I’m going to be tutoring forever…….

http://www.npr.org/2013/07/05/198442307/education-reform-learns-lesson-from-old-standards

The past days, weeks and months have provided for a great deal of rousing conversation among teachers, administrators and tutors.  The topic(s) morphed from the horrors of NCLB to what is about to be released from Pandora’s Box (the nice shiny little thing which has been keeping the secrets of NCLB, charter schools, Michelle Rhee, etc. at bay…) when we are appraised of the actual disparity between proficiency and PROFICIENCY.

On my rush to work (tutoring a Japanese exchange student) I caught just an earful of news on NPR. I could not concentrate fully on the news piece and the traffic so I  later  went back and replayed the piece. The piece was quite short and yet the whole message was summed up in the two sentences said by Arne Duncan.

“For far too long, our school systems actually lied to children and to families and to communities,” says Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a recent speech in Washington. And what made those lies possible, according to Duncan, was the one thing most of these state standards had in common: They were low.

I did not need time to ‘think’ through what was being said by Arne Duncan. He was not saying something new to anyone who is or was a teacher. In fact, we have been saying it for years and it fell on deaf ears while we were being scapegoated for noticing the disparity.

While the drum beat to war was starting up (actually, since  before Desert Storm), Americans were fed a sweetly sour pabulum regarding their children and education.  The sweet part made it go down easily for a long time. The sour is the GERD like (gastroesophageal reflux disease) bit which is going to require us to dose ourselves with some antacids.

You can love/hate Arne; You can love/hate Washington D.C. You may despise the word reform and love The Pledge of Allegiance. Whatever it is which pushes your button regarding education, you can not love/hate literacy, math and the ability to reason – these are only lovable and highly laudable ideas.  It is with this love of learning, knowledge, thinking and the courage to deeply consider, reason and discuss ideas that we,  society, will be able to progress.

The public is on the precipice of learning a great truth…..numbers can be made to tell all manners of untruth if stated in just the right way.  Those numbers represent a large problem as it is not representative of one year, it is year over year. No matter how charter schools tried to spin the numbers, the reality is literacy and math skills have barely changed and the population on which the numbers  changed is very small.

It is going to take years to get back to what was ‘lost’ in all the manipulations. The scary part to me is there are not enough hours in the day and years left for me to do nearly the amount of tutoring necessary to make a dent. Even worse – many people I know who tutor are thinking the same thing.

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A Different Set Of Concerns-Strength of Convictions

http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2013/04/02/public-school-reformer-michelle-rhee-sends-child-to-private-school-should-we-care/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/02/justice/georgia-cheating-scandal/

While it is quite easy to exclaim NCLB testing caused teachers and administrators in Atlanta, GA to change answers in test booklets and Michelle Rhee sends one kid to private school yet claims to be a ‘public school mother’ and so forth, the real issue is becomes the following: Where the hell is your strength of conviction?

I don’t particularly care where Michelle Rhee educates her kids – she has already proven on numerous levels she does not come from either a place of heartfelt sincerity nor background in education. What I care about is she should have enough strength of conviction to her cause and  in everything she does to be honest, have integrity and own her statements. If Michelle Rhee has to hire some one to be her ‘publicist’, there is something wrong. She needs some one to ‘couch’ what she is saying in favorable terms so others will buy into her garbage.

Ditto for the teachers and administrators in Atlanta, GA. I don’t actually care whether or not these people lied – I am outraged they did it on the backs of children who deserve better. Each and every student affected by the cheating scandal was harmed in a much more dangerous manner than test scores – they were denied an education to actually raise up their scores. Not that I actually believe Georgia has anywhere near the best or most worthy spring testing of 50 states.   Had any of the 35 involved decided to put the same time and effort into say, after school literacy, the outcome may have been the same – higher test scores, for much different reasoning.

Each and every teacher  involved should be remorseful for putting wrong interests forward and not being professional enough and own enough poise to have walked out when asked to lie/cheat for students. Maturity and integrity is knowing when to WALK OUT and not accept being asked to do something wrong – for any reason.

Ask me, I know. I have walked out of jobs for lesser reasons.  It provides for great stories and laughter at dinner parties, most especially with colleagues who know who was involved.  At the end of the day, I have my name and reputation. If I go along with the crowd, when I believe differently for reasons of moral turpitude, I am the one who has demonstrated a lack of values – not the people who put me up to the challenge. I know better.  I have no problem telling an employer exactly what I think regarding outrageous behavior in the area of ethics.  Honesty is actually amazingly easy when you apply for another job and have to explain what you found ‘unsavory’ and why you CHOSE to leave.

