Can We Talk? (I Mean Really…)

The 49er says that Education Post can’t start a conversation—because its founders and funders already have all of the answers.

can we talkBy *The 49er*
In a recent offline conversation, EduShyster and I were trying to figure out a name for the group of people that are opposing reformers. You see reformers are easy to place in a camp. Even though there are internal fights on issues such as Common Core and the role of the federal government in education, there is general agreement that there need to be major changes to public education in America. But the camp which is fighting those reformers (and probably most of the people reading this post) isn’t so easy to define. Harvard Professor Jal Mehta defines this camp as  traditionalists. (Why do I suspect that EduShyster is bristling at the use of that term?) [Editorial note: she is!]

A Camp Without a Name
Many in this group would advocate for the creation of progressive public schools like Boston’s Mission Hill School or for Al Shanker’s original vision for charter schools as laboratories of innovation that worked alongside traditional public schools. While many people in this group are union members or union supporters, it’s not just unions that are fighting against reformers. Heck, often times the unions don’t even seem to be fighting against the reformers.

test prep 2Meet the Holisticrats
The term I’ve been bouncing around in my head for this group is the *Holisticrats.* OK, OK—I know it’s super wonky, but hear me out. It encompasses the belief that this group shares that education must be adequately funded and that all kids should have access to a holistic education that doesn’t just focus on reading, writing, and math but a complete curriculum with science, history, foreign languages, music, arts, physical education, computer programming and more. Holisticrats believe that all kids, regardless of their neighborhood should have access to this rich curriculum. What’s more, they believe that addressing poverty will do more to lift student outcomes than any legislative policy change.

But as I thought further on the issue, this description is likely too broad because the battle lines aren’t always consistent. I’ve met many reformers who want to see more resources poured into struggling schools, regardless of the kind of school. I’ve also seen reformers battle for multi-language curriculums and advocate for STEM resources.

easy answersAll the answers
As you’ve no doubt seen by now, the usual education reform foundations have launched a new organization called Education Post to create what they’re calling a *healthy discussion* around key issues. Whatever you think of the mission, Education Post won’t get the job done as the founders and the funders of this initiative believe that there are clear answers on such hotly-debated topics as accountability, charter schools and the role of unions in public education. But creating dialogue isn’t possible when you know the answers and aren’t willing to expose flaws. Success Academy gets great test results but apparently is a miserable place for teachers to work. At last attempting to tell the whole story is key and Education Post likely won’t be doing this.

Can we talk?
I have a better idea than a $12 million website that essentially amplifies a one-sided debate. Talking to people in organic situations can often be a far more effective way of persuading and changing minds than social media pile-ons. For example, I was talking to the president of a Fortune 500 company earlier this summer (ok, so most teachers don’t have this luxury), and he insisted to me that kids shouldn’t be exposed to other content areas until they have mastered literacy. Well as we started diving into what excited his grandchildren to learn, he began to see that the philosophy of that school isn’t solely focused on literacy. Using other subjects as a means to excite kids to learn is an obvious step towards build a more literate society. By tying in personal narratives, I was able to at least alter one important man’s ignorant point of view on this subject.

tile-can-we-talkWant my advice?
So my advice moving forward to all sides who want to improve education in this country (which I think everyone does even if we disagree on what improvement looks like or how it should be measured), is that actually talking might get us somewhere. Of course, there should be still be debate, but as more public discussion on an issue emerges I think we will start to build a new national paradigm on education policy with expanded early childhood education, fewer high-stakes tests, more teacher autonomy and more choices for everyone in the system. But to get there, we’re going to need real conversation in which there is room for honest differences of opinion.

*The 49er* is the moniker of a D-List education reformer and a regular contributor to EduShyster.com. Send comments to 49er@haveyouheardblog.com.

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36 Comments

  1. Rather than just waiting for that wonderful day to come, I think it would be interesting to lay out the hypothetical conversation a little bit.

    In particular, it would be interesting to highlight the areas where each side is most dishonest in the way they approach the conversation, that is, the pretenses they have to set aside to have a real conversation. Think that’s possible?

    I’d expect readers would have no trouble with the charter/reformy side. For example, the pretense that the results aren’t deeply influenced by teaching a selected population of students (due to the admission and attrition process, which seems actively managed at many schools). Yes, there are interventions that have an effect – but the biggest impact is having a group of students who are more ready to learn and have stronger family support than the population they are drawn from.

