I went to DC with Teachers from All Over Ohio
by Karen Linch, an Ohio BAT
I went to DC with teachers from all over Ohio.
shared how ESEA started; it was part of the war on poverty. Lyndon
Johnson wanted to even the playing field for the poor. The law was
twisted and turned over the years to blame communities and principals
and teachers for failing kids. School funding in Ohio is illegal. It
remains illegal. And thanks to the new budget, it will be worse next
year. Wooster won't be as bad off as surrounding districts but we will
feel it. Triway - oh my!
One teacher worked in a charter; she
witnessed online charter abuse. Over 400 students who never logged in
but received over $6,000 for each "student." Charters prey on students
who are truant. It's easy money. That one online charter is in Wooster.
Did you see how charters are lobbying now because they work with the
most challenging kids in Ohio and they deserve a break from
accountability? Seriously?!? What a crock!
One teacher works in
Berea. She got into a bit of trouble last year because she showed her
students how to find information about how to graduate WITHOUT passing a
test. She also shared that our schools are not failing. Graduation
rates are higher now than ever before. Poverty is the problem.
teacher is from Youngstown. Her city has been duped big time. She will
fight hard. Privatization of her public schools was slipped in at night
by Kasich and the help of Dick Ross. The mayor will take over the
schools; he didn't know it was happening! The legislator who worked on
the legislation was duped. Her name was on it; it was high jacked and
she refused to vote for her own bill. Kasich needs some talking points
for the campaign trail.
One teacher is from Hilliard. She shared how
the students who did not pass must take another reading class - no
elective like art or music or gym. Another class to prove a child is a
failure. That's NOT what's best for a child.
One teacher shared how
she worked over 3 years to help a child grow and learn. 3 years to build
up a child only to have it all torn down in one day. The child knew he
would not pass. He knew he was letting down a much loved teacher (she
never told him that!).
One teacher works in Dayton - 100% free and
reduced lunch. Can you imagine? I can. Dayton will be next for the take
over. 1. Prove schools are failing. 2. Keep them from improving. 3. Take
them over. 4. The magic bullet didn't work? Why didn't it work? Because
the magic bullet is who can make the most money from schools before
anyone truly does something about it. Our own legislators "ran out of
time" to take care of charter school accountability. Oh and they
scrubbed the scores - teachers are in jail for that in Atlanta. A
principal killed herself over that! What'll happen in Ohio charter land?
They'll go on the campaign trail with Kasich.
I shared how I was
told by a veteran teacher several years ago that my job depended on
getting students to pass a test. I believed him. The only way we use the
test data is to figure out which students get extra services. I shared
how teachers teach to a test because they either actually believe a test
shows a kid's growth and a teacher's worth or they are fearful of
losing their job. I explained how I took kids to continue test prep. I
explained how one student got so frustrated by what I was doing, he hit
his head against the wall. I stopped teaching test prep. I will never do
it again. I'm sorry I was so hard headed to not see without a child
hurting himself. I stressed how the climate in our buildings to put test
scores before a child's needs is creating a toxic climate. We are not
able to take care or even acknowledge kids' needs because of the
climate. Our kids are hurting themselves. They are screaming out for
help in many ways.
I choose to listen to the children from now on. I
choose to ask questions for the children. I choose to not blame a
parent for a child's behavior. I choose to figure out what's best for
each child and speak up for that child. I choose to take the time
necessary. Relationships is what is most important for all children. For
those of you who know me, that will be hard for me - slow down and get
to know a child. I want to help them read! There's only so much time;
read, read, read! Oh boy!
I left DC feeling defeated. We had 13
appointments. We spoke to one real legislator. He represented one of our
teachers. He listened; he also has lots of misconceptions.
were aides. Legislative aides are 20 something and not teachers keeping
their boss up to date on legislation they will vote on. They rarely
took notes on what we said. They rarely asked questions. They prob don't
know what questions to ask. I know I didn't in my 20's.
Some had teachers in their families. Most listened respectfully. Most went to public schools.
Many are TFA alumni. They taught for 2 years and they know what's wrong
with education. The most upsetting for me was Sherrod Brown's aide. She
is smart and cares and she has TFA lenses. My interpretation of TFA.
Smart kids from Ivy League schools teach/survive in a high poverty
district with little to no support. The support depends on the veteran
staff. If they survive they are experts in all things education. I know I
was no expert year 2! TFA is in Cleveland. They usually go to places
with teacher shortages but they are branching out. They use teaching as a
stepping stone to bigger and better things - like government -
informing legislators about education bills and legislation. They are
cheap. They don't stay in a district saving money - lots of money.
Teaching is the bigger and better thing to me. I want people who
represent me to know what I do and how laws effect/affect the students I
get to work with.
The new ESEA (I don't have the acronym yet) will
most likely put the power for most things at the state and local levels.
That means our local legislators need to hear our stories. Our
legislators need to hear from us - not through an aide.
education has lots of money. People who do not care about our students
want to get a piece of the action. And that is definitely not what's
best for kids.
I did have some hopeful moments. I will continue to look for hope.