This new law can create positive change. States will now take the lead on accountability, interventions and teacher evaluation systems. While some states will mess up, we hope most will learn from the failures of NCLB and give teachers and schools the latitude and support to deeply engage students and to focus on the whole child.
As eagerly as the Common Core regimen was embraced, it was disavowed in a Tea Party-inspired wave of opposition to what was become known simply as government outreach. And as strongly as the teachers' unions had campaigned for educational reform, they deemed the government's obsession with a testing an albatross hanging over the careers of educators who could handle their own classrooms perfectly well.
I will be glad to see NCLB left behind and RTTT stopped, but I do not see how ESSA is a victory for education in the United States. Does anyone believe that low-funded poorly performing states like Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, New Mexico and West Virginia, will create meaningful accountability systems and tests that will expose the low quality public education they offer Black and Latino students?
Carly Fiorina recognizes the danger that a technology-dominated classroom -- a classroom focused on programmable skills rather than on messy and ever-changing ideas -- will become the location of job training rather than intellectual exploration. Education's great task, she said at a recent New Hampshire education summit, is not to prepare people for jobs, but to "fill children's souls," to make of them the kinds of citizens who can contribute to a participatory democracy. And that task, she insisted, requires exposure to music, literature, art and philosophy -- the very subjects that are currently falling by the wayside in the rush to elevate the STEM subjects to the be all and end all. From where I sit, this is just common sense, but it is not the common sense coming from the Obama administration (or the Bush administration before it).
Through the union, educators are raising our collective voice. Together with parents and students, educators are turning the tide. Teaching is our heart. Our students are our soul. And the union is our spine. When educators raise their voice and their power, we can reclaim the promise of public education.