Arne Duncan’s History Lesson to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT): Elevating the Teaching Profession? Part 4

In this, the last part of a four part series on the history of education we look specifically at Arne Duncan’s proposals under Race to the Top and how this neo-liberal policy of education will serve to help prop up the racist, capitalist regime, assuring a third-worldization of the US.

“A new generation of assessments”

Although Duncan states in American Educator:

Student growth and gain, not absolute test scores, are what we aree most interested in – how much students are improving each year, and what are teachers, schools, school districts and states doing the most to accelerate student achievement?((Duncan, A., Elevating the Teaching profession. American Educator. 33:4, Winter 2009-2010.))

The fact of the matter is Secretary Duncan has set aside $350 million of this $4.35 billion federal venture fund to develop a national test tied to the new national standards which would then be translated into state tests. But he never mentions this in his piece in the American Educator. Why? As I noted in and elsewhere, the reason is simple: Obama/Duncan’s Race to the Top forces teachers to teach directly to the test and encourages students to learn only the material covered on these crude pieces of inauthentic assessment. This form of functionalism in “learning” neglects to respect the varied skills and qualities of our children, and instead evaluates them and their teachers based on a child’s performance on one test. With Arne’s plan, we can kiss local control, parent involvement, and participatory democracy good-bye in favor of a highly-centralized form of “knowledge,” which the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce have been pushing for decades. A Democratic President will deliver on these promises; not even the despised George W. Bush could implement this kind of plan. ((Weil, D., “Obama and Duncan’s Education Policy: Like Bush’s, Only Worse,” Counterpunch.))

Not so, says Duncan, suiting up in a language that the union and its members might stomach:

The Race to the Top competition also recognizes that teacher effectiveness cannot be assessed solely on student test scores. Instead, teacher effectiveness should be evaluated based on multiple measures, provided that student academic growth over the course of the year is a significant factor. I am pleased that both Dennis Van Roekel and Randi Weingarten recognized and applauded a number of these elements in the final Race to the Top guidelines.” ((Duncan, A., Elevating the Teaching profession. American Educator. 33:4, Winter 2009-2010.))

To be frank, Duncan is lying. As I and Kenneth Libby wrote in Counterpunch:

Race to the Top will assure that the any intellectual digestion by the mind promoted through critical thinking will be confronted by an anorexic-bulimic learning model of memorization and regurgitation for test taking purposes. The test results then become “chits” able to be cashed in at the federal or state “cage” for more tax monies. But the tests have an even more insidious purpose: by hitching student and teacher achievement to the “enhanced standards and assessments” the scores can then be used to “evaluate and rate” the new private and non-profit providers (outsourced schools), the burgeoning charter school retail chains designed to replace public schools, which is the real plan for “turning around struggling schools”. Therefore, the necessity and institutionalization of a toxic testing regime is of paramount importance to the new ‘turnaround artists’ and charter school hucksters. They will rely on the tests as a rating agency for their own performance allowing them to bid for ever more private contracts to run and manage the new charter schools. This will serve to turn the lights out on public education while placing a hammer lock on pedagogical practices. Individual test scores are to “knowledge” what private profits are to social good – there’s little, if any, connection, but these test scores provide a basis for expanding privatized education schemes and impoverished, uncreative pedagogical approaches. ((Weil, D., Libby, K. to be published in Counterpunch, 2010.))

Certainly charter chains would prefer national standards; that is why they look to the government to assure they have a highly profitable landscape to scrape up the contracts. This would allow them to use prepackaged curricula across their charter outlets no matter the location – it’s highly conducive to expanding their “market share”, for dummied down standardized curriculum keeps costs down and the dispensation is formulaic and repetitive. This is the Walmart model of education. ((Weil, D., “Obama and Duncan’s Education Policy: Like Bush’s, Only Worse,” Counterpunch.))

Arne Duncan, it needs to be pointed out, is simply part of a long legacy of prevaricators when it comes to educational reform policy and it is interesting to see him work the teacher’s union on stage with collaborative rhetoric when in fact super-functionalism and ending collective bargaining is his true reform goal. Duncan is the teacher union dragon slayer and if his work in Chicago is any indication of his competency, we should all be worried.

