The Treehorn Express
We all know about Treehorn, the little boy whom adults ignored…just as they ignore all children of school age. Florence Patty wrote about him in The Shrinking of Treehorn.
After this week-end in July, 2011 [to be remembered], Treehorn will be able to take heart. A need breed of teacher has emerged and selflessly shown that they are on the side of children. It’s a first in my schooling experience. They are determined.
A New Breed of Teacher is Ready to Stand up for Children
After a decade of NCLB, which is a national testing program similar to Australia’s Naplan, public school teachers in the USA have had enough. They marched on the White House on Saturday, 30 July 2011 to tell the President and his legislatorss that they are sick of standardized blanket testing and the inequitable distribution of finance.
This new breed of teacher is willing to express its professional dignity more than any generation of teachers has ever done. Former generations in all western countries have preferred to pussy-foot around professional and ethical issues; thus encouraging ordinary back-bench legislators to ignore the ultimate consequences of their own political party’s stupidity. Principals’ timidity has been rampant and our school pupils have not had a fair go. If principals’ national associations in each country declared their professional ethics, that they really don’t believe in fear-driven schooling; and told their political masters: “It’s finished”, legislators would surely back-off. It should not be necessary for so many parents and teachers to go to such lengths as they have done on this historical week-end. God bless this new generation of ethical professionals and their parent partners.
On Saturday, July 30, 2011, over 2,000 teachers and parents gathered in Washington DC in a park opposite the White House. One report says that there were 8,000. Maybe that was the total of teachers who gathered in other major localities as well. When Arne Duncan, the Education Secretary was spotted walking around, he was summarily presented with a symbolic pupil-doll entrapped in a box, wrapped with bubble paper that is used for blanket testing, before he disappeared.
When the Department of Education invited three representatives of the march organisers to meet with them on Friday, the invitation was refused; and representatives of the Department were cordially invited to join the rally .
Buses came from near and far. One from New York came just for the day.
There were speeches from notables, led by iconic Diana Ravitch former Assistant Secretary who once supported blanket testing, but is renowned for having turned 180 degrees and now condemns them with a passion. She recently donated $10,000 from a prize that she has been awarded to the cause; and is revered by this new generation of gutsy, professional, child-oriented teachers for her outspokenness. [I’m pleased that I did my 180 degrees as a test-fixated principal way back in 1968. Two kids showed me how cruel I was to them.] I now detest blanket testing, especially those standardized ones being widely applied by non-school adults to captured kids, too, Diana. Such tests have to be banned world-wide….as soon as the new generation schoolies in UK, Australia and NZ also stand up for their kids.
Matt Damon flew in from Vancouver via New York. His talk was impressive http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/matt-damons-clear-headed-speech-to-eachers-rally/2011/07/30/gIQAG9Q6jI_blog.html/?fb_NetworkNews
He said, “My love for learning, passion for acting and my curiosity; none of these came from being tested.”
and “My teachers were empowered to teach me, not to waste time on test prep…they were allowed to be teachers…I had a brush with high stakes testing. My mom went to the principal and said ‘My kid ain’t taking that’”
Diana Ravitch stormed, “Let this democracy work for the many, not the few.”
T.B. Ferman, ” I am a bubble that you [Mr Duncan] cannot erase.”
M.Crunche [Parent], “ Next time you’re ordered by a corporate reformer who’s never taught anybody anything, know that there are millions of us behind you.”
Jon Stewart [Comedian TV Presenter] , “I know all about you teachers with your Toyota Celicas and free apples.”
Another parent asked, “ Mr.President, 8000 of us marched outside your house today. Did you see us? Did you hear us? “
The crowd chanted. “Hey. Hey. Ho. Ho. High stakes tests have got to go.”
The message from a co-organiser, Anthony Cody, bore some weight: “If we strengthen the network of people who care about schools, we raise the profile of a positive vision of public schooling, and make it more difficult for the Department of Education to pretend that the majority of the teaching profession supports their policies; and we remind Congress and the president that there are many, many thousands of people who care deeply about the future of our schools.
We don’t want schools sold off to corporate charters, don’t want them micromanaged by standardized tests. Teachers, parents and pupils should be entrusted with the real work of reforming our schools.”
There is an overall description of the great day from top journalist Valerie Strauss on http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-save-our-schools-march/2011/07/30/gIQAhf71jI_blog.html
It was a great day.
Please encourage our teachers and parents to join the new generation and return the freedom to learn to our children. The week-end was a momentous one. Please tell more and more about it.
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Have not seen a report in local print press or media. Strange. Makes one wonder. Treehorn smiles….or is it a smirk?