Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools, and What Can We Do About It? -Questions-

Stan Karp is concerned with the school reform and how the political process is shaping it, while many people are bashing teachers and public schools. According to Karp, teachers count a lot for students’ success, but also do the reality that these students and teachers are dealing with. So the teachers are not the only ones to blame- probably not the ones. Schools need to respond effectively to the communities they serve, but alone they cannot make up for the inequality and poverty that surrounds them; in line with Karp, it has become an excuse to impose  failing reforms that are not educational but political strategies to bring market reform to public education.  He believes that we need to recover our schools and our public policy-making, in order to have some control, at least, over our economic and social future: not only the schools need to be fixed, but the democracy, as well. “… as advocates and activists for social justice, depends in part on our ability to re-invent and articulate this missing equity agenda and to build a reform movement that can provide effective, credible, democratic alternatives to the strategies that are currently being imposed from above.”(Pg. 12)
Karp really wants to take the burden off the educators’ shoulders, as he points his finger to the institution, the government: the democracy we live in. His reflections made me think of these questions:
1-      It is a fact that politicians are cutting schools funding. How can educators sustain a good education to students? What can they do, creatively, to still give the students a decent education? Or can’t they? Does good education depend solely on funding?
2-      What are the roles of the teachers in the school reform, especially, when they are the ones to blame for the students failing and low test scores? What are the resources that teachers are being given, in order to improve the test scores? Why aren’t the evaluations made to support teachers in classroom, and to promote collaboration with colleagues and school-based instructional leaders and include parents and students, as Karp says to be effective?
3-      How do you envision your future practice as an educator, when the government is spending so much money on standardized tests to track academic achievement gaps? “Race over the Cliff” (Race to the top policy) how efficient has it been? Why and to whom these tests are so important, seemingly that high test scores are are not synonymous of high academic achievement? Do you think that these tests are being used to manipulate private interest, as they become an obstacle to an effective public service?
4-      As a professional, how do you feel when teachers are made “escape goats” of almost every education problem?
5-      What is our voice as professional educators? What can we do to stop people from bashing teachers, if we can do something? Karp talks about test scores being successful a different country-Finland, I don’t know if it would work for USA, because as he says, there is many thinks to take into consideration when thinking schools, especially, the reality that one is living in, so Finland and USA may or may not have a different circumstance… what do you think? Why are the test scores so successful over there, and not here?


  1. Marcia, great questions! You certainly brought up a lot of great points and ideas to explore further. Now if only we could have someone at the helm that has the answers to these questions... Perhaps these should be interview questions for the position of commissioner of Rhode Island schools. : )

  2. I especially like your second question...instead of being so quick to criticize and bash teachers, we should be collaborating together on strategies that work, have more mentoring programs for new teachers, better training, etc.

  3. Marcia, very thought provoking questions! Not easily answered, but great for discussion. The issues around funding are not likely to go away so thinking about what teachers can do to maintain quality with fewer resources is a very real-world conversation.

  4. Excellent questions -- and I am sure you will have more after we watch tomorrow, too. I hope we can get to answer/discuss these in class.

  5. Your questions really made me think (which is hard for 10 p.m.). I look forward to the discussion this brings in class.

  6. Hi Marcia,

    Nice summary of Karp's point of view! I'm sure many of the questions that you created will be brought up tomorrow after seeing the movie "Waiting for Superman"...
    Great post!