• News
  • Celebrities
  • Finance
  • Crypto
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Others

Thousands come out to teacher rally in Washington, protest Obama and decade of ‘bad’ policies

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Teacher-student_Thumb1.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite 95-degree heat and high humidity, an estimated crowd of 3,000 to 5,000 descended onto the National Mall and later marched to the White House as part of the Save Our Schools and National Call to Action, calling on President Obama and Congress to roll back No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top policy initiatives.

The audience, mostly teachers representing states from all over the U.S., listened on as leading education reformers like Linda Darling-Hammond, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and professor Diane Ravitch and film star Matt Damon condemned the high-stakes testing they say are inimical to public education.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Teachers-students-and-education-reformers-await-a-keynote-speaker-during-the-July-30-Save-Our-Schools-March.jpgTeachers, students, and education reformers await a keynote speaker during the July 30 Save Our Schools March (Mikhail Zinshteyn)

Slam poets and union leaders urged the protesters to overwhelm the inboxes and landlines of policy makers; country music performers sang tongue-in-cheek tunes like “Test Teacher,” with many in attendance singing along to the lyrics: “Work on Math and English and forget about the rest,” and “get off the monkey bars and stay behind a desk.”

Another performer, George Mason professor Mary Stone Hanley, likened NCLB to snake oil while reciting her poem, “The Mess,” saying the maligned and decade-old education policy is “a simple answer to a complex question.”

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/George-Mason-professor-Mary-Stone-Hanley-shares-her-poem-as-a-sign-linguist-translates.jpgGeorge Mason professor Mary Stone Hanley shares her poem as a sign linguist translates during the July 30 Save Our Schools March

Policy specifics

Diane Ravitch, in an interview with The American Independent before she came on stage, said, “[policy makers] don’t understand what good education looks like. These congressmen went to great schools; if they want the same for today’s students they need to get rid of punitive testing.”

Under NCLB, schools that persistently underperform must allow students to enroll in other programs within the district, taking valuable state and federal funding that rides with every pupil. The penalties continue to snowball until downright school closure or charter-school takeover is prescribed. Other consequences include hiring a private company to take over operations or placing the school under direct state control.

Pertaining to educators, recently many districts have adopted value-added metrics, a set of data collected that link student standardized test performance to teacher quality, in evaluating teachers. Value-added approaches have been shown to be highly volatile and statistically unpredictable.

NCLB, the current iteration of the longstanding Early and Secondary Education Act passed under President Lyndon B. Johnon, uses a federal measure called Annual Yearly Progress to determine the progress of a school; U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters in June over 80 percent of schools are slated to fail according to AYP next year. Under NCLB, by 2014, nearly every school in the country is expected to have 100 percent of its students proficient according to state-administered tests used to fulfill NCLB regulations.

At the heart of the grievances voiced by groups like Save Our Schools is the diluting of traditional forms of education in favor of a one-size-fits-all legislative makeover they contend has not improved student proficiency in core subjects, nor have they led to increased graduation rates.

Recently, that rebuke gained new credibility with a May report from the National Academies of Science that concluded [PDF] “[i]ncentives will often lead people to find ways to increase measured performance that do not also improve the desired outcomes. As a result, different performance measures—that are not being used in the incentive system—should be used when evaluating how the incentives are working.”

On standardized exit exams for graduates, the report found these “high school exit exam programs, as currently implemented in the United States, decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing achievement. The best available estimate suggests a decrease of 2 percentage points when averaged over the population.”

Consequences of the system

“Data is meaningless by itself without context,” Ravitch told TAI, explaining socio-economic conditions often dwarf the impact a teacher can have on a student. “Testing is good for collecting information to help students, not punishing them and their teachers.”

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of early childhood education who mentors new teachers at Lesley University (and the mother of Matt Damon), told TAI her principal policy prescription would be to eschew applying “business standards on human value.” Lawmakers are making policies that are harmful to students, she said, while eroding community control of schools.

In New Orleans, for example, charter schools operate chiefly under a type of self-contained school regulatory code that critics argue has undermined parental involvement in student affairs. Since Hurricane Katrina, only a handful of schools in New Orleans are neighborhood schools, meaning students are forced to attend classrooms miles away from their homes.