Teachers should have confidence to WALK out before doing something so ridiculous.  I see the behavior over and over as teachers are under the mistaken belief they will never get another job (most especially if they have tenure) and so they must play the game – whether it is testing, poor lesson planning, involvement, etc. Knowing when you are exhausted and not able to best do what students need is also a sign of maturity and dignity.

In the case of Michelle Rhee, she should be embarrassed to have to pay some one with money from the ‘StudentsFirst’ bank account to craft her answers since she can not be honest. The money spent on a publicist should be spent on students.  In fact, all charter schools should not need a marketing department or publicity department to ‘demonstrate’ their greatness. The money for said departments should be spent on students – and learning.

Again, there has to be something wrong with a system which tells you it is about the students and yet feels not one iota of contempt for deceit – whether it involves money or not.

Who do the 35 people in Atlanta think they are to take money away from students – merely since it was so easy to lie/cheat, etc. on annual test scores – when everyone else could see right through it if you compared other assessments and grades?  I don’t even think the 35 should have been involved in education. I feel the same about Michelle Rhee who believes test scores are the answer for measuring success.

Many days I wish my so-called ‘education colleagues’ would grow spines and have  courage to speak out, walk out, do whatever it takes to set the system on notice, anything but embarrassing the profession.  It is actually okay to be the one who says, “NO, I won’t play the game.”   It is actually okay to know when to leave the practice of education………

What I observe is a bunch of people who do not even have the intelligence to discern making different choices so they run with the pack of imbeciles. At the end of the day, you are very much the company you CHOOSE to keep.

Throw on some kevlar as you get ready to teach to the common core.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/living/teachers-want-to-tell-parents/index.html

A close personal friend gave me this article under a truly hilarious pretense – she went back to look at the author after reading as she was pretty sure I wrote the article for  CNN.  Alas, I did not. I don’t know Ron Clark, don’t know of Ron Clark or his new book and in fact, generally do not read education pieces on CNN.  I felt complimented my friend thought I wrote this piece and at the same time, I am positive I ‘did’. It is the collective consciousness of any good teacher for the last 25-30 years.  It is the same thing we all say and the reasons indeed are why we leave/left education.

In no small part, a huge thank you should go out to anyone who was involved with bringing NCLB to life and Michelle Rhee as well as most charter school companies.  These people/groups helped those of us who ‘knew better’ to put on our walking shoes and leave. Those who remained, well, I often hear their complaints about the same issues, they are just to scared to leave the profession after so much effort and cost to get a credential. Ron Clark sounds like a wonderful man and surely his intentions are great. I can only hope he has staying power as there are many students who will benefit from him.

If anyone thought the past 20 years were challenging, Fall 2013 is going to make it all look easy peasy!  Taking parents from  M/C and T/F test scores to the actual task of  having their child write something compelling AND marshal evidence AND  think/reflect……well, get the kevlar ready teachers. I don’t think I envy a one of you.  Without parents on board, administrators are going to once again do what they always do when backed into a corner – blame it on teachers, take it out on teachers (ask them to ‘revise’ their grades as it were) and essentially kiss up to every parent they see.  Administrators, even those who once were teachers, do little to support teachers.

Teachers are in fact left in their classrooms, told what to do and how to execute it and most of all told to suck it up when the crazy (pretty much all) parents come to solve something for their children.  Teachers are expected to be everyone’s whipping boy/girl to make public education work. If it were not for unions, even limited unions, public education would not exist as anything more than a thought experiment.

Currently I do tutoring and work in ed tech doing a variety of things from soup to nuts, sponge to hose, etc. If a parent contacts me for tutoring and I find our personalities and world views do not mesh, I get to say, “I don’t think I would be the BEST tutor for your child” and walk away from the situation. It does not happen often, yet it does happen. Most of what I find as a tutor is a student who could benefit from some basic things – structure, note taking skills, proper math syntax, organized thinking or graphic organizers, better resources.  Usually after a few weeks to  a couple of months, the training wheels are off and the kid is soaring. I could not be happier if I tried.  Sometimes I find a new or very ‘experienced’ teacher who is intractable and the student suffers. I do everything I can to educate the parent, give them strength to ask for what should be done (and is really reasonable) at school and advocate.  I write notes, send copies of things.  Of the times I meet the teachers, I inevitably find the people mentioned by Ron Clark. The ones who will be walking out of the profession or those who should have and are now so bitter they do not teach well.