Duncan closed 75 public schools in Chicago causing the countless loss of jobs and pensions to teachers in Chicago. The fact that this was done without participation of the communities affected is reminiscent of the awful yet similar policies promoted by Paul Pastorek in New Orleans, the model from which the whole sordid mess is drawn from and the person whom he replaced in Chicago. These managers are carpetbaggers and exclusion and control are the benchmarks of their neo-liberal educational policy which is why you see Duncan supporting mayoral control in major cities. Autocracy is far preferable to democracy, for things get done faster; it is less messy and involves fewer people.

Using Data Systems to Support “Instruction”

One of the problems with teaching, Duncan assures us, is that teachers just don’t have their hands on the timely information they need about the progress of their students; if only they could track their students’ progress then they could become good engineers of learning. Thankfully, this is all about to end, says Duncan:

Through the State Longitudinal Data Systems program and Race to the Top, we’re providing hundreds of millions of dollars to states and districts to develop data systems that deliver this information in a timely and useful format. When teachers get better data on student growth, including results from interim assessments, they have the chance to tailor classroom instruction to the needs of their students and drive a cycle of continuous improvement.

Not all teachers have experience using data to improve instruction. But the department is asking states that apply for Race to the Top grants to develop plans for professional development to help teachers and principals get training in how to use data to inform instruction. ((Weil, D., Libby, K. to be published in Counterpunch, 2010.))

Anyone who works with children in the classroom knows how to collect and use performance data on their students. What does Duncan think teachers are, imbeciles? From portfolio assessment to writing journals; from performance examination to mentor teachers; from state test scores to instructional design programs; teachers who work with students understand if they can read, if they can write, if they can think critically, collaborate with their peers, understand how to problem solve and make decisions. And if they do not then this is testimony to the horrid teacher preparation programs that carve out education from lager social concerns and treat would-be teachers as children. Duncan is right on this point: we do need change in how teachers are prepared to teach, but not change we can’t believe in and not reform posturing as change, when in fact it is hi-tech factory reform with more virulent vigilance. Duncan wants a new generation of skill driven teachers, the same factory model he bemoans. Don’t be fooled.

So just what data systems is Duncan talking about and why do we need them? It would be tantamount to trying to kill a fly with a hatchet, wouldn’t it? Using “longitudinal data systems” – which track student test scores over many years will only allow federal, state, and local authorities to conduct surveillance on teachers — a virtual panopticon that will only further narrow a curriculum hacked to pieces by the bi-partisan No Child Left Behind.

Testing companies and software developers are salivating over the possibility of these new data systems and the federal money that accompanies their production and training, particularly when they consider the national standards that will allow their products to be used across the entire nation. The for-profit making opportunities are enormous; the for- public opportunities are decimating.

Sadly, the results of the new national and state testing regime will be fed into an expanded data system which will then be used to evaluate teachers to see if they are meeting the ‘measured outcomes’, the free-market ‘targets’ they have been hired to accomplish. Reduced to ‘clerks in the classroom’, teachers can expect to devote themselves to ‘professional development’ days, where they are being told by corporate spokespeople how to use data kits, computer generated graphs, tables and the like to figure out if their students are meeting the mandatory measured outcomes under No Child Left Behind. Metrics of human actions through pedagogical testing will now accompany the rational incentives held out to teachers while boredom, hovering on the edge of disillusionment, will pock mark both teaching and learning in the new cybernetic authoritarian establishment. This will all be part of the self-directing automatic system we are told is needed to restore liberty, prosperity and freedom – but now it will be accomplished by using the government as a partner.

Merit pay: tying teaching to material incentives

Part of the Race to the Top attempts to mandate that teachers be paid for their “performance”. However, in Duncan’s world teacher performance is tied to how well students do on the state mandated standardized tests tethered to No Child Left Behind. Now, with No Child Left Behind not only are students tested in-authentically, but teachers will be rewarded for lacing their imperatives to the inauthentic tests. This is where the data systems come in; they will hijack education and force teachers into docile hostages. The whole idea is tied together based on competition –competition among and between students on tests, competition among and between teachers for tests, competition for vendors selling privatized materials – none of this magnifies what is needed in education. Collaboration, solidarity, an appreciation for diversity, equitable opportunities and participation in the day to day operations by teachers and educational workers is what is needed; this and a commitment to public education, not for-profit education. Not so, says Duncan. Teachers need to compete, just like their students – but in a monopolized economy.

