Teacher bashing all but became a sport played by “reformers” who came up with such remedies as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 under President Bush, followed by the Obama/Duncan team’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top, Common Core Standards, related online standardized testing and value added measures. (The latter graded a teacher’s contribution to learning by comparing their students’ current year standardized test scores vs. those the same kids got the year before.)
Then along came current Secretary of Education DeVos pushing her view that, “Charter schools are great options for thousands of students, and the demand for more of them remains very high. We need more of them, not fewer.”
The Coronavirus has crippled the U.S. economy, killed more than 106,000 Americans, locked us all down for months, and shuttered many businesses and schools, too, thus turning youngsters and teachers, alike, into techies.
Then and only then was the bashing replaced with praise, as in the recent USA Today headline: “It Took a Pandemic, But Teachers Finally Respected.”
Included in the piece, this quote from Ruth Faden, a biomedical ethics professor at Johns Hopkins University: “How teachers are being viewed right now is right up there with health care workers. Now is the time to give the biggest possible shout-out to teachers.”
The article then goes on to say, “To be sure, some educators have become less visible. And some families have been frustrated by a lack of planning or too many expectations. But overall? Millions of educators have risen above what they were trained to do, throwing themselves not only into online teaching with virtually no preparation but also into other impromptu roles: video editor, device distributor, tech support, meal site worker, car parade driver, sidewalk-chalk writer, window waver.”
Despite the belated applause, as Harvard education professor Susan Moore Johnson reminds us, “Many of the intrinsic rewards that drew teachers to teaching—working closely with children, being part of a collaborative, service-minded community of colleagues, conveying content they care about—have become more difficult to experience when they must work from a distance.”
Or, as Michigan State University music education professor Mitchell Robinson put it: “…. Teaching isn’t about the mere transfer of information, like some sort of antiseptic banking transaction. The best teaching is messy, and loud, and unruly, and chaotic, and unpredictable. And I really, really miss it.”
And now, so do the rest of us.
With thanks to teachers everywhere, Carol