Americans have a habit of codifying everything, taking the essence of an issue and putting a number to that essence so that everybody can understand just how bad things have become.
In many cases, the numbers become more important that the issue itself.
Over the last several years, the numbers have been used to demonize teachers, not only in New York City and Nassau County, but across the nation.
Put together the “facts” that tests sores are falling and few graduates are ready for either college and career and the fact that the percentage of teacher pension costs are increasing, causing cuts to school programs in local districts, and you have the perfect storm that brings the media and school functionaries to the conclusion that both are the fault of the teachers. The conventional wisdom on the part of school officials and media pundits who don’t know any better is that teachers are at fault for both failing students and climbing school budgets.
How could it be any other way?
Look at the massive drop in test scores in Nassau County school districts that were announced last week. The media and state education officials were quick to say the cataclysmic drop in scores was due to a new curriculum and higher standards, while, at the same time intimating that perhaps the teachers should have been teaching the skills necessary to do well on the test all along. What they did not say is that for the last ten years, teachers have been forced to teach to the previous test as well as use vital classroom time on test prep that had nothing to do with education.
Fire the bad teacher’s, those whose students are failing the test. Close the bad schools and open new ones.
The mantra has been “It’s the teacher’s fault, and we’re going to use the test scores as a reason to fire those teachers who don’t do well on the test and punish those schools whose students are “failing.”
For the first time in years, however, it seems that school officials are becoming the demons and teachers are being redeemed.