Performance pay for teachers has not fared very well. State by state you can see it and I chronicle this in my book. ((Weil, D. Charter School Movement: History, Politics, Policies, Economics & Effectiveness, Second Edition, October 2009.)) In the 2005-06 school-year, just to take an example, Texas introduced a merit pay plan for teachers. It offered $100 million in bonuses at 1,150 schools if teachers raised their students’ test scores. But in May 2009, the Texas Educator Excellence Grant was quietly retired after getting lackluster results, even though payments to teachers were based overwhelmingly on the test scores of their students.

These examples reinforce the overall finding of the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University. It reported no conclusive data on the power of financial awards to promote more effective teaching and elevate student performance; nor did merit pay have any long-term effects of performance awards on the supply of effective teachers. The study was statistical but from a moral standpoint the whole idea is repugnant and antithetical to learning and teaching. Teachers are not motivated by the same factors that shape the behavior of those in business and to corporatize the profession is truly betrayal of critical thinking and public citizenry. In Texas, to take the example, more than three-fourths of teachers eligible for performance pay said the bonuses had no effect on the way they taught. ((Springer, L., Podgursky, M. National Center on Performance Incentives, August, 2009.))

Moreover, nearly half of new teachers who leave the profession within the first five years consistently have reported that salaries were not the No. 1 factor in their departure. They quit because of frustration over not being able to teach the way they wanted or the way they had learned to teach. They were being managed and held hostage to managerial doublespeak and classroom tyranny – by the same personnel who either never have taught in a classroom or sought to flee one as soon as they could to join the coffers of upper management.

Sign-up incentives and so-called combat pay have not proved effective in inducing a critical mass of teachers to teach and remain in the inner cities and rural areas where they are needed the most. Despite the headlines of a bump in teachers due to the job market, those who have sought shelter from the current recession by teaching, and there are not many of them as cutbacks bar the school house door, are likely to leave the profession once the economy recovers. Teacher retention and commitment will be born by collaboration and as said earlier, participation in curriculum development and power, not by inducements and by-offs. These are the same corrupt ideas that encourage teachers to pay students to do well in school, tying learning to the sordid mess of materialism and servile self interests. How insipid, how disdainful for what it means to be a human being and educated.

Competition and Public School Choice: A rising Tide lifts all boats?

It is important to understand that Arne Duncan and the Obama administration have bought the notion of public school choice, corporate education, as a panacea for what ails public education hook line and sinker. Like his predecessor, Margaret Spellings, Arne Duncan holds the common rationale given for the neo-liberal educational reforms: competition provides the best or most efficient motor for change and reform. The premise of the contention is similar to the private voucher argument, that traditional public schools (TPS) can be best improved by competitive market mechanisms. Like private choice, the public choice rationale maintains that all public schools as well as all student-learning, improve when the public schools have to compete for students and students and their parents have the right to choose. This ideology then all gets translated into then the psyche of teachers – they come to believe that they too need to compete like their students and what this means is that values such as solidarity, diversity appreciation, collaboration, equity and equal opportunity as well as participatory democracy all go out the window.

Neither the teachers or the students are valued in the new “scheme of things”. Race to the Top is “business language”, the language of competition not the language of collaboration and it means the creation of a scarcity environment: one with winners and losers, no in betweens. How insidious, how un-thoughtful a policy to advance when America is experiencing a crisis of graft and virulent competition and corruption and besides, does one really think that these state capitalist, pro-neo-liberal government enterprises and businesses that stand perched to take-over public schools really want to compete? Of course not, they want monopoly and with it, market share; the last thing they want is to slug it out in the market; they are simply hypocritical and mendacious. Just look at Bill Gates and Walmart, the so-called philanthropists that bankroll the policy. They are unscrupulous hypocrites promoting unfair trade practices, monopoly and price control. Will we let them get away with it?

This marketplace ideology, by its own logic, must treat teachers as producers or workers in a rigid system of competitive educational control — education as a “product” or commodity must be engineered and produced by people, and as we have seen under this ideological framework of neo-liberalism, people are only interested in the self-serving competitive and monetary advantages they can gain under the capitalist system. Therefore the need to create a lucrative labyrinth that reflects this philosophy for both students and teachers is paramount for the system itself. Duncan knows this, he carries water for the corporations.

