There was a time when journalists dreamed of publishing an expose’ that would catapult them to the top of the profession. I’m not saying that they don’t exist, anymore, but I believe they are rare. There is a disturbing trend in news media that I believe is the direct result of corporate takeover. There are very few small independent media outlets that are able to report without corporate influence to shape the agenda. To an extent, even the locally owned media is subjected to leverage from corporate advertisers.
In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Most of the focus has been around formulating the accountability plan that will score and rank our students, teachers and schools; however, something that went unnoticed by the general public is the push to redesign teacher education programs. Despite the opposition of the Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the Louisiana School Boards Association, the Board of Regents, the Governor’s office and many others, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education narrowly passed (6/5) the overhaul of teacher preparation programs. These changes were supported by LABI, Stand for Children and A+PEL. For a better understanding of why this matters, please read United We Stand. Divide We Fall.
Now, here is where the disturbing trend comes in. Nearly every major newspaper in Louisiana published an “editorial opinion” on the topic. Ironically, the editorials in the Advocate, the American Press, and the Daily Comet all opined in the same manner…basically the LDOE press release, with a few added John White quotes from an Associated Press interview, and a summary statement in support of the program changes. Now, that’s due diligence.
By now, you are probably asking why would anyone be opposed to improving teacher education? Well, the initial reason would be a lack on funding, but it isn’t that simple. You have to look at the big picture of what is happening. First, the teacher prep overhaul is a big part of ESSA. Even the New York Times published their “op-ed” on the recent ESSA rule-making. It sounds great to put a teacher in a classroom, supervised by a mentor, for a year before they even become a certified teacher, but do you make teaching a five year degree plan? No! Of course not. You have to find a way to shrink it back down to four years. How do you do that? You eliminate the theory and pedagogy classes leaving only methods courses on CCSS. So now, we will have teachers who aren’t able to recognize and diagnose deficiencies based on an understanding of learning theory and child-development. They will simply plow forward with the scripted curriculum.
If you haven’t heard, there has been a major push-back against the education reforms such as charter schools, Common Core State Standards, College and Career Readiness just to name a few. Most of the push came from parents with a small percentage of teachers climbing on board. I got on board because I am teacher and a parent who sees first hand what it is doing to my children. Meanwhile, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, Michael Bloomberg, Eli Broad and several other billionaires have poured billions of dollars into these failed reforms. Guess what? They regret it. Not the way you think, though.
In early 2016, the CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, published a letter addressing the efforts of the foundation. In the letter, she says about the failed implementation of CCSS:
“Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards. We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators – particularly teachers – but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.”
Based on this statement, do you believe that they have admitted defeat? Of course, not. When you have the financial resources that the Gates Foundation has, you double-down. This is where the push for the redesign of teacher prep programs is coming come. This is where much of the money to fund the effort will come from in cash strapped states such as Louisiana. In addition, these programs will be held accountable by an arbitrary grading system that will reveal whether, or not, they are a good “teacher-training” program based on the evaluations that their teacher products receive when they become employed. Notice I said “training” and not “education.” This is the corporate model. Who hasn’t ever been hired by a company and forced to sit through a couple of days of “training” which consisted of videos, booklets or webinars; all facilitated by the “company trainer” who has no degree? That is what our education system is coming to. There will be no consideration of learning theory and practice and little, or no, value in research. Of course, music and the arts are being reintroduced into our schools, but there will be no real appreciation for it.
Please, take the time to share this information with your family and friends. If we don’t do everything we can to stop these efforts, our children will be doomed.