    The Hollistocrats (Holistas?) side might be tougher to do honestly here.

    And of course, once done, it would probably illustrate why neither side is willing to set aside their pretenses and have the conversation you imagine.

    1. I’ll encourage the 49er to weigh in here too, but what frustrates me is that reformers I talk to (and they now number in the thousands!) will admit to doubts in private conversation that they never acknowledge in public. For example, so many people admit to being uncomfortable with certain aspects of no excuses-style discipline but and in the meantime, the organizations they work for–or even head–keep cheerleading away for these schools to *scale up.* As for what the holistas (a name I MUCH prefer to the hollisticrats), I think you’re going to start to see a change in the conversation as the pendulum clearly swings back to our side. Talking about what we’re for vs what we’re against is much harder…

      1. OK, but just on the question of having an honest conversation … let’s be honest. There are some things that the anti-reformers refuse to see or acknowledge. Some are blinded by conviction, others simply see it as politically apt (rather than cynically dishonest). As a result, the questions and policy issues aren’t being framed properly.

          1. First of all, I like holistas more than holisticrats as well. Here are some truths that this group needs to admit:

            -The failure of most colleges of education to adequately prepare teachers to teach in urban schools (bash NCTQ all you want but they raised an important issue even if their approach is misguided).
            -The fact that unions often prioritize spending resources over protecting ineffective teachers instead of raising the profession.
            -The fact that many Silicon Valley employers can’t find Americans prepared to be ready for their high-tech jobs.
            -The fact that too many kids aren’t prepared for the rigors of a college education by our K-12 system.

            There are more that come to mind, but there are issues this camp needs to attack as well in a real forum of discussion. To be honest, this type of discussion isn’t possible today on social media.

            Also, my issue with Education Post is that it limited itself to 3 subjects right off the bat. Maybe it will expand, but they know what voices they want to hear. With my reform hat, I could probably write for them quite easily under my real name (and I am willing to do so). But writing this blog does more to further the education dialogue in this country than Education Post will likely do even with their $12 million budget. Finally, I can promise you EduShyster isn’t paying me a dime to write these posts.

          2. “-The fact that many Silicon Valley employers can’t find Americans prepared to be ready for their high-tech jobs.”

            You mean myth, right? How is it that they can’t find qualified people when millions of qualified people who were, in fact, doing those very jobs, are now stocking retail shelves, flipping burgers or just collecting unemployment? You mean, they can’t find qualified people willing to work for minimum wage.

          3. I’m with Dienne on this one, 49er! When Silicon Valley companies–and businesses in general–complain that they can’t get the workers they need, the unspoken caveat is *because we’re no longer willing to provide any training. (or the not entirely unrelated *because we’re only willing to pay $10 an hour.* I wrote about this here and included links to some recent studies. Delve into the college readiness question and you’ll find similarly murky terrain. (I’m especially suspicious when the same people sounding the college readiness alarm offer up math/English only charters as the solution.) As for the college prep debate, I think that the most interesting criticisms come from people who are in the field (see, for example, the interviews I did with Stephanie Rivera or Ken Zeichner). Too much of the current crusade is fixated on increasing test scores as the sole measurement of teacher effectiveness. But I’m with you on the union priorities question. In fact, I’d take it a step farther. In many communities, teacher unions are the single largest organized group, which I think gives them a responsibility to advocate for the entire community, not just for their specific members. As for what I’d add to the list, let’s just say I’m working on it…

      2. News item: presidents of the University of California and other top CA universities issued a big endorsement of Common Core today. They really believe these standards will make kids ready for college. Most college professors I know complain about incoming students’ lack of skills –reading, writing and critical thinking. So they think more skills instruction is what kids need. CCSS seems to demand this. The problem is, the mutant curricula CCSS is spawning resembles no curriculum ever seen by man. Did Abe Lincoln learn to write by endless mastication of random complex texts? Why doesn’t UC president Janet Napolitano look at Abe’s education and demand that we replicate that?

  2. Thank you for introducing me to Ed Post. I must have missed the article in WaPo because I was busy enjoying my day away from labor. It is refreshing to see a website created by these benevolent souls because they have had such difficulty getting their voices heard in recent years. It is also nice to see Peter Cunningham getting the props he deserves in being referred to as a ‘guru’. He certainly deserves that monicker following the outstanding results of the messaging campaign he enacted earlier in his tenure with Arne. Sure, poll results show that people think that Duncan is a weenie and the Common Core is about to implode, but I’m sure it is all just a consequence of Cunningham leaving. (It’s a good thing I am not writing this on the EdPost website since it is a place for respectful conversation…wooops!

