Mark Naison: Virtually everyone I interviewed who was able to move from a working class childhood to professional status had someone invest large amounts of time and energy in expanding their “cultural capital” by building their self confidence as well as their skills.
Mark Naison: As I watch the teaching profession be destroyed before my eyes, through bi-partisan initiatives that are difficult to fight, I am filled with anger. I hate what is going on, and will fight it with every ounce of my energy, but as a historian, I am hardly surprised.
Mark Naison: Race to the Top redistributes income and not in a good way. Why has this ambitious education reform effort become an economic engine in reverse for poor and working class families.
Mark Naison: School reform, as it is being implemented today, destabilizes poor communities and inflicts a regimen of test prep on the nation’s children which destroys their joy of learning but the policy makers are buffered from the consequences of the decisions they make for other people’s children.
Mark Naison: Our goal is to have teachers around the country to describe how they have experienced No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, and the policies stemming from them, in their professional lives.
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.