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NCTE: REFLECTIONS ON FEAR & HOPE

The Common Core State Standards have definitely changed the face of education but no educator that I know or have read about seems to think that it is a change for the better. Even though many have pointed it out, none of the country’s major educational catalytic individuals have any classroom teaching experience or experience with education other than on huge periphery. And out of the millions of teachers and administrators toiling daily in the nation’s public schools none of us were asked for this expertise in developing the standards, assessments, or evaluation systems we are now bound to. Yes, some educators were asked to look over these measures but that was all AFTER they had been drafted. Again, as has been pointed out numerous times, education is one of the only fields in which members of the profession have nothing to do with its governance or evaluation systems.

This is all ludicrous and outrageous and DISRESPECTFUL to me as a professional and to my colleagues but many teachers seem to be accepting these Re(De)forms with a shrug of the shoulders. It would seem complacency is just as much the enemy as the businessmen and their one-size-fits-all incentive model for “improving” teachers’ performance. But ultimately, I think the real enemy is FEAR.
*Politicians are afraid to admit that the definitive answer to what’s wrong with America’s educational system lies within the structure itself.
*Parents are afraid to admit that they’ve abdicated the raising of their children to teachers.
*Students are afraid to fail because they’ve been rewarded for mediocrity all their lives.
*Teachers are afraid to do what’s right for their students or tell parents and administrators the truth about students because we are all well aware that we are the scapegoats in the blame game.

However, I have come away from NCTE in Boston this past week with hope. There were panels and sessions on “talking back” to the CCSS. There where passionate conversations over snatched meals at Au bon Pain or Tossed about what we’re teaching to comply with and instruct IN SPITE OF the CCSS. There were discussions of “subversive” teaching while trying to meet the tenet of the CCSS if not every single command of the CCSS. And, ultimately, there were still and always discussions of doing what is best and right and EDUCATIONAL for our students. Teachers still have hope that we can stand up to the fear and TEACH our kids.

Standing up to one’s fear is the definition of courage. I am so proud to be courageously educating alongside all of the other brave teachers out there. Can’t wait to see you all next year and share our victories. Keep teaching, my friends.

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