Save Our Schools March: A Teacher Revolt against Obama Education Reform

By Paulson, Amanda | The Christian Science Monitor, July 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

Save Our Schools March: A Teacher Revolt against Obama Education Reform


Paulson, Amanda, The Christian Science Monitor


The Save Our Schools March on Washington Saturday is part of a new nationwide push to organize educators against the Obama administration's regime of education reform.

What if the education reformers are wrong?

That's the opinion of a growing number of educators who are convinced that the current direction of reform - despite powerful backers that include President Obama, Bill Gates, and many influential academics and nonprofit leaders - is harming public schools rather than improving them.

While teachers unions and a number of prominent education thinkers have been critical of the reform policies for some time, a more concerted effort is emerging to organize those critics. They plan to take to the streets in Washington on Saturday in hopes of galvanizing attention around their cause. The Save Our Schools March has attracted endorsements from well-known academics, educators, and authors.

Passionate and articulate, many of them classroom teachers, the critics tend to zero in on the increasingly high-stakes role played by standardized tests, which can make or break the reputation of a school or teacher - even if the tests aren't very good.

"What we call 'accountability' now is just totally unreliable numbers that are meaningless in terms of the lives of children and the careers of teachers," says Diane Ravitch, a historian and former advocate of standards-based reforms who is now one of its most frequent and ardent critics. "All they're doing is terrorizing teachers."

Attaching so much importance to tests, say such critics, is leading to unintended consequences - including cheating (with the recent scandal in Atlanta as Exhibit A), a narrowing of the curriculum, and the reduction of many schools into test-prep factories that ignore the higher-thinking skills needed for college and the workplace. Instead, they assert, more attention should be paid to poverty and the related factors affecting students' achievement, teachers should get better support and training, and evaluations should be more nuanced.

Although the Obama administration has been trying to address what it sees as shortcomings in the No Child Left Behind law, critics say that overall the administration is going in the wrong direction on reforms.

"This is impassioned educators pushing back for good or bad," says Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, who is generally an advocate of standards-based reforms. "I think it's clear that this isn't union power tactics."

In May, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote an open letter to America's teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week acknowledging many of the concerns voiced by teachers. He concluded the letter, "I hear you, I value you, and I respect you."

Rather than appeasing teachers, it unleashed a storm of angry blogs, letters, and comments from educators who feel far from appreciated.

"The things you say here are, as Hamlet once said, 'words, words, words,' but there is no substance behind them," reads a typical comment about the letter, posted on the Department of Education's website. The teacher also says, "The education policies of this administration are the single reason why I will not vote to reelect Barack Obama in 2012."

Why such disgruntlement?

Certainly, some teachers are unhappy for professional reasons, seeing everything from their pay to, in some cases, their job security hinging on tests they don't believe in. Others rail against the constriction of their autonomy in the classroom.

Sabrina Stevens Shupe, an organizer of the march and a former teacher in the Denver Public Schools, recalls her frustration with a district that hired her for her creativity and praised her for the strides she was making on math with her fifth-graders, but then criticized her for not following the prescribed curriculum exactly - even when she had seen it wasn't working.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Save Our Schools March: A Teacher Revolt against Obama Education Reform
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.