We hear a lot these days about what I call “3-D reform,”—data-driven decision making and about using tests to improve teaching and learning. Sadly, in this respect, too often, testing has replaced instruction; data has replaced professional judgment; compliance has replaced excellence; and so-called leadership has replaced teacher professionalism.
What is really happening is that more than ever there is this industrial techno-centric view of teachers as interchangeable cogs in an education enterprise. This approach rewards their compliance above their creativity, and results in the denigration of teachers and disregard for their contributions to learning.
Consequently, and with good reason, teachers often say they feel they are the targets and not the agents of reform. Their “wisdom of practice” and real world experience with children is discounted or disregarded in policy-making deliberations and decision making.
Teachers’ voices must be an integral part of the conversation; they are on the ground, they know what works, they know what kids need to succeed, and we must attend to their experiences, suggestions and requests.
When faced with dilemmas of public education, the route of “least resistance” and, I might add, of least effectiveness, is the “teacher proof” road. Rather than invest in teachers, and capitalize on their knowledge, policymakers and administrators attempt to create systems that they hope will obviate the need for excellent teachers. They attempt to substitute cook book curricula, step-by-step instructional practices, computer-based instruction and bubble-in testing, instead of rich, student-centered teaching and learning.
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I’ve long counseled “data guided” policy and practice and agree with most of what Ms Weingarten has to say.
Thomas J. Mertz