Superman is Already in the Classroom

Workers Action

Kyle Cooke

As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, I was told to watch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show that dealt with the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman (September 20, 2010). One comment from the show really stood out to me: “… We set them [the students] up for failure.” I completely agree, but not due to a lack of strong teaching in the classroom. The poor test results of most students is due to their poor socio-economic situations.

All you have to do is look at the test scores between the affluent and the needy students to see that poverty is to blame. The rich kids are doing great and the poor kids aren’t. Does this mean that we are giving the wealthy a better education? In most states, this is likely true, due to higher local property taxes in more affluent neighborhoods, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

In Oregon all the money for education is divvied out equally. You would think this would even the playing field, yet the prosperous side of Portland meets or exceeds state standards for the most part while the kids on the other side of town don’t. Why not?

Our economic system is the problem, especially the cycle of poverty. When a person is born into poverty, survival comes before education. Homework takes a back seat. These kids aren’t going to sit in class and do their best to learn algebra when they’re thinking about having no hot water in the home. Then, in turn, these anti-education habits, along with poverty, typically get passed on to their children.

This is what I see every day in the classroom. I work in a high poverty school with students like these. They are not the kind of kids who score well on tests, no matter how good of a teacher I am, and no matter how hard I try (I work many 12 hour days, as do most teachers). If I am judged as a teacher by my kids’ test scores, I am a “bad” teacher.

On the other side of town in the wealthy neighborhoods, “good teachers” are able to twiddle their thumbs while their kids easily exceed the state’s benchmarks.

I do consider myself a “good” teacher, perhaps good enough to make good money in a place like Washington, D.C., where “good” and “bad” labels determine a teacher’s future. These labels are given by school administrators, who don’t visit teachers in classrooms but instead judge purely by the test score. This is primarily what caused over 125 teachers this past summer to get fired in the Washington, D.C. school district.

Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah, and many other rich and powerful people are saying that the answer to our educational woes lies in charter schools. If you turn on the news today, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to hear something about these new forms of schooling. Well, I personally think this new charter school hoopla that is going on is happening for a few reasons:

First, it’s a way for the rich to get richer. Why not make schools for profit so there are a few rich people who profit while teachers are paid less? There is a ton of money to be made in the private education industry, and they want every last cent. I have a friend who just got a job at a charter school, and he started out at under $30,000 a year (why would the “good” teachers flock to charter schools if they’re getting paid less?) The rich also get richer by paying less money in taxes towards public education, since they plan to privatize it all.

Second, it’s a way to undercut unions, which are the corporations worst nightmares. A union is there to make sure that its members receive proper treatment at the workplace. When a worker receives proper treatment, it usually means that the rich get a little less. In this current situation, the rich have to pay even more taxes for teachers like me because we actually receive a living wage, because we are teaching in public schools that have unions. My union, the National Education Association, has too much backbone for Corporate America; we are being targeted.

In Washington, D.C., teachers make living wages too, but the corporate school reformers added a classic union busting technique: The teachers gave up their rights of tenure. Now the district can go around and fire anyone who’s giving them a hard time. Who are the first people I would target if I wanted to kill a union? The people who are strong union activists, in order to weaken and eventually strangle the organization. After seniority is chopped down, it’s easy to undermine job rights, wages, vacation, health care, etc.

The last reason this school “reform” is totally misguided is that it diverts attention from the real problems in our society right now, just like the illegal immigration extravaganza and the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

People are extremely angry at the banks and corporations, so the banks (who own the media and government) are fighting back with a media barrage on other topics to distract. Look at NBC with their “Education Nation” and Oprah jumping on the bandwagon. Doesn’t it make you wonder why Bill Gates, Obama, the rest of the government and most in the media have decided to take THIS moment to start railing on the educational system? They are trying to make you look the other way, as they continue to get more bailout money, receive billions of dollars in tax breaks, fight more unnecessary wars, and try to make you forget the very reason that schools are failing in the first place: widespread poverty.

Leave educators and parents — not politicians and the super-rich — to decide how our kids need to be taught. We will continue to provide the excellent education that we have been providing, even with the inadequate resources we have (Reagan is the president in the social studies textbook I teach from). Let’s take care of the real problem in our society now, the economy. Let’s close the gap between the rich and the poor, which has increased by more than 1000 times in the past three decades. This gap creates the education gap; there’s no reason that children should start their education at a disadvantage to the children born into wealth. Tax the rich more to help bring up the poor and to help pay for the quality education that we need, and let’s stop making the teachers, who are the ones who care most about these children, a scapegoat for the rich.

