Dr. John Trotter (c) conferring with Jeff Cox (l) and Norreese Haynes (r) at the MACE Office.
John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
I want to commend Harvard’s Richard Elmore in his conclusion that school reforms are often more damaging than helpful. I gather that this is the nickel version of his erudite studies. In my many years of observation (and I have been around public school from the day I was born, nearly 58 years ago), this is the conclusion that I drew decades ago, and nothing has come close to dissuade me from this conclusion. Public schooling cannot afford any more Cromwellian reforms. The dedicated and good-hearted teachers cannot afford to be put on the educational wrack any more. We prefer to have King Charles I than Arne Duncan Cromwell, et al.
Whenever I hear a holier-than-thou superintendent, school board member, associate superintendent, or principal intone, “Everything that we do is for the kids,” I want to throw up. Well, hell, why wouldn’t it be “for the kids”? Me thinks that thou protesteth too much!
You have heard me say (like a drum beating through the night) that the so-called reforms need to be chunked. In fact, in our first issue of The Teacher’s Advocate! Magazine in 1995 (paper version which can be found in the Archive section of MACE‘s website), our maiden article was entitled, “For Kids’ Sake, Let Teachers Teach!” This “kids’ sake” phrase was a play or words. In other words, if you really want to help the kids, then leave the teachers alone; just let them teach. The so-called educational reforms have had terrible unintended consequences. Terrible. Good teachers have left the profession because they refuse to put up with the bull sh-t. Good teachers have been run off because they refused to go along to get along. Good teachers tell their children: “You NEVER should go into teaching. It used to be a great profession, but not anymore. Morons are running education today.”
Warriors are trained to fight. But, today’s educational system has way too many assistant chiefs, associate chiefs, deputy chiefs, et al., who try to tell the warriors how to fight, when to fight, and specify the weapons with which to fight. Hell, it has taken all of the fun out of fighting [teaching]. If I am going to be told how to fight ignorance each day — with insane and inane scripted fighting plans and activities — then all of the joy of fighting evaporates. If I know how to fight and have killed ignorance for years, then why do I need some moronic assistant chief (who was a terrible warrior in his or her time but who kissed enough chieftan asses to get promoted) telling me when, where, and how to fight?
In Georgia, Quality Basic Education (QBE) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) did more damage to public education than you can ever imagine. Our schools are much worse off now than they ever were before all of these so-called “reforms” were implemented and before the many “chiefs” were installed.
I also have said many times (again, go to the maiden issue of The Teacher’s Advocate! in 1995) that we needed to return to elected superintendents. The appointed superintendents are educational sl$ts. They jump in and out of different school board beds throughout the country, depending on how much money is offered to them. They are rehashed and recycled (often by the Broad Foundation and “discovered” by “head-hunters” like Glenn Brock at the Broad Foundation). Quite frankly, they are jokes, and the teachers know that they are jokes.
If I am blessed to grow old, it looks like the entire educational thinking will come full circle back into the thinking of “crazy” John Trotter. Ha!