I have read with great interest the Chalkface’s summer school adventures and I hope he continues to keep us updated. I have tremendous respect for someone who his putting his money where his mouth is. As an education professor or really anyone involved in education policy, it is crucial to stay in tune into what is occurring in the classroom. Most education policy is made by those furthest from the classroom, whether it be people in Washington, state capitals, or school district central offices. This situation of decisions made from a distance or with a lack of real experience is showing significantly in the actions of the “deformers” who are driving education policy. We know most of these individuals have little experience in the classroom or none at all.
Two years ago in my middle school, we had our CORE leadership shared-decision making team meet with our superintendent and three school board members. I brought up the show “Undercover Boss”, which I knew the premise of, but never had actually watched(reality TV kills brain cells ). I stated that we need to get our principals and upper level administrators in the classroom actually teaching on occasion. I told the group that sometimes educational decisions are made that make no sense on the ground, ala “FUBAR” in the military. I suggested that each principal and upper level administrator teach one day per month. Teachers are often pulled for staff development, workshops and IEP writing,so why don’t we have administrators fill in on some of those days. I stated this would be a win-win for the district. We would save money on substitutes and administrators would stay in touch with what is going on in the classroom, thereby giving them valuable experience to help with their decisions as the boss. Everyone politely laughed and smiled, and of course my idea was completely ignored.
So kudos Mr. Chalkface, you have the guts to do what Rhee, Gates, Duncan and other “deformers ” will not attempt. They will make policy from their ivory towers far away from the classrooms of America and our children will suffer because of their ignorance. Maybe Miss Rhee would return someday, although we would have to make sure the classroom does not contain any masking tape. Who knows, Mr. Gates might try to dazzle the kids with some amazing computer presentation, but I would like to see him try that with the large class sizes he suggests. I would ask Mr. Duncan to teach kids basketball skills, but physical education has been cut due to shrinking school budgets and the need to spend more time preparing for the state ELA and math exams.
Mr. Chalkface, I wish you godspeed in summer school and I hope you have an air-conditioned classroom.