PLEASE: This newsletter deserves to be read by as many people as possible. PLEASE send it to as many as you can….especially those to whom you seldom or never send an email….your local member, for instance, a journalist…to all those adults who are denied access to the truth. They need to know how teachers feel.
Do it for our kids.
The Treehorn Express
[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]
Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for less-than-ethical teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.
‘Once you’ve negotiated all that macho, militaristic nonsense that politicians love – tough new initiatives, step changes, hitting the ground running, driving up standards, rolling out innovation, zero tolerance, best practice, world class schools, back to basics and the rest [‘robust curriculum’ Chris?] – you encounter the mind-numbing banalities of management speak.’ [Prof. Robin Alexander]
FOREWORD”: The extract , “I Quit’’, below is of gold medal standard. It was published in the Washington Post.
Diane Ravitch the most respected educator in the USA, posted these reasons for ‘I Quit’’ by Kris Neilson . In her November 2 blog [ click her blog site below for full text] she says “, “Kris’s post has been read-to this point – by more that 130,000 people. It has been re-tweeted ,more than 800 times. Previously, the post that had the largest readership was “I am a teacher. Let me teach.” read by more than 4000 people.
This one was a meteor.
Every time I check, the numbers have soared again.
Kris captured the rage and frustration that many teachers feel.
He is sick of the disrespect.
He is tired of being micromanaged by people who know nothing about education.
He is fed up with directives and mandates.
He wants to be treated as a professional.
He wants to exercise autonomy and judgment, as professionals should.
He wants to do what is best for his students, not comply with federal or state or local mandates.
Many others have written to say that Kris expressed their own feelings.
His story illustrates the sickness of what is not absurdly called “reform”.
It is nothing of the sort.
It is micromanagement by bureaucrats and politicians.
It will NOT improve education. It sets up schools for failure and it demoralizes dedicated teachers.
The sooner the public understands what these people in our federal and state capitals are doing to the public schools, the sooner it will end.
Our job: INFORM THE PUBLIC. GET THE WORD OUT. BE STRONG.
BUT DON’T QUIT. BE THERE WHEN THE MADNESS COLLAPSES. IT WILL.”
This letter in the WP’s Valerie Strauss column could have been written by any teacher in any GERM country [e.g USA, Gt. Britain, New Zealand, Australia]. This teacher lives in North Carolina. He wrote to the Washington Post.
“I quit. I am resigning my position as a teacher in the state of North Carolina – permanently. I am quitting without notice. I am quitting without remorse and without second thoughts. I quit. I quit. I quit.
I refuse to be led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible.
I will not spend another day under the expectations that I prepare each one of my student for the increasing numbers of meaningless tests.
I will not spend another day wishing I had some time to plan my fantastic lessons because administration comes up with new and inventive ways to steal that time, under the guise of PLC [Professional Learning Community] meetings or whatever. I’ve seen useful PLC development. It doesn’t look like this.
I will not spend another day wondering what menial, administrative task I will hear that I have forgotten to do next. I’m far enough behind in my own work.
I will not spend another day wondering how I can have classes that are full inclusion, and where 50% of my students IEPs [learning problems], yet I’m given no support.
I will not spend another day in a district where my co-workers are both on autopilot and in survival mode. Misery loves company, but I will not be that company.
I refuse to subject students to every ridiculous standardised test that the state and/or district thinks is important. I refuse to have my higher-level and deep-thinking lessons disrupted by meaningless assessments that do little more than increase stress among children and teachers, and attempt to guide young adolescents into narrow choices.
I totally object and refuse to have my performance as an educator rely on ‘standards’. It is unfair, biased, and does not reflect anything about the teaching practices of proven educators.
I refuse to hear again that it is important that I serve as a test administrator rather than a leader of my peers.
I refuse to watch my students being treated like prisoners. There are other ways. It’s a shame that we don’t have the visions to seek out those alternatives.
I refuse to watch my co-workers being treated like untrustworthy slackers through the overbearing policies of this state, although they are the hardest working and most overloaded people I know.
I refuse to watch my district’s leadership tell us about the bad news and horrific changes coming towards us, then watching them shrug incompetently, and then tell us to work harder.
I refuse to listen to our highly regarded superintendent telling us that the charter school movement is at our doorstep and tell us not to worry about it, because we are applying for a grant. There is no consistency here; there is no leadership here.
I refuse to watch my students slouch under the weight of a system that expects them to perform well on test, which do not measure their readiness for the next grade level – much less life, career, or college.
I’m tired of watching my students produce amazing things, which show their true understanding of 21st century skills, only to see their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the arbitrary expectations of low-level state and district test that do not assess their skills.
I refuse to hear any more about how important it is to differentiate our instruction as we prepare our kids for tests that are anything but differentiated. This negates our hard work and makes us look bad.
I am tired of hearing about the miracles my peers are expected to perform, and watching the districts do next to nothing to support or develop them. The development sessions that I have attended are sloppy, shallow and have nothing to do with evaluation or accountability.
I am tired of my increasing and troublesome physical symptoms that come from all this frustration, stress, and sadness.
Finally, I’m tired of watching parents being tricked into believing that their children are being prepared for the complex world ahead, especially since their children’s teachers are being cowed into meeting expectations and standards that are not conducive to their children’s futures.
I’m truly angry that parents put so much stress, fear, and anticipation into their kids’ heads in preparation for the tests, none of which are consequential to their future needs. As a parent of a high school student in Union County, I’m dismayed at the education that my child receives, as her teachers frantically prepare her for the tests. My toddler will not attend a North Carolina Public School. I will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening.
I quit because I’m tired of being part of the problem. It’s killing me and it’s not doing anyone else any good. Farewell.
Kris L. Neilsen
We are fortunate that nothing likes this happens in a country like Australia, since the introduction of the all-popular NAPLAN.
Right Peter? Right Chris? Right ‘5 by 25’ ? Right you great ‘reformers’?
Our happy little testucators all trust you and love the way that you and your programmed sciolists run our classrooms.
Aussie teachers are soooo looking forward to the New Year pre-test period.
[SCIOLISM: a pretentious attitude of scholarship; superficial knowledgeability.]
Check and read the submissions to the Senate Committee of Inquiry into Teaching and Learning
Even “ …An independent enquiry like the Cambridge Primary Review, however authoritative and well founded evidentially it is, will make little headway if it says what a government does not wish to hear.” [Robin Alexander]
The Australian Senate Inquiry has a job on its hands!!
Phil Cullen AM,FACE,FACEL,FQIEL
[Gold Medal :ACEL]
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