[EDEQUITY] Re: Boys and School Article

From: Barbara Pace (bgpace@edu15.coe.ufl.edu)
Date: Mon May 22 2000 - 09:40:33 EDT

Thank you for sharing this letter.
As a teacher educator, I am so weary of the fight with
politicians about schooling. The kinds of activities that
all children and adolescents need are not that hard to figure out
IF the people who studied education were given any power
to do what their years of training and research have indicated needs
to be done. But we are NOT given that power. Take, for instance,
the widely held notion that reading scores are declining. Not true. What
is true is that they have only moved a few points on a 500 point scale
over the last several decades. (These statistics are available at the US.
DOE web site.) Nevertheless, politicians have beaten this drum and used
to gain greater control over educational processes. They control schooling
by mandating tests that measure the most superficial skills and the lowest
levels of critical thinking. Teachers who do not comply and teach to
these tests are in danger of having their salaries cut (in Colorado and
in several other states) or of being penalized in some way.
I would never suggest that all teachers are terrific, but I do want to say
that many teachers are very good. I find it very sad that we are living in
time when we are both controlling the women (and about 95% of them in
elementary education
are women) who teach and then chastising them when what
they do seems stupid. I talk with teachers every day who are frustrated by
regulations that they know are harmful to kids, who want desparately to
leave teaching, who deal with disrespect at every turn, who are being made
stand before kids they care about and read scripts that are
"teacher-proof." Some
of the standards observers use to evaluate "good" teaching, actually
teachers if they depart from the lesson to comment on any personal issue,
such as welcoming a
student back to class who has been out sick! (no kidding)
I am so tired of hearing us (the culture as a whole) blame the victims who
have been socialized to select teaching as a career, and who now are being
used as scapegoats that can be beat up and controlled by those who
criticize them
for political gain.
I also find it sad that the "fight" in education over gender always winds
being dichotomizing. If we do things that help girls we are cheating boys!
If we
help boys we are cheating girls. The point of thinking about gender in
regard to
education is to recognize that there are inequities, that these inequities
consequences, and that these inequities merit attention and and an honest
search for
solutions. The problem is that politicians thwart those searchers in order
to craft a sound bite
and to control what happens in every child's classroom.

"Barbara Pace" <bgpace@edu15.coe.ufl.edu>

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