Monday, July 29, 2013

The introduction to Let Teachers Teach: I am proud to be an American teacher

The following is the introduction to Let Teachers Teach, my new book, which is available in paperback as of today at Amazon or from its CreateSpace website. The book will be available at Amazon later this week.

As I write this, it has been exactly five weeks since I wrote a Huffington Post blog advising young people not to go into teaching. I detailed all of the obstacles that are lined up against teachers in 2013 and there are many.

We live in a world where standardized tests are the holy grail of education. Only these poorly written annual tests (accompanied, of course, by poorly written frequent practice tests) can be used to judge how well our schools and our teachers are doing.

That is not going to change as the United States moves to Common Core Standards; in fact, it will get worse.

We face more pressure to teach to the test and more efforts through such approaches as standards based grading to take all originality and creativity out of the classroom.

Teachers face the challenge of overcoming the obstacles placed in their path by administrators who are willing to pad their resume with new programs no matter what the cost. These same administrators are the ones who invariably opt for series of practice tests and building curriculum around practice tests so they can somehow game the system.

Often, these same administrators will devise systems of discipline that leave everything to the teachers with no administrative support and no hope of correcting the types of misbehavior that make it difficult for teachers to successfully complete their lessons.

The deck is stacked against the teachers, but it does not have to be that way. All over the country, we see teachers and parents beginning to fight this madness, opposing the misuse of standardized tests, the crippling of discipline in misguided efforts to make statistics look better, and the degrading of classroom teachers.

To many, thanks to those who have done their level best to blame teachers for every problem that faces American education, teachers are interchangeable and experience is a curse, not a blessing.

It doesn’t make sense, but when the people pushing this approach have billions of dollars that guarantees it has a chance of transforming, and perhaps destroying, public education.

The day after I wrote my Huffington Post blog, one day before it was published, I was removed from the classroom, escorted out of my building, in front of my students, by a police officer, thanks to administration problems with two other books I have written, including a novel about a dysfunctional high school.

That is a story for another book. This book is for teachers and those who love teachers and American public schools.

We still have the best educational system in the world, the only one that makes a genuine effort to teach all who come through the doors. The backbone of our great system is the American teacher. I am proud to be an American teacher.

Now, please get out of the way and Let Teachers Teach!

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