Mark Naison: As I have become involved with an Opt Out movement in New York State that has inspired thousands of families to demand that their children be allowed to sit out state tests, I have become even more appalled by what current school policies are doing to children.
Mark Naison: “For anyone who says teachers are to blame for our students failing, I have one thing to say: How DARE you? Teachers are heroes to a lot of children who have none!”
Mark Naison: As high-stakes tests have proliferated in our public schools, and are increasingly used as the basis of closing schools and firing teachers, more and more people despair of challenging policies that have bi-partisan support, are championed by the media, have the nation’s economic elite pressing for their implementation.
Mark Naison: Workers who approach their jobs with real autonomy and creativity are a threat to a system that thrives on intimidation and micromanagement as ways of extracting “productivity.” And in which productivity gains almost exclusively accrue to those at the top.
Mark Naison: What is daily life for young people of color who are poor is quite literally out of sight and out of mind, and thereby unimaginable, not only for middle class and wealthy residents of cities, but for the mayors of thoses cities.
Mark Naison: We must also unleash the genius of the business world into the system by subcontracting test development and evaluation to corporations with the resources to do these well and have all school employees wages and salaries targeted to performance the way virtually all business do.
Mark Naison: It is one thing to show, as a Met Life Survey has, that teacher satisfaction has plunged to the lowest level on record, dropping 25 percent since Barack Obama took office, it is another to describe in detail why this has taken place, and what the texture of teachers lives has been since policy makers have started evaluating schools and individual teachers on the basis of student test scores
Mark Naison: Why any school district would want to bring in teachers who have been trained for five weeks and have no classroom experience to replace teachers with years of training, experience, and mentoring would seem to defy common sense unless one considers the budgetary considerations at stake.
Mark Naison: In the last five years, I have had to switch gears and devote large amounts of time to protecting my profession and the institutions I have built, against powerful forces seeking to reduce teaching and learning to quantifiable “outcomes.”
Mark Naison: When presidents, or governors, or mayors create educational policy or school reform commissions, they make sure that business leaders and foundation heads have the determining voice, with lifetime educators, especially teachers, often entirely excluded.
Mark Naison: After school and night centers were a fixture of every public school in New York City until they were closed during the NYC fiscal crisis of the 1970’s.
Mark Naison: Too many college graduates are leaving college with huge debt and no realistic prospects of paying off the debt
Mark Naison: Teachers have become “collateral damage” of an effort to transform public education from above, financed and implemented by people who regard teachers with contempt.