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What I found most helpful was their stress on teacher empowerment in enacting change. Their research indicates that teachers need less layers of administrative control and more opportunities for entrepreneurial decisions in shaping their learning communities, in determining budget issues, in establishing curriculum and assessments. They applaud recent movemont for fair and rigorous assessments, not only of students but of teachers. If teacher's standards are raised as an educational community, expect respect (financially, socially) to be credited to them. To do this, teachers also need more peer control of their services, control in rating and evaluating each other, and in helping each other find opportunities for collaboration. The results will build better schools beyond the verbiage that blows hard during political years.
I became somewhat bogged down in reading it during the middle chapters. The lengthy reports of how schools have sabotaged their own success, although necessary reading and well presented(especially if one is considering entering education or has just entered the profession), seemed droll. For me, it slowed the journey of reading down.
But definitely read it to the end. Their book would be a good, educational companion suggestion next to Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline.
Particularly interesting, for me, was the history of the developing professionalism of teachers. The authors make the point that the first revolution, brilliantly captured by Callahan (Education and the Cult of Efficiency) which saw the rise of the administrator class while teachers "... remained locked in a (sic.) hierachical system in which they were treated as hirelings whose work was mandated by a male administrative elite."
The authors argue passionately for a second revolution in teaching which will see teachers recognised as valued professionals. However the price that must be paid, according to the authors, is that teachers need to "... convince the public that they have the will and capacity to make judgments about who is fit to teach and who should be dismissed for incompetence. Teachers must show that they have standards by which their peers will be judged ...."
The growth of teacher professionalism and autonomy will clearly be at the expense of current administrative roles and this is not examined in depth in the book.
Chapter 9 - Teaching in 2020 was excellent and in a section called "Contrasts between the two revolutions" the points examined are: The nature of peer control; Allocation of time and money; Credibility, serving the public good; A revolution by women; Pressure for more egalitarian outcomes; The nature of markets for professional skills; and Sharing authority with parents.
I thought the book presented lots of useful information and thought that the argument that teaching was devalued among professions because (among other things) it was seen as women's work was a call to arms.
Teaching in America is a book that should be placed in the professional reading section for teachers in every school.
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Overall it is an excellent resource as well as an enjoyable read.
(The only bad point is that because the text is such a large book for a softcover the pages have a regrettable tendancy to come loose and fall out if the book is used often. Be gentle and they should stay in place
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