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THOMPSON: "The Uncomfortable Topic"

156512516901_sx140_sclzzzzzzz_ Jay Mathews (not to mention this post) has started a discussion on the “uncomfortable topic” of whether teaching candidates should be rejected because they believe that “schools alone” can not reverse home effects. Mathews writes, “the issue can get very personal, which might explain why I rarely hear discussions of it. It is too easy to make one side think they are being called racists and the other side think they are being called bullies.”

Click below to read my latest thoughts on this issue, and what I call the thought police

Some non-teachers may not realize that the thought police (who argue that out-of-school issues should be ignored) do conclude, "a difference of opinion makes someone wrong and unhireable." But Paul Hill, of the Center for Reinventing Public Education, asserted “coherency and consistency ... should trump any teacher's or administrator's right to be different.” Michelle Rhee agreed, “if a teacher doesn't believe it's possible for a teacher or school to overcome those factors ... those teachers should teach in Fairfax County ...”

In an e-mail, Mathews made the profound point that because "life is short ... I decided some years ago to focus on those few schools that were actually making headway in the inner city." Similarly, we can choose to consider or disregard Mathews’ methodology. But it is his honesty and openness that helps make Matthews such a highly respected columnist. School systems where diversity of opinion is discouraged will pay the price for ill-conceived policies that burn out its people.

I chose to buy a house, invest in a community, and dedicate myself to teenagers with the assumption that certain principles of public education would be respected. If my School Board were to engage in an open debate and then mandate an aligned and paced curriculum, I would be gracious as I resigned. When such policies were previously imposed on my colleagues, however, the process was not so transparent.

If a curriculum was mandated after I renewed my annual contract, and it offended my ethics and professional judgment, I would use my every political, due process, and 1st Amendment right to resist. Hill, Rhee, and other advocates of litmus tests for teachers should be aware that they are not just battling against the principles of collective bargaining and the liberal arts. They are attacking the fundamental principles of American constitutional democracy. - John Thompson

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All teachers I have met believe that children can learn. This is a core belief. www.debrennersmith.blogspot.com

I think the "all children can learn" slogan is insipid, but that's not my point. It's like saying, "the Sun comes up in the east," but that's not my point either. If you use that phrase too much, I wouldn't hire you as a consultant. But I wouldn't fire you as a teacher if you used that phrase. I would not censor you or deny you the opportunity to express your opinions in collaborative school reforms because you use that phrase.

At the same time, that phrase has lost all meaning, so I'm not offended by it.

But I've got a question for you. When you use that phrase and you see some teachers beaming at the sentiment, and others shuffling in their seats and muttering their disgust, how do you handle it?

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