In her wonderfully perceptive review of the recent National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Conference last weekend in D.C., Anne O’Brien notes the sense of frustration among even America’s best teachers these days. As she observes:
Policymakers often preface comments against teachers with, “We’re not talking about the good teachers.” The mood at the conference: “You’re not talking with us, either.
She doesn’t mention that while Sec. Duncan’s speech at the conference was met with tepid, respectful response; speakers such as Linda Darling Hammond, Diane Ravitch, and Pedro Noguera garnered thunderous ovations, and occasional shouts of “Amen.”
I’ve been at many gatherings of outstanding teachers including: National and State Teachers of the Year events, Milken Award ceremonies, National Board events, and many others. Without fail, I will hear these teachers commenting on how in order to be successful with their students, they often have to go against the grain of ther schools, many actually violate standing school or district policies, risk being dismissed for insubordination (it’s easier to fire teachers than you might think, if administration REALLY wants them gone).
Why have we allowed such unnecessary and unhealthy conditions to constrain even our best teachers? Outstanding teachers are looking at policymakers and educational leaders asking: If I’m as good as you say I am, why won’t you let me do all I could do for my students?
Speak up for teachers.