Two strands of the education reform agenda have never made sense to me, because they completely contradict each other:
Strand One: We want excellent teachers. We should get rid of bad teachers, and hire and retain excellent teachers. Teachers are the most important determining factor in a child's educational success. Great teachers can change life trajectories, increase future achievement levels, get students to attend and graduate from college, and raise the lifetime earnings of their students by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Let's hear it for great teachers! They work miracles, raise test scores and create a well educated public who will, obviously, vote just like we do!
Strand Two: The days of closing your class room door and doing your own thing are OVER. You must now follow a curriculum map, which is built around a textbook or workbook program. You do not need to think. You must do as you are told. You must follow in lockstep and get with the program. The creators of these educational products are much smarter and more adept at creating coherent instruction than you are. Be a generic teacher, just like everybody else. (The subtext of this strand is easy to pick out: If you and your colleagues are forced to follow a curriculum map built around our curricular resource, we can be sure our curricular resource is used! Also, standardizing teachers makes it easier to take learning online, where it becomes a commodity!)
Whenever I tell people the predicament teachers are in, caught between calls for excellence and policies that promote bland standardized obedience, they get it. They realize the absurdity of asking for both.
When my wife suggested a Halloween plot-line for the strip based on The Stepford Wives, I checked out the original movie online and quickly realized its potential... the Stepford wives are all about products and using them. Exactly what they want teachers to be now-- product dispensers.
And so, without further ado, Mr. Fitz presents "The Stepford Teachers," which of course begins with a talk with education reformer Mr. Blustbag.
Of course, Mr. Fitz gets to wake up from this nightmare. But teachers everywhere will not, unless we somehow wake people up to what is being done to the teaching profession.
Because once teachers have been turned into robots, the next step is turn students into automatons as well. The process has already begun.