I had a nice conversation with Katie Richardson from Martin Heinrich’s office yesterday morning. She was at TED and asked if there were issues that she might carry forward. I was very glad to be “reached out” to. I have always thought it my own duty to write legislators, and I have been lazy about that. I said something like:
In New Mexico we haven’t had a pay raise in (at least) 4 years, and this year another effective pay cut, due to rising insurance. The governor is asking for millions more to go to education, but none of it will go to teachers, or teaching materials. It will go to administration and evaluation.
Pay is of course a big deal, but a symptom of a larger problem. Education is being treated more and more like an hourly job rather than a career for professionals. As our nation builds a system to educate rather than building educators, we are pulling money away from teachers to go to the private business of publishing and test making*.
With all of the free curriculum online by way of Youtube, khanacademy.org, curriki.org, wikibooks.org, we could use a model like Teacherspayteachers.com, and have teachers fill in the missing bits and link together digital and/or print textbooks that replace textbooks.
New teachers could use those, and experienced teachers could build and replace modules, threaded by common core standards or other emphasis.
A free “open source” print and/or digital textbook, for every classroom. By having teachers author the curriculum, (which many do anyway), the money could return from publishers to teachers. This would build professional investment, and expertise, rather than “a job until I get my career going”.
Incentives tied to standardized testing needs to go away. Teachers need to also be given the tools to have their own tools of assessment, and informal needs to count. (This part I sent as an afterthought).
The assault on public education is gearing up again. Everyone in our society should give everything they’ve got to a free education for all, and every aspect of education should be free, all the way through college. Nation building begins with people building.
My conversation was much less organized, if you can believe that. And she listened to essentially that. I know, you barely made it through and you were skimming! She is a brave soul, and I wish her well, because I do believe her and Senator Heinrich to be an ally. Thanks, everyone who has been so supportive with all of this. I hope we change things.