Saturday, October 19, 2019
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Dear Mr. President,

I am a teacher.  You know, one of those about whom you and your Secretary of Education say are so important to our young people.  If only I - and thousands, perhaps millions of other teachers - could believe those words.  

There are things your administration has done that we respect, at least most of us.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act meant large numbers of teachers and other public employees did not lose their jobs.  Under ARRA, for the first time ever the Federal government for two years just about met its commitment to provide 40% of the average additional costs imposed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  There was also the $10 billion in funds to support local government employment that also save some jobs.    We acknowledge these things.

If only the policies your administration advocates were similarly supportive of teachers and what we see as the best interest of our students.

There are words -  Secretary Duncan saying to Roland Martin of NBC

The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.
and the Secretary and you approving of the firing of all the teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. Things like these do not give us confidence that your administration has the best interest of students at heart, and give us great pause in thinking that you really care about teachers.

Would these were our only concerns.

Miracle schools, vouchers and all that educational flim-flam

...is the title of this piece by Diane Ravitch.  Diane Ravitch  It appeared at the website of Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, as part of the "Ask This"  which is subtitled "Questions the Press Should Ask."   Oh if only reporters and writers on education were knowledgeable enough about education to ask questions such as those posed by Ravitch, perhaps we could cut through all the misleading and inaccurate information, the attempts to manipulate the public discourse on education to exclude the voices of those - including both Ravitch (a personal friend) and myself - who say that our supposed pattern of educational "reform" is like the emperor's new clothes -  there is no there there, as Gertrude Stein once opined of Oakland.

You should read Ravitch's piece.   To whet your appetite, let me offer Diane's first paragraph here, and then explore a bit more below the fold:  

Be skeptical of miracle schools. Sometimes their dramatic gains disappear in a year or two or three. Most such claims rely on cheating or gaming the system or on intensive test prep that involves teaching children how to answer test questions. These same children, having learned to take tests, may actually be very poorly educated, even in the subjects where their scores were rising.

Please keep reading.

An incredibly important speech on education by Diane Ravitch

That is a brief clip of Diane Ravitch addressing the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association on July 6, where she was receiving an award as the 2010 "Friend of Education."  

Please keep reading.