    The good news is that the foundations that are funding these bogus sites will start to realize that they are throwing money out the window. When it comes down to it, these people don’t have much of a personal stake in the public school system (aside from their investments in for-profit charter chains and ed-tech start ups). There is a whole class of people who do have a stake in the system. Those are the people who are leading the true discourse.

    1. I think this type of site is not, in fact, throwing money out the window. They don’t need to fully persuade people, just raise enough doubt to keep those on the fence, on the fence. Neutralizing is almost as good as converting.
      Also, it’s useful for when they find a journalist who needs to write an article by a deadline, and isn’t especially informed and hasn’t been following the debate, who thinks, “hey, education is a hot topic, I think I’ll write something about that!” They read this stuff and think they understand it well enough to write a pro-reformy article on the topic. That seems to happen regularly.

    2. Peter Cunningham?

      Hmmm… Isn’t this the guy who wrote a damning “Washington Post” review of Diane Ravitch’s REIGN OF ERROR—“Ravitch Redux”—without first taking the proper step of … ohhh… EVEN READING THE BOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE???!!!

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-cunningham/ravitch-redux_b_3768887.html

      Yep, that’s right. He trashed the book before it came out or anyone had gotten a copy of it, using his Nostradamus-like powers of prophecy to he divine what MIGHT be in it. (Had he, he’d have seen that 52 pages are devoted to graphs, studies, citations, backing up all her assertions.)

      Do restaurant reviewers write stuff like, “You know I’ve never eaten at this place, but I just have the feeling that the food there is dreadful. Take my advice and stay away from this joint… like I did before even writing this review… and you’ll be glad that you did.” ?

      In that same pseudo-review, he even takes something that Dr. Ravitch said outside of the book—that highly-successful vocational, education programs were being nixed in favor of the misguided “everyone must go to college” movement—and claimed she was a racist who proclaimed that students of color should be banned from attending college.

      No, Pete. That is most certainly NOT what Dr. Ravitch said—as anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex reading Dr. Ravitch’s words in context could discern—but don’t let that get in the way of a good smear.

      Yeah, this guy’s got the credibility of O.J. Simpson or Melvin Dummar (look it up). Yeah, sure. He’s someone I would trust to have a fair and open “conversation” on education.

  3. Here’s an idea of how to get dialogue going: start visiting each others’ schools. From most of what I read here, it’s clear district teachers almost never visit charter schools. They base most of what they say on articles, blogs, etc. We have TONS of visitors through our school each year, but they mainly come from from charter schools or ed reform groups from around the country, or from schools outside of the US.

    A few years back, we were visited by some Boston Public teachers. One arrived wearing a Boston Teachers’ Union t-shirt (professional and appropriate!) and asked a million hostile questions. But by the end of the day, he was telling us how impressed he was with our model and how he wished they could replicate it at his school.

    I think many ed reform types have been in district schools (urban and suburban). I have as a parent looking at BPS schools for my own kids, on professional development days, and before my teaching career as an out-of-school-time educator. As a child, I attended a suburban district in New York. Many reformers have previously taught in district schools.

    1. I’m very pro school visit and go to as many as I can, and have even been to yours! But I wonder how typical your experience is (or even how typical your charter is in that it has a close relationship with a district school). While it’s true that many charter teachers are themselves products of public schools, there’s an increasingly rigid separation between the systems. The young charter teachers I meet typically arrive at their schools via TFA and are fairly steeped in disdain for the traditional system. (I have a fascinating interview I did with some young academics on just this subject that I’ll be posting later this fall.) But I agree that exchanges of all kinds are good (and not just comparing ANet data online…) and have long dreamed of getting some kind of discussion going in Boston.

      1. We’re glad you came! Come back any time. We definitely DON’T have a close relationship with that school. They came once and then we shared our curriculum with them.

        I know that TFA is now placing in a lot of charters. Not ours. Not sure what percentage of new charter teachers are TFA corps members. About 40% of the teachers in our network are TFA alumni, but few or none current corps. Not sure how many of the alums taught in traditional district schools. I know both of our co-founders did, as did my wife. A lot of times, TFAers come to charters after frustration with the district schools they were initially placed in.