I attend IEP meetings and help parents get more than the minimum written on the IEP – the more specific and defined you can be, the more likely the chance of IEP being followed and incremental success. I educate parents on having another set of books at home,  how to parent conference, how to check in with teachers, what should be going on in a SPED classroom vs. a mainstream classroom and what mainstreaming looks like, feels like and how it ‘goes’.  I help parents in the vernacular of ‘teacher’ for the benefit of their child. Again, if parents do not demonstrate they are on board, I can leave. There is only so much I can do in this lifetime and parents need to work on ‘change’ as opposed to thinking all teachers need to change for their child.

There are students who need help with SAT/ACT studies, AP course work, etc. Not only have I worked with these students, I have found the number of students really able to do AP course work were students who got their game on before Grade 4 and mom and dad were not excuse makers.  Students who do not do well are those who are shocked by the amount of reading and work necessary for AP.  Students and their parents,  prepping for SAT/ACT end up learning  the sad facts regarding inference and analogy, grammar and algebraic reasoning are not something you can be taught in a cram course – it comes from reading, writing, discussing, thinking since forever. All I can offer them are strategies for how to take the test and think about it.  The time when parents would have done far more to help their child by enforcing SSR (silent sustained reading) at home, encouraged studying atop assigned homework, etc. was wasted and I can not come in and splash that information on their child – nor can Princeton or Kaplan Review. SAT/ACT prep works for students who made learning their priority, not blaming their teacher(s) when they did not succeed every time.

Change is incredibly difficult for parents as they believe they ‘know’ it all. They would never question a dentist, doctor, lawyer (even court appointed), Apple Technician at Apple Store…….yet questioning and blaming a teacher for any ‘less then perfect’ grades, etc. on behalf of their child MUST be the teachers fault as parents have been taught and shown how to scapegoat teachers (Michelle Rhee actually brought this to an art form). Teachers do more ‘change’ in a day then anyone other than flight traffic controllers and ER doctors.  Unfortunately, with all the change teachers do, parents are the ones who need to redouble their efforts the most.

I think next school year will be interesting. If nothing else, people such as Ron Clark will become ever more popular and revered for what they are saying – whether or not parents come to terms with reality. Thank goodness there are Ron Clark’s and hopefully I will be thankful there are parents who will read this and do those things necessary to change for their child’s benefit. It is a long road filled with cliffs, channels, hikes, bike rides, hang gliding, zip lining and all the rest of out doors metaphors.

What We Saw From the Cheap Seats……and what a view it was

The metaphor – timely. The content, based on interviews I have listened to from Regina Spektor, telling in her life and her parent’s life pre-America.  The ‘cheap seats’ are really where stuff happens and if you are not there, you just don’t really have a grasp for understanding.

The cheap seat view is actually the one which matters – it levels the playing field, so to speak. It is seldom the seat people in U.S. Government or Military use which is why  Ambassador Christopher Stevens stood out, based on what Ambassador Ryan Crocker has said. Christopher, having done Peace Corps, understood what needed to be seen from the cheap seats and this seems to be the very message missed in the castigation of Hilary Clinton by our Congress.

The cheap seats allow us to appreciate immigration reform and why children, who arrived in America as illegal immigrants, should be allowed to become educated and contributing members of our society – in spite of their parentage.  The cheap seats allow us to understand things such as the gross and overwhelming disparity in socioeconomics and educational outcomes (impoverished families have little reading material in the house/home/hovel), why sometimes a little help to get to the bottom rung of the ladder pays immense dividends (Jeffrey Sachs and debt relief in third world) and how those who have little will struggle more to get an education rather than those who already ‘have’ and just wish to express their xenophobia by making life difficult for others less fortunate.  Cheap seats help us understand why the most marginalized people lack  work habits and organization skills, self-regulation, literacy and engagement (Charlotte Danielson) since so much of their life is often in chaos – from poverty, from war, from lack of access to food, sleep, and all the other portions of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

What the cheap seats can not do is help us open our eyes.  We open our eyes based on our experience and willingness to experience that which is substantially different.  The cheap seats are apparently what Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama have sat in – they get it and have an appreciation for how things are done by others who lack the  budgets of largesse.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, fictional as it is, definitely is a wonderous cheap seat view. The very quote, “The things we thought we needed.’ point out the differential of what we wish to believe and what we learned to understand and appreciate.