Super-functionalism seeks to define the parameters of the debate over education for anything less would be a betrayal of the ‘free-market’ and the ruling elite who maintain and run it. We are told as teachers if we do not support ‘their’ reform we are hurting children, when in fact their policies are the real child molesters. Educational policymakers have for decades argued that competition through choice, whether it is public or private, undermines a shared citizenship in U.S. society and is little more than a cleverly designed slippery slope to individualized, privatized education. The lack of a common educational leadership, opponents to Race to the Top (The Obama No Child Left Behind), maintain, helps to ensure that the argument for say charter schools, part and parcel of the new formula, is dominated not by educational ideas, but by economic necessity. ((Molnar, A. “Charter Schools: The Smiling Face of Disinvestment.” Educational Leadership 54 (1996): 5.))

Protesting against competition and in favor of cooperation, we as progressive educators claim that the concept of choice threatens a community and shared citizenship necessary for the realization of democracy and democratic citizenship; these are ideas that go back to John Dewey, they are certainly not new. ((See Weil, D., Resuscitating the Dewey-Lippmann debates, Counterpunch, January 2010, 6:22, December 16-31, 2009.)) Asserting that competitive, individual choice supplants shared decision making, even educational policy groups such as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching reason that the Darwinian market mechanism of choice used to weed out the weakest schools in fact exacerbates inequities among districts (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 1992).

Educational Equity

The issue of educational equity is paramount to numerous educational interests and certain policymakers see public school choice as a way to accelerate what is already an inequitable situation. In a study of small, private Catholic schools, Anthony Bryk and Valerie Lee noted:

Market forces, for example, cannot explain the broadly shared institutional purpose of advancing social equity. Nor can they account for the efforts of Catholic educators to maintain inner-city schools (with large non-Catholic enrollments) while facing mounting fiscal woes. Likewise, market forces cannot easily explain why resources are allocated within schools in a compensatory fashion in order to provide an academic education for every student. Nor can they explain the norms of community that infuse daily life in these schools. ((Bryk, A., and V. Lee. Catholic Schools and the Common Good. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993: 11.))

For educators like Bryk and Lee, the answer to providing quality education lies with developing a higher notion of community, not simply pursuing naked self-interests through competitive choice. They also argue that the communal effects they noted in the Catholic schools they used as the object of their study were the result of face-to-face contacts and a sense of sharing and caring between teachers and students. They also claim that this communal experience is a result of a moral authority that results in a “set of shared beliefs about what students should learn, the development of proper norms of instruction, and how people should relate to one another.” ((Bryk and Lee 1993, 7.))

Bryk and Lee’s admonitions regarding the market’s claim to provide quality community education through choice strikes a chord with many other educational policymakers who are opposed to Arne Duncan and Obama’s Race to the Top (the institutionalization of No Child Left Behind). The claim that the notion of public choice is built on the idea that society can be held together solely by the self-interested pursuits of individual actors in the educational arena is not palatable to many educational interests and those seeking moral justice. They dispute conservative claims they are interested in innovation for the purposes of strengthening public education in our nation and would instead argue that these market forces are the unleashed Chimera seeking to create markets and capital formation opportunities and are thus driven by profit and maximizing capital, not the needs of American children or education wedded to what it means to be human.

For many, public choice itself, represent a contemporary, postmodern rejection of the possibility of a common school for all citizens and the tight embracement of a racist, sexist and class system in its stead. As a result, the idea threatens to turn the relationship between society and its educational needs into little more than a commercial transaction, an exchange value, based on individual self-interests and competitive self-advantage. Seen in this light, this is the real agenda of Race to the Top, with its emphasis on charter schools, competition between stakeholders, monetary incentives, data collection, managerial surveillance and autocratic control of both the curriculum and daily lives of teachers and students.

The perfidy of it all

At the end of his article in the American Educator, Duncan closes with his classic perfidious rhetoric:

As we move ahead to reform the teaching profession, we’ll have disagreements and make mistakes along the way. But we cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good. The need for reform, both for students and teachers, is urgent. Students cannot afford to wait another decade, while adults tinker with issues of teacher quality. It’s time to stop tweaking the system. It’s time, once and for all, to make teaching the revered profession it should be.((Duncan, A., Elevating the Teaching profession. American Educator. 33:4, Winter 2009-2010.))

