Earlier this week I predicted that the hilarious yet profoundly accurate John Oliver takedown of standardized testing would show up on every teacher’s Facebook page within 24 hours.
By closely monitoring every teacher’s Facebook page the next day I was proven to be exactly right.
I also saw that Peter Cunningham didn’t like it.
In fact, he wrote a piece on his blog that there was “not much to laugh about” in Oliver’s commentary.
He said Oliver was throwing poor kids under the bus.
Which was weird, because I was laughing through my tears.
Who is Peter Cunningham?
Peter’s CV looks like this.
After leaving Arne Duncan’s Department of Education as the communications guy, Peter was given $12 million dollars by the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation and Bloomberg to start his blog promoting the corporate reform agenda.
I am jealous. I’m sitting here in my t-shirt and shorts over a cup of coffee this morning writing my blog and Eli Broad hasn’t given me so much as a dollar.
And I taught kids for 30 years. I actually know something about schools and teaching kids.
And this is the point I’m getting to.
Teachers know what classrooms, students and schools need.
If policy makers wanted to improve the teaching of public school students, wouldn’t teachers be the people these billionaires would go to?
Give their billions to the schools?
If you read the teacher requests for grants on Donor’s Choose, you will find out far more about how to improve education in the United States than you will ever read on Peter Cunningham’s blog.
You would learn much more than you would from reading a hundred research papers and wonky policy reports.
Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Bloomberg and the rest of those corporate philanthropies have spent billions on their vision of school reform.
Stephen Colbert did what all these philanthropic geniuses never thought to do.
Start with what teachers said their needs were.
Imagine how many teacher grants could have been filled with the $13 million that went to Education Post.
One of the ways I spend my retirement time is working with kids at a couple of Chicago public schools. We are learning to play the ukulele.
One of the schools needed to raise money to buy a classroom set of ukes.
So the music teacher posted that need on Donor’s Choose.
I reposted it on my blog.
And in a couple of days we raised the $4,000 that was needed to buy the ukes.
By the way, the music room at this school is filled with instruments purchased from grants that the music teacher successfully applied for.
In fact, prior to the CPS teachers strike in 2012 there hadn’t been a music teacher in the school for 7 years.
An entire generation of students.
Thank you, CTU.
The truth is that part of me is unhappy with the fact that our schools need organizations like Donor’s Choose and bake sales to pay for the programs and tools that teachers need.
It is estimated that on average public school teachers spend over $500 a year of their own money on classroom supplies, like paper and books.
I know that even in the suburban school district where I taught there were tons of things I purchased without reimbursement because I needed it and wanted it to teach my students.
I don’t have anything against Peter Cunningham personally.
But there is something very wrong when billion dollar philanthropies run by people who know nothing about teaching give all that money to people who know nothing about teaching to tell teachers that they are wrong about what they know about teaching.