I once welcomed Arlene Ackerman to Philadelphia, now it’s time for a new page. Dr. Ackerman did bring some good ideas to Philadelphia such as having teachers use objectives, and making students be aware of what they were supposed to be learning. In the end she was forced out by politicians not teachers.
I long for effective school reform. It won’t happen though, until administrators start trusting and respecting teachers. When principals and teachers have separate agendas, do not support each other, and even seek to antagonize each other, one must ask how this type of environment can benefit children.
Mike Schmoker writes that teachers are the real experts in the classroom. Two authors: Fullen and Hargreaves, write that teachers have been disempowered and that this disempowerment is a barrier to school improvement.
It is time for a new era in Philadelphia and the nation. The time to bash teachers has ended. If we want to build up our children and improve their opportunity, it is time to value those who move children forward.
Many people are happy to see Dr. Ackerman go. For me it is bittersweet. Some are unaware of Dr. Ackerman’s childhood and how she really is a hero much like the Little Rock Nine, Other may not be aware of the racial unrest she experienced in San Francisco which perhaps explains why she made some problems for herself in Philadelphia. Others are not happy to see her go citing the academic gains children made while she was here.
Whatever the case, we have learned for profit schools don’t work, we know charter schools won’t accept all students, and we can never succumb to racism nor can we practice it even if done so inadvertently. All need to learn from mistakes made. The first and most important mistake we have made is disrespecting teachers. How can you expect children to listen and respect teachers when the public doesn’t?
Real school reform begins by trusting the experts in the classroom, the teachers. Effective reform begins by letting teachers collaborate with each other, insuring there is ample preparation time and reflective assessment time. Working together everyone achieves more, especially the children.