Friday, February 4, 2011

The Replacement Players


When I consider remarks like the following, I honestly get angry (as angry as one can get relaxed in a comfortable chair at home):
More than half of America's 3.2 million teachers and principals are baby boomers nearing retirement. A source of excellent replacements is Teach for America, which Duncan says has "broken the monopoly" of education schools and departments over the supply of teachers. Although the latter still produce 60 percent of teachers, Duncan says "many if not most" of those schools and departments are "doing a mediocre job."
Founded in 1990 by Princeton's 22-year-old Wendy Kopp, Teach for America last year received applications from 12 percent of Ivy League seniors. When Duncan was Chicago's school superintendent, one third of the principals hired at innovative new schools, charters, and others were Teach for America alumni. There are 95,000 schools in America, and, Duncan says, "if we had 95,000 good principals, we’d be done." Done, that is, worrying about K-through-12 education.
Source: Susan Ohanian's Web Site
Mediocre job? Who the heck is Arne Duncan? Where was he when we were trying to bring technology into schools but encountered all sorts of roadblocks from superintendents and principals following the political aspirations of legislators and governor? Implement this program so that you'll be politically popular...that's why we saw top-down implementations of integrated learning systems that cost MILLIONS per district but HAD NO EFFECT whatsoever except to waste YEARS.

In a review of 100 studies of ILSes, Henry Jay Becker found that they “provided little evidence of ILS impact on student achievement. Where differences were found between the achievement of ILS users and comparable non-users, Becker concluded they were too small to have any educational significance.(Becker, 1992).
• Most scientific studies of ILSs have failed to demonstrate their impact on student outcomes (Van Dusen, Worthen, 1994).
• Skinneran operant conditioning learning theory provided the basis for ILS development (Mazyck, 2002). Instructional technologies must be optimized to support the cognitive requirements at hand, rather than only focusing on the behavioral model of learning theory. (Hooper et al., 1991)
• Independent studies of integrated learning system technologies have subsequently confirmed that learning discrete skills in isolation does little to support students in transferring knowledge to other domains of experience. This lack of transferability of skills from integrated learning system performance to other tasks is well-documented in the research literature (NCREL, 2002).
Yet, were you to make a list today, you'd find a host of expensive solutions that are implemented from top-down management...can you make the list of all the programs in your District? We often see technology increasing "efficiency," a la Good to Great perspective, but the fact is, drill-n-kill, tutorial programs are NEVER efficient.

You know, it's impossibly tiring to see classroom teachers carry on their backs the stigma, the shameful fears and failure to act from school administrators. I want to use Skype in schools, to bridge the digital divide. But it's blocked in many school districts. Free but blocked. Why? For the simple reason that School Boards and Superintendents haven't been wined and dined for the privilege. This is the teachers' fault?

Try out Skype for the fees, no school board member dinners.

The reason this is irritating is that I've seen plenty of criticism of teachers, and heard how TFA (or anyone else) could do a better job than those in service...yet, no one stops to offer to those inservice teachers the support and enthusiastic media press that "the replacement players" get. By demonizing our classroom teachers, whitewashing their accomplishments and commitment, while at the same time praising the replacement players, we're doing exactly what many of us were shown to be wrong...tearing up the competition so we can prove our worth upon their bodies.

The truth is, I'd bet any teacher would be happy to take on any of the replacement players in enthusiasm, intellectual prowess, and teaching ability. The problem is, it still wouldn't be a fair fight. There'd be superintendents and "how high should I jump?" principals standing behind the veterans whispering, "You're not allowed to do that!" 

What's your latest list of blocked technologies in schools? I can think of quite a few that Replacement Players--no matter who provides them--are using in spite of the administrative procedures.

If school "leaders" want more leadership from classroom teachers, then they better watch out. It's time for revolution in schools, and veteran teachers should stop fearing for their jobs--they are forfeit anyways with Texas budget cuts--and go after using whatever technology gets the job done!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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