Edufads from Educrats

As I near the end of my MA in Ed and secondary mathematics credential program, en route to becoming a high school math teacher, I continue to be amazed at the dysfunctional state of our nation’s educational system.  As a result of mandates from on high, many from well-intentioned but misguided bureaucrats, our country continues to wander off-course.  These educrats, confident they can legislate and codify the latest edufad, deceptively cloak their missives in descriptions such as “No Child Left Behind,” or “Race to the Top.”  So, driven incessantly by people who have little to no knowledge of today’s schools, classrooms, or students, and little to no awareness of what truly works or does not work in our diverse communities, we careen towards the cliffs, feet firmly on the accelerator, eyes glued to the instrument panel, instead of looking at the road, and the “road closed ahead” sign looming in the distance.

This is not a new phenomenon.  Ever since the 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,” our educational system has repeatedly contorted itself in attempts to comply with a myriad of mandates meant to improve.  Yet, none of these achieved the desired results.  Furthermore, as the largest student segment in our nation’s public school systems increasingly shifts to students of color of low socioeconomic status, funding per student decreases most for those communities, along with their standardized test scores.  Unless, and until, our educrats wake up to the deleterious impacts of poverty on our nation, we will continue to struggle educating students who may not see the need to learn in the first place, or if so, feel too discouraged since they are so far behind more privileged students.

When will sanity prevail and the true reasons for our decline in academic achievement be addressed?  When will we stop our mind numbing, narrow-minded, overzealous adherence to standardized testing, which only benefits the testing industry and their financiers?  When will poverty be recognized as the primary contributor to our national decline in educational achievement?  When will we stop villifying our nation’s teachers, principals, curricula, and pedagogy?  When will President Obama see that those who seek to gain financially from Duncan’s policies like RttT, i3, and The Blueprint cloak themselves in the guise of ed reform, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, eager to feast on the billions in the public coffers? When will we enable teachers to succeed, instead of overburdening them to fail?

While I am committing the rest of my life to education, I hope that I am able to be a voice, and force, in affecting changes in the profession, shining a light on the lunacy of policies, plans, and programs that do more to hinder our nation’s progress than help.  Common sense needs to prevail more so than common standards, or we will regulate and standardize ourselves into the annals of history as a nation that overly relied on centralized planning, with its concomitant, colossal failings.  Instead, our educrats persist in promoting their blind obsession with data, beholden to simplistic accountability models that miss the nuances of reality, and seemingly unaware that those closest to the parameters being measured are best able to diagnose and troubleshoot the problems, as long as they are supported with adequate resources, of all kinds.

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About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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3 Responses to Edufads from Educrats

  1. Pingback: Edufads from Educrats (via Reflections of a Math Teacher Candidate) « Transparent Christina

  2. rob mcentarffer says:

    Well said, and I share your feelings and frustrations. One of my current concerns is about how we talk about the impact of poverty as teachers: Its clear to me from the data that poverty has a huge impact on our kids’ experiences in school (poverty has a huge impact on EVERYTHING in their lives). But its tough for me to figure out how to talk about it in a school reform context. It seems foolish when I hear folks say “you can’t use poverty as an excuse, so just focus on factors you can control” and they use that reasoning to go on and never talk about poverty again. But there is a grain of truth in what they are saying: we probably can’t impact the economic lives of our families much and none of us want to “give up” on kids based on their poverty status. How should we talk about poverty as a factor while not letting it derail useful conversations about what we CAN do for kids?

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    • Excellent question, Rob. I do not have an answer. I hope others have some ideas. My gut reaction is that the entire educational system needs a radical transformation to account for the challenges associated with poverty; radical change needs to happen at the preschool level onwards. The change should focus on creating environments where students are routinely provided with intensive support to develop the skills necessary to survive and thrive more independently in a rigorous academic environment. The ultimate goal is for students to internalize the passionate desire to succeed in school in spite of challenges they are sure to encounter. Another possibility is to increase the number of trained adults in a classroom so that more immediate support is available to students to help them with their learning at the source, and moment, of the challenge. Whatever is done, the family and community must be connected more directly to the school and classroom. Student success relies heavily on what they do at school as well as away from school. This is a national crisis of epic proportions. Expecting teachers to pick up the slack has not worked. There is only so much efficiency one can squeeze out of a particular process or model before one needs to step back and re-architect the entire process. We passed that juncture long ago. So time is of the essence!

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