Sunday, October 27, 2013

My letter to Senator Sherrod Brown

Dear Senator Brown,

I am writing to you because it has become obvious that many Democrats have abandoned the public school teachers and have sold out to the forces of "reform education." These forces are billionaires like Bill Gates, the Walton Family, Exxon Oil, Pearson Corp among others. They are promoting a mandatory set of standards that were written by corporate interests without one PK - 12 educator on the writing team. Those standards were never field tested but instead were made mandatory in every state that signed on for relief from No Child Left Behind, another grandiose mandatory plan put in place during the Bush years.

Federal stimulus money was given to any state that signed on to Race to the Top, a bait and switch that has now given the states the right to judge teachers based upon their student scores on high stakes tests. Billions of dollars are going into the pockets of the test and curriculum makers in order to bring down public education as we once knew it.

Union teachers are being replaced by Teach for America recruits, recent graduates that go through five weeks of training in the summer before being assigned to teach in public schools. They get a great deal -- loan relief and a job straight out of college -- without having to earn a teaching credential. This is an insult to every union teacher who has gone through a required course of study, spent time observing and training, and finally made it through student teaching before entering the job market.

Please take a moment to remember the teachers who moved you forward the most. How many of them taught from scripts manufactured by an education corporation? How many of them ever worried whether they were teaching the same thing on the same day as a teacher in another state? The best teachers focus on each student and provide each student with what is developmentally best for that individual.

Please don't abandon us, Senator Brown! I sometimes think that teachers have become targets because we have traditionally been a job in which a majority of us are women. We have always suffered from low pay and low status and fought hard to be represented by unions. Now tenure has been over-turned by RttT. We are at the whims of the scores our over-tested students who are tuning out because the curriculum is now pre-packaged and pre-scripted. Teachers are being turned into automatons.

Many of my teacher friends and colleagues have bailed out. I was thinking about it until I read Diane Ravitch's book, "The Reign of Error." I also discovered the teachers' resistance movement is alive and well. 30,000+ have joined BATs an national online organization since forming in July and there will be a march on the Dept of Ed next July 28. I plan on attending and joining with other BATs to take back our profession from the big money interests.

I will not be supporting any political candidates who are in bed with the big corporate "Education Reform" interests. I have always supported your campaigns from the time you were my US Representative through both your senate runs. Please let me know that you are still on the side of union teachers here in Ohio.

Wendy Duke
Drama Teacher, Grades 4 - 8
Miller South School,
a public magnet school in Akron, OH
To pick up here and move forward or begin a new blog?  Haven't posted here since 2011.  Asking myself, do I go back where I started?  Or perhaps a name change might be helpful!  "Long Live the Public Schools" or "The Drama Teacher Who Avoided Rigor."

It is obvious I have a need to write about how my dream job is turning into a nightmare.  I am happy that I am not alone in this endeavor.  Not every teacher has drunk the Common Core Cool-Aid.  There's a group called Bad-Ass Teachers and can be found here and on Facebook here.  The FB group is private -- you will need to ask to join.  The group is at 31K teachers and was only formed in July of this year.  Spread the word.  Solidarity is needed now more than ever.

Bill Gates money is reaching out and spreading fast, though.  Teachers get paid to go get the training so they can lead their colleagues forward into rigorous data mining and constant testing.  And teachers are by nature compliant and cooperative folks.   The national education unions have given into the lure of the billionaires' money.  It is indeed a sad and woeful time in the history of education.  That is why I am moved to blog once more.  The resistance is growing and some strong voices are raising up valid objections to the scary course being set by the Education Corporations.

I will start posting all my links and letters to politicians, educators and policy makers.

Long Live the Public Schools!