We note that OSPI head Terry Bergeson thinks that the No Child Left Behind law needs fine-tuning. ("Bergeson offers fix for 'No Child Left Behind' " Friday). The question we would ask is "Where has she been for the past eight years?"
NCLB is a grossly flawed law that is tearing our schools apart. Bergeson has been at the helm of the state schools for 12 years, whipping the schools to conform to "accountability" at the expense of our students' good education.
She has repeatedly dismissed the criticisms that she now proposes. Perhaps she hears the footprints of an opponent in the general election and thinks that she needs to change her tune in order to win in November?
We and hundreds of other educators on the front lines have long pointed out the flaws of NCLB, but Bergeson has shoved NCLB down our throats without listening to our concerns. Effective leaders dialogue with the journeymen they supervise; Bergeson never did.
Bergeson does not deserve another term as state superintendent of public instruction because of her past blind support of NCLB. This change of heart only underscores how wrong she has been for the last eight years.
Richard and Chris Reuther
(Unwilling) Former Teachers, Edmonds School District
Blog: This entry was not written for the blog but was published in the Seattle PI on September 2, 2008. The author forwarded it to the blog for informational purposes and I posted it for our readers.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Bergeson is eight years too late with proposal
Posted by ESD15.org at 5:37 AM
Labels: District Leadership
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When we worked with kids with the National History Day curriculum, we emphasized "context." It is very important to understanding events and how they are linked together. Here the context is missing. This was originally printed as a letter to the editor in the Seattle P-I on Tuesday, Sept. 2. We gave our permission to print it on the blog. It was not intended as a lecture to blog readers. It does, however, correctly reflect our views on several topics.
My apologies for not making the proper supporting statements.
I have a question about the National History Day "curriculum".
It is my understanding that National History Day is an opportunity for students to "go the extra mile" in developing research skills and honing presentation skills. How can a teacher create their history curriculum around National History Day? Giving extensive time in class for students to research and work on projects seems to leave little teaching time to address the vast amount of history that our students need to master. We learn from our past--perhaps the National History Day concept is meant for only those students who show the initiative to take on the extra work and deserve the recognition that comes with their mastery of a topic. If they can learn what should be taught along with topics of their own choice--kudos to them. I doubt if every student can benefit in the same way from the National History Day concept of in depth research.
So--how does National History Day become the curriculum?
As a point of interest, the current Bellevue teachers' strike is due in large part to the objection by teachers to the standardization of curriculum that is being driven by the WASL. We are now teaching to a test; the curriculum must be focused on succeeding at the test. I don't know about your life, but mine doesn't come at me like "today is Tuesday; open your book to page 58 and solve the problems in section A and C." It's a bit more diffused than that.
This emerging "unified" philosophy was used as part of the bullying of senior teachers we witnessed; we were "informed" that this was the way things would be done, so if we didn't like it we should just shut up or quit.
This is the ultimate "one size fits all" philosophy brought to you by NCLB and its supporters (including Bergeson). It's driving a lot of good teachers out of education because it demands that they teach less effectively; they know that childrens' needs are more diverse than the current "unified" curriculum provides but are being prevented from doing what they know to be "best practice."
We are out of town for a few days and will respond when we return
I would encourage all employees and tax payers; to study Randy Dorn's position; he is well educated and informed of the needs/concerns of running a school system, State wide. He is the Director of the union I am a member of and I would give him my VOTE, and endorsement in a HEARTBEAT! Please give Randy Dorn a chance to make a difference!
I voted for Randy Dorn and I will again. He knows his stuff and really cares about the students. I know that is an unusal idea but he really cares. He will make changes and support the classified employees in the state of WA.
WE have sent a four page response to the "NHD qestion" above. It may have been too long to post.
Briefly, we do not consider NHD to be an "extra mile" program. It teaches research skills along with the appropriate language arts skills to reference and record the student's research. These are skills that EVERY student should learn. That is the philosophy teachers are supposed to be operating under: "Every child can learn." And with NHD, they do.
We embed the NHD skills to be taught into all work done in class from day one. Entry tasks, class assignments, and homework assignments are used to teach the selected skills. The actual topic selection and research begins in mid-October and is finished by early January. We spend the first two weeks in intensive research; the next two months alternate between "regular" coursework and NHD research. The skills learned in NHD are expected to be used in all regular classwork as well.
By the end of the year, students have an entire set of new skills to use in LA/SS classes as well as their other classes. High school librarians and LA teachers indicated to us that they could tell which students had us because the students knew how to research, write bibliographies, create footnotes, find and analyse information, etc.
With NHD done, kids exhibit a new confidence in themselves. Frequently, end-of-the-year assignments, that are frustrating and difficult for students who didn't get NHD, are blown through by our NHD students because they have a different set of skills to work with.
But instead of embracing NHD (and spreading its positive results), which was the OSPI recommended vehicle for accomplishing the Classroom Based Assessment (CBAs) due to be in place by 2008, administration used the restriction of NHD skills delivery to create chaos for us and drive us out of the district. Other senior staff had their premier curriculum and courses attacked in a similar manner-Japanese, honors biology, etc. All of those programs are now gone at MMS.
But then if we aren't going to give kids food, it won't make any difference; kids can't think without proper nutrition anyway. Starve the stomach, starve the mind.
There is a front page article in the Sunday Times P-I today (9regarding the Bellevue strike and the "proscribed" curriculum that the teachers are required to teach. Of particular interest was a comment by the former superintendent; asked when teachers would be allowed to use their professional judgement to modify lessons, his response was that the (his) judgement had already been applied. That means that teachers HAVE NO professional judgement, in his opinion. So your 20 years experience and MEd degree mean nothing to him.Why would you want to work under those conditions-in ANY profession?
The strike may be settled because the district caved and signed a "memorandum of understanding" stating that teachers will be able to use their professional judgement in the future. It doesn't articulate just how that will happen; expect to hear more on this topic in the future.
This single curriculum theory is the same track that Edmonds has been on; this is the philosophy, as expained to us, in which each classroom would have a binder of lessons that "anybody could teach." Do you want "anybody" teaching your children?
Central Washington University, which graduates the largest number of certificated teachers in the state, refers to teaching as "the art and science of education." The "Bellevue track" eliminates both art and science. It diminishes the profession by eliminating a teacher's professional judgement. Under this plan you don't really need to be a "teacher," just someone who can follow directions. Talk about dumbing down education!
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