An Excerpt From 'Don't Blame the Messenger'

Television relationship guru, Br. Bill, was taking on the problems of public education and how this new face in education was adversely affecting the young students of America. Parents were complaining about the undue pressure their kids were now under because of the constantly increasing amount of testing demanded by the state. Young people were experiencing a level of emotional distress never before associated with simply being in the public schools. Brendan was randomly changing channels when he stumbled upon the program. He glanced at his watch. The show was nearly over.

The gentleman seated next to the famous and often humorous Dr. Bill was a representative from the State Education Department. Dr. Bill's guest was Simon Hallowell and he was head of the state math department and responsible for many of the questionable decisions made about state testing over the past few years. As the program was winding down, Dr. Bill had opened up and was allowing opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions. The cameras panned to a middle aged man in the crowd.

"You claim," the man pronounced firmly, "that if we teach the kids harder stuff that they will get smarter. If that worked, then why didn't we think of this great plan centuries ago? So if I want my child to be potty trained at 6 months, than all I have to do is teach him now?"

Many in the crowd laughed aloud.

"Maybe you don't quite understand my analogy. These new math modules which we are expected to teach and follow are way over the academic abilities of most of our students. Sure, a few of the exceptional kids are able to understand the content, but if the material is directed to only those top level students, then what is to become of the average and lower kids? I can answer that question. They fall behind and give up entirely. We teachers were taught in college to teach all learners. These modules and scripted lesson plans handed out in the name of the Common Core are not designed to reach all learners. You watch: We are going to have a higher dropout rate than ever if this continues. And if you try to teach at a slower pace, all the content won't be covered. The questions on the state exam are almost all dependent upon higher level thinking skills, so again; only the exceptional learners will be able to pass. I'm a teacher." The same man continued. "I want to make you an offer. You come to my school and take my place for a week. You teach the kids. You discipline them. I will not help you but sit in the back of the room and watch. I hope to learn from you, Mr. Hallowell. I want to see you take these very difficult modules which have been scripted for us and I want to see how my students respond to you. Since State Ed. seems to think that we teachers are incompetent and that some of us are too old to reach these failing students, then I want to see how they score on their state exam on the stuff you taught them. But here's what I already think we'll both discover." The man paused. "You can't do it any better than we can! You and all the supposed experts of public education will also struggle to motivate a child by teaching material that is over their heads. And you too, and all your seriously out of touch cronies, are no better than the rest of us who work hard to reach the kids of today. The fact that you have the nerve to grade teachers and label us as ineffective is an affront to all that is decent and respectful to a worthy profession. You've been invited, Mr. Hallowell. Be my guest. If you think you can do a better job of teaching math than I can, well; prove it!"

Dr. Lee Kronert is author of a pro-teacher, pro-tenure novel titled, 'Don't Blame the Messenger'.