What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Five Decades of Ed Reform

Four days ago, I wrote a Blog of Despair—all about the forthcoming demise (or destruction, take your pick) of America’s best idea: public education. I’m not backing down from that conviction; I think the more or less permanent downfall of public schooling is inescapable, unless there are major, sudden shifts in public and political opinion.

One of my former students, now a mother with two school-aged boys, commented on the blog: If we could start over and build education from scratch, what would it look like? 

First—I have to admit that I’m proud of Kendra for asking the kind of question that doctoral students at research universities have been noodling over (without transformational results) since forever.

While there are optimistic legislative packages and snazzy new tools, most real change in education feels sluggish, rather random and exceedingly difficult to analyze. The idea of starting from scratch lies under most reform—charter schools were originally touted as a way to get rid of red tape and innovate. (Pause for cynical laughter.)

The thing is: transformational change involves determination and investment. It’s uncomfortable, expensive—and it takes time. Most change in public schools is driven by forces—financial, technical, social—outside of education. We’re not very visionary or intentional about education.

Education policy thinkers tend to be Stephen Covey-esque in the upbeat, step-wise way they approach change: anticipate, arrange, administer and assess. That’s how we got No Child Left Behind, which was supposed to be the Grand Strategy to identify inequities, raise and equalize standards (a word meaning different things to different stakeholders), harass teachers into somehow teaching better, and then test diligently to ensure accountability.

But– no plan on such a scale succeeds unquestionably. NCLB may have changed the tenor of the conversation, but over two decades of No Child, in various incarnations, have come and gone– and we’re still considering why the results are proof that you can spend billions and not improve education in any meaningful way.

I have been a teacher in five distinct decades, each with its own policy slogans, public perceptions and real problems. We’ve been “at a turning point” more times than I can count. We have surfed the rising tide of mediocrity and been embarrassed by the soft bigotry of our low expectations.  But what has really changed in classrooms? What’s the net impact on actual practice?

My–admittedly ultra-personal and non-scientific–report on Five Decades of American Education:

The Seventies: Got my first full-time, regular-paycheck teaching job in 1975–something of a miracle, as there was a teacher glut in Michigan. Was hired because the principal needed someone right away and we were on the same humor wavelength in the interview.

Soon learned that there was no district curriculum for music or any other subjects. Chose my own teaching materials from catalogs–wasn’t that a curriculum? Taught whatever and however I wanted–no instructional oversight, no mandated materials and nothing resembling “professional development.”

Heard “don’t smile until Christmas” about 50 times from other teachers, sum total of any “mentoring” I got.  Saw teachers smack kids (still permitted by law)–and heard lots of lounge talk about chaos that would happen if the right to paddle was taken away.

I was pink-slipped in Years Two, Three, Four and Six. Was always called back–once because of a lawsuit, after registering for unemployment. All of this was tied to precarious, locally voted school funding.

Gave statewide tests–the MEAPs, then a basic-skills check–but nobody considered them a big deal. Was happy that Jimmy Carter instituted a cabinet position for education–about time! Had a few friends who taught in Detroit–envied their superior facilities, resources and paychecks. Teaching seemed like a fulfilling, creative, and very autonomous job. Most days, it was lots of fun.

The Eighties:  Economic downturn in the early 80s meant further pink-slipping and annual changes of building/teaching assignment necessitated by constant personnel shifts. Had daily loads of up to 400 students in two buildings and–since any certified MI teacher could teach any subject to 7th and 8th graders–a year of teaching math. All of this change was oddly invigorating, if exhausting.

Finished a masters degree in Gifted Education, a popular cafeteria-style ed specialty (like Career Ed, Distance Learning, etc.). Got serious about teaching. Read many books, took fake sick days to observe admired teachers in other districts. Sought leadership roles in Music Ed organizations. Downright hungry for professional conversations.

None of this was required, encouraged or even noticed by the district, which did institute its own curriculum benchmarks in the 80s. Teachers called these curriculum guides “the black notebooks.” Problem: not enough time, staff or resources to teach all the good things in the black notebooks.

Reagan’s release of “A Nation at Risk” interpreted by colleagues as rhetorical excess and unionized-teacher bashing, an imperialistic extension of right-wing momentum gained in the air traffic controllers’ strike. Hoped it would blow over, but having to listen to Bill Bennett’s nostalgic morality fables was nauseating. Still giving the MEAPs, which got harder in the 80s. Took leadership roles in the union–since they were the only teacher leadership roles available.

