Teachbad’s Secret Project
For all the right reasons, I am trying to write a book about teaching in the modern era. I’ve been working on it for a long time and now it’s getting a little more serious. I don’t have anything to post because I’ve been working on that, so I’m going to give you a little taste of the book proposal.
This is the first page; where I must grab a publisher’s attention so completely that she is compelled to read the second page. See what you think. (Maybe add a comment about what a great idea this book is and how you know at least 10,000 people who you’re sure would buy it.)
Teachbad Book Proposal: Page One
Teaching and education are undergoing a series of radical, poorly-implemented and logically incoherent structural reforms. Well-intentioned, but having failed on all counts and by their own measures, more than a decade of reforms are now sustained by political power, corporate money, wishful thinking and inertia. Intended to fix education, they are harming both students and teachers; two groups whose fates are intertwined and together make or break education.
The reforms intended to fix education over the past 12 years have irrefutably made teaching a worse job for most teachers. Public school teachers live in a suddenly bizarre world of public scorn, emotional blackmail and professional castration. Our heads are spinning a bit…and we’re a little confused as to exactly what happened. But we’re sure we didn’t like it. And it’s not just a handful of disgruntled teachers in a handful of cities. Multiple polls show historic drops in teacher satisfaction nationwide. We should also mention that the reforms are not working.
Teaching in America: I Don’t Recommend It is a sharp, funny and pestiferously serious sociology of teaching and the damaging change being done to it. Its central argument is that the recent earthquake of reforms has not only made the working lives of teachers unnecessarily more difficult, it has also been bad for students and shockingly unsuccessful as public policy. In no meaningful way can it be argued that these reforms, begun now 12 years ago, are closing the Achievement Gap. The Achievement Gap is more or less exactly the same as it was before; even in Washington, DC, the epicenter of the Michelle Rhee urban school reform movement.
The Achievement Gap was caused by a devastating series of natural disasters outside the classroom. Now, in trying to close the Achievement Gap and fix education, we’ve decided to fire-bomb the classroom itself. A perfectly executed plan may yet fail if it is not a very good plan. We have fundamentally misunderstood the problem. With this profound misunderstanding as our guide, we have devised a very bad plan. Even now, with a demoralized workforce and no evidence the plan is working, there remains an enormous amount of political power, confidence, and cash behind it. And this should concern us.
Teaching in America is a sometimes uncomfortably close and honest portrait of teachers, children and our national plan to fix education in the era of Michelle Rhee and No Child Left Behind.
It is the story of teachers whose responsibility it is to now turn a deeply flawed plan into practice. They are to follow the plan exactly and fix the Achievement Gap. The administrative panic and chicanery induced by the need to be seen as a can-do reformer who has successfully implemented this terrible plan adds to the already strange professional environment of a school, contributing a healthy dose of hostility, nausea, paranoia and comedy. My boss was like a cross between Mr. Bean and Richard Nixon, with all the personal pizazz of Keanu Reeves.
What doesn’t kill you only makes you wish you were dead.
In Teaching in America, your guide through this mess will be a renegade teacher from the experimental education madhouse of Michelle Rhee’s Washington, DC. It is a study in lunacy and regret by one whose daring intellect and comic timing might be surpassed only by his longing for truth and crippling mastery of the ironic and logical.