In his article “The Gift of Corporatizing Teacher Education and Higher Education,” Saltman discusses the ignorance of both the liberal education reform movement and the neoliberal education reform movement towards the political aspects of the teaching profession including the “underlying ideals, ideologies, and values behind claims to teacher quality” as well as their “relation to material and symbolic power struggles over teacher education,” (108). Both movements push for their respective ideals, but we continue to ignore who is pushing for control of the schools, the teacher education institutions, and the class struggles (in particular socio-economic classes) that largely influence such movements. With their large influence over the political and economic sphere, venture philanthropists such as the Gates Foundation is an example of such a political movement where its push for education reform attacks teacher quality. President Obama supports such venture philanthropists that call for the implementation of charter schools and the continued privatization of the education system largely for political support given the large influence of power that these corporations have in the political and economic spheres. However, these programs, despite continually attacking the teaching profession, have shown no evidence of actually improving teacher quality. In fact, the use of performance-based assessment via test scores along with the lack of “class-based elite status” and the inability to have “control over the organization of knowledge and practices that provide access to capital production,” (101) in the teaching profession perpetuates the idea that teaching is of a lower caliber status than other professions such as doctors and lawyers and thus should be open to deregulation from the private sector so that these elite can lend their expertise. The perpetuation of such ideals and their support from the government gives even more economic and political power to the venture philanthropist organizations.
In “Ed Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle,” Sharon Otterman explores the new teacher-training program being implemented by Hunter College called Relay Graduate School of Education. Norman Atkins started this program after critiquing teacher education programs offered by universities. Instead of taking courses surrounding pedagogical study, the teachers are thrown into the classroom right near the beginning of their instruction and through the use of a flip camera and weekend courses, are critiqued and evaluated. The awarding of a masters degree is solely granted based on the improvement of the students’ test scores. One of the main problems that I see with this program is that it reiterates the same sort of rhetoric; that teachers are the sole problem for failing public schools. Both the teacher’s and the students’ success is based on test scores which ignore external factors that are shown to have a greater impact on a child’s education. Also, not only does the program remove thought-based content and the need for critical thinking, but it devalues teaching, making it seem like it is of a lower profession and anyone can do it as long as they follow the teaching guidelines and techniques presented by the Relay program. Relay, in conjunction with the use of testing, which it supports, removes teacher creativity and flexibility within the classroom, two factors that, I believe, make a great teacher.
In the New York Times article, Mr. Atkins is quoted saying, “if you believe children shouldn’t have homework, or you believe that testing is evil, this probably isn’t the best program for you,” (4). While I do believe that homework can be a beneficial tool at times, I also believe that too many children (especially the younger ones) are given unnecessary busy-work to do at home when instead they should be outside, playing, and enjoying being a kid. I also feel that testing is being used in a malevolent manner when it is the sole criteria used to justify the firing of a teacher or the revoking of school funding. So, in response to Mr. Atkins, he’s right, this program is not the one for me.