The Nineties: Decade opens with some optimism. H.W. Bush’s Goals 2000 are kind of inane–First in the world in math and science! –but there’s the sense that policymakers are paying attention, and the belief that public education can and should improve.

Visit Detroit, shocked to see decayed and racially polarized schools–what happened in the last 15 years? Outstate Michigan residents, tired of seeing wealthy suburban schools funded at four times the rate of rural and urban-rust schools, pass a funding bill to get rid of property taxes as source, using sales tax instead. Outstate schools ecstatic as times are flush–auto industry will last forever!

Real and substantive school improvement begins to impact daily practice. There are national standards and benchmarks in most subjects, and teacher committees to update, align, discuss. Required mentoring for new colleagues. Performance assessments, and portfolios of student work. Required professional learning as opposed to blow-off in-service days, although the quality is still iffy.

Further upgrades in the MEAPs, including hands-on tasks for kids, new constructivist tests for science, social studies and writing. Better assessments begin to drive instruction. New teacher hiring done by colleagues. Plus–fab new instructional toy arrives in classrooms: the computer, full of infinite possibilities for teaching and learning. Some teachers begin experimenting immediately; others are intimidated.

Best Secretary of Education ever–Dick Riley–provides eight years of continuity of purpose and coherent policy. Education is still a local-control thing; Feds just there to ensure equity, promote innovation. National certification identifying accomplished teaching becomes reality. Next stop: real leadership roles for exemplary teachers, whose expertise will help policymakers solve problems. Nagging worry: all of this still takes money–and a growing number of poor kids are still completely underserved.

The Naughts: A slow U-turn in policy and conventional wisdom. We’re not gradually improving, after all–in fact, we’re an international educational joke.  All public schools (not just poor/urban schools) are bad. Decidedly awful–and the people who work and believe in them are intellectual dimbulbs who care only about their inflated salaries. How would they handle this in Singapore? China? India? We must compete!

Buzzword of the decade: data. Every person with a computer sees data analysis as the solution. In the lunchroom, colleagues express skepticism about the Texas Miracle even before it’s exposed as just another Data Hustle. Some of the best teachers in the building discover they are not Highly Qualified. Meanwhile, the worst teachers in the building–genuine stinkers–look good under NCLB regs.

We begin administering tests to third graders–and relinquish development of performance assessments that tell us real things about kids’ writing, number sense, comprehension, familiarity with the scientific method. No time for that now–the data-driven race to the top has begun even before it’s formally named.

Saw well-regarded suburban districts become defensive and start advertising as schools of choice. Urban and rural districts were shamed. Teacher preparation institutions–even the good ones– scorned. Paradox of the decade: We must have the smartest teachers! But should they bother studying the science of teaching? Or stay in the classroom for more than a couple of years? No. With data, we can replace teachers as often and as efficiently as we replace technologies.

The Twenty-Tens: The decade begins with the depressing realization that the Obama administration has fully bought into the privatizing, standardizing “accountability” movement, where no child can go untested. There are tweaks to NCLB, but the idea that we can accurately measure teaching/learning excellence through data becomes embedded wisdom. Federal policy demands grow—and competitive financial incentives are dangled in front of states to meet questionable regulatory goals that do little to innovate or improve schools.

The Common Core State (sic) Standards are launched, adopted, fleshed out with assessments and aligned instructional materials during the first half of the decade. Teachers have lots of complaints, but are knocked down by the big systemic wave of federally-driven homogenization. Mid-decade, however, community pushback against the Common Core strengthens—another silver bullet with no results—and its trajectory rapidly descends. Baby Boomer teachers, like me, the core of the profession (for better and worse), leave the field; the conventional teacher pipeline begins to dry up, along with the concept of teacher professionalism.

Now retired, I visit classrooms every week, as substitute, volunteer, special instructor or teacher coach. Every school I visit still looks and feels familiar—the crowded hallways, the marginal hot-lunch pizza, the goofy Things Kids Say. Things have changed since the 1970s, and not for the better, but school is still school.

And then, there’s an election.

The day after the 2016 election, a group of middle schoolers in Royal Oak, Michigan is videotaped shouting ‘Build That Wall!’ to a cluster of Hispanic kids, in the lunchroom. Four years of destroying useful education policy and practice ensue, led by a cartoonishly incompetent Education Secretary and newly emboldened, racist policy-makers. Things in public education go from bad to So Much Worse.