In a brief exchange with Matt Damon, he told TAI high-stakes testing and the attendant punishment applied to teachers of under-performing students is narrowing the curriculum for children and educators. “You wouldn’t allow business people to design military policy — why do we allow them to shape our education policy?” Damon asked.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/matt-damon-SOS.jpgMatt Damon speaks to reporters during the Save Our Schools rally (Mikhail Zinshteyn)

An increasing amount of school organizations including the National Education Association — the nation’s largest teacher union — have called out the coziness superintendents in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, as well as senior officials in the U.S. Department of Education, have with billionaire-affiliated foundations like the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

Union Input

Many local and regional union bodies attended the rally, their ranks made up chiefly of teachers and education specialists who have endured the policy wrath of hostile governors in Indiana and Wisconsin stripping portions of their collective bargaining rights.

During a series of crowd interviews, Melissa Patterson, a Milwaukee school teacher of special education students ranging from the third- and fifth-grade level, told TAI she joined the march because “schools are falling apart, and the teachers are being blamed.” She pointed the finger at “politicians with no classroom experience” passing high-stakes testing legislation onto students. “We need adequate funding, and we have to kill Race to the Top,” Patterson said.

Nathan Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers Union, a labor group operating in the nation’s capital that experienced a series of setbacks under former Chancellor of D.C. Schools Michelle Rhee, told TAI increased community involvement and a pared-down reliance on test results in evaluating teachers and students would be at the front of his policy wish-list.

Mary Cathryn Ricker, an educator and local union president in St. Paul, Minnesota, balked at the notion parents and teachers wrangle for unrealistic spending promises from state and federal legislators.

“We need to change the discussion: move away from what we think schools need to what students need,” she said. “We need more teachers, students, and parents in the decision process [with lawmakers]; we should make a list of experiences we believe students should have, agree on those, and learn the cost,” she proposed.

The Student Program Chair of NEA, Tommie Leaders, also insisted more community involvement is necessary in education reform. He helps coordinate the labor group’s commitment to the 70,000 student teachers enrolled in traditional teacher colleges across the country.

“We have 50 states with separate and different education policies; a one-size-fits-all approach to the solution is not the policy prescription,” he said.

Next Steps

The traditional ally of teachers, the Democratic Party, and President Obama have turned from its base, said New York University Professor Pedro Noguera to the crowd. “When you lose your base, you lose your vote,” he cautioned.

Cathryn-Ricker believes a number of Democratic public representatives “stopped asking the teachers what the classrooms are like.” She says the Save Our Schools series of events, held on Thursday, Friday and at Saturday’s rally, is a launching pad for more action, telling TAI a return to addressing community-oriented education policy is key.

Throughout the event the subject of poverty was raised as the chief adversary of student learning. Melissa Patterson, the teacher from Milwaukee, told TAI she taught in the suburbs of Chicago as well, “and the support those students have financially makes a big difference.”

“I didn’t change the way I teach,” she added, “but the performance of those students and the ones I teach in Milwaukee was obviously different.”

Tomorrow, the Save Our School committee members will gather at American University to draft a new platform and determine what the group’s next steps should be. Bob Schaeffer, a test accountability specialist and one of the main organizers of the four-day event said the meeting would be closed to the media.

“When Bill Gates opens up his executive committee meetings [on education],” Schaeffer told TAI, “we’ll open up ours as well.”

Discussion & Comments (0)

    Recent Articles

    • Things You Should Know about North America

      Things You Should Know about North America

      Get to know more about North America.

    • Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Paula Seling's experience on the Eurovision stage led her to declare that "Eurovision is an unpredictable contest". Which may explain the success of the young Lena from Germany, about whom the predictions before the event did not offer much chances for victory.

    • VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      Have you ever contemplated creating a user-friendly site dedicated to sports-related free live streaming channels?

    • Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia users are able to watch thousands of videos and other contents online. XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia New is a piece of software that enables people to watch videos online without having to pay for memberships. On a graphics card, the XNXubd also provides some of the best gaming and virtual reality experiences.

    • Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      A new edition of the Video Editor Apk for xVideostudio.Video Studio has all the latest features, including support for multiple video download formats in HD, FHD, and even 4K resolutions.

    • 9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      Masturbation is a common activity for men and women. It's a natural and risk-free way to explore your body, experience pleasure, and release sexual tension.

    • Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Without having to sign up or pay anything, you can watch movies online for free with SFlix. It has more than 10,000 movies and television shows.

    • Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Collins (born May 11, 1997) is a rapper from the United States. Leray started publishing songs to SoundCloud in 2014, and in 2018 she released her breakthrough track "Huddy" as well as her first mixtape, Everythingcoz.

    • Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Are you in a bind and looking for a place to obtain free mp3 songs? Never again will you need to bother, since this article has everything necessary to obtain your solution. Download free music from MyfreeMP3.com, one of the world's most popular websites.