Monday, October 15, 2012

Sample Letter to the President

by Diane Ravitch
Below is a model letter for educators. It can be revised to make it appropriate for parents or anyone else.
Write your own letter, in your own words.
Dear President Obama,
We assume you know that there are many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of teachers, who are disappointed in your education policies.

We assume you know that some will vote for you reluctantly, some will vote for a third party candidate, and some will not vote at all. Our votes will make a difference.

Given the choice between you and Mitt Romney, who seems to view public education with contempt, we want to help you win back the hearts and minds of teachers.

Here are ways to do that.

Please, Mr. President, stop talking about rewarding and punishing teachers. Teachers are professionals, not toddlers. Teachers don’t work harder for bonuses; we are working our best now. Waving a prize in front of us will not make us work harder or better. We became teachers because we want to teach, not because we expected to win a prize for producing higher scores.

Please stop encouraging the privatization of public education. Many studies demonstrate that charters don’t get better results than public schools unless they exclude low-performing children. Public schools educate all children. The proliferation of charter schools will lead to a dual system in many of our big-city districts. Charters are tearing communities apart. Please support public education.

Please speak out against for-profit schools. These for-profit schools steal precious tax dollars to pay off investors. Those resources belong in the classroom. The for-profit virtual schools get uniformly bad reviews from everyone but Wall Street.

Please withdraw your support from the failed effort to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students. The American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education issued a joint paper saying that such methods are inaccurate and unstable. Teachers get high ratings if they teach the easiest students, and low ratings if they teach the most challenging students.

Please stop closing schools and firing staffs because of low scores. Low scores are a reflection of high poverty, not an indicator of bad schools or bad teachers. Insist that schools enrolling large numbers of poor and minority students get the resources they need to succeed.

Please speak of the role of public education in a democracy, doors open to all. Please speak about the importance of early childhood education and small classes and libraries and the arts and a rich curriculum. Please remind the nation why schools need nurses and social workers and after-school activities.

Please recognize that schools work best through collaboration, not competition. Remind the nation why teaching to the test is wrong and why standardized testing should be used to help, not to give rewards and punishments.

Please, President Obama, recognize that your policies are demoralizing teachers. Many are leaving the profession. Young people are deciding not to become teachers. Your policies are ruining a noble profession.

President Obama, we want to support you on November 6.
Please give us reason to believe in you again.
I am a teacher.

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