        At the school where my wife did TFA, the home ec teacher had the kids make fried chicken every day to please the principal (her best friend). The chemistry teacher was applauded for his outstanding test scores, which he achieved by writing the answers on the board (#1 = C, #2 = B) before the tests. The assistant principal would call my wife into the office to hit on her. The security guards were the top drug dealers in the school. A gang (non-students) came into the cafeteria one day and beat up the basketball team with baseball bats. The year my wife started as the only TFAer in the building, there were 4 other new teachers. None of the others made it through Christmas. She lasted 2 years. But at least they filmed “Save the Last Dance” there. As you can see, Brooke is maybe a better place to teach despite our lack of union and our long days.

        1. I was talking about Brooke’s partnership with the Elliot, which seems unusual. I think the percentage of new charter teachers that are TFA members varies depending on the CMO. Most of these will only agree to expand into a new territory if TFA has an existing presence and can function as a talent provider. And I suspect your example of the TFA teachers coming to charters out of frustration is less and less typical. (In cities like LA and Philadelphia, for example, TFA places close to 100% of its CMs in charters.) You’ve inspired me to get a move on and post the interview I did with the UC Berkeley professors. They both went through TFA and are now using their access to do research on the organization and finding some fascinating stuff. So stay tuned 🙂

          1. Oh, I think you’re confused about the Eliot School. The Eliot School is an art and woodworking school in Jamaica Plain that runs programs for kids and adults. It’s a non-profit organization, not a district school. They do, however, come and help our kids learn a little about woodworking and tools. Here’s the link: http://www.eliotschool.org/

  4. A third category, the problematic viewpoints both sides share:

    -The other side is evil, so everything they do or advocate for is wrong and evil. (It doesn’t matter that the research clearly shows those educational interventions work, they proposed them so it must be part of their evil plan! or, They’re only saying teachers should have training to protect the unions!)

    – The other side is evil, so my own evil is justified. IOW, it’s really their fault I’m being forced to do this evil thing. (Such as, putting teachers with no real training in charge of classrooms is OK, because the unions are evil! And I wouldn’t be forced to do this if they weren’t! etc.)

  5. Bob, I have taught history for 18 years and I have some well-informed ideas about how to improve history curricula. Bill Gates has never taught history. Whose ideas are likely to prevail –the experienced teacher’s, or the billionaire’s? Suppose Bill Gates had a great idea for changing the way we do open heart surgery, and he used his influence to get the AMA and major medical schools to adopt his ideas, though it was far from clear from most practitioners that this was a truly a great idea. Now do you see what the flap is about? It’s about the national folly of equating money-making-savvy with all-purpose wisdom, the implicit dissing of experienced teachers’ professional knowledge and judgement, and the replacement of democracy with 21st century aristocracy.

    1. Totally with you on this one. The problem with attributing great wisdom to the richest among us is that their ideas are seen as having inherent worth or value, no matter how toolish they are. Did you see the interview I did with Joanne Barkan about this? She does a great job explaining this.

      1. I agree with your basic premise. However, if we COULD prove that the Gates history curriculum was actually more effective at getting kids to learn history in a meaningful way (and I’m not saying we could), there would still be a large chorus of folks who would disagree with adopting it because it’s affiliated with Gates (or because it’s new or because it isn’t what they’ve always done). Just saying.

        Philanthropists are just screwed. If they don’t give away money people think they suck. If they try to give it away and don’t pay attention, the money is wasted. If they try to give it away and have some control over where it goes, they get lambasted for having too much influence.

        1. I’m so glad! I’m looking forward to hanging out with her tomorrow and am hoping to have some audio to post in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading.

  6. Since so-called education reformers are frauds, and funded by largely by assholisiticrats. I suggest the term “Real Reformers.”

    1. Thanks Michael for the productive name calling. I’ll assume I should put fraud on my resume since I work in a charter school.

      Reactionary might be a better term since they have had trouble articulating a clear vision of improving education for low-income populations that does include one of the following ideas:

      1) Schools used to be better. Let’s go back to that.
      2) Schools are fine. (Of course, we know that’s not true for many subgroups).
      3) Let’s have more money.
      4) Let’s fix poverty and then the schools will be better because the schools will have “easier” kids so they can keep using methods that work for the privileged.
      5) No TESTING!
      6) No improvement for the poor if EVERY SINGLE PERSON CAN’T HAVE THE SAME EXACT THING!

