Mad as hell

Teacher-blogger Anthony Cody is mad as hell about the NGA’s plans to create national standards behind closed doors, and he’s hoping teacher leaders aren’t going to take it anymore…

Sixty individuals, ONE teacher among them, will write national education standards in the next five months, in a secret process that excludes effective input from students, parents or teachers.

As teachers we spend a lot of time thinking about what we teach our students, and how to engage them in learning. When the National Governor’s Association (NGA) called for national education standards a few months back, some educators optimistically believed that we might be consulted in the process. After all, didn’t the entire No Child Left Behind fiasco teach us what happens when policies are enacted without the active engagement of the professionals expected to carry them out?

Apparently the national policy wonks are slow learners, Cody says in his Living in Dialogue blog at the Teacher Magazine/Education Week website. But he’s most upset by the decision to fabricate math and reading standards for the nation behind closed doors:

One might expect our newspapers to be champions of a democratic process. But my own newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote last month that secrecy in this project is “… a wise decision. A truly open process would result in the experts being lobbied by countless interest groups, and — given the still-controversial nature of national standards — it could torpedo the plan altogether.”

Heaven forbid “interest groups” such as teachers, parents and students should be given the opportunity to muck up these standards. They do not seem to be asking, but perhaps our first bit of input could be in the form of a collective howl of outrage.

In a small act of irony, Cody penned his protest over the Independence Day weekend. He includes contact information for anyone who’d like to write to the organizers of the national standards conclave. He also predicts that “This sets the stage for a national test, which presumably can be used in conjunction with No Child Left Behind to compare schools, teachers and students from coast to coast.”

Several of Cody’s Teacher Leaders Network colleagues have also been blogging about teacher voice at the policy table during the nation’s annual celebration of representative government. Renee Moore (TeachMoore) compares teachers who keep quiet on important school issues to “silent lambs.” And Nancy Flanagan (Teacher in a Strange Land) suggests that “studying the indicators that currently constitute effective teaching is the antithesis of liberty.”

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