And then came the pandemic.

In April of 2020, I wrote a wildly optimistic blog titled A Dozen Good Things that Could (Just Maybe) Happen as a Result of this Pandemic. I mention this, because I have often, like Kendra, asked myself how I would change public education, if I could start from scratch. I genuinely believed that a pandemic could serve as a cleared slate, a turning point, for our social institutions. Maybe it’s too early to give up on that idea—a reclamation of public education’s mission—but I’m not optimistic.

I would sketch the last 50 years of public education as a bobbling, but slowly rising curve through the 70s, 80s and 90s, with a downturn at Y2K, falling gradually until the last five years, after which the line plummets due south, rapidly. Way south.

A long, strange trip indeed.

15 Comments

  1. Hey, I have a radical idea! Why don’t we copy someone who is doing it right? Or some ones? Maybe Norway or Denmark? Why we think (over and over and over) that we have to reinvent the wheel is beyond me. Maybe we have each state pick some other system to emulate and have a contest to see which does better? Instead of a Race to the Top we can have a Race to Better!

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    1. (laughing)
      A few years ago, I read ‘Finnish Lessons’ by Pasi Sahlberg, because everyone was admiring the Finnish system, different in a thousand ways from what was happening the the U.S. And I discovered that the Finns were emulating things that American education thinkers were promoting (although American schools weren’t really doing). They copied our best (unused) ideas.

      But even more important, I learned that the Finns actually did what any nation should do when reforming its education system–had a serious national conversation about the mission and purpose of education, and slowly rolled out a new way of doing school, to match their actual goals. They made policy decisions based on information gathered from citizens about what they wanted for their own children. It took a long time, and it was bumpy. But they ended up with a great system.

      Formal reading instruction in Finland begins when their resident literacy experts told them children were ready to read–when they turned seven. American kids start formal reading instruction in pre-school, three years before Finnish children. Finnish kids ‘catch up’ to American kids by 4th grade–then after that, they’re miles ahead. Just one example…

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  2. Nancy: i just love this article. i always love your commentary but this is absolutely tops! i too began my teaching career in l975 at community college where i got to invent my curriculum from scratch. But to your point about starting over, there are hundreds of best practices, now abandoned, based on learning by doing, hands-on experiential learning, lowered class size, integration of subjects, etc.

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    1. Thanks, Lauren. And you’re absolutely right–there are tons of ideas for making learning relevant and sticky. But we went with test-and-punish, instead. I’ve never been clear why we chose that path.

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      1. “We” didn’t. There is so much wrong with test-and-punish paradigm! Who is it that decided that all of society’s ills would be solved if we just scored at the top on standardized tests? Just what about our test taking prowess will propel us into a future of renown? How about we tackle societal problems directly rather than making education the surrogate for every ill?

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    2. Of course, public school educators have always resisted test-and-punish (or, sadly, rolled over and did what they were told). It’s your second sentence–who led us to that practice?–that matters. Who had the power and the financial wherewithal to impose testing? The first NCLB, c. 2001, was a bipartisan effort, and based on W Bush’s ‘Texas Miracle’ talk–Margaret Spellings et al.

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  3. I had a friend who started teaching biology in LA; early 80’s. She was given a great set of standards called the pumpkin. It was a pumpkin made of orange construction paper divided into five sections each with a one word name such as cells to be taught during the year. That may have been the best standards to date.

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    1. In the late 1990s, the Music Educators National Conference (like several other disciplinary organizations) wrote a set of music standards. I loved those standards, and convinced my district to adopt them. They were everything standards should be: Brief (like 6 pages), organized in clusters (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) rather than grades, voluntary and not attached to materials or assessments. They were…useful.

      Of course, they were music standards, so nobody cared (I say that wryly, but it’s true). They were just a good way to plan lessons and sequence activities. The Common Core took the usefulness out of a curricular plan for content disciplines, and substituted accountability and data.

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  4. Many moons ago in Iowa, I was a member of a school district’s Comprehensive School Improvement Committee, which we formed because the state said to. We needed to adopt goals for the district in language arts, math and science, if I recall correctly.