Every once in a while I have to encourage people to take a view from the cheap seats so the real work which needs to be done can actually be viewed, apart from the perceived work to be done. An example of this is NCLB, where test scores were deemed the solution to an academic crisis, completely missing the piece about some needing to get to the bottom rung of the ladder.  The pendulum is finally swinging back and taking in academic standards which are not ‘lower’ to meet a minimum threshold of test scores.

“Very difficult,” Clinton responds. “We have to ask you, based on our best assessments, what we need to do our jobs.”

It will be a long slog out of the NCLB mind-set, most especially the castigation of teachers by the public. The next few years are going to be both traumatic and dramatic as we shift from test scores ruling out decisions to deeper academics. Our students just are not there. Taking high scoring students and putting them in a different classroom is akin to playing Schrodinger’s Cat. Time will tell. The cheap seats, the ones used when we attempted to cut all corners and raise test scores, may just be the best seats in the house to understand the hurdles we have to overcome in order to get THERE from here.

“We have to do some work. That work requires we stay engaged,” she says. (Clinton)

As the State Department and Secretary of State-Hilary Clinton has stated, “We have learned things” and we will be applying what we learned. Amazingly, we would have never learned a thing if we had not sat in the cheap seats.

Clinton says: “This is my ongoing hope, that we can get it more right than wrong.”

Clinton said her department is acting to implement recommendations made by the review board.  I can only hope the U.S. Board of Ed is acting to implement some better recommendations than NCLB.

Conundrum 6,875,248,312 – High test scores AND students not graduating???

http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/1-900-in-SF-class-of-14-may-not-graduate-4051222.php

Poor Jill Tucker at The San Francisco Chronicle.  She has been given the worst tasks – writing anything positive regarding education when the smoke screen and mirrors brought to us in California  via NCLB, The Bush Years, SDAIE requirements, charter schools, Proposition 13 and so forth are mind bendingly awful. These ‘fixes’ appear most awful when seen through the rear view mirror while  people such as Michelle Rhee are driving forward at 100 MPH and throwing  crap out the windows of said vehicle –  at teachers.

Apparently in all the positive accolades regarding test score improvement, some one some where was neglecting to look at the sign ahead regarding a CLIFF.    Admittedly there are problems such as those of Nina Collins which are unique and definitely different.  I can not imagine this is the story for the other 1,899 projected problem students.  How could so many students be missing units?  How could so many students be misdirected? Are the teachers going to be blamed/shamed again – for this?

None of the graduation requirements are new. In fact, these requirements have been around forever. What is new is parents and community members believing with their shallow little hearts and brains it has all been up to teachers. I am amazed the spin has not yet started for the blame game.

I really wonder if we had changed our focus just a bit from the prize of test scores to the reality of successful course completion, parents being held accountable, less drama surrounding how many charter schools can be propped up and reviling teachers if we would have made the ‘difference’ necessary for this article to never have been written.  It is about focus. When we allow charter schools and the slippery slopes of test score calculations to become our focus, we let other, blindingly obvious problems slip into the background.   No one could ever convince me they did not see this phenomenon coming – unless they were so busy following Michelle Rhee they simply lost their mind.

Teachers do not control the variables which bring about these types of conundrums – administrators control these issues. I hope people look up from what ever it is their head was buried in and recognize the problem – it is not test scores, rather, it is what we chose to focus and worship as the prize.

Why ‘grading’ the teacher is not only wrong, but ineffective. Part II of II Blogs

Gawande, Atul, Personal Best, The New Yorker 3 October 2011  p. 44, 46-50, 51-52

This is Part II of two blogs begun March 2012 which addressed Dr. Gawande (New Yorker Magazine Article). He has a  quest for ‘coaching’ to continue developing  into his Personal Best.  I felt it necessary to analyze the article written by Dr. Gawande in order to address a professional sense of self-reflection, that of a professional surgeon.  Dr. Gawande so thoroughly addressed his personal role in medicine AND all the other potential factors  of medicine that I was compelled to use this as an example.   Dr. Gawande admitted the fault of being human and demonstrated humility in  not being  God.  He noted that the human condition is imperfect yet there is a way to learn and continually improve ourselves over time,  most often with self-reflection and insight from others as it is difficult to view ourselves while being ourselves.

Only by carefully observing other professionals outside the field  of education can we begin to develop a consciousness of  professionalism, what it means to good, better, best, great and so forth and look for tools to apply to the teaching profession.  Focusing only on education assumes the worst case scenario – teachers are distinctly different in the world of humans, but instead of being viewed as deities, in America, they are viewed as pure evil by many, often including their own administrators and the government at state and federal levels.

