It’s time for the teacher shortage myth to be exposed. In the coming weeks you will hear directly from real teachers about the conditions in our nations’ schools and the ridiculous policies that are responsible for a mass exodus—not shortage—of passionate professionals from their classrooms.
Since the release of A Nation at Risk in 1983, public schools and their teachers have been under assault from a political and financial elite connected to both Democrats and Republicans. Although A Nation at Risk was thoroughly debunked, the failing schools narrative and the corresponding “achievement gap” have driven education policy in a simple minded direction—high stakes, test based “accountability.”
Accountability—loved by Democrats and Republicans—has almost become a religious movement. In fact the idea of even questioning the usefulness of test based accountability can cause enraged panic in accountability zealots. “How will we know what children are falling behind?” “How will we close the achievement gap if we don’t measure it?” “How will we fire bad teachers without the data?” “How will we know what schools to close?” “What will happen to my lucrative consulting gig with test company X?”
Time for the hard truth. Test based accountability has done one thing well. Over the past 35 years, we have beyond any doubt, measured and confirmed the achievement gap. That’s it! Nothing else.
However, test based accountability has destroyed the profession of teaching and caused a mass demoralization and “X” odus from public school classrooms. Oh and let’s not forget about the thousands of hours of lost instruction time in the sciences, social studies, arts, music, and anything else that doesn’t conform to basic literacy and numeracy skills.
It really is an insanity driven by the hatred of public schools and the greed of powerful individuals to use the false narrative of failing schools and shitty teachers to drain schools of public tax dollars. Nothing! Nothing done over the last 35 years in the name of accountability has done anything positive for the children stuck at the bottom of the achievement gap. The problem was never failing schools and shitty teachers. The problem has always been poverty born out of systemic racism. And the more than $1 Trillion dollars spent just since No Child Left Behind has all gone to feed test based accountability.
Who designed such a pernicious system? Not teachers! So are we surprised when Susan says:
“I went into teaching because I am fascinated by the process of teaching and learning and want to spend my time deepening my learning and getting better at my practice. Plus, spending my days with kids is awesome and much better than spending them with grownups! Teaching is interesting and fun!”
“Lately however, more and more micromanaging of my paid professional time has been sucked away under the guise of “professional development” or “PLCs” or “coaching.” This makes it harder and harder to get better at my job because I’m not in charge of my own time and my own learning and practice. It is deeply frustrating and demoralizing to be constantly treated like I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“I am constantly forced to do things that have no benefit for the kids I am teaching. Testing, for one. In grades 3-5 kids have to take SBAC and our district now makes them take IABs, which are SBAC-like tests spread throughout the year, supposedly to give them more “practice” and to gather more “data to inform our instruction.” It’s a waste of teaching and learning time and flat out child abuse!”
“It really makes you think about leaving the profession all the time. I am still teaching because I’m a fighter and don’t give up easily, but it is incredibly difficult to keep teaching year after year in such a hostile environment.”
“If I’m going to stay there must be an end to high stakes testing and the false narrative that test scores prove that a school or a teacher is “failing” or “effective.” Also, an end to the patronizing approach to professional development that others know more about I what I need to become a better teacher. It would make a huge difference to be treated like a professional, rather than a child. “
If you are interested in adding to the “X”odus Files please click on the link below to take the survey. Anonymity is promised. Thank You!