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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I work as part of the Reading First program. I can quietly and anonymously attest that it is, in my opinon, the greatest attack on democracy imaginable. The programs of favored publishers are designed to take the teacher out of the equation.

The teacher must spend a minimum of five years learning to deliver the program according to the prescription of the publisher. As an educator, you have to avoid any editorializing in the classroom in order to complete all the required pieces of the program. Forget about discussing current events or introducing information that does not relate specifically to the reading anthology. The teacher learns that s/he must follow orders and not think independently. [If you openly remark the program prescribes teaching information that is wrong (like teaching that "more" is the superlative and "most" is the comparative -which was shown as model lesson in a TRAINING VIDEO!!!), you will halt your ascent of the bureaucratic ladder.]

After a few years of operating this way, teachers begin to pass that message along to students: Don't think; just do what's in front of you. We don't need qualified teachers to implement these programs. We need unqualified teachers to implement them. Anyone with an IQ above 110 and a left-leaning political "knowledge is power" outlook will be driven insane in short order.

There are two choices for educators like myself in large urban areas: teach public school and teach the poor how to follow orders or teach private school and teach the rich how to think for themselves. Where's the documentary on what's really going on?

Anonymous Teacher

Portland, OR

May 6 2007 - 12:40pm