When we see what others do, we get past the misanthropic view of one group of people (non- teachers)  regarding teachers and notice more of  the similarities between teachers and other professionals.  Once back from the brink of insanity,  we can address the multitude factors which effect the outcomes of education, which are not strictly the result of teacher quality.  Many outcomes in education have everything to do with poverty, parental involvement and  self motivation/will.

If we were to blame only surgeons and doctors for ALL medical outcomes, no one would have surgery any more. It is both a science and an art.  There is not ‘perfection’, rather there are gradations of success based on a whole slew of issues above and beyond the doctor/surgeon.  We may seek perfection –  this involves coaching and improving professional practice.  It is NOT the golden bullet to prevent all problems.  Doctors can not account for your DNA, what you choose to eat, how you choose to take care of yourself.  Doctors have to work with what is presented to them and hope that with their best ministrations, they obtain a positive outcome as they take an oath to do no harm.  In the case of doctors, we need to look from within regarding outcomes of surgery,  because we came to the doctor damaged.

When we grade a teacher, we wish to push results and outcomes on people whom have the least control over what goes on in a child’s life. Teachers have only 40/168 hours, including sleep. Take out sleep (which is substantially important) and you have 40/118 hours assuming kids sleep a 10 hour night. In both cases, 40 hours is very little and yet so much is expected.   Teachers, like doctors, have to work with what is presented to them and hope that with their best ministrations will produce positive outcomes in nine months of the school year of eight-hour school days.  Let me be clear – most kids do not sleep even eight hours a nigh.t Not all school days are actually eight hours so the numbers I present are skewed by things such as testing, minimum days, staying up late at night for a variety of reasons and a multitude of other issues (lockdowns, snow days, illness, etc.).  Grading a teacher on amount of time of ‘influence’ alone is inadequate.

In order to explore  various ideas within education reform, I also sought out different pieces of writing from others who address the ideation of grading teachers.   It is not enough to say something is a  bad or good idea, rather one needs to support different views and perceptions so the discussion can center on what is best for children, not what is best for our sense of power over things we lack control.

As Dr. Gawande indicates, coaching is costly and rarely something schools can afford. It is awkward – in the hospital and in the classroom.  Obtaining coaching can be (and often is viewed outside sports and singing) seen as an admission of failure instead of the converse – an admission of willing to improve.  When coaching is used as punishment in education, it automatically infers substandard performance.  To change the perception of coaching in education will be no different or easier than the exact experience Dr. Gawande addresses at the end of his written piece.   Demonizing teachers does not improve their quality – it does slowly wear them down and destroy them which could not be good for students.

I am done picking at the bone of grading teachers with  a public which hates  teachers, who think denigrating and demeaning teachers (public humiliation/bullying/ exposing student success or failure on our backs) is reform.   This bone is from a  recently dead animal which was left rotting on the street, run over by a car and bits of it are smashed into the concrete. The piece of bone left has tendons and muscle hanging from it, smells of horrible decay and clearly would be of no use to the mammal it came from so we need to start over and not be so willing to kill.  Bloodsport does not ever portend to good.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/opinion/sunday/confessions-of-a-bad-teacher.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263603261494594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2012/03/more-wk-value-added-.html#more

http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/06/my-view-when-did-teacher-bashing-become-the-new-national-pastime/?hpt=hp_bn1

So, to use a quote:

New Yorker Magazine cartoon (5 Dec 2011) by Victoria Roberts: “There’s an elephant in the room and no zookeeper.”

Let’s try to find a better course of action because grading teachers is not working the way we assumed it would.  Here is a smattering of examples of alternative perspectives.  What would be awesome is if the people who hired teachers had as much interest in teacher success as their own rise to power.

Almost all men can stand adversity, but if you want to judge a man’s true character, give him power.   (I have been unable to find the source in order to attribute this quote – if you know it, please comment!)

http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-8-qualities-of-remarkable-employees.html?

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2012/03/thompson-how-is-teaching-different-from-all-other-professions.html

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2012/03/thompson-address-behavior-first.html

http://www.kqed.org/a/radiospecials/R201203292000

https://whereiskatima.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/zagat-type-ratings-at-schools-all-for-it/

When society begins supporting ways for teachers to improve their personal best, obtaining the caliber of teachers  wished for will be in reach.  Brigham and Women’s Hospital in MA and Harvard University are fortunate to have such a self reflective staff member AND some one so willing to share their personal experiences in order to help others.  By supporting Dr. Gawande and his willingness to strive for better, these institutions and patients benefit greatly all the way around.

