|Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.4||April 2008|
|Cover Story by Marvin Marshall|
|There is no such thing as immaculate perception. What you see is what you thought before you looked.|
|Harry & Rosemary Wong|
|Schools That Beat the Academic Odds|
|»||Are We Demanding Enough of Our Students?|
|»||The Busy Educator's Monthly Five|
|»||Think Outside the Box|
|»||Problem-Based Learning Part 2: Good problems|
|»||Ten Ways to Foster Resiliency in Children|
|»||Finger in the Dike Protects Half the Kingdom|
|»||April 2008 Writing Prompts|
|»||Making the Grade|
|»||The Disrespecting of Social Studies|
|»||Classroom Magazines: More Than Just Shared Reading|
|»||The Silenced Majority|
|»||I Won't Learn What You Teach!|
|»||Dear Laura Bush|
|»||Choice, Access, and Relevance: Reading Workshop in the High School Classroom|
|»||Stay Inside the Lines|
|»||Chat with Grant Writing Expert LaVerne Hamlin|
|»||Proofreading and Learning Disability|
|»||Drexel Online Education Program|
|»||Featured Lessons: April 2008|
|»||Video Bytes: Abbott and Costello, Earth Day rant and more|
|»||Today Is... Daily Commemoration for April 2008|
|»||Live on Teachers.Net: April 2008|
|»||The Lighter Side of Teaching|
|»||Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers|
|»||HELP! Grading: How Do You Do It?|
|»||Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers|
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Dear Laura Bush
Isn't it time someone pointed out that, after four decades and hundreds of thousands of education “reforms,” perhaps it is the politicians who are failing?
|by Bradley Cook
April 1, 2008
Dear Laura Bush,
I saw your “Ten Reasons to Become A Teacher” on http://www.yic.gov/publications/tenreasons.
I see on your list many of the reasons that I myself made the decision to become a teacher over twenty years ago. Your list reflects a great deal of idealism, a quality that I have recently (and disdainfully) been told that I still possess, and which my legions of non-admirers cite as further evidence of my naiveté, childishness, or plain stupidity.
Mrs. Bush, if all or any of these reasons for becoming a teacher were still valid, I might now be inclined to encourage others to become teachers; I might not now regret my decision to have chosen education as a career.
Below is my response to most of your reasons to become a teacher, which I trust you wrote in good faith, and believed to be true, as indeed they may have been at the time you wrote them. The American educational scene, unfortunately for all Americans - but especially for our children - is vastly different today:
Why else would we choose this profession, then? Most semi-skilled blue-collar work pays better: Forklift operators, ranch hands, plumbers, and auto body workers generally make as much money as public school teachers – and get more respect. Those in the medical, legal, and corporate fields, who have similar levels of education, generally make three to five times as much as teachers.
Of course, I expected the low pay going in – it’s just become a bit more difficult to accept now, when at the age of forty, my principal speaks to me with such condescension when I speak of a need for joy, creativity, imagination, and that wonderful “spark” that cannot be measured by any test or quantified with any data. It’s hard to instill a joy of learning in children when one is ordered to read the script and do nothing else in the classroom. It’s more difficult than ever to teach our students to become critical thinkers when we are given such a vote of “no confidence,” from administrators and politicians. We are told that none of our ideas or innovations have merit – yet, by some mysterious process, we are expected to teach higher order thinking to our students!
Standards-based education should be the base starting point, the barest minimum requirement for student success. Teaching exclusively to the test – any test – is like force-feeding a child vitamin pills when a luscious and nutritious gourmet feast is laid out on a long table right behind him. But we’re forbidden to touch it.
Isn’t it time that the American people noticed that every politician for the last forty years has campaigned on a promise of “reforming” America’s “failing” public schools?
Isn’t it time that someone pointed out that, after four decades and hundreds of thousands of education “reforms,” perhaps it is the politicians who are failing?