    Our three goals for students were something like:
    * Can use English to communicate (reading, writing, speaking, listening)
    * Can use math to solve real world problems
    * Can use the scientific method to investigate our world

    A few years later, the goals had become something like: All fifth grade female students who scored below grade level on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills math exam last year will make progress toward closing that gap during this year. (Translation: they will learn more than one year of material in a year, so that their score goes from 3.4 to more than 4.4.) There were dozens of these goals for each building, subdivided by gender, race, economic status (free-and-reduced lunch), prior year score, home language.

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    1. I remember the first time I was introduced to ‘SMART goals’ (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely).

      I was leading a professional development workshop that encouraged teachers to set learning goals for their students–not lesson plans, activities or what was on the pacing guide, but actual intellectual outcomes for a diverse cluster of kids, your typical class. It was surprising to me that many teachers could not articulate what they wanted kids to learn. They could devise lessons and materials, all right, but were often unsure of exactly what kids were supposed to be taking away, or why it was important.

      One of the teachers in the workshop said her district had just adopted SMART goals, and explained them. You can’t just say ‘I want kids to understand and create their own metaphors’–you have to be specific about their scores on the metaphor quiz that you’re giving in three days, specific about the percentage of the class that will pass the quiz.

      This struck me as kind of stupid, actually–every member of every class (even those AP classes) learns at a different rate. Broad goals are achieved only after application and practice, not pop quizzes. Even if everyone scored 100% on a quiz, you would still have to reiterate the concept periodically during class for it to stick and be useful.

      But lots of the teachers in my workshop excitedly wrote down ‘SMART goals’ in their notes. The very limits of those goals appealed to them, stuff they could check off the list. They especially liked ‘achievable’ and ‘realistic’–believing that their districts’ adopted curricula were neither of those things.

      Finally, I asked this question: WHO should be setting the learning goals in a classroom? Teachers? Administrators? Your state? The federal government? I expected that the answer would be: Teachers, because they know the kids and the curriculum best. But most of them seemed to think that setting learning goals was someone else’s prerogative.

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  5. I’m a big fan of your blog, and I usually agree with you. This time, though, I have to ask- every article/book/political speech etc. that laments how schools are so much worse now than they used to be starts with the assumption that schools are worse now, with little beyond test scores to back it up (and with little explanation of how the tests have changed and what the scores mean.) I started teaching in 2000 and am still teaching full time. Based on my experience as a student in the 80s and 90s and as a teacher for the past 20+ years, I see countless ways that schools are constantly improving.
    -Verbal and physical abuse and sexual harassment of students by teachers used to be tolerated. What would have happened if a teacher hit a student in the 80s? How about now? I’m also a music teacher- our profession has a particularly poor history of “inappropriate relationships” between adult band directors and teenaged students- that would now be called sexual harassment or abuse, not tolerated with a wink and a suggestion to be discreet. An alarming number of my older colleagues and mentors were married to former students. The young directors I meet are creeped out by this- that gives me hope.
    -Students now are being exposed to a wider variety of voices in the arts and history. I’m not trashing the classics, and my students still read plenty of Shakespeare and Dickens, but it’s no longer acceptable to have an entire curriculum with literature exclusively by white American and European men, and I believe that this creates a richer experience for everyone. My band students still play Holst and Bach, but I make sure that they also play Chen Yi, Tania Leon, Adolphus Hailstork, Jodie Blackshaw,… by looking for more diversity in our programming, we’ve found some absolutely wonderful works.
    -We are constantly going deeper. The work that my colleagues and I do is richer than a lot of what we did as students. My students compose and play their own works, play chamber music, play commissioned works and work with composers, do so much more than the “drill and kill” concert preparation that I grew up with. I had amazing music teachers who are the reason I’m where I am today- times and expectations have just changed. My colleagues turn academic writing projects into career fairs with mock interviews with local professionals; have students create and curate their own art shows, complete with artist statements; I could go on forever about the outstanding and creative work of my colleagues.
    -Students are more accepting of each other. I wonder if a large part of why there is so much online bullying is because the overt public bullying of the past isn’t tolerated now- it had to go underground. (And online bullying is modeled by adults.) Students are more tolerant of differences now than they were when I was a student, or even when I started teaching. I have too many examples to list.
    -We give a lot more thought to assessment and how we use it than we did when I started in 2000. I could have used a Magic 8 Ball to assign grades at the beginning of my career and nobody would have noticed or cared. I’m not talking about government mandated “data,” I’m talking about teacher generated assessment that we can actually use.
    – We’re providing more opportunities for students with special needs. Again, too many examples to list.
    – Haven’t there been surveys that show that a majority of adults think schools are a disaster but the same majority think their kids’ schools are excellent and must be an exception?
    -All of the problems that I see are coming from outside the school. It’s politicians with no understanding of the profession pushing for change they don’t understand, it’s state education departments with no higher-ups with any teaching experience passing ridiculous regulations, it’s the lack of voice for any teacher except for union leaders, it’s successful business people pontificating about the solutions with no basis in reality, it’s journalists constantly repeating opinions disguised as facts and crushing the souls of the people doing the work in impossible conditions. I haven’t even mentioned the pandemic. Within the school, hardworking people are doing excellent work and we’re constantly striving to be even better. And we’ll continue to do so, even as we constantly hear that things are beyond repair. The mark of a good teacher is their belief that there is always more room to improve.

