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Rewarding excellent teaching is a start- uncovering the reasons they are gone is the next step

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Susan Lee Schwartz
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NYSEC Educator Of Excellence '98
Four Times inclusion in Who's Who Among America's Teachers
Re:    Carrots and Sticks for School Systems
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Finally  The NY Times,  which  has opened  the conversation about  rewarding good teachers  a relief from the two decade long rant about those 'bad' teachers. However, there has been dead silence on the national tragedy of that first assault on public education which removed the top tier of teacher-practitioners. This deadly silence hid the enormous scandal and total lawlessness that allowed administrators to sidestep due process and send the cream of the profession packing. They invented the criteria for evaluation and then slandered the teachers as 'dead-wood' ignoring teachers' success and dedicated service, and fired them.

Today,the average teacher has one year experience, but In 1988 the average teacher had 15 years of 'practice'. Yes, a 'professional practice', where  dedicated teachers already educated and talented, honed their management skilled and practiced meeting the learning styles of the 21st century kids in that classroom. Moreover, the top-down mandates of administrators with little or no classroom experience forced teacher-practitioners to use anti-learning curricula and then blamed them when kids failed to learn --and the media published the spin of the very miscreants that caused the schools to fail.

 At last, there is a wake-up call that something must be done to retain those who remain, who love learning and children, and who have the knowledge and experience to meet the objectives in their own PRACTICE!  

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The fly in the ointment, is "evaluation", but the rubric exists although their is complete silence regarding it. The authentic  criteria for  enabling successful 'learning', emerged from the  genuine Pew funded,  New Standards 'third;level' research --a multimillion dollar effort by Harvard covering districts across the country.THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING proved beyond a shadow of a doubt,  that there were four criteria to evaluate a teacher, and four for the 'support' of the administration.
The New Standards were about learning, not teaching. The national conversation about teaching was created in order to silence the voices of the authentic  educators. It worked. The schools failed!

 Standardized tests were NEVER one of these rubrics, yet the profiteers saw dollar signs and the media sang their song. Tests were part of a rubric for GENUINE assessment and AUTHENTIC  evaluation to be conducted by the classroom practitioner in order to meet the needs of all learners...to enable and facilitate learning. The word teaching, is nowhere to be found. That word is the media's invention.

The principals, superintendents and chancellors became lords of their fiefdoms, with no accountability under the law, as the union looked the other way, and the finest educators in our nation were subjected to harassment and outright slander. If the human side of this story ever reachers the public, if the wrecked lives and trauma that accompanied the lawlessness ever sees the light of day, the scope of this travesty on the lives of our professional teachers will be the scandal of the century. Googling 'teacher abuse' will reveal the sites-- two of  which are endteacherabuse.org and nycrubberroomreporter.blogspot.com. A perusal of the current travesty occurring in Los Angeles-LAUSD- would be an eye-opener, as the whistle blowers and finest teachers are being exterminated. Perdaily.com is a site that would open eyes to the way it is done, but few journalist and no media scrutiny reveals this current battle.

If hospitals removed the top practitioners, the result --utter failure-- would be easy to spot. But this  is a country with a pastiche of school systems and a citizenry which believes that anyone can teach, and that teachers are mere  civil servants.  The compensation and jobs of our nations educators went on the chopping block  in the second assault on public education, when the government forgot to fulfill its mandate to support the social needs of its people.  This is  the real reasons schools fail the "white chalk crime' as Karen Horwitz  calls it in her book, would be revealed. Then, and only then, when accountability for supporting teachers work in their practice is the mandate for administrations, can a genuine rubric be extracted from The New Standards.

 Yes, four of the necessary ingredients for learning to occur fell to the principals and administrations. My practice was a cohort for the standards, and my teaching was matched to all the indicators. I received the NYS English Council's "Educator of Excellence" award for the 'brilliant' work I accomplished, but in NYC, one principal and one superintendent called me incompetent and put out charges for those very years when the standards people scrutinized my practice and matched it to the authentic criteria. I may be the poster 'girl' for this national abuse that brought down our public schools, but my story is THE story across the country and it is time for real journalists to uncover the real reasons schools fail --the assault on the professionals who are the grunt on  the line, educating our future citizens and being reviled.


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I began teaching in 1963,; Ba and BS in Education -Brooklyn College. I have the equivalent of 2 additional Master's, mainly in Literacy Studies and Graphic Design. I was the only seventh grade teacher of English from 1990 -1999 at East Side (more...)

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