Sunday, July 31, 2011

The march follow-up . . .

At the Teacher Leaders Network blog you can read about and follow the teacher march on Washington D.C. protesting the testing requirements of NCLB and the Obama administration's implementation of Race to the Top .  The Park Service estimated that there were about 8000 braving the heat to give their message.  I wonder who was listening?  How many from our system even knew there was a march?  Are those in positions of authority fighting over the debt limit listening or in a position to be influenced by the message? 

One of the speakers was actor Matt Damon who was introduced by his Mother, an educator.  He shares his public school education including the time his Mother told the principal that he would not be taking the standardized test because it would not tell them anything and would just make him nervous.  If you are a teacher I would recommend that you listen to his speech.  He has many positive things to say about teachers and the current situations they face in their difficult work.

The video can be found here.  (I would like to embed the video itself as the TLN blog did, but have not yet learned how to do that.  Any help is appreciated.)

The TLN post provides a link to a Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss.  She understands the difficult circumstances that teachers face.

Critics also accused participants of supporting “the status quo,” which is a phrase commonly used by modern school reform leaders to disparagingly suggest that they would rather keep bad teachers in classrooms than fire them. It’s nonsense (the issue is how to give teachers due process). If any of these critics listened, they would have heard people literally desperate for some sense to be returned to education policy.

As we move forward without changes to ESEA and NCLB we need to find ways for the teacher voice to influence the work.  The business community and foundations will continue to be an influence in our work, they will not go away.  Teacher unions will play a vocal role representing the interests of their constituency.  All of these various stake holders must place themselves in a position to examine their mental models and the assumptions that drive their behavior.  The adaptive changes necessary to insure that all young people experience success will come from those doing the work in buildings and classrooms.  That is the voice we must hear and the destination for the high support necessary to balance the high demand placed on students and teachers from others with sometimes little or no experience in the work.

In this Post article you can learn more about the events that took place over a four day period including an invitation from the White House to visit with education policy advisors that was turned down.

The White House invited some of the organizers to speak with education policy advisers Friday, but the organizers turned down the offer, saying they would be willing to meet after Saturday’s march. “July 30 is your opportunity to listen to us,” they said in a news statement.


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