March 16, 2021

Gregory Sampson: Whose Progress Are We Monitoring?

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Gregory Sampson is a seasoned math teacher in Florida who blogs under the name Grumpy Old Teacher. In a recent post, he considers how public education has lost the plot:

What few people ever want to talk about is how 20 plus years of ed reform has taken the focus off the purpose of education. It’s easy to see why; when a person tries to convince parents and the public that public education, a/k/a the traditional school system of neighborhood schools managed by an elected school board, is the best option, that person doesn’t want to admit that those schools (under the pressure of test-and-punish laws that began in 2001 with No Child Left Behind) are focused on the needs of adults, not the children who show up to learn.

We’ve heard the complaint about adult concerns in schools, but GOT is not talking about those terrible self-centered teachers unions. He castigates ed reformers of the last 25 years for their lack of self-awareness

It’s all about them and their heroic rescue of … people who don’t want rescuing but some respect and a lot of resources that have been denied them, not because they don’t merit it, but because … reasons. Reasons like we [politicians and our campaign donors] have an agenda and we need you to look bad to achieve it. Reasons like we [campaign donors and edupreneurs] want to skim taxpayer dollars into our bank accounts as profits. Reasons like those chronicled by Mark Twain in his novel, The Gilded Age.

Talk to school board members, superintendents, and high-ups and they will excuse their single-minded obsession with test scores that translate into school and then district grades, as phony as those are, as the game they must play.

The hard truth is that they are focused on the needs of the institution, the school district, which is that of survival. What children need is not forgotten, but becomes a genuflection to the priest as they walk into the cathedral of learning.

Read the whole piece. It’s feisty, and it has pictures, too.



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