      1. Impressive list of straw man arguments; I think you have a real future in so-called ed reform, especially given your compassion and concern for the malanthropists who are taking over the schools.

        You’re so right, Gates, Broad, the Walton’s, they are really are the victims here.

  7. Michael, do you have ideas for how to improve our educational system? Would love to hear them. If not, keep on dancing with the scarecrow.

    1. Ooh, ya got me, didn’t you?

      So-called reformers are always quick to play that card, attempting to misdirect attention from their social vandalism by (falsely) claiming that defenders of public education are just negative Nellies, with nothing positive to offer.

      OK, so to quickly dispose of that one, here we go:

      To start, let’s include something resembling the Hipporcratic Oath’s, “”First do no harm.” Let’s stop the school closings, attacks on teachers and use of high stakes exams as weapons against teachers and training-in-powerlessness-and-tedium for students.

      Let’s also stop pretending that charters are public schools that don’t siphon money and resources from the public system. In other words, stop the lying.

      Now, on to some more positive suggestions, since so-called reformers love to insipidly gush about how “it’s all about the kids,” while closing their community public schools and replacing them with Skinner Box/Boot Camp charter chains:

      – Double the minimum wage and increase housing subsidies, so that poor families are not always on the edge of crisis, which affects students in school, though I know so-called reformers loath to acknowledge that out-of-school influences affect children.

      – Lower class size. Charters proudly boast of their lower class size, while their very existence means increased class size in public schools.

      – Expand in-school services. Hire more guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, classroom paraprofessionals recruited from the communities where they work.

      – Widely expand serious enrichment programs for students, including art, music, dance, drama, shop classes, home economics.

      – Fund after-school and summer programs, and not test prep.

      – For the little one’s, bring back recess, at least twice a day.

      – Move from a law enforcement model of student discipline, suspending only for serious infractions, and replace it with restorative justice programs that involve the students themselves.

      I could go on and on, but I also know that so-called reformers don’t listen. They know better than the little people who actually do the teaching and spend all day with kids.

      1. Michael,

        I agree with a lot of what you write – schools are better with smaller class sizes, more support staff, less poverty, recess, arts, etc. I’m just wondering if adding those things back in will actually make a difference. Many of those things were in schools before (and inequity was a huge problem then too).

        Here’s my question: if we could magically make all of your ideas a reality for this nascent school year, and they led to improvements, what could teachers do in their classrooms to leverage those changes to have an even greater impact? What you describe is what happens in the wealthier suburbs, right? Do you think that this would be sufficient to increase achievement gaps with the rich and the (less) poor?

        1. If I may butt in: I agree with Michael’s suggestions, but I also agree with your insinuation that what happens inside the classroom needs scrutiny. I think E.D. Hirsch makes a very compelling argument in The Knowledge Deficit and elsewhere that kids at the bottom side of the achievement gap will never come close to catching up until schools systematically teach them the world and word knowledge that fuels the intellects of professionals’ kids. We are not doing this because most teacher do not understand the importance of possessing knowledge. They have a misguided belief that they can build all-purpose thinking skills through projects, writing practice, and reading practice. Reform of our underlying principles of education is needed. The fact that Common Core, as it’s commonly interpreted, is leading us away from knowledge-building means it is destined to fail to narrow the achievement gap. According to Hirsch, there was one system in the world that did almost eliminate the achievement gap between poor immigrants and middle class white kids: France’s. It was also notorious for imparting facts. But then it reformed its national curriculum to be fashionably skills-oriented and the gap reappeared.

          1. Ponderosa,

            While think it’s self-evident that classroom practice is important, no matter what students’ background is, I am also reluctant to get into that in this thread because

            1. It was not part of the initial topic.

            2. So-called reformers habitually try to place virtually all responsibility for student outcomes on teachers, as a way of misdirecting attention away from their socially destructive actions.

  8. Your final question makes no sense, and you seem intent on creating moving targets for me to address, after I already made my point, especially since for charter schools/so-called reformers, “achievement” equals test scores.

    I’m no longer going to play this game of yours.

    1. Darn, it was such a FUN game!

      For the record, I think great teachers can change the outcomes for kids with tough backgrounds. Not 100%, but a lot. If they don’t think they can do that, why the hell are they in teaching?

