Monday, September 20, 2010

Not Again, Oprah!

Oprah, I sure hope you aren't going to spend your last shows ripping people. First, us mature ladies and now today, teachers. (There may have been more, I haven't been a faithful watcher lately.)

Today's topic was the movie coming out titled Waiting for Superman. Apparently it's about how bad our public schools are. Oprah's guests were a Superintendent from Wash D.C,Bill Gates and the fellow who made the film.

Oprah and her guests bashed teachers and our teacher unions for allowing us to have tenure. (Here in MN a teacher gets tenure if they successfully complete three years of teaching. Then we have some protection and rights in our job against unfair firing.) Yes, there are teachers who are teaching that shouldn't be. But...who is supposed to be making sure those people don't get tenured? The principals! As a new teacher we get formally observed/evaluated three times each year. Of course, anyone can look good if they know in advance they are being observed. So where are the principals during the rest of the time? Are they doing any informal observations? (Oops, it sounds like I'm prinicpal bashing--I'm not! I've worked for some great administrators!) Good documentation would go a long way toward weeding out ineffectual teachers.

Oprah had on a young woman who is enrolled at a Charter School because "she doesn't test" well. At her Charter School they take that into account and she can be evaluated other ways. Isn't that nice. In our public schools we are MANDATED to use standardized tests by our gov't. Would teachers choose to do so much standardized testing? I think not. We know we can evaluate our students in other ways too.

Oprah praised a school in CA where "the teachers stay at school until 11pm tutoring students." Right. We aren't supposed to have a life outside school. We aren't supposed to make a salary on a level with businesses. But we are supposed to take the children that come to us, all the children that come to us and fix their every problem.

If you have to blame someone Oprah, spread the blame around a little. What about parents, what about society in general? It's really hard to teach a child who comes to school filthy dirty, one who uses obscene language, one who never has any supplies, homework done, one who doesn't know who mom's current live-in "friend" is, one who can stay up all night watching the tv that's in his/her room, one whose babysitter is an R-rated rented video and be able to connect with 30+ students in your classroom and have lessons planned to meet all their needs. But you know what? Teach these children is what we do. We buy supplies, snacks and books for our students with our own money. Our school feeds the kids breakfast, gives them warm clothes if they need it, pays for haircuts if parents can't afford it and much more. (Oops,seems like I'm parent bashing, I'm not.)

Instead of slamming teachers and public schools, just once, it would have been sweet to have you look for the good in schools. Hold up some public schools and teachers that are getting it right. Show us parents who really care about their children and their education and are involved. We'd like to meet principals that have thriving, achieving schools. Let them be an example for those that need improving. It's hard enough being a teacher without you convincing your audience they should run for the nearest Charter School.

So Oprah, I hope you look at your line-up of shows and try to bring a positive note to your last days. We've loved you for years, we'd hate to have you go out on such a negative note.

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Rana said...

Wow, that is really disappointing as I always felt Oprah was one figure who understood teachers. I couldn't agree with you more about spreading the "blame" around. It's time people see it's not always the teacher's fault, it's parents, administrators and school districts. And how about our state legistatures who try to act like they can pass laws that will change education when 99% of them have never stepped into a clasroom besides their own education. The old saying of "It takes a village to raise a child" applies here. It's not a teacher alone(who in my case sees a child-well actually 140 of them-for 60 minutes a day, but is supposed to get them proficient in reading and writing despite all the baggage they come with.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I am a teacher as well, and I shuddered when Oprah praised teachers for staying until 11 o'clock at night! Are teachers expected to take away from their own families to make up for the gaps in their own students learning? I'm so shocked an appallled especially after being an Oprah fan for so many years, I'd really like to see a follow up show and perhaps even an appology.


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