Sunday, April 20, 2008

How To Get Rich While Making School Lame

OK, so this isn't a 'get rich quick' post with a how-to, the title was just a ruse to suck you in, and now you're here, so you should probably just read this post, because it probably will make sense to you.

Most school districts are alike, and as a rule, the bigger the district (student and city population wise that is), the more banal some of the ideas that come out of the leadership can be, that's just the way it is. I've seen so many programs come in and out of my school district that I can't remember all of them, and the crazy thing is, this is only my third year as a teacher. I'm not exaggerating, I've seen a lot in that short period of time, since 2005.

I've seen reading programs, writing programs, math programs, science programs, social studies programs, and even different approaches to Title I programs. Some of the programs come from the big textbook companies, you know, the Scott Foresman, Houghton Mifflin bunch, but I've also gone through programs invented by one person.

I've seen Math Investigations, Nancy Fetzer, Response to Intervention, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), Baldridge, New Science Science Kits, and the Scott Foresman basal reading series, just to name a few. Now sure, most of the examples I gave are companies, but there are those programs that come from individual people.

Of course, they're not all bad, and most are crafted by someone who really believes in their program, and they bring it out there for the world to see, and possibly bank a few million dollars while they're at it selling it to big and small districts alike.

The problem I have is that when schools jump so hard and deep in to a program for every single subject, meant to take up every single minute of the day, they're all but assuming that teachers, the professionals in this great field of education, those on the front line, are incompetent and incapable of doing the work themselves.

I don't mind having math textbooks, they actually make my job a little easier, but I don't want to have to teach, day by day, out of a scripted program. Sure, the reading basal may have a nice story here or there, but by no means do students need to have a literacy experience, for years at a time, that are almost solely based around textbooks, this just isn't' right.

If I wanted to get rich quick, I'd think up of a new way to bring test scores up, and sell it off. I would go around the country doing trainings, peddling my materials, and then sit back and drive a Bentley around while students continue to push further and further away from education and teachers continue to leave the field in droves because they feel insulted, but who cares, I'd be rich.

As this blog evolves (or if you read my other blog, The Buss), you will see that I'm definitely a teacher to the core. I support teachers, I support them as professionals, as the leaders and innovators in the field, and as the trailblazers that will actually save education. It's not about some innovator with that great idea, I'm sure it worked for them, but I need to have the right, as a teacher, to pick and choose what works and doesn't work for my students. Anything else is idiotic.