Sunday, February 6, 2011

Facts are funny things

The anti-teacher and anti-public school witch hunt these days is becoming more and more bellicose. Waiting for Superman by Davis Guggenheim just got the Oscar snub, and was rejected by Roger Ebert. One article that fought the propaganda in the film and pushed back was by Diane Ravitch in the New York Times movie reviews. Diane Ravitch was a supporter of No Child Left Behind, charter schools, and teacher "accountability." She has since come out against all of them, and become on the of the great defenders of the teaching profession.

In the review, Ravitch points out how Guggenheim, Rhee, Gates, and Obama currently point to certain examples of charter school or foreign success to justify their attacks on public education. For example, Finland is pointed to as an example the US should emulate. Unfortunately for the 'reformers', Finland has a 5% poverty rate and the teachers are 100% unionized. Charter schools fail twice as often as they surpass their public school equivalents. People say there are too many bad teachers. Most of those "bad teachers" are part of the 50% of people who leave teaching within the first five years. Those are just a few of the inconvenient facts that get in the way of those arguing for privatization of the education system.

As shown in the PISA reports that I wrote about in an early blog, it is not our teachers or schools that are necessarily the problem, it is poverty. If we continue to ignore the fact that poverty affects education, we will never improve education. Once we begin to tackle poverty, then the focus can shift to what schools can do differently.

As many have famously said, most recently the great Stephen Colbert; everybody is entitled to their own opinion, not their own facts.

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