As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, I was told to watch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show that dealt with the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman (September 20, 2010). One comment from the show really stood out to me: “… We set them [the students] up for failure.” I completely agree, but not due to a lack of strong teaching in the classroom. The poor test results of most students is due to their poor socio-economic situations.

All you have to do is look at the test scores between the affluent and the needy students to see that poverty is to blame. The rich kids are doing great and the poor kids aren’t. Does this mean that we are giving the wealthy a better education? In most states, this is likely true, due to higher local property taxes in more affluent neighborhoods, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

In Oregon all the money for education is divvied out equally. You would think this would even the playing field, yet the prosperous side of Portland meets or exceeds state standards for the most part while the kids on the other side of town don’t. Why not?

Our economic system is the problem, especially the cycle of poverty. When a person is born into poverty, survival comes before education. Homework takes a back seat. These kids aren’t going to sit in class and do their best to learn algebra when they’re thinking about having no hot water in the home. Then, in turn, these anti-education habits, along with poverty, typically get passed on to their children.

This is what I see every day in the classroom. I work in a high poverty school with students like these. They are not the kind of kids who score well on tests, no matter how good of a teacher I am, and no matter how hard I try (I work many 12 hour days, as do most teachers). If I am judged as a teacher by my kids’ test scores, I am a “bad” teacher.

On the other side of town in the wealthy neighborhoods, “good teachers” are able to twiddle their thumbs while their kids easily exceed the state’s benchmarks.

I do consider myself a “good” teacher, perhaps good enough to make good money in a place like Washington, D.C., where “good” and “bad” labels determine a teacher’s future. These labels are given by school administrators, who don’t visit teachers in classrooms but instead judge purely by the test score. This is primarily what caused over 125 teachers this past summer to get fired in the Washington, D.C. school district.

Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah, and many other rich and powerful people are saying that the answer to our educational woes lies in charter schools. If you turn on the news today, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to hear something about these new forms of schooling. Well, I personally think this new charter school hoopla that is going on is happening for a few reasons:

First, it’s a way for the rich to get richer. Why not make schools for profit so there are a few rich people who profit while teachers are paid less? There is a ton of money to be made in the private education industry, and they want every last cent. I have a friend who just got a job at a charter school, and he started out at under $30,000 a year (why would the “good” teachers flock to charter schools if they’re getting paid less?) The rich also get richer by paying less money in taxes towards public education, since they plan to privatize it all.

Second, it’s a way to undercut unions, which are the corporations worst nightmares. A union is there to make sure that its members receive proper treatment at the workplace. When a worker receives proper treatment, it usually means that the rich get a little less. In this current situation, the rich have to pay even more taxes for teachers like me because we actually receive a living wage, because we are teaching in public schools that have unions. My union, the National Education Association, has too much backbone for Corporate America; we are being targeted.

In Washington, D.C., teachers make living wages too, but the corporate school reformers added a classic union busting technique: The teachers gave up their rights of tenure. Now the district can go around and fire anyone who’s giving them a hard time. Who are the first people I would target if I wanted to kill a union? The people who are strong union activists, in order to weaken and eventually strangle the organization. After seniority is chopped down, it’s easy to undermine job rights, wages, vacation, health care, etc.

The last reason this school “reform” is totally misguided is that it diverts attention from the real problems in our society right now, just like the illegal immigration extravaganza and the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

People are extremely angry at the banks and corporations, so the banks (who own the media and government) are fighting back with a media barrage on other topics to distract. Look at NBC with their “Education Nation” and Oprah jumping on the bandwagon. Doesn’t it make you wonder why Bill Gates, Obama, the rest of the government and most in the media have decided to take THIS moment to start railing on the educational system? They are trying to make you look the other way, as they continue to get more bailout money, receive billions of dollars in tax breaks, fight more unnecessary wars, and try to make you forget the very reason that schools are failing in the first place: widespread poverty.

Leave educators and parents — not politicians and the super-rich — to decide how our kids need to be taught. We will continue to provide the excellent education that we have been providing, even with the inadequate resources we have (Reagan is the president in the social studies textbook I teach from). Let’s take care of the real problem in our society now, the economy. Let’s close the gap between the rich and the poor, which has increased by more than 1000 times in the past three decades. This gap creates the education gap; there’s no reason that children should start their education at a disadvantage to the children born into wealth. Tax the rich more to help bring up the poor and to help pay for the quality education that we need, and let’s stop making the teachers, who are the ones who care most about these children, a scapegoat for the rich.