We would do far more to improve education by creating a positive environment for teachers.   It is our choice – surgically destroy education with reforms that have little to nothing in offering actual  improvement or healing what happens in the classroom by owning our locus of control and assisting teachers in achieving their personal best.

2009 Science Data by NAEP… the good, bad, ugly and true.

Many people are amazed when I relate why I left teaching science in the classroom – as if it was the most ridiculous decision I could have made – job security was ‘everything’.   I  try to explain  I was using my feet to cast my vote against what I believe to be vapid.  I left the classroom four years ago after teaching science at a charter school – the final frontier for teaching to the test and only knowing about API and AYP in California.   I knew about and followed NAEP which meant API and AYP were only one piece of a larger and more complex puzzle regarding the process of  education. 

Interestingly, most teachers at any school and a fair amount of  principals are inadequately aware of what NAEP is to even have a quality education reform conversation, at least in California.  Education reform centered around such items as question banks for pre/post assessment and data collection (CST’s).  I can not even remember the last time I heard a teacher state the idea of anecdotal evidence.  Part of me felt overpaid for the job I was doing since I sure was not allowed to teach science in the manner which mattered (NAEP results as of Tuesday are indicative of this feeling http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/26/nations-report-card-science_n_814112.html ). 

At some point that last year in the classroom, it occurred to me I had not gone to graduate school to teach from a text book or kit -as the kind people of Lawrence Hall of Srecience – UC Berkeley (FOSS Kit) were trying to convince me to teach Gr 7 photosynthesis while writing the chemical equation on  paper with paper atoms!    When I discussed the possibilities of using various other hands on methods of exploring the concept of photosynthesis (Elodea in a test tube with indicator fluid – blow in CO2 and cap, allow to photosynthesize in sunlight outside and see the gas on the pond plant leaves and so forth), it was made clear to me ‘this was not what was on the test’ and therefore my students needed to do/study the lessons Lawrence Hall of Science constructed.  I accidentally on purpose cited the infamous Harvard Study (along with The Smithsonian Institution as part of my point of reference), to no avail.  Apparently what was found out all those years ago regarding science misconceptions never quite translated itself from the right coast to the left coast. 

I was caught between a rock and just a place – it was not a hard/difficult place, it was just a place.  Just teach science as you are told and follow the text book.  The rock was my conscience and my better sense of what a quality education could be.  There was nothing compelling about teaching science from a textbook.

The stage for my decision to leave the classroom was set by President Bush as he pushed  NCLB through Congress on an express plane to hell.  NAEP  (National Assessment of Educational Progress) was just beginning to be read/heard and appreciated by a broader group of educators. Although The  National Assessment of Educational Progress has been around since 1969, it seems only professors in the field of education paid attention.  Although NAEP had great data, it could not get traction with an administration which believed evolution was one of the signs of the second coming (NAEP uses scientific methods to obtain data).   It is difficult to refer to the above scenario as few people even understand NAEP.

 Grad schools these days do not discuss NAEP – very few people know what it is when I reference it as its name, the acronym or The Nation’s Report Card.    Apparently the idea of parity across the states is taboo since each state managed to carve out a special meaning for highly qualified teachers.

The NAEP science assessment is not specifically aligned to California’s science content standards. There is no national science curriculum and each state sets its own standards. California’s own science assessment system, as it has for other subjects, shows students making steady progress. – Mr. Torlakson

  This inability to discuss the larger idea of a national curriculum and parity is also part of why the data released 25 January 2011 was so unsettling.  People don’t really know what the data means, so they belittle it.

“As a science teacher, these results are troubling. Despite the enormous efforts being made by educators, we’re seeing the consequences of lagging behind other states in investing in education,” Torlakson said. “This test is a less-than-precise measure of student performance in California, but it is one more signal about where we stand and where we’re headed.  http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr11/yr11rel12.asp

The good part is it is ‘NOT TOO LATE’ for the U.S. to regroup and actually do something about our shoddy education system as it relates to science. The bad is it will be costly since there are many wonderful undereducated and/or poorly educated students laden with misconceptions which must be dealt with.  The ugly is it will be difficult to recruit the people with both the expertise in science/math and the mastery of educational process without the dollars.  Teach for America may have their grant – they are horrible at retention.  The true (truth) is, I left at just the right time – when nothing was happening.  There is hope things will turn around in the not too distant future.  I believe it would be great to teach science again – in a manner which matters.