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    1. Thanks for your excellent comment. I really don’t disagree with any of it, especially the improvements in music education, which has undergone a transformation, wrenched out of the hands of dictatorial blood-and-thunder teachers in the post-war era who insisted on being called ‘directors’–never teachers.. All you have to do is read conversations on social media about the expansion of band literature and MUCH more humane approaches to teaching instrumental music. I credit some of this transformation to the increasing percentage of women teaching secondary instrumental classes–and also to the changes that got a toehold in the 1990s: the MENC music standards, for example, which didn’t treat music education as a giant, ongoing competition, but as a spiraling series of important content and life-long applications.

      And I really was not defending schooling in the 1970s and 1980s–as the blog says, there was little attention paid to improving curriculum and instruction (the bread and butter of school) and almost zero focus on teacher leadership (except for unions). Teachers were low-paid, interchangeable worker bees. If you wanted to lead, to innovate, even to learn more about your practice, you needed more authority–a degree in administration, or a job at the State Dept.

      I fully agree the genesis of change in education comes from forces outside of schools (and said so, in the blog–financial, technological and social forces). The people who work in schools often don’t have the time or bandwidth to analyze just what Bill Gates thinks schools should look like or what parental grievance the state legislature thinks they’re addressing when they pass education legislation. Change just washes over schools, in waves. Reform is seldom internally driven–if it were, lots of reforms would stick and still be used, instead of abandoned.

      It also strikes me that you began teaching at a very interesting point–the dawn of NCLB and mandated testing–and benefited from some of the reforms of the 1990s. I have worked as an e-mentor to a number of experienced teachers who see our ballooning testing practices as natural, even essential–and the data generated as reality. Their idea of professional development is digging into testing data. Because testing is all they’ve ever known. It’s the coin of the realm, and being a ‘leader’ means understanding data.

      If you have kept your program thriving and rewarding during the past 10 years, I applaud you. But I don’t think anyone can deny that we’re looking at big trouble: The teacher pipeline has dried up. Student loans have crippled a generation. Teacher salaries are abysmal. Teacher autonomy and professionalism are things of the past (except in rare cases and rare schools). We continue to test during a pandemic, knowing the data is invalid and the process is a huge waste of time and resources–because that’s who we are now, a testing nation, controlled by federal and state policies, and dependent on data rather than human judgment. And those things are definitely changes.

      I taught for 32 years, taking a few years off to work for a national education non-profit (where my biggest learning was that one should never assume what’s happening in their building/district is also happening in another state or district). I visited schools and teachers all over the country, and met many teachers like you–enthused, skillful, optimistic. The question is how long teaching, as a profession, can be suppressed and controlled.

