Greta Callahan: Walk in My Shoes Before You Criticize

Systemic education reform misses the point. To reform the entire system demands a reframing of the “system” itself. The “system” is the community in which schools are located. Reform the community first. Bring jobs that pay a living wage to the community. Address the needs of families who are often headed by very young, ill-prepared parents who are caught in the cycle of poverty. Renew the spirit of President Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives. Instead of merely touting Finland’s education system as an exemplar, examine their efforts in eliminating childhood poverty as the precursor to educational achievement. Schools and teachers alone cannot solve these problems.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Greta Callahan’s article about teaching kindergarten in Minneapolis went viral. She wrote her article in response to one that appeared in the same paper asserting the “worst teachers are in the poorest schools.” She teaches in one of the poorest schools, and she tells her story.

To those who parrot the false claim that low test scores are caused by “bad teachers,” she offers a counter-narrative. She explains the burdens suffered by her students and the stress of being evaluated by a rubric that makes no sense.

Let’s start with what it means to be a “good teacher.” As the article says: “The district uses three different tools to evaluate teachers: classroom observations, a student survey and student achievement data.” Let’s put that into the perspective of a Bethune kindergarten teacher.

• Classroom observations: We have four per year. The teacher receives points based on standardized criteria; the feedback is…

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