Diane\'s Blog

David T.

As it is a Friday afternoon, late in the year, late in my career, I will not be nearly as eloquent as those whose letters have been posted on your website (a terrific idea, by the way).

To put the upcoming comment in context, I should note that I have been married to the woman of my dreams for 27 years, but I want you to know this: I LOVE YOU. Sure, you have heard it from countless teachers already, but can it hurt to have another voice tell you that you are fabulous? I ran across your writings somewhere, then watched you on Jon Stewart, then read more, then got your book, Death and Life…

I have nodded my head on virtually every page, (everything you say sounds like every conversation I have with colleagues, at least the experienced ones), have clapped my hands more often than I can count, and so I bow to you, say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart, and dream wistfully that those leading the charge to destroy American education could read, and would actually understand what your book so clearly conveys: a measuring addiction – esp. when those with the yardstick have no real understanding of what the numbers do and do not mean – will not only not improve American education, it will do the opposite (as it has been doing already).

In my dreams, in my second career I will don armor and help slay the dragons called NCLB magic, charter school magic, accountability magic, merit pay magic.

Unlike Paul Karrer, I teach in a high school in which “magic” is happening: our scores go up, the achievement gap closes, our principal (now asst. superintendent) wins awards and recognition, and all (but the teachers in the building) believe he walks on water. He believes in numbers, in “programs” (math, reading, writing), in data-driven decision making — in short, he believes in magic potions which will make children smarter. And I am absolutely convinced he sees no distinction between OAKS scores and learning; in fact, I suspect he does not believe there is learning if it is not measured with numbers.

When he first arrived, about 8 or 9 years ago, he told of us a teacher who “rescued” him when he was in high school, by believing in him, in working with him, by encouraging him and mentoring him. That story is now long-forgotten (by him), and we now know that helping young people become successful is measured in other terms.

I apologize for being long-winded and discursive; I thank you profusely for the work you have done. In the worst-case scenario, no one in power listens to what you have so powerfully argued in your book, but I, at least, can feel validated that someone really smart believes what I believe. This is my 29th year of teaching, and I am so disheartened by those who believe in 100% achievement and measuring teaching by test scores, and all the other currently faddish nonsense; I am heartened that there is your voice, so articulately saying there is no pixie dust, just hard work and good teaching.

In short: bless you, thank you, I love you, never stop speaking or writing; never stop pointing out that all those emperors are marching naked.

Sincerely,
David T.