Sunday, September 22, 2013


There's an effort on to vilify public school teachers. Don't let anyone tell you anything else. This is part of a plan to privatize education so that people can make a profit off of it. Already, scores of people who never darken the doorstep of a classroom are making mountains of ducats at the expense of our nation's students. Who are these people? The creators and propagators of standardized testing and high-stakes evaluations.

I will get to standardized testing next week. I'll have plenty of time. My students are scheduled to take seven school days of standardized testing ... maybe eight ... maybe nine. Same thing again at the end of the year. That's three weeks of school that could be spent reading short stories, or writing poetry, or doing boring but essential grammar exercises. More about that later.

Today's sermon is about high-stakes evaluations. We teachers are being evaluated by more people, over longer periods of time, and with an evaluation tool that is a freak of nature. This tool was developed by some multi-millionaire shrewd lady former public educator who decided that every teacher breathing needs to have a tangible record of every single thing they do all day, every day. And this is especially true of the things teachers do that are "above and beyond" the 8-hour day.

In short, we need "artifacts." Artifacts are something in writing that you put in a binder that show you are making or exceeding the demands of the freak of nature evaluation tool.

Today I went to Snobville's annual used book sale. It's a big affair. In years past, I have cajoled my way to free books for my classroom. Today I paid, and it wasn't a cheap check, either. I spent $32 of my salary on young adult novels for my students. I also bought some classics for one valiant youngster who chooses to stick to the strong stuff.

When I paid for the books, I asked the people running the thing to write me a receipt. They gave me the flier from the sale, with confirmation of books purchased, and a private phone number of a volunteer who will, if called, confirm that a teacher purchased $32 worth of young adult and classic books.

This is my "artifact" of going above and beyond for my students this weekend. I will take the receipt to school, punch holes in it, and place it in a three-ring binder that is already filling with freak-of-nature artifacts.

I'm furious about this. Every year that I have been a teacher, I have gone to the Snobville book sale and either begged or bought books for my classroom. It's been a bunch of years, but some of you will recall that I made a shameless plea here at The Gods Are Bored for copies of The Great Gatsby. Do you know I received almost 30 copies from y'all? Thanks again!

The point here is that I choose to buy things for my classroom. I shouldn't be expected to do it, and expected to have proof of it. That turns something joyful into a fear-induced obligation.

All of this exploitative evaluation is aimed at weeding out older teachers, with larger salaries, who haul their tired but experienced rear ends into school every day and then go home exhausted every night. I am very new to the profession, but I'm not young. And let me just say that I spent three hours on a Saturday afternoon snoring in my bed because I was so tired out from a week of teaching! Dammit, that should be an artifact! Genuine, job-induced exhaustion!

I will end this sermon as I began it. The whole point of the far more exhaustive evaluations engendered by "school reform" is to demoralize public school teachers and pave the way for privatized education. Charter schools are the future. Me, I tend to think of charter schools as "The Minnow." Even though Gilligan and the Skipper were good sailors, their ship took ground on the shore of an uncharted desert isle. Oh, brave new world!


Debra She Who Seeks said...

We have some Charter schools here in Alberta. They are usually run by some religious sect or another who oppose secular education. They remain in a minority position in our school system. We still have a fairly good public school system here. But then again, a lot of tax money gets invested in it.

Anonymous said...

do the teachers in the charter schools have to go through the same evaluations, tests, and requirements that you do? Why not?

illissemorsirion said...

I know you don't come down to Baltimore a lot but next time you do you should check out here -

It's a free bookstore that was started to help teachers stock their classrooms with books.