Friday, July 29, 2011

Diane Ravitch: A Call to Action

At the NBPTS conference in Washington, D. C.,  Diane Ravitch noted that it’s a critical time for the teaching profession and public schools.  She encouraged teachers to speak up for schools, students and the profession with the following points:

  • There should be a good school(s) in every American neighborhood.
  • There should be great teachers in every school.
  • Public policies such as NCLB and Race to the Top have been destructive to our public schools and the teaching profession. 
  • How can schools be expected to do better with less?
  • Teaching is a critical profession for our society, and should be supported by policy makers rather than demoralized, belittled and attacked.
  •  Society is failing to reduce poverty and provide health care which greatly impacts children’s ability to learn and succeed.
  • We can improve education by strengthening the education profession, respecting the profession, and creating conditions for excellence.
  • Educational professionals should run the profession, lead schools and make decisions related to public education, not the government—it’s the government’s job to support education with funding and fair laws.
  • Testing needs to be streamlined and used to improve schools, not as a means of rewarding/punishing teachers.  Current testing policies are based on outdated models of motivation and success.
  •  The money saved by streamlining testing, can be used to improve conditions for excellence in schools throughout America.  

Later in the day I spoke to a teacher who had attended Hill Day, a time for teachers to speak to legislators about the teaching profession.  That teacher from Washington state noted that legislators were eager to hear stories from the profession, and that often they don’t hear from educators about what we need in order to provide an excellent education for students.  Hence, it's time to speak up.