On blogs.edweek.org, I read a really moving letter by 3 teachers to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, asking when the institution will speak out on issues fundamental to the educational well-being of children and their schools.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
As veteran public school teachers, we are disappointed that the HGSE has not shown the leadership it professes by speaking out against the unprecedented attack on public education. To be sure, there have been courageous voices on your faculty who have defended public schools and the endangered idea of educating the whole child. We know that a thoughtful faculty does not think with one mind, and that there will always be differences about what constitutes the most effective pedagogies or curricula. But we have not heard the HGSE as an institution speak out on issues fundamental to the educational well-being of children and their schools.
These issues include:
The over-testing of students, beginning as early as 3rd grade, and the misuse of single, imperfect high- stakes standardized assessment instruments like MCAS;
The expansion of charters through funding formulas that divert resources from those urban and rural public schools charged with educating our most challenged children;
The stripping away of art, music, critical thinking, creativity, experiential learning, trips, and play periods-of joy itself-from schools so that they might become more effective test preparation centers;
The use of state curriculum frameworks-and soon, possibly, national standards -to narrow and standardize our schools, an effort that only encourages increasing numbers of affluent middle class parents to seek out for their children the same private schools that so many “reformers” have already chosen for theirs;
The cynical insistence that all schools be equal in a society whose social and economic policies make us increasingly unequal;
Merit pay proposals that deny and undermine the essentially collaborative nature of teaching;
And finally, the sustained media vilification of hard-working, dedicated public school teachers.
These depressing developments have intensified over the past fifteen years. They violate the first principles of humane and progressive education, as we understand them.