For less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning – the first time that’s happened in a generation.
But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.
At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference.
Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.
Stop bashing teachers?
Stop making teachers teach to the test?
Who do you think has put in place an education policy "for less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year" that institutionalizes bashing teachers and forcing them to teach to the test?
Who do you think leads the charge toward destroying the teaching profession AND public schools by forcing states to tie teacher evaluations and pay scales to test scores?
Who do you think is forcing states and districts to add tests to every subject in every grade, K-12, and putting such high stakes on them that teachers will do nothing BUT teach to the test?
Who do you think is forcing states to take money out of the classroom and put it into test development, data tracking systems, PD classes, outside education consultants and other jive that robs children and teachers of the necessary classroom materials needed for a quality education?
Who put in place the policy that brought about the firing of all those teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island and is now bringing about the policy that allows Bloomberg to shutter 33 "persistently low-achieving" schools in NYC and fire 1,750 teachers?
Who is STILL blaming teachers in his SOTU speech by ending all of his education drivel with this: "let’s replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn."
The truth is, the evaluation mechanisms you have helped to put in place are not going to tell you whether the teachers you fire are ones who "aren't helping kids learn."
They will help districts and states shed expensive teachers, however.
Which is the point.
Obama invited an educator from Pennsylvania to sit with Michelle Obama in her box for the speech.
The teacher was part of a group who continued to work even after the district could no longer afford to pay them.
The message from Obama on that is clear - teachers are missionaries who MUST give everything of themselves, even their livelihoods, if they want respect from the establishment.
The Obama policies are certainly helping states to do just that to teachers.
Had I been that educator, I would have spent the entire time explaining to dear Michelle just how full of crap her husband is, how he lies every time he opens his mouth on education, how his education policies are so destructive they are starting to make the Bush education policies look like Waldorf schooling.
I would have made her regret inviting me to that box to play teacher public relations figure for an administration that is the most anti-teacher, anti-education in history.
And it would have taken all of my effort to not stand up during Obama's speech and shout "You lie!" when the president spoke all these lies about teachers and education.