As some of you know, I've been working with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association on the common standards project. I've been listed as a participant in newspaper articles: a participant, not a leader. What that means is that, like the other people who's names you've seen, I answer queries and react to drafts, and even contribute potential standards... but ultimately, