Thursday, February 21, 2013
It's The Teacher's Fault
Does "Kenny" sound like some of your students? Of course he does. We all have a "Kenny" or two in our classes but in some schools, especially, in high poverty neighborhoods. These high poverty schools have quite a few "Kennys" in their classes. This makes teaching in the classroom of high poverty schools a challenge. Yet if you ask educational reform groups they claim that Kenny"s" academic difficulties is not the effects of poverty or family life but from "ineffective teachers". These education reformers, led by Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee claim that poverty is "no excuse" for poor academic performance as they are deliberately blind to the effects of poverty on academic achievement.
Unfortunately, the education reform movements has deep pockets (Bill Gates) and have the support of politicians on both sides of the aisle. Even President Obama, no friend of teachers, require a teacher evaluation system, complete with "junk science" as a condition to obtain federal dollars. Is it any wonder that teacher satisfaction with their profession is at an all time low? According to the latest data, the teacher job satisfaction rate has dropped an astounding 23% in the last five years. This drop in teacher satisfaction rates can be attributed to the rise in non-educators in top education positions. For example how many days has Arne Duncan taught in the classroom? The right answer is "zero days". The last four New York City Chancellors had to get waivers to do their job since they were not certified educators. Now hedge fund managers and politicians are the prime movers in opening up charter schools with high teacher turnover rates.
For the education reformers and the politicians that support them it is more convenient to scapegoat teachers and blame them for student academic shortfall than the high poverty family environment that is highly correlated to student achievement. In other words, it is the teacher's fault.