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Wed Oct 17, 2012, 02:33 AM

 

Diane Ravitch is encouraging everyone with an interest in education to write a letter

to President Obama and send it to him on October 17th. Here is my letter:


Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you today as one voice in a chorus of millions of educators, students, parents, and concerned citizens. I ask that you take a moment to hear our stories.

Mr. President, I worked as a special education teacher at a small elementary school just two blocks from your Chicago home. Perhaps you and your family have walked by it, Reavis Elementary at 50th and Drexel? Did you ever wonder what happened inside that small, crumbling, yellow-brick schoolhouse which sits just outside your affluent Hyde Park neighborhood?

And Mr. Obama, do you remember the friend you wrote about in your book, Dreams From My Father? You called her "Mary". Did you know that she dedicated more than twenty years of her life to the children of Reavis? I had the privilege of working with her during my first year of teaching. She was the most inspirational, kind-hearted, good, hard-working teacher I had ever seen. She had a way of making the children light up with joy. She worked endlessly, often losing sleep. You know her history, you wrote about it, she has not had an easy life.

I'm sorry to report her life has been made worse thanks to you, Mr. President. The pressure of test after test was all-consuming. Our administration was cruel, and our principal looked for reasons to belittle us, berate us, and to fire us. Instead of letting us, as professionals, be free to create relevant, engaging curriculum we were told we must write lessons a certain way, we must configure our board a specific way, we must put up the children's test data on the walls of the classrooms, and above all else, we must obey unquestioningly. We watched as the principal targeted the older teachers, or anyone who disagreed with him...

Poor "Mary". She knew as a veteran teacher that no school would ever hire someone her age. So she was stuck in that abusive school. She reminisced how things had always been hard teaching in an inner-city school, but they had been better years ago. The past few years had become unbearable, she told me. The year after I worked there, she was finally forced into early retirement. She will have to live on a reduced pension for the rest of her life. According to your administration, her years of dedication, loyalty, and practiced expertise mean nothing... So Mr. President, your friend "Mary" is now just another selfless soul thrown away in this barrage of teacher-bashing, deprofessionalization, and budget-cutting. This is the world of Race to the Top. Of cold competition, deceptive data, test scores, merit pay, unfair teacher evaluations, and a constant fear of school closures or massive layoffs...End Race to the Top now. End No Child Left Behind. Bring in actual educators to run the Department of Education.

Most of all, trust your teachers. Trust the people like "Mary."

http://mskatiesramblings.blogspot.com/2012/10/letter-to-obama.html#comment-form

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Reply Diane Ravitch is encouraging everyone with an interest in education to write a letter (Original post)
HiPointDem Oct 2012 OP
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #1
Smarmie Doofus Oct 2012 #2
LWolf Oct 2012 #3
Starry Messenger Oct 2012 #4
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #5

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 02:39 AM

1. Dear President Obama,

 

I am elementary school principal and a former classroom teacher. My mother was a teacher, my mother's mother was a teacher, and my mother's mother's mother and father were both teachers. I am writing to you because I am deeply worried about the fate of the teaching profession, the fate of our public schools, and the fate of our students. Let me tell you why.... The more I learn and the more I see about the direction public schools have taken across the country, the more upset I become. It is getting harder and harder to sit around and remain silent while I watch our students, teachers, and schools suffer.

I have been trying my hardest to preserve the integrity of our school, our teachers, and our students amid the misguided priorities of your administration. But I know what is going on across the country, and I believe you do too. We are losing our arts and music programs. We are losing recess. When I taught in the South Bronx, the students did not have gym class, because our day was supposed to be focused around the test. We are losing our ability to think creatively and problem solve. This singular focus on test scores, combined with larger and larger classes, means that students are not getting the social and emotional guidance they need from their teacher, who is under tremendous pressure, and is already stretched too thin. Our schools are not producing caring citizens ready for the challenges of the next generation. Instead we are producing test takers who are masters at filling in bubble sheets.

On your watch, the quality and depth of education in schools across the country has deteriorated....

Mr. Obama, our students deserve better. Our teachers deserve better. Our communities deserve better. Please, take a moment to recognize all the damage that is being done to our public schools. Then, let's move forward. Let's re-examine the notion that accountability can only exist through an annual exam. Let's recognize all that our students are losing out on because of our obsession with testing. Let's stop connecting teacher evaluations and teacher pay to these flawed high-stakes tests, and let's stop demanding that states seeking an NCLB waiver must do this. Let's stop blaming teachers. And let's stop firing staff and closing schools as a way to fix education.

Our public schools don't need your punishment. We need your support.

Sincerely,
Stephen Earley
Principal
Newport, Vermont

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 06:59 AM

2. Excellent letter. Truer than true. Happening here (NYC) too.

Alas... he couldn't care less.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 08:12 AM

3. There are too many Marys.

I'm almost there myself.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 04:04 PM

4. It's a nice idea, but it looks like you get a form letter in response.

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/10/17/president-obamas-disappointing-response/

I'm voting for the guy, but I gave up writing letters when he and Biden lied on TV about no one complaining about Rick Warren in letters to the White House. I wrote one and I know others did too. "Letters to Obama" has been a Facebook page for about three years...pleading nicely isn't working. Things like Chicago are what get things done.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #4)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 01:38 AM

5. whoa, that's an insulting response. they should just send an email saying "nyah nyah nyah we're

 

not listening!"

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