Former New Orleans KIPP teacher and TFA Corps member speaks out on EduShyster

I’m not really sure why EduShyster is down here interviewing our folks, but since she did a pretty good job getting this story out of one of our people I will give her a pass. . . for now.

This is the full link: http://edushyster.com/?p=4240

Not only is this a story about a teacher from one of the more “accomplished” (test-score-wise) charter chains, but Rebecca Radding is a former Teach for America corps member, and one of a growing class of former TFA teachers disillusioned by the false promises and failed policies of education school reform.

Rebecca’s story is one of mindless drilling and near fanatical emphasis on test scores. Students at her KIPP school were not encouraged to interact with each other, but to maintain an ever-present unquestioning silence so they could mindlessly be filled up with stagnant facts, like empty vases waiting to be filled with acid rain from above.

“KIPP defines a successful teacher as someone who keeps children quiet, teaches children how to answer each question on a test composed of arbitrary questions, and then produces high scores on this test. Mind you, I was teaching Pre-K and then kindergarten at a KIPP school in New Orleans—and these were still the metrics by which I was being evaluated”

This is the charter template sweeping the nation. Test preparation for English and Math scores, which we can measure, and little else.

Rebecca also opines on the value, or lack thereof, of formal assessments that LDOE and many reformers who have never taught a day in their lives, preach so incessantly over as critical to understanding their students. By far the greatest value for formal assessments is to vendors bottom lines.

“Formal assessments don’t give me any new information, and they only serve to make kids who’ve already been disenfranchised by the schooling process feel even more frustrated.”

Like severely cognitively impaired special education students forced to take the ACT exam just so schools can get an SPS score and ACT can get a fatter check in the mail?

I also appreciated how Rebecca tailors her new curriculum to the interests of her students and encourages reading by providing materials that will actually interest her class.

I will leave you with this radical idea from Rebecca.

“Somewhere along the line I developed this radical idea that children are humans who should be treated with dignity, and that the classroom should, ideally, be a place they’d want to be even if schooling weren’t compulsory.”

Isn’t it sad that a radical idea involves seeing children as human beings, not products to be detailed or discarded as defective as is the current vogue corporately defined and driven educational absurdity?

Take some time to read her story while I continue to work on more of my own.

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