsuccessful, frustrating, and not appropriate for educating children.  These are all comments that were made by my coworkers when describing this past year.  I ask myself why a dedicated staff who gives their heart and soul to our Jewell Community would say the same things that I personally have been feeling throughout the year.  My answer is that our Principal was implementing the things that she learned in Relay Graduate School Principal Training that she has been attending since last summer. 

No more do we hear things like let’s do what is best for children or how can we make our teaching more engaging or how can we provide the services needed to help these students be successful.  Gone were the years we dedicated to inquiry and deeper thinking.  These were all replaced by thinking about test scores and drill and practice.  We lost weeks of instruction time this year to giving online tests so we could have lots of data.  Most of that data was never used to guide instruction because we needed to move on to another set of assessments.  You know there is a problem when you have to suspend reading groups and authentic teaching to teach to and give tests.  My students routinely are asking me when we can get back to learning about history or completing science projects.  I feel like I am committing educational malpractice.

I am also disheartened that my amazing coworkers are told continually that we can’t be successful educators, if we do not have the test scores to back up our teaching practices.  When you are constantly told that you are a failure it breaks you down and erodes your self-confidence.  Teachers can only maintain this level of unwarranted criticism for a short time before they either give up and choose a new profession or break down.  How can this help students?  How do we improve test scores when our teaching time is severely reduced and replaced by testing?

These are my concerns and why I feel so strongly that Relay is not a solution for struggling students.  My students are not just a test score or a set of data to collect.  They are human beings who have differing needs and abilities.  The educators I work with are also outstanding people who dedicate every day to building up children and creating responsible and productive members of society despite the harsh treatment they receive.  I know that I am just one person but I speak for many. 

Relay passed with a unanimous vote of support by the CCHE. The only people in attendance to speak out in opposition of Relay were Cherry Creek School District Association members, Amy Achtermann from Aurora Public Schools and Aurora Education Association Board Member; and Randall Peterson, spokeperson for CEA.

While the masses slept the Colorado Commission of Higher Education voted in a fake graduate program that will certify teachers. This so-called graduate program has a dean who appears to be all of 31 years old, based on the research I have done. She is a former TFA. She has two years teaching experience. She has a bachelor's in sociology and a M.S.T. from PACE where it appears you become a teacher by interacting with videos of robotic students who respond to you. 

I have no words for the devastation that just befell the children of Colorado and our teaching profession. As Relay teachers take hold, via a 2 yr. program tied to raising student test scores, hired at a cheaper salary than experienced teachers such as myself, anticipate the further destruction of any democratic thinking. There is no pedagogy here - there is simply a no-excuse model of discipline paired with non-educators whose harm to our community will be nothing short of educational malpractice. Many thanks to those who attended the CCHE meeting. My attendance and participation came to a complete halt due to a family emergency. 

Shame on the Colorado Commission of Higher Education, shame on the Aurora Public Schools, shame on the Colorado State Board of Education, shame on any other entity that would even entertain the idea of placing non-educators trained by non-educators in our public schools as so-called "certified" teachers. Shame on those who did not come forward to support teachers, such as myself and Amy, who have been speaking about the abuse and malpractice Relay has inflicted on our profession and our children ALL YEAR. Shame on all of you - and this vote - it is on your shoulders. 

Amy Achtermann, you have my greatest respect and gratitude for representing Jewell's teachers and children. Solidarity. 

1 comment:

  1. I was there. I am the person who submitted the NBI at Delegate Assembly that called upon CEA to educate our members about the damaging impact that the Relay Graduate School of Education will have on the teaching profession and the educational experience of our students. Despite the many statements of concern about the Relay program, the practices of their teachers, and the inadequacy of their "graduate program", the CCHE responded instead to the polished sales pitch of the new Denver dean of Relay (a former TFA teacher of two years, with no other education experience) and voted unanimously to approve the Relay Graduate School of Education for accreditation in the state of Colorado.
    It is my hope that CEA, as directed by the NBI, will soon be getting information out to our members about Relay. If not, I encourage you to do your own research. This decision of the CCHE was yet another attack on public education and the teaching profession and another win for the corporate reform profiteers.
    It is time for our local, state, and national associations to push back against them, to educate and organize our members to speak out against them. Don't just take my word for it. Do your own research, find and view the videos, follow the money. You will be as disturbed as I was by what you find.