Teacher’s Voice part 1 – Let me in

I wrote a letter to a few of the education reform groups here.  I got some great responses. What follows is part one of my reflections. 

Over the summer, Philadelphia School Partnership head Mark Gleason was nice enough to ask me to coffee.  He had no reason to do so and, in fact, I’m kinda a jerk to his organization.  He even bought the coffee1 and avoided the PSP’s usual arsenal of weaponized cliches2.  To add to the pleasantries, we spend most of our time agreeing.

Gleason started off with a pretty damning criticism:  Was teacher voice and agency, my biggest complain with PSP’s agenda, taken seriously in my school and my union?   Nothing to say there but agree.  And hey!  He’s not in love with test scores and teachers should decide a lot of things.  But, every time I brought up ideas like “and I think we should have a well payed building engineer” things got awkward

It’s tempting to end this with “good talk, agree to disagree”.  It was a good talk, and I like agreeing.  But I can’t.  I don’t need or want people to agree with me 100% of the time.  I’m not angry because people don’t agree with me.  I’m angry because the same people calling for “more teacher input” are equally committed to making sure we have no input on what’s most important.  Offering a false choice and calling it “input” is recklessly disingenuous.

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  1. However!  He ordered water for himself.  At 7:30am, on a Monday.  Cyborg-Vampire CONFIRMED 

  2. “Why are you chasing an anti-union agenda” “The only agenda WE are chasing is for great schools.” “Ok but you have a sketchy funders” “The ONLY sketchy thing here is why schools only graduate 50% of their kids.” “But what about peer reviewed research saying the schools you support are shams” “The only peers WE are interested are the peers of children who used to be in failing schools and are now going to college.” Make it stop.