Uncle Arne Wants You– Again!!

Arne just announced an exciting new program to create teacher leaders to help promote the Ugly Mess O’Reform backed by the USDOE these days.

Actually, it’s the same ugly mess that they’ve been promoting all along, but someone in the Messaging Office has sent out the memo that we have to call it something else. So these days only Bill Gates has the nerve to say the words “Common Core.” For ordinary bureaucratic mortals, the Voldemortian “Common Core” has been replaced with references to raising standards, higher standards, super-duper standards. etc.

But whatever it is, Uncle Arne (and Bill Gates) would like us to help him sell it. He would like to team up with the National Board to raise up a host of High Standard Teacher Warriors to make the sales pitch he would like us to make.

I would make fun of Arne for having the epiphany that the whole reformy crapsicle might go over better if authentic teacher voices (and not paid-for TOY’s paraphrasing pre-written press releases) were involved– I would make fun of that epiphany, except that he keeps having it.

The pitch for Teach to Lead acknowledges its predecessor, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, which had similar hopes and dreams:

The purpose of the RESPECT Project is to directly engage with teachers and principals all across America in a national conversation about teaching.

RESPECT was going to transform the teaching profession. Today it’s a website with a link to a year-old youtube clip that has only been viewed 9,700 times. Its press release tab simply brings a list of USDOE’s press releases. There’s a pdf of the “Blueprint for R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” which contains the same old bureaucratic baloney that the USDOE has been cranking out like a prize heifer with IBS.

Or we could go back to the TEACH campaign, now about two years old, determined to recruit and retain super-duper teachers who would express their teaching joy by telling the world about how wise and correct the USDOE is. Over at teach.org, you can find all sorts of techy gold, like a blog that hasn’t had a new post since November of 2013. TEACH also gave us the strikingly ill-chosen motto “Make more. Teach” and the attempt to co-opt the work of Taylor Mali, allowing the program to make fun of itself with a deeply sweet obliviousness.

This sort of foolishness extends all across the high stakes test-driven accountability status quo landscape. NEA put its logo on the “Great Public Schools” initiative, generally acronymated as GPS (you know– that thing you use when you’ve lost your way). You can check it out at gpsnetwork.org, where you’ll find a large discussion board community consisting largely of CCSS shills periodically trying to start chirpy “So what are YOUR favorite ways in which CCSS has facilitated fully actualized pedagogical blurgy blurgy blurg” conversations and failing because there are next-to-zero actual teachers participating.

It didn’t work. None of them worked. They have never worked. They set up the tables with donuts and pretty brochures and wait for us to stop by so they can “engage” us and get us to pick up the talking points and carry them out into the world. And they end up feeding the donuts to the crickets and pasting new logos onto the brochures for the next round.

I’m trying to find a witty way to phrase this, but I can’t– these people are so damn stupid!

What we keep seeing are repeated attempts to involve teacher voices without actually having to listen to teacher voices. “We would like teachers to lead, and we would like them to do what we tell them to. We want teachers to be empowered, but only with just as much power as we give them (and can take away if they get unruly). And in all cases, pretending to listen to teachers should work just as well as actually listening, right? I mean, they can’t tell the difference, can they?”

Are these guys just uniformly terrible managers of other human beings, or do they think we are as dumb as they keep insisting we are? I don’t know, but I’m surely going to wait a bit before I rush to sign up for Teach to Lead.


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