"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can Teachers Really Be Creative and Innovative when Teaching to the Test? Do They Really Have that Much Magic?

The video of Ellie Rubenstein, a Highland Park School District (Lincoln Elementary School)  teacher who resigned because of the increased time taken on standardized testing, has created new debate on the role of teachers.  Rubenstein offers her statement on what it's like to teach today in the classroom.  From the Daily Mail:

The former teacher says: 'Raising students' test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal, and in order to achieve it the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated.

'Everything I love about teaching is extinct,' she continued.

'...over the past 15 years, I've experienced the depressing, gradual downfall and misdirection of communication that has slowly eaten away at my love of teaching.'

She adds that she now feels like she is now 'not being allowed to do anything meaningful' but is 'instead forced to act as as cog in a wheel that is turning in the wrong direction.'
What happened in the last 15 years?  Could it include the adoption/implementation of the Bush/Kennedy No Child Left Behind act, the mandates focusing on increased standardized testing and the withholding of federal funding if benchmarks aren't reached?  Did you know Common Core standards have been described as "NCLB on steroids"?  If this teacher feels like a "cog in a wheel", imagine how the students feel in these mandated education scripts.


Be sure to read comments on the video from other teachers.

 What is the school's response?  From chicagotribune.com:

District administrators blamed the moves on a negative work environment at Lincoln Elementary School, but parents weren't convinced.

"If that's the case, I can't believe I learned about it just now," said David Seidman, parent of two Lincoln School students, before evoking a famous speech by the building's namesake to say administrators had created a environment of mistrust in the larger school community.

"This house is very much divided, and I don't know how it's going to stand again," Seidman said.

The parents' anger was stoked when Lincoln School fourth-grade teacher Ellie Rubenstein posted a video Tuesday on YouTube to air her grievances and publicly resign. She and three other Lincoln School educators were recently told they would be transferred to other schools next year. One of the transfers was voluntary, and three were involuntary, according to officials.
North Shore School District 112 Superintendent David Behlow said Lincoln School's working environment needed improvement, noting the building has had three principals in the last four years.
 Behlow said many of Rubenstein's comments in the video "were inaccurate, misleading and, in many cases, factually wrong."

"Our teachers are encouraged to be creative and innovative and to exercise their own craft and magic in classrooms every day," Behlow said.
Read more here.

What is the truth?  We aren't privy to know confidential work/performance information to determine who is being most truthful.  However, the last comment by Behlow makes me believe the teacher has more credibility.  Teachers can't possibly "be creative and innovative and to exercise their own craft and magic in classrooms every day" in the current NCLB requirements and upcoming Common Core mandates.   Mandates are inflexible and opposed to creativity and innovation and it would take a lot of magic to work around them.  No teacher has that amount of magic to accomplish that craft.

1 comment:

  1. Common Core is more of the same, except the standards are "dumbed down". As a teacher I have asked questions regarding implementation, funding and accountability, and keep receiving the same response, "we do not know, the state/government hasn't told us yet." Just like congress, no one knows what is in these programs. We will just have to find out when it is too late.


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