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  6. Retired teacher here. I began my career in 1967. I started when salaries were low, female teachers were NOT allowed to wear pants, lunches were prepared on site, smoking was allowed in the teachers’ lounge, and dirty purples were a thing.
    I was young and enthusiastic, and was sure I could save the world. My first four years were in a middle to upper middle school mostly white suburban school. Loved my students, the community was wonderful and teachers were not just trusted but admired. For me, though, after four years I needed more and moved to a more urban, diverse school, in a rough area.
    For three years there, I really learned to be a better teachers, worked harder to meet kids where they were. These 50 some years later some of my former students from both districts those schools back then, now in their 60s, have found me via social media. They remember the things I did, not curriculum scripted, but to me, things that made students love learning. Back then we had a plethora of choices in elementary for reading textbooks. I often used books to do plays especially when I was in the urban school. One year we (my 6th grade students and myself) made puppets, a stage, and turned “The Reluctant Dragon” into a puppet show, and learned from the story what it means to pre-judge others, how bigotry hurts. We SPENT hours on this, on our puppets, on the play. Did that for years with students, even after I moved to and began teaching in an uberconservative city in CO.
    But when education really turned for the worse for me, when it became so obvious that this was more than just the usual grumblings of disgruntled parents/communities about teachers, or school taxes etc was when Reagan and his cabal began their attacks. Reagan aligned with the evangelical anti integration forces, then led by Falwell, to destroy public ed; for Reagan it was to get rid of teachers’ unions which had grown enormously in the 1970s. Twice in the 1970s I was on strike to preserve collective bargaining. I could not imagine it happening in the 1980s.
    Reagan enlisted Falwell and the religious right who wanted public monies so “religious charters” could bypass integration, busing. Does not get more obvious; the libertarian far right of Reagan saw $ signs on the heads of children, especially poor children via charters; Falwell and the rich flim flam men of the so called moral majority could get their flocks to grow by doing what catholics had done; form religious schools to brainwash, and keep them away from those public heathens. As a kid who had gone to parochial schools in the 1950s, I recognized the signs.
    Now yes, there were some awful things still going on in public schools when I started though not in my schools. Corporal punishment had mostly moved in my area of the northeast to only allowed to be done by the administrator and only with parental permission. BTW time I got to CO in 1974, few people even believed in corporal punishment, let alone do it themselves. Female teachers’ dress codes were gone; and the materials available were still pretty diverse up until the mid to late1980s. Corporate monopolies were beginning anew, as Reagan resurrected robber barons. When I started teaching we had tons of books from tons of different publishers and we, teachers, were allowed choices to meet the needs of our classes. Like most experienced teachers I knew this: NO TWO CLASSES ARE THE SAME. Children are not machines that grow physically, emotionally or educationally at the same rate. Every good teacher knows this: there is NO MAGIC BOOK OR FORMULA OR METHOD that meets the needs of 100% of the children 100% of the time. IMO, teaching is not a science, it is an art can be aided with some scientific methods, but this BS data they force on students and teachers from the BS of NCLB does not work, will never work.
    But by the time the idiots of the Reagan admin and their cabal published the ridiculous elitist A Nation at Risk, way too many white people had been convinced that it was those other kids encroaching on our schools that ruined it all. The GOP and their privatization schemes were behind it. PUBLIC education is a part of the common good. For people who did not believe in the common good, education is now simply a business to make money.
    There are still many good teachers, in a scattering of good school districts. My granddaughter attended kindergarten via zoom in 2020 because of Covid. I was lucky enough to have her with me most of that time so I could be her guide on side. Her teacher was AMAZING. So many teachers were and are still amazing despite covid; despite the corporate power driving so much to make public education fail.
    If I could change public education I would make sure more money was put into ALL districts. We now have “good education” based on zip codes. People still cannot get it through their heads that their child’s future will be much better when all children, in all neighborhoods get a great education. We need good public schools EVERYWHERE. People who want a privatized and/or religious education can pay for it themselves. Teachers should be treated like professionals. We don’t question medical doctors or their choices of treatment, nor do we tell them which meds they are allowed to prescribe. Teachers should to be trusted to choose appropriate materials from a variety that have been approved by the community after being reviewed by committees of teachers, admin and parents. SCRIPTED TEXTS need to be at a minimum….for special reasons, perhaps for subs, or to get new teachers started.
    I could go on and on but this will get too long. PUBLIC EDUCATION NOT ONLY CAN BE SAVED, IT MUST BE SAVED if we want to continue to live in a republic of, for, by the people.

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    1. Thanks, Judy. I was right there with ya, through all the things you remember, and agree that the Reagan administration laid the groundwork for what happened in the first decade of the 21st century. And yes, there are still plenty of excellent teachers out there, and some good schools. But given the abuse they’ve experienced in the last couple of years, the teacher pipeline has crumbled.

      I also agree that public education MUST be saved–but I know that public education is an integral part of representative democracy, and if we lose a genuinely democratic way of governing, we’ll lose public education as well.

      Thanks for jumping on board with a comment. I wrote the blog for veteran teachers, to jar loose memories of a time when things may have continued to get better and better.

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