Saturday, April 11, 2009

Burnt Out on the Propaganda

I'll just come out and say it.

Lately I have been unable to keep a school/education focus on my blog. I've even unsubscribed to some pretty terrific teacher/education blogs as well- all because I'm burnt out. Burnt out from the frustration, burnt out from the political agenda, burnt out from the "mastery by 2014" joke and "our children need to compete with children from Japan/China/Timbuktu" shtick, burnt out on the propaganda.

As much as I love being a kindergarten teacher, I'm a mother first, and my parental inclinations occasionally put me at odds with my job's professional requirements. My childrens' sole focus, their goals in life should NOT be to compete with people in the global market. My sons and daughter need to be able to feed, clothe, and house themselves and the families they might choose to have. I would hope they would be inclined to help others either through their chosen professions or through charitable acts and venues. I think they deserve the right to respectfully go explore and experience this life. I think they need to be capable of picking themselves up when they trip and fall or are knocked down, which frankly, takes practice. I think they need to be flexible, sympathetic, self-sufficient and WILLING to embrace those qualities. I don't want them to work themselves to death, sacrificing the joys of family time or nurturing friendships, destroying their physical and emotional health and happiness. I hope they can nap or fall asleep peacefully instead of dropping from exhaustion. I hope they find love or at the very least, peace and acceptance within themselves and with those held most dear. I don't believe that they need to be CEO's of their own multi-billion dollar company to deserve a good life.

I don't care whether or not they help their school make AYP, and I think it's a truly criminal act of abuse when children are told that they are the reason their school passes or fails. I also think it's deception of the most premeditated kind when schools are blamed for all of society's ills while being forced to "teach" students a very narrow set of testable standards for twelve years, knowing that doing so is at complete odds with the "we-need-our-students-to-be-INNOVATIVE, CREATIVE, and OUTSIDE-OF-THE-BOX-thinkers" political demand.

Don't spend a decade training students to pass a single test unless the outcome you want is for them to merely pass a single test. If you want creative thinkers who are good at solving problems, contributing and sharing with others for the common good, then give them ample opportunities to explore, experience, practice, collaborate, solve, master, and modify or improve upon life's mysteries. Those who advocate for devoting school careers to jumping through a single mandated ring of fire are deliberately attempting to remove all traces of our diversity. The gifted clarinet player in band who sucks at chemistry isn't a failure. The bi-lingual mathematics whiz whose short story writing samples are painful to read isn't either. The third grade student who reads at grade level and loves to paint and dance isn't average, mediocre, or flawed. All have had good teachers, possibly great teachers, occasionally a bad one.

My eldest child graduates this May, is acing his classes, looking forward to college, and is technologically inclined. My seventeen year old stepson will never communicate at a level higher than my youngest child, now almost four years old, because of Smith Magenis Syndrome. My daughter loves math and playing volleyball. At this point, she's leaning toward one college campus because of its mascot and school colors. My youngest son is all boy, loves to tackle, push and run. Could football be in his future? Perhaps. Aside from my stepson, my children have goals, they have interests, they have friends, and they are learning that their world is what they make of it. I want them to be well rounded, well read, expressive, creative, resilient, eager, honest and happy. With seven hours spent in school for 180+ plus days a year (with many people advocating for longer school days and yearly calendars), tell me again how the schools' primary requirement to meet AYP provides for opportunities to develop those traits, while building bridges between schools, neighborhoods, families, and communities?

It doesn't.

And tell me again how my stepson's school has continued to meet AYP requirements despite the fact he can't even write his first name?


It's easy to feel burnt out when you realize it really is too much to ask for someone, somewhere, to catch a clue.


  1. GREAT post!! Amen, Sista!

  2. All true. All frustrating.

    You're making the choices that work for you, your family, and your students. That's all that matters.

  3. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Hi Michaele...
    I often find myself reading your posts - you are very inspiring! What a heartfelt and true post - I am a teacher in Australia and as we struggle with our NAPLAN over here I know what you mean!

  4. Thank you all for visiting and commenting~ the global collaboration that this blog provides to me and my regular readers for the issues that are most important to me as a parent and a teacher is what keeps me in the teaching saddle. Wonderful students, caring parents, and being reminded that I'm not alone in how I'm feeling regarding the state of public education today are the ingredients necessary for me to keep cookin' in the classroom.

    Happy Spring to you all.

  5. This is a wonderful post. It is great to see thoughts from a school teacher--relaying how much they can see flaws in the path of our children's education. Thank you for posting this.

  6. I completely understand this post. It was only a few years ago I resigned from teaching because of testing and the pressures that come from it. I loved teaching but after January, I felt I wasn't teaching anymore. Oh wait! I was teaching how to pass a test. I hated it. You are absoultly correct with everything you said. Shauna and I have had this conversation many times. I actually have nothing to add because you said it perfectly!


As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!