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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Scapegoat I am!

Here I am, on the far right, posing with two colleagues, following a professional-development session.

Scapegoat I am, I am supposed to take the hit for low student test scores in NYC.  A lifetime of scholarly pursuits and five NYC marathons means absolutely nothing!  I am a lazy bastard!  When my students fail their Common-Core Regents, it will prove I suck.  How can you argue with such logic, especially from self-anointed "reformers"?  

Scapegoat I am, I should be fired and twenty-five years of teaching history should be washed down the drain.  A fresh face should replace me.  Experience is counterproductive.  A fresh face will work miracles--if it survives the year.  What a savings in pensions!  Can you imagine?  What a blow to the heart of hard-won workers' rights!  

Any teacher could tell the Governor that there are more plausible explanations for low student test scores, if he cared to listen.  These explanations don't involve branding teachers as scapegoats.  

Try the logic of these reasons:

5.  Technology and other distractions are too powerful in this day and age.  Students fail to complete homework.  They fail to study.

4.  Classrooms are seriously overcrowded.  The kids who need a lot of individual attention will probably not receive it.

3.  Poverty, drugs, violence and death make the Common-Core curriculum seem overly complicated and overtly irrelevant to some.  Its tests are an anathema to all.

2.  Many kids have special educational needs.  Many students do not speak English.  The system is stacked against them. 

1.  In most schools, the biggest problem is sporadic attendance.  If students come to school late, miss class, leave early or fail to show up, even if only occasionally, they cannot succeed.  Since may students will not complete work outside of class, there is little hope if they do not come.  We can call homes, but we can't chauffeur them to school, lock them in or round them up.  

If you can't digest all of the above, and you find it so much easier and cost-cutting to label teachers as scapegoats, I have but one comment, scapegoats will not always be passive victims!

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