From a teacher’s perspective Arne Duncan is not to be trusted. His agenda for education students and for teachers who teach in public schools is clear: tie education to numeric standards and rubrics devised in Washington and then implemented with parallel state mandated tests; end tenure for teachers by tying their pay to performance on how well students do on the standardized tests now institutionalized under No Child Left Behind; provide incentive pay to ‘reward’ teachers through competitive pay schemes as if they were Pavlovian dogs; force teachers and administrators to learn and then apply sophisticated privatized data systems to assure super-functional surveillance of both ‘the “consumer” (students) and the “producers” (teachers).

All of this is a market approach to education and testifies to why alliances like Duncan, Gates and the philanthropists, Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton have emerged to ally themselves with the Obama Race to the Top. This is a bi-courtesan privatization effort being carried out by notables like Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year rather than Race to the Top of the educational ladder, and the self-designated Reverend Al Sharpton, himself little more than an corrupt opportunist and self-aggrandizing lapdog for power; he dropped out of Brooklyn College in his sophomore year.

The whole orchestration of this neo-liberal reform is cobbled together by Arne Duncan himself, whose own climb to public notice was due to enamoring himself with the Chicago ruling class who summarily sent him to shutter down public schools and advance the cause of charter schools and neo-liberal policies for Chicago public education, all of which he tirelessly accomplished under the watchful eye of the Chicago Club and Mayor Daly. Other than working at his mother’s tutoring school, Duncan has no experience in education; he has never taught in a school or held the rank of administrator. ((Weil, D., “Obama and Duncan’s Education Policy: Like Bush’s, Only Worse,” Counterpunch.)) Duncan couldn’t even handle twenty minutes with a group of first graders, yet he is the first to tell teachers what to do.

In the American Educator Duncan goes on to note that during the last year (2009) he undertook a “Listening and Learning Tour” that took him to more than thirty states. He also states that in all of his years in education, the seven he worked for the Chicago Mayor and the Chicago Club, as well as the small amount of time he has held the position of Secretary of Education, teachers consistently expressed to him that they wished to challenge the status quo and wanted to be treated as professionals. The history of education in the United States certainly affirms this, as we have seen. But reform for Duncan is not change with a difference; it is change without a difference. Duncan doesn’t want to change the factory style of education; he simply wants to hi-tech it. This is not change anyone but the managerial elite and their clients can believe in. For us as citizens, it is devastating. For teachers as professionals it is laughable if not cause for despair.

Unfortunately the policies of the Obama/Duncan Department of Education will do everything but affirm teacher professionalism; it will strip them of their long fought for gains, from tenure, to curriculum development, from participation in power to collective bargaining. It will reduce them to dispensaries for the new “best practices” formulated in the thick carpeted halls of entrepreneurs and sold to public schools who wish to make a buck off our children. It will steal teachers’ ability to participate in educational issues at their school sites and thus rob them of their academic freedoms and their ability to become caring professionals. Their interactions with students will be reduced to formulas under the magnifying glass of the managerial class.

The Race to the Top and the privatized pedagogical notions of Arne Duncan and his philanthropic protégés will pit teacher against teacher in a competitive environment of hand to hand combat ruled by a top-down hierarchy stripped of the ‘language of the public’ in favor of a corporate run environment, seeped in the language and culture of business. More than this, it will annihilate student learning, critical thinking, curiosity, imagination, cognitive development and emotional intelligence by forcing students to prepare for inauthentic tests rather than learn to collaborate, think critically together, learn to problem solve and enhance learning through collaborative critical thinking.

Propping up the racist capitalist regime through neo-liberal policies

As Henry Giroux has written recently:

The havoc wreaked by neo-liberal economic policies can be seen in the hard currency of human suffering such policies have imposed on children, readily evident in some astounding statistics that suggest a profound moral and political contradiction at the heart of one of the richest democracies in the world. For example, the rate of child poverty rose in 2004 to 17.6 percent, pushing upward the number of poor children to 12.9 million. Moreover, children make up a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States in that “they are 26 percent of the total population, but constitute 39% of the poor. As a result of the severe economic crisis, Dr. Irwin Redlener, President of the Children’s Health Fund in New York, claims that the number of children in poverty may increase to 17 million by years end. Just as alarming, 9.3 million children lack health insurance, and millions lack affordable childcare and decent early childhood education. ((Giroux, Henry. Youth in a suspect society. Palgrave/Macmillan 2009.))