As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, I was told to watch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show that dealt with the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman (September 20, 2010). One comment from the show really stood out to me: “… We set them [the students] up for failure.” I completely agree, but not due to a lack of strong teaching in the classroom. The poor test results of most students is due to their poor socio-economic situations.

All you have to do is look at the test scores between the affluent and the needy students to see that poverty is to blame. The rich kids are doing great and the poor kids aren’t. Does this mean that we are giving the wealthy a better education? In most states, this is likely true, due to higher local property taxes in more affluent neighborhoods, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

In Oregon all the money for education is divvied out equally. You would think this would even the playing field, yet the prosperous side of Portland meets or exceeds state standards for the most part while the kids on the other side of town don’t. Why not?

Our economic system is the problem, especially the cycle of poverty. When a person is born into poverty, survival comes before education. Homework takes a back seat. These kids aren’t going to sit in class and do their best to learn algebra when they’re thinking about having no hot water in the home. Then, in turn, these anti-education habits, along with poverty, typically get passed on to their children.

This is what I see every day in the classroom. I work in a high poverty school with students like these. They are not the kind of kids who score well on tests, no matter how good of a teacher I am, and no matter how hard I try (I work many 12 hour days, as do most teachers). If I am judged as a teacher by my kids’ test scores, I am a “bad” teacher.

On the other side of town in the wealthy neighborhoods, “good teachers” are able to twiddle their thumbs while their kids easily exceed the state’s benchmarks.

I do consider myself a “good” teacher, perhaps good enough to make good money in a place like Washington, D.C., where “good” and “bad” labels determine a teacher’s future. These labels are given by school administrators, who don’t visit teachers in classrooms but instead judge purely by the test score. This is primarily what caused over 125 teachers this past summer to get fired in the Washington, D.C. school district.

Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah, and many other rich and powerful people are saying that the answer to our educational woes lies in charter schools. If you turn on the news today, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to hear something about these new forms of schooling. Well, I personally think this new charter school hoopla that is going on is happening for a few reasons:

First, it’s a way for the rich to get richer. Why not make schools for profit so there are a few rich people who profit while teachers are paid less? There is a ton of money to be made in the private education industry, and they want every last cent. I have a friend who just got a job at a charter school, and he started out at under $30,000 a year (why would the “good” teachers flock to charter schools if they’re getting paid less?) The rich also get richer by paying less money in taxes towards public education, since they plan to privatize it all.

Second, it’s a way to undercut unions, which are the corporations worst nightmares. A union is there to make sure that its members receive proper treatment at the workplace. When a worker receives proper treatment, it usually means that the rich get a little less. In this current situation, the rich have to pay even more taxes for teachers like me because we actually receive a living wage, because we are teaching in public schools that have unions. My union, the National Education Association, has too much backbone for Corporate America; we are being targeted.

In Washington, D.C., teachers make living wages too, but the corporate school reformers added a classic union busting technique: The teachers gave up their rights of tenure. Now the district can go around and fire anyone who’s giving them a hard time. Who are the first people I would target if I wanted to kill a union? The people who are strong union activists, in order to weaken and eventually strangle the organization. After seniority is chopped down, it’s easy to undermine job rights, wages, vacation, health care, etc.

The last reason this school “reform” is totally misguided is that it diverts attention from the real problems in our society right now, just like the illegal immigration extravaganza and the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

People are extremely angry at the banks and corporations, so the banks (who own the media and government) are fighting back with a media barrage on other topics to distract. Look at NBC with their “Education Nation” and Oprah jumping on the bandwagon. Doesn’t it make you wonder why Bill Gates, Obama, the rest of the government and most in the media have decided to take THIS moment to start railing on the educational system? They are trying to make you look the other way, as they continue to get more bailout money, receive billions of dollars in tax breaks, fight more unnecessary wars, and try to make you forget the very reason that schools are failing in the first place: widespread poverty.

Leave educators and parents — not politicians and the super-rich — to decide how our kids need to be taught. We will continue to provide the excellent education that we have been providing, even with the inadequate resources we have (Reagan is the president in the social studies textbook I teach from). Let’s take care of the real problem in our society now, the economy. Let’s close the gap between the rich and the poor, which has increased by more than 1000 times in the past three decades. This gap creates the education gap; there’s no reason that children should start their education at a disadvantage to the children born into wealth. Tax the rich more to help bring up the poor and to help pay for the quality education that we need, and let’s stop making the teachers, who are the ones who care most about these children, a scapegoat for the rich.

