Let me begin by explaining my terms. Shaking something up means you are loosening it up a bit. You are refreshing it. You are stimulating it in order to revive it. On the other hand if we shake something down, we are destroying it, we are manipulating it so that it crumbles. We are casting it down. We are invested in breaking it up. There is quite a difference between the two ideas isn’t there? It’s kind of interesting to see how switching a word from ‘up’ to ‘down’ creates two distinct meanings that are totally different from one another.
Now I want to apply them to Obama’s plan to ‘fix’ education. He seems to think that if he keeps shaking a system that the broken, or non-working parts will fall away. For example, rather than suggesting genuine ideas to fix education, his administration recommends slicing the existing teaching workforce. If he demands cuts of let’s say 25 percent, then we must imagine that the bad teachers will be cut away. And if that doesn’t work, we can cut again, and then another group of bad teachers will be removed. If we continue to cut sooner or later we’ll be left, at least theoretically, with the good teachers! Right?
Who is going to want to work in a field that is constantly being worked over like that? And where do the folks who were once teachers go after being laid off from teaching positions? Aren’t these educated folks? Do we have new careers for them to move into?
Now Obama is doing the same thing with Head Start that he has been doing with K-12. If Head Start programs aren’t meeting government expectations then they are going to lose funding. For some people this might sound like a genius proposal. Bad programs shouldn’t be getting funding anyhow right?
The problem here is that government expectations aren’t about educating pre-k students! They are about parent involvement and about making sure programs educate homeless populations and they are about nutrition and healthcare. In otherwords, teachers are going to lose jobs, because the way that the Obama administration fixes problems in education is by shaking the systems up…or down…. Teachers are going to lose jobs till the programs meet these expectations that the Government sets. And what is crazy, is if all of the rules are met, the Goverment will come up with other standards to make meeting the bar harder for Head Start programs!
Now I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are saying that this is a good thing. You think educators need to be shaken up or down. You think they are ‘good for nothings’ just getting a paycheck for putting in time. You think they are no good at teaching anyhow. You think they are highly paid babysitters!
You know what I’d like? I’d like people who think like that to have to sit in a room with one of those see through mirrors and I’d like you to sit for a day, or a week, or a month in a classroom. I’d like you to see how difficult it is for a teacher to capture the attention of a room of toddlers! I’d like you to learn how stressful it can be to talk to a child who is bawling because they are tired, or hungry, or because they aren’t getting their basic needs met!
Remember, these toddlers are citizens of the US.