Compared to one in ten Whites, nearly one in four Blacks and more than one out of every five Latinos are extremely poor in the United States. (( “Racial Poverty Gaps in U.S. Amount to Human Rights Violation, Says U.N. Expert,” November 30, 2005.))

Except in the United States, it seems all over the world the inequities in American education have been recognized and debated. The Chinese government released its own report on the subject with scathing criticism of Washington’s economic and social policies.

Black people have not only fewer job opportunities, but also earn less than white people.

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004,” noting that some fifty years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, “white children and black children in the United States still lead largely separate lives.

About a third [of southern Black students] attend schools that are at least 90 percent minority.

The Declaration of Independence said all men are created equal, so the gap between black and white people is simply an insult to the founding essence of the United States. (( “Racial Poverty Gaps in U.S. Amount to Human Rights Violation, Says U.N. Expert,” November 30, 2005.))

Yet nowhere in his article to teacher unions and their members did Duncan ever mention the failure of capitalist economics and the growing social inequality and race disparity in this country. In the minds of the captains of industry and finance and their political managers, none of these horrific statistics matters; for these are personal failures not policy or economic failures inherent in the system of capitalist accumulation. Their job, as far as they are concerned, is to assure that the capitalist system prevails, and this is no better reflected than in their social and economic policies. This is why No Child Left Behind was a bi-partisan effort and a victory for the venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Poverty and racial disparities in learning are “personal deficiency” and “personal responsibility” matters in the minds of these neo-liberal ideologues and pirates. However, as to any claims that No Child Left Behind will ameliorate the racial disparity in students’ educational outcomes through standards and accountability, Enora Brown writes eloquently in her piece, “The Quiet Disaster of No Child Left Behind,” dismissing the claim as rubbish:

This narrowed, skewed construction of the source of the racial achievement gap, positions this disparity as a private matter reflecting individual’s relative normalcy as racialized beings, rather than as a symptom of socio-historical relationships in society. The achievement gap among African-Americans, Latinos, Native American, and Europeans becomes a function of unclear curricular goals, poor instruction, student deficiencies, and teacher incompetence unconnected to the exploitative legacies of slavery, colonization and genocidal westward expansion, which have mutated into new forms of race and class inequality. ((Brown, E. (2007): The Quiet Disaster of No Child Left Behind. In Kenneth Saltman, Schooling and the politics of disaster. Routledge, NY.))

Contrary to any prognostications made by Secretary Arne Duncan and his corporate backers, The Race to the Top must be understood as nothing more than the abdication of the social responsibility of the state in assuring public education by stressing instead, individual freedom through privatized choice, ‘free’-markets and personal responsibility in the ruthless and unequal capitalist marketplace of despair. It is being camouflaged as educational reform, when in fact it will serve to deform education and its stakeholders. Furthermore, as the neo-liberal representative of the US ruling class, the state or the government, has the role of assuring, through policies like Race to the Top, that the costs of doing business by capitalists looking to accumulate growing profits is socialized, while the profits themselves are privatized. This is historically the role of the capitalist state. Opposing this, historically have been among others teachers, parents and students. That is why it is public education and not private education.

The time now is to resist this regimented individualism through combined understanding, dialogue and direct collective action. For if not, then we will look to a society inhabited by more war, militarism, regimentation, authoritarianism, competition, penalty and social decline. We will hollow out the moral body of our citizenry by forcing them to feed at the trough of illegitimate learning. This is a body blow to the body politic. It is time to stand up for public education, no matter the level of the educator; for as solidarity tells us, we are all in this together and if the bridge goes down we all go down.

Read Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Danny Weil is a junior college teacher at Allan Hancock College in California where he teaches philosophy. He is a former kindergarten, first grade, and second grade teacher who has written a great deal on education. Read other articles by Danny.

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  1. jcrit said on January 6th, 2010 at 8:18pm #

    When the choice becomes one of either teaching to the test or else teaching by conscience, and it appears as if it’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t, then you might as well go ahead and do the latter. At least you’ll still have your conscience. It also helps to have a little faith in your students’ future ability to synthesize their humanistic level of learning.