Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rant Alert! Dear Mr. Obama

This is a picture of an-all-but empty supply cabinet in a school. Where's the glue, paint, scissors, construction paper in a rainbow of colors, rolls of colored paper for displays, rainbow chalk, raffia, colored pencils? 

I blamed Republicans and conservatives for the decline of public education in my article, 2012: The Year of the Embattled Public School Child. My good friend, sister librarian and in-the-trenches public school teacher Kipp told me off a little for that in a comment she made on that article. Duh. Of course she was right.

In the article itself, I reference No Child Left Behind's co-authors John Boehner and none other than the Lion of Congress himself, Mr. Liberal-- Edward Kennedy. I can privately think Mr. Boehner had nefarious reasons, and Mr. Kennedy had altruistic ones-- but even if I'm right-- which I'm possibly not-- the fact remains that the single most egregious legislation to wound, maim and slam public schools to bleeding in a desert of test-prep came from this brotherhood of left and right. OY! Why does it matter? Because the LEFT bears just as much responsibility for public schools' decline as the right.

And that, Mr. President, is where you come in. You, sir, are an educational policy train wreck. Race to the Top is WORSE than No Child Left Behind. No child should have to COMPETE for needed resources in their schools. But don't worry: I can fix it for you. 

Recipe for Better Public Schools:

Appoint Diane Ravitch as your secretary of education. Beg Jessie Ramey of Yinzercation fame and Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teacher's Union to join her. Make these three women an important part of your Cabinet. Educational policy is a National Security issue. Kick Arne Duncan out of Washington with a spiked boot. Rethink your support of charter schools, which by nobody's reckoning are generally out-performing publics, but are re-segregating and miseducating kids, as well as busting unions and leaving special needs kids out in the cold.

Demand state Departments of Education take down their charter-boosting language on their websites unless they fully account for their finances-- publicly-- and while you are at it, make them follow the same rules as everybody else. If charters are public schools, make them take every child who applies. Give Rahm Emmanuel a public spanking. That dude is an absolute educational Vlad the Impaler. His policies in Chicago are criminal. Or should be. Invite teachers to the White House on a regular basis to discuss the reality in the trenches and how you can help. Get Michele involved in boosting the country's tone when discussing the work teachers do. By-pass the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers. That woman has sold her sold to the Devil. Standardized testing for teachers now? What??

Sasha and Malia don't have to swelter under the dictates of No Child Left Behind, and I'm glad. If those two beautiful girls and their exquisite mother can teach you about how wrong you were not to support LGBTQ marriage equality, maybe they can teach you about education policy too. Walk through a public inner-city school twice a month, your honor. Check out the lack of resources there. Come visit our shuttered and empty school libraries, our mouldering, inadequate buildings, our bright and shining Kindergarteners packed 30-deep in a room with no air conditioning on the third floor. It's December and they don't know their classmates' names yet.

Watch the test prep, test prep, test prep, ask where their gym is, how often they have music and art, where the violins and flutes are, what kinds of art supplies are in the storage room. You'll be met with a big, fat, echoing NOTHING. Because those vital things aren't there, Boss. They've been sucked up with the need for more test prep to help kids made Adequate Yearly Progress.

Increasingly, this is the message being shouted by educators all over the country. LISTEN, Mr. Obama. Consider the effect of the current state of public education on your Presidential legacy. End of rant.

Except this: read it. /the-hardest-job-everyone-thinks-they-can-do/

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