      1. In my experience (10 years at Title I urban public high school), people go into teaching for a variety of reasons.
        Category A people go into teaching primarily because they hope to rescue children from an unfair life. Category A tends to include 1. the childless 2. the work-martyrs 3. those who don’t have strong religious beliefs and don’t belong to a faith community 4. those who don’t like to be home much and 5. the social justice seekers. Often these categories intersect.
        Category B people go into teaching, particularly high school teaching, because they are passionate about the content. Category B can include good and bad teachers. Good category B teachers are kind, fair, decently-organized, sensitive to students’ different needs, and get intrinsic rewards from promoting curiosity and Socratic learning. Bad category B teachers don’t connect well with students and are often either disorganized, punitive, or difficult, or a combination of these qualities.
        Category C people go into teaching because they were excellent students themselves and thrive in academic institutions. Often Category C people find that they don’t particularly like the realities of managing a classroom, and quickly advance into administrative positions.
        To respond directly to your question, I don’t think we can or should assume that all teachers enter the profession in order to improve the outcomes for students with tough backgrounds. However, that’s not to say that improving a background isn’t the highest honor. And mathteacher, if you’re reading this, I know I haven’t cited enough data to satisfy you.

        1. Of course I’m reading.

          I think I’m a Category A. Used to be childless (no more). Maybe a work-martyr (not quite sure what that means, but could be me). Definitely no strong religious beliefs. Would much rather be at home, but am also not a social butterfly. Social justice seeker? Yes, please.

          Curious about your thoughts on the religion piece. Seems like there should be a fair number of religious folks who take up the social justice mantle, right?

          I wonder if there are other Categories. For example:

          Category W- I’m a college-educated woman who wanted to work outside of the home and/or a member of a racial minority, and there were not many other professional options so I became a teacher.

          Category M – Like category W, but I know that when I have kids I am going to stay at home with them. Maybe I’ll return to teaching some day.

          Category TFA – I want to pad my resume before grad school. There’s no way I’m teaching more than 5 years.

          Category E – education was the easiest major at my college, so I became a teacher.

          Category S – I like summers off, so I became a teacher.

          Category P – I’m in it for the pension.

          In all seriousness, Category A and the good Category B folks should be the backbone of our teaching corps, right? And that’s not to say that there isn’t overlap between categories or that people can switch categories. My wife was Category TFA and is now a Category A, and in her 15th year of teaching.

          To go back to my original question: I wasn’t implying that was why all teachers go into teaching. I was just thinking that if a teacher didn’t think they COULD have in impact in that way it would be pretty sad for that teacher’s students (assuming they taught some kids who didn’t have “perfect” lives).

          1. Hi! I work with a few Ws. Usually dutiful but sort of uninspiring if they don’t have a passion for their content. Categories M, E, S and P should be (and often are) weeded out of the profession with a decent teacher eval tool. And hopefully due process. However, who’s not to say that we won’t all be Ps someday. It’s hard to imagine keeping your groove intact after spending 30 years with adolescents and teenagers.

            I’m a Category B, and hope that I’m a good B. I’m a fairly-decent Catholic, mom to three, married for a long time to the same guy. Sometimes I get irritated with the As. (But I certainly have more in common with an A than a bad B) Maybe I get irritated because they also seem to be Type A in addition to Category A. But I think my main gripe is the romanticism of American education that I see some of the non-religious, social-justice- seeking teachers practicing. I lived and taught in the U.K. for a while and saw very little of that romanticism, despite quite higher British student performance overall. When I referred to the work-martyr in my earlier post, I’m describing the teacher who engages in the contests of who can stay at work the longest, who can sponsor the most clubs, who devotes the most time to preparing and grading student work. The work-martyr often agrees to extra unpaid duties because it’s “for the kids.” In the U.K, this sort of self-sacrifice is unusual, and would generally be looked down upon by co-workers because it degrades teachers’ professional contract.

            I don’t teach in a charter, but my principal displays some Chicago charter-y tendencies. He loves meetings, meetings about meetings, corporate lingo, and data. He also likes to claim that teachers’ power is “unlimited.” Don’t I wish it were! I’d fix the broken copier, replace the moldy ceiling tiles , create extra desks for those students without one, make hand soap appear in the women’s room, stop the sophomores from having babies, make the gang members change their ways, end racism, create jobs, end corruption, and prevent all learning disabilities from happening. In the real world, though, I see danger in placing our hopes to cure societal problems on schools. I fear that fewer and fewer talented people will enter the profession if we continue down the path of romanticizing what educators are capable of accomplishing.

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