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Distinguished Educator's Editorial Challenges Union Attitudes Toward Reform, Defends Teachers
posted by: Colin | March 10, 2010, 06:42 PM   

Professor emeritus and founding director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character at Boston University, Dr. Kevin Ryan published an editorial calling on the country to muster the courage to challenge the "eight hundred pound gorilla" preventing real reform in schools—the teacher unions:

"In their current form, teacher unions are little interested in the plight of the classroom teacher and give little only lip-service to educational reform.


"Union bureaucrats are committed to keep their power over the public schooling. They do this through sheer political power. They own the Democratic Party from Main Street to the White House and their highly paid leaders know in their bones that introducing the free market means the end of their educational monopoly and their power."

Dr. Ryan, a former schoolteacher whose career has been dedicated to educating students and improving our education system, empathizes with his fellow educators in a way not often found in editorials opposing the big teacher unions:

"There are sound reasons for teachers to band together and form unions. Teaching, particularly in today’s schools, is a very hard job. Kids come to school with little impulse control and self discipline and various embedded habits of pleasure addiction. Trying to get students to do the work required for serious learning in an environment where one has little authority or power would reduce a drill sergeant to tears."

Comparing education reform to trying to "change a flat tire on a speeding car," Dr. Ryan's call to action closes strong:

"Educational reform is not for sissies [...] Change in schooling, like most change, is long, hard and demanding work. It has been said that the only one who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper."

Dr. Kevin Ryan is a member of AAE's distinguished advisory board and of the AAE Foundation board of directors.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Race Leaves Teachers Behind
written by Anthony Manzo, CA, May 10, 2010

The Galen Education Project – Tract 1
Education is the Guardian of the Past & the Trustee of the Future
The Well-Intentioned ‘Race to the Top’ Leaves Only Teachers Behind
It will take unprecedented courage to take command of our own narrative and reduce our vulnerability
There are some great teachers, and even some great Teacher Preparation programs, but these are random occurrences where consistency is essential. The reason is simple: Professional Education is missing fundamental standards found in all other professions. There is no standard curriculum, no sincere effort to identify Best Instructional Practices, and truckloads of weak consultants and players with diluted degrees serving up their own brands of Faculty Development. Courses with the very same title and syllabus can be as different in principles and practices as is Lightening is from a Lightening Bug. To be called a profession it is imperative that a profession, one way or another, needs to convene an ongoing forum to collect and prioritize the core content of principles and practices that every member ought to know. Ironically, Teachers worldwide are being held to standards for annual yearly progress of their students. Meanwhile, Professors, Learned Societies & commercial schools, and some painfully self-serving non-profit foundations and Universities never even address the need for solid pedagogic content. Worse, those that do publish material under titles referencing Best Practices are quite simply hype, if not fraudulent. With few exceptions the current crop of in-charge “Leaders” - who once were mere administrators - dangerously resembles the Investment Bankers who remain in charge of the economic systems that they nearly bankrupted. Perhaps the only way to expose and reform this systemic disaster would be a class action by teachers &/or parents & students against all of us who have been complicit in these myriad layers of self-interest actions bordering on malpractice.
Since the likelihood of legal action is a remote it would be wonderfully unprecedented for a leveraged agency, such as the US Department of Education or a sate department of Education to hold a virtual convention of the nation’s leading educators to consider and ideally endorse a covenant of principles and more importantly prescriptive practices. Ideally this would occur on an open-access website that transparently allows these to be challenged, tweaked and further specified for different age-grade-linguistic & situational conditions. Additionally, such a rolling convention also could address differentiated staffing based on what schools are expected to do, and with a differentiated set of Best Practices for each function as exist between doctors and nurses, attorneys and paralegals, etc.
Schools are expected to carry-on three essential although overlapping functions: 1. Teach new concepts, content and a positive disposition toward self-directed on-going learning; 2. Provide assessment and targeted supervised practice in these objectives; and, 3. Operate a massive custodial role that keeps students in school for at least seven-nine hours a day for about 200 days a year for about 13 years, and now through at least 2 more years of college. Our labor market and economic system depend on schools to meet these criteria. The problem is not the expectations, but that staffing, resources and organization do not reflect these societal expectations. And, sadly there is no coordinating free market in which to gain access to the best pedagogical ideas and practices. But, this is another complex issue requiring several additional paragraphs that have now become all wrapped up, if not convoluted by vouchers and charter schools.
Meanwhile, please consider joining the websites below offering a potential startup means of getting the current system moving in the right direction. As an aside, taxpayers would be grateful since increasing classroom effectiveness and adding differentiated staffing could bring about efficiencies that could save billions of dollars with even the smallest degree of adoption. With your support we hope to formally organize ourselves around the title: The Galen Project in honor of Claudius Galen (131-201) a great teacher-practitioner, compiler and systematizer of Greco-Roman medicine, physiology, pharmacy and anatomy. Please join the narrative at: http://teacherprofessoraccount...el_network And…
Anthony V. Manzo, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus,
University of Missouri-KC, (ret.) CSU-Fullerton
Students are people too
written by Rhonda Williams, March 18, 2010

The war that is currently being waged within the educational reform sector is counterproductive. The political forces appear to be most interested in their own agendas while the focus of education goes unnoticed. The student is what matters and their future is intertwined within ours. We should find more ways to work within the system to help our youth until a united change can be achieved. I work with at risk and drop out students; it is my goal to help them finish middle and high school and then continue their education and earn a college degree. I founded a nonprofit organization entitled Johnny Is Helping and my goal is the organizations mission. If our services can help a student that you know, please keep us in mind. Every student has a promising future that matters; the forces that control the landscape of education in the U.S. should remember that fact.

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