Originally posted at educatedtodeath.com
I was asked to sit on a panel of teachers to represent my school district during the accreditation process. I assume I was chosen because I am eager to speak in meetings and apparently speak well. This makes me think my administration has only enjoyed the sound of my voice and not the content of my O so bold oration.
I noticed quickly that I was in a room full of yes men and women who teach in the more affluent schools in our district. They all smiled and sat nicely. They were there to be slaughtered like good little lambs. The team of teachers surrounding me, my co-teachers, were, not unlike me worse for wear and doubting. Lips pursed, eyebrows cocked, notepads out. We were prepared for whatever we were going to he expected to swallow without question. Of course, my group did not act in complete accord. One just parroted off whatever was expected. Another would nod in agreement with the rest of the flock.
This accreditation team is from Advanced Ed, a voluntary “quality assurance” company that comes in for a hefty price and helps ensure that schools are quantitatively meeting standards. They provide services ranging from professional development to teacher evaluations to curriculum development to brainwashing desperate administration. The people on the teams I have met are high paid zealots who offer instruction in best practices from corporate research done in schools far different from the ones they are currently serving. This is no shock. I’ve been impressed with their ability to stick to their script even when challenged. They utilize a method similar to Bill O’Reilly’s when challenged. They simply repeat their original point in a different tone and then say “well we don’t have time to continue this” or “for the sake of time we have to move on”. But they’re generally nice people.
Back to the meeting and the flock.
We were asked general questions regarding the state of our facilities, safety on campus, professional development related to Common Core, whether or not the professional development was useful, and many more. Most people nodded along in agreement with the flock.
And then we were asked if we thought our kids were prepared for college and/or the “real world” when they left or high school. The flocked bleated, “Yes”. They provided examples, “I am a product of this district and I was more than ready.” Several referenced themselves as examples.
I asked the “accreditors” who were superintendents from other states if they thought the students leaving their districts were prepared. They paused and looked at one another. I continued, “is it possible with the way things are segmented, and the focus on testing and extreme standardization for anyone to leave a school completely prepared?” The other teachers in the room began speaking. One shouted out, “I teach at the community college in the summers. Our students almost always have to enter remedial reading courses.” Another offered her child as an example stating how his first year of college was devoted to college prep courses.
The accreditors said we had to move on, but first he said: “off the record, we’re all in trouble.” And was back to the agenda. It was an interesting moment to see a stone face break for a moment. It was a nice moment of breaking from the flock for the teachers around me. It’s nice to see a Yes Man say no.