"Despite what your state superintendent Tony Bennett says, the root cause of poor achievement is not teachers, but poverty," Ravitch told an IPFW Omnibus Lecture audience this month. "We must stop the trash talk about schools."
Superintendent Bennett insists he and the Department of Education are all about supporting teachers.
Maybe there are some teachers beyond Bennett's hand-picked councils who support his approach, but I haven't found any yet. I had plenty of response, however, when I asked some teachers who attended Ravitch's lecture to share their thoughts. A few were quoted in the editorial; I'll share others here in the days ahead, beginning with this from Lincoln Elementary School teacher Julie Hyndman:
I went to hear Diane with mixed emotions. I had read her book, and have seen her on discussion panels. Her position is refreshing and I couldn't agree more with her insight, but I'm not convinced that anyone in the majority party in our state cares to hear true facts and research that doesn't promote their agenda. Over the last two years, I joined other public educators across this state to lobby our representatives in regards to TRUE education reform only to be insulted with standard lines like, "Teachers don't want to be held accountable," from our governor and other elected officials. Mrs. Ravitch has been in the trenches and has the experience and research to prove her statements. I'd like to see Daniels, Heuer, Bosma, Morris, Long, Wyss, Pond, Yarde, etc. be accountable and support the Indiana Constitution and wisely use taxpayers' dollars to provide an adequate PUBLIC education for all children of Indiana. Additionally, I'd love to see a required grade card on their voting effectiveness, and how it has benefitted Indiana's children from all backgrounds. I'd like to see factual educational research be presented to Indiana voters in all media, including how their hard-earned tax dollars continue to help for-profit charters and special interest groups.
Finally, I had several students ask me what will happen if they don't pass the ISTEP. I respond by using the example of taking their scores and further differentiating our curriculum to meet their needs. That would be the most sensible, accountable, and responsible outcome of these tests. Unfortunately, our state has added other outcomes which do not serve our children well; the likelihood of teachers being dismissed, their school systems receiving a failing grade, withholding funds, or the possibility of a state takeover.
Thanks for letting me share, Julie Hyndman/Lincoln Elementary/Teaching 15 years