I am not surprised at Dan Haley's misinformed rationale that vilifies Chicago teachers in the strike [Putting teachers above kids, News, Sept. 19]. Nor am I surprised at John Hubbuch's questioning of the possibility of the black/white "achievement gap" ever being closed [Do we have the courage for this conversation? Viewpoints, Aug. 22].
Carter G. Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro warned of how a contrived public relations storyline, such as that touted by today's urban school "reformers," could intentionally mislead the masses to false conclusions about poor and minority citizens and discredit those with an authentic claim to truth.
The short reply — To Mr. Haley: You are wrong. To Mr. Hubbuch: Yes.
In order to know the truth about the decades-long sabotage and takeover of urban classrooms that serve poor and minority students, one would either have to have taught in those classrooms or been exposed to pertinent research such as that presented in The Flat World and Education, by noted Stanford educator and researcher, Linda Darling-Hammond. This book elucidates the truth about the mis-education of poor and minority children and exposes the slyly-crafted narrative of "failure" that urban "reformers" have gotten the public to buy into.
How do I know what is "truth" and what is "slyly-crafted narrative" regarding how we got to the current state of affairs? I was there. I taught on Chicago's West Side from 1972 to 2011. I was there during the time well-documented strides were being made in closing the "achievement gap" and in moving the college enrollment rates of black and Hispanic students closer than at any other point in history to that of white students, thanks to resources provided to schools by the government's Great Society programs, designed to address poverty and equity.
I was there when "reformers," coveting public money targeted for children of poverty and color, pushed for regressive policies that diverted those funds from "inputs" (resources) to "outcomes" (testing) and, as a result, transformed once-stimulating learning environments into virtual test-taking mills.
I was there when, as a result of such regression, the narrowing achievement and college enrollment "gaps" started to widen again. I was there when "reform" policies micro-managed the replacement of lessons in critical thinking with mindless "non-negotiable" protocols. I was there when many of the veterans, who had taught when those "gaps" were closing, were stripped of classroom resources and decision-making power and labeled as "bad" teachers, responsible for "failing" schools — schools that "reformers" handed over to their corporate partners to privatize with younger, less expensive and sometimes non-certificated teachers.
I was there when, by law, neighborhood schools had to accept students found to be "incompatible" with privatized schools; and, I was, most certainly, there, marching during the strike of 2012, to help expose the distorted narrative of "failure" that has been perpetuated for too long and to proclaim the devastating effects that this grand "reform" experiment has had on the majority of its poor and minority experimental subjects.
Chicago teachers know that American students are at the top in international achievement rankings when the test scores of children of poverty are not included in the statistics, indicating that American children of average to high socioeconomic status are doing quite well, and that the real culprit is poverty ... not "failing" students and not "failing" teachers.
Tragically, Chicago teachers know that if we do not address poverty, as we did when we narrowed the "gap," we will steadily lose ground in international rankings in education and in international standing in today's global society.
Bonita Robinson, a recently retired reading specialist, was awarded the Illinois Governor's Master Teacher Award while teaching at Austin's Duke Ellington School.
Answer Book 2019
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.
Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.
|Submit Letter To The Editor|
|Place a Classified Ad|