While I can be incredibly sarcastic and caustic, I’m not overly pessimistic. I’m still pretty freaking surprised when people fail to do the right thing, put greed over good, and in general mess with other people because they can. A lot of that, of course, is because *I* don’t operate that way. I really do expect most people to use my operating system. [Hence the need for a depression treatment program. Idealistic people have a REALLY HARD TIME dealing with broken systems filled with lies, bullshit, and slight of hand]
Which leads me to Students First. I had known that people were really against Michelle Rhee. To be honest, since I view her as the educational Ann Coulter, I don’t pay her much mind. As I see it she plays in the sandbox with big business in order to keep herself from having to get down in the trenches and do the dirty work. Because I considered her more of a talking head and a puppet, I didn’t bother with looking at what Students First was all about. I mean, it’s about students, right?
Well, no. Wrong. In fact, it’s so ironic I’m surprised I hadn’t guessed it before I fact checked it. I’d feel like a chump if I’d supported her by saying something like, “What’s wrong with her wanting to put students first? That’s what I want.” (I’m truly laughing out loud right now)
In the interest of fairness, and knowing the story is often bent to support one’s own view, I went to the Students First website. There I was met with the normal menu of choices, nothing new. In deciding where to start, I clicked on the ABOUT button. I didn’t actually TELL me about the organization, but there were TONS of glowing praise (yes, that’s the heading for it) from various polliticians and such. None from parents, communities, school principals, teachers, districts… Isn’t that odd? If she’s putting students first, shouldn’t she being trying to get praise from students, school, districts, teachers, and communities? Hmmmm.
But… there was a link to mission. That’s good. The mission is to build a national movement. OK, I know this is because I’m immature, but honestly shit came to mind. The only “movements” that come about these days in most places are bowel. That can be literal or figurative. You decide. In the meantime, I’ll post the rest of the mission is here so I don’t blemish it with my own point of view.
Together, we’ll demand that legislators, courts, district administrators, and school boards create and enforce policies that put students first. We’ll make sure politicians and administrators recognize and reward excellent teachers, give novice teachers the training they need, and quickly improve or remove ineffective educators. We’ll work to ensure that every family has a number of options for excellent schools to attend, so that getting into a great school becomes a matter of fact, not luck. And we’ll make sure all Americans understand that our schools are not only an anchor for our communities, but an absolute gateway to our national prosperity and competitive standing in the world economy.
Great! Where’s the plan? I mean, there’s a plan right? There’s got to be a plan. Plus a blueprint for what makes an excellent school. There’s a blueprint right? Yeah, no. All the focus is on teachers (especially evaluation), parent education (not on parenting or helping kids, but on failing schools and expanded school choice), and spending wisely.
Uhm, that’s it? That’s what’s going to make great schools? To reform a system we’re going to focus primarily on one component and fix it? To me that’s like seeing that my car has 4 bald tires but giving me an oil change instead.
However, I can’t give into that negative voice saying “She’s out to get me.” I mean, I want to believe she really wants to put students first by reforming schools and education. So I click on the “Take Action” button. There is a subheading for SAVE GREAT TEACHERS. I’m all happy, I’m thrilled, I’m enthusiastic. She’s not against us. She wants to help us make reform. Yeah, I’m an idiot.
I see the map of the United States, color-coded. It has to do with teacher layoffs. The great teachers being saved are the ones that might be released due to seniority issues. What I read, and remember, I’m not trying to be negative, but my head went here:
SENIORITY = INEFFECTIVE.
Again, I can’t stop laughing. This is the action we need to take to save teaching? If we get rid of “seniority” or “due process” in teacher contracts that’s really going to CHANGE education as a whole? Damn, where do I sign up. Oh yeah. I already did that.
I didn’t make sure I had permanent status for years. I think I was actually in my 6th or 7th year when a friend asked me about it. I talked to my principal, who just assumed I was, and she took it to the board and it was done. Before that, though, I was evaluated yearly. Not a problem.
That, however, wasn’t what affected my test scores. I didn’t go from HIGHLY effective to NEEDS SUPPORT because I became permanent. Now I don’t put stock into this, but I’ve been teacher of the year twice. Sure it’s BS ’cause your fellow teachers vote for it, but I’m not popular so it has to do with my presence at school.
But back to the subject at hand. Here is a woman who is telling us she’s going to reform education in America and make it top notch. However, her method for doing so isn’t having a blueprint for effective schools that addresses all aspect of education. It’s not getting her hands dirty analyzing the key differences between “good” schools and “bad” schools. It’s not finding cost-effective methods for helping struggling readers. It’s NOTHING you would think would put students first.
Instead, it’s taking donations and funneling them into politicians pockets in exchange for influence. Since her bandwagon is that teachers (except inexperienced and easily exploited teachers) are bad, she’s working on legislation that punishes anyone who was ignorant enough to want to make this a career.
I know that I called her Ann Coulter before, but it’s true. Here are women attacking women to gain power and influence from men without actually accomplishing anything other than getting their egos fed. I’d feel sorry for them, except that men are using them to show they allow women at the table. These are not woman who put ANYONE first, except themselves.
And that, my friends, is bad for the country.