Teacher: ‘Worst year in the classroom’ in decades
This is just one of the many desperate emails and letters from teachers that education historian Diane Ravitch receives each day as she travels the country talking about the folly of the Obama administration’s $4 billion Race to the Top and overall education vision. It was written by Gary A. Groth, a National Board Certified Teacher and Middle Childhood Generalist at Mariposa Elementary School in Port St. Lucie, Florida, who gave me permission to publish it:
From Gary Groth: "As a classroom teacher with 30+ years experience, I just completed the absolute worst year in the classroom I have ever endured (and it was NOT the fault of my students—they were great).
"This year I was told what to teach, when to teach, how to teach, how long to teach, who to teach, who not to teach, and how often to test. My students were assessed with easily more than 120 tests of one shape or another within the first 6 months of the school year.
"My ability to make decisions about what is best for my students was taken away by an overzealous attempt to impose ‘consistency’ within my grade group. My school hired an outside consultant who threatened us with our jobs, demanded that everyone comply, and required us to submit data on test results on a weekly basis. If your class didn’t do well, you were certainly going to be in trouble.
"In addition, my class was visited at least twice a month by the consultant, two superintendents, principal, assistant principal, reading coach, math coach, and sometimes even more people. If I was not teaching exactly what they wanted to see, I was in trouble.
"My ability to have any academic freedom was completely taken away and my students were denied the best education I could provide for them. Please understand, my credentials are impeccable. I am board certified, have a masters degree in educational leadership, have been documented with the highest scores on my team, and absolutely love what I do. I want to be a teacher, but just can not continue within this toxic educational environment.
"This year I have tried to speak out against these many disgusting practices of testing, teaching to the test, or as you called it ‘institutionalized cheating.’ I have felt like a voice in the wilderness. The response has been, ‘Get used to it. It is what is coming down the pike.’
"We are in desperate need of voices like yours to bring sanity back to education. Please, please, please continue to speak out about this debacle and help us restore the focus of education back to the child and NOT the test score. I will enthusiastically share your article with fellow educators in an effort to save the future of public school education. I just wish I could do more.
"If you have any other positive suggestions as to what I can do to help, please let me know. Thank you for speaking out. Let’s hope it is not too late."
Respectfully submitted, Gary A. Groth National Board Certified Teacher, Middle Childhood Generalist Mariposa Elementary School Port St. Lucie, FL
It is difficult to know how to begin to unravel this tight knot of tangled strands: government under-funding, endowment losses, the end of compulsory retirement, the inflation of graduate school enrolments, university administrators’ favouring of medical, business, scientific and professional school faculties over the humanities… the list goes on. How do we begin the work of gaining, not “more” sessional/stipendiary positions, but more and better positions?
Here are some suggestions arising from this report, targetted in different ways:
For job seekers: the college and university-college sector is holding relatively steady, and offers interesting learner populations and interdisciplinary programs.
For chairs: a number of departments in non-urban and northern locations report they are having difficulty attracting applicants for their positions. It is worth publicizing postings widely.
For sessional/stipendiary instructors: unionization provides protection, at least if the jobs are there. And collective agreements can be used to modify job classifications, even if gradually.
For tenured and tenure-track faculty: Don’t take on, at least without protest, the work of people who are being laid off. Volunteerism andesprit de corps shouldn’t turn into a form of scabbing.
More for tenured and tenure-track faculty: unionize, and if you are already unionized, prioritize getting workload limits and class “caps.” You’ll save your sanity and other peoples’ jobs.
For graduate directors: try to communicate to administrators the costs to graduate students of carrying courses before they are ready. This is not the same as professional/pedagogic training.
For associations: scholarly and higher-education organizations need to push Statistics Canada to generate complete and meaningfulemployment indicators for the postsecondary sector.
For chairs again: keep saying what you already say to administrators. Inflated grad programs suck undergrad resources. Retirements need replacements. Teaching is more than contact hours.
For university administrators: recalculation is needed of the demographic impact of delayed retirements, whether willing or caused by the collapse of defined-contribution pension schemes.
For CFHSS: work with SSHRC and government lobbying are needed to make the case for many more postdoctoral fellowships, and new forms of teaching apprenticeships and bridge positions.
For policy makers: time to bring back the “two-tier hire” (confined to Canadian nationals and landed-status in the first search, with a later international search only if a hire cannot be made).
For everyone: we must communicate strongly to government and to the public the toll of chronic underfunding: we are losing both highly-trained teachers and our discipline’s next generation.
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+ Ownership of Intrastructure Theme: Digital Infrastructure
When author Nicholas Carr began researching his book on whether the Internet is ruining our minds, he restricted his online access and e-mail and turned off his Twitter and Facebook accounts. His new book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” argues the latest technology renders us less capable of deep thinking. Carr found himself so distracted that he couldn’t work on the book while staying as connected, as is commonplace. [errr. who can. connectivity doesn’t just mean being connected. as a 21st literacy skill, it’s about data management. -ml] "I found my inability to concentrate a great disability," Carr told Reuters in an interview. "So, I abandoned my Facebook and Twitter accounts and throttled back on e-mail so I was only checking a couple of times a day rather than every 45 seconds. I found those types of things really did make a difference," he said. After initially feeling “befuddled” by his sudden lack of online connection, Carr said, within a couple of weeks he was able to stay focused on one task for a sustained period and, thankfully, able to do his work.
Carr wrote a 2008 Atlantic magazine piece that posed the controversial question “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and wanted to dig deeper into how the Internet alters our minds.
Polis and the Media CSR Forum hosted an interactive panel about media literacy on March 18th. Here is a full report on the event by Polis Director Charlie Beckett (also avaible at his weblog). “Stop Reading Stuff!” Information overload and media literacy; By Polis Director Charlie Beckett
Can a new research library be all digital? How much does it cost a library to preserve a codex? What do large-scale text-digitizing projects mean for scholarship in the humanities? Those are driving questions behind a new report, “The Idea of Order: Transforming Research Collections for 21st Century Scholarship,” released today by the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.
• provide a course scheduling system fully integrated with Google services • demonstrate what it takes to built an application using App Engine
By releasing CloudCourse as open source we hope to help developers who want to port or build enterprise applications on App Engine. Digging into the source code, you will find many examples of how we addressed challenges like long running processes, locking, synchronizing with external systems, high performance transactional workflows, and more. All the techniques that we used can easily be applied to other applications.