Glen Brown. Responding to “Thank you Dan Montgomery…”

Glen Brown

– Glen Brown, responding to my post, Thank you Dan Montgomery, Robin Steans and Ken Swanson.

I remember attending a Naperville School Board meeting in April of 2011. Robin Steans presented, and IEA Jim Reed sat quietly acquiescent. I wrote about it:

We have to be careful about hidden agendas and assumptions contained in ideological prejudices. We must examine faulty cause-and-effect reasoning commonly used to castigate teachers for students’ failure. We must reflect on how we come to know matters of fact, how we understand causality, and how we distinguish our empirical beliefs from wishful thinking and the untested panaceas presented by those who have not taught to comprehend the differences between public education and private-sector corporations (or charter schools).

We must be careful of wealthy foundations that support the prevailing tsunami of educational reform. It is not honest “reform.” It is about profits and privatization of public schools. These corporate millionaires behind groups like Advance Illinois and Stand for Children will not and “cannot be held accountable” for the damage they will incur; they are not elected by anyone. This is an irony since these groups believe that teachers should be held accountable for all the failures of their students.

Under what pretense can we embrace the agenda of outside groups such as Robin Stean’s Advance Illinois and Stand for Children and reject our own experiential and implicit understanding about what must be done to guarantee that all students obtain the best education possible?

Implementing so-called performance agreements, diminishing the power of unions, establishing merit pay, hiring and firing personnel according to private sectors’ procedures – do not address problems in education. Consider, for instance, how a public school district would establish an assurance of administrative impartiality and competency before providing the requisite training for fair and equitable evaluative methods and due process.

Changes for educational reform must come from teachers, administrators and its local school board, and from students and their involved parents as they work together to solve the many challenges that we face. Modifications of current teachers’ evaluations, benefits, and rights should not come from outside, corporate-funded groups that emphasize an accountability program based on questionable sanctions and unformulated “multiple measures” linked to teachers’ performance.

Be aware of the “Trojan Horse” that groups such as Advance Illinois and Stand for Children will bring to a school district. Be mindful of their glib adulations that “your district is a premier school district riding the top of the wave of student achievement… that it is not your district that should be concerned”; be aware of promises made for complete local autonomy regarding this legislation when it becomes law, for it may be a Faustian bargain in the end.

No Child Left Behind and its spawn, Performance Counts, cannot resolve the difficulties that teachers will invariably inherit. Why? Teachers do not work with “quantifiable outcomes.” (Perhaps we need Performance Counts legislation for our students’ parents instead: streamline dismissal hearings for ineffectual parenting, an independent fact-finding panel for impasses, an evaluative process based largely on how well children are doing in school and everywhere else…).

How does one measure the effects that a teacher has on his or her students’ character, aspirations, responsibility, and moral and ethical values? How does one measure a teacher’s inspiration, dedication and passion that these influences have on students? Are there reliable, valid tests and data for such indelible impressions on students? I have had some teachers who would not have received a “Satisfactory” rating today, but some of them have had a lasting influence on me that is incalculable.

Carefully examine the goals of public education. They are not the goals of Stand for Children and Advance Illinois. A teacher does not make a sale or earn a profit. A teacher works with children and young adults. Though we all want the best instruction for our students and children, we do not have to consider riding along with this prevailing wave of attacks on teachers’ autonomy and their rights by corporate factions and their entrepreneurs, such as Jonah Edelman’s Stand for Children and Robin Stean’s Advance Illinois. Why? Because waves will crash to shore no matter how we ride them.

2 thoughts on “Glen Brown. Responding to “Thank you Dan Montgomery…”

  1. I will never forget a student stating in class how much he will miss my class as the semester was ending. I looked at him and said,” but you failed… To me that says you didn’t get a thing out of what I was trying to teach you.” He then stated to me something like – he did get a lot out of my class. It was fun and he learned a great deal. He said that he failed cause he just didn’t feel like doing any work and that was his choice he said. But he always listened! How would that have been measured in relation to salary???

  2. I remember when I was in 3rd grade, 54 years ago I had Mrs. Ryder. I had received “A’s in second grade, but struggled to earn “C”s in Mrs. Ryder’s class. She was tough. We did not take ISATS, MAP testing or spend weeks on corporate testing (how DID we get educated without corporate interference?) so only my grades could be used as an “evaluation” of Mrs. Ryder in todays education world. I TOO learned MUCH in Mrs. Ryder’s class.
    I not only learned facts, but more importantly I learned how to be a STUDENT!!!! I learned how to study, how to do hard work, and learned responsibility. The lessons I learned from Mrs. Ryder could not be measured on any of the corporate testing, and Mrs. Ryder would not have received a “merit” pay raise based on my letter grades, but what I learned from Mrs. Ryder changed my life and has lasted a LIFETIME!!!! The idiot politicians, worthless bureaucrats, and the greedy, money hungry corporate jerks, must go away and sit in the corner and let the teachers do their jobs!!!! Thank you Mrs. Ryder, for all you did for me, and thanks to ALL the MILLIONS of teachers that changed, and are changing, peoples lives in ways that can NEVER be measured on worthless, for profit, corporate tests!!!!

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