As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, I was told to watch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show that dealt with the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman (September 20, 2010). One comment from the show really stood out to me: “… We set them [the students] up for failure.” I completely agree, but not due to a lack of strong teaching in the classroom. The poor test results of most students is due to their poor socio-economic situations.

All you have to do is look at the test scores between the affluent and the needy students to see that poverty is to blame. The rich kids are doing great and the poor kids aren’t. Does this mean that we are giving the wealthy a better education? In most states, this is likely true, due to higher local property taxes in more affluent neighborhoods, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

In Oregon all the money for education is divvied out equally. You would think this would even the playing field, yet the prosperous side of Portland meets or exceeds state standards for the most part while the kids on the other side of town don’t. Why not?

Our economic system is the problem, especially the cycle of poverty. When a person is born into poverty, survival comes before education. Homework takes a back seat. These kids aren’t going to sit in class and do their best to learn algebra when they’re thinking about having no hot water in the home. Then, in turn, these anti-education habits, along with poverty, typically get passed on to their children.

This is what I see every day in the classroom. I work in a high poverty school with students like these. They are not the kind of kids who score well on tests, no matter how good of a teacher I am, and no matter how hard I try (I work many 12 hour days, as do most teachers). If I am judged as a teacher by my kids’ test scores, I am a “bad” teacher.

On the other side of town in the wealthy neighborhoods, “good teachers” are able to twiddle their thumbs while their kids easily exceed the state’s benchmarks.

I do consider myself a “good” teacher, perhaps good enough to make good money in a place like Washington, D.C., where “good” and “bad” labels determine a teacher’s future. These labels are given by school administrators, who don’t visit teachers in classrooms but instead judge purely by the test score. This is primarily what caused over 125 teachers this past summer to get fired in the Washington, D.C. school district.

Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah, and many other rich and powerful people are saying that the answer to our educational woes lies in charter schools. If you turn on the news today, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to hear something about these new forms of schooling. Well, I personally think this new charter school hoopla that is going on is happening for a few reasons:

First, it’s a way for the rich to get richer. Why not make schools for profit so there are a few rich people who profit while teachers are paid less? There is a ton of money to be made in the private education industry, and they want every last cent. I have a friend who just got a job at a charter school, and he started out at under $30,000 a year (why would the “good” teachers flock to charter schools if they’re getting paid less?) The rich also get richer by paying less money in taxes towards public education, since they plan to privatize it all.

Second, it’s a way to undercut unions, which are the corporations worst nightmares. A union is there to make sure that its members receive proper treatment at the workplace. When a worker receives proper treatment, it usually means that the rich get a little less. In this current situation, the rich have to pay even more taxes for teachers like me because we actually receive a living wage, because we are teaching in public schools that have unions. My union, the National Education Association, has too much backbone for Corporate America; we are being targeted.

In Washington, D.C., teachers make living wages too, but the corporate school reformers added a classic union busting technique: The teachers gave up their rights of tenure. Now the district can go around and fire anyone who’s giving them a hard time. Who are the first people I would target if I wanted to kill a union? The people who are strong union activists, in order to weaken and eventually strangle the organization. After seniority is chopped down, it’s easy to undermine job rights, wages, vacation, health care, etc.

The last reason this school “reform” is totally misguided is that it diverts attention from the real problems in our society right now, just like the illegal immigration extravaganza and the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

People are extremely angry at the banks and corporations, so the banks (who own the media and government) are fighting back with a media barrage on other topics to distract. Look at NBC with their “Education Nation” and Oprah jumping on the bandwagon. Doesn’t it make you wonder why Bill Gates, Obama, the rest of the government and most in the media have decided to take THIS moment to start railing on the educational system? They are trying to make you look the other way, as they continue to get more bailout money, receive billions of dollars in tax breaks, fight more unnecessary wars, and try to make you forget the very reason that schools are failing in the first place: widespread poverty.

Leave educators and parents — not politicians and the super-rich — to decide how our kids need to be taught. We will continue to provide the excellent education that we have been providing, even with the inadequate resources we have (Reagan is the president in the social studies textbook I teach from). Let’s take care of the real problem in our society now, the economy. Let’s close the gap between the rich and the poor, which has increased by more than 1000 times in the past three decades. This gap creates the education gap; there’s no reason that children should start their education at a disadvantage to the children born into wealth. Tax the rich more to help bring up the poor and to help pay for the quality education that we need, and let’s stop making the teachers, who are the ones who care most about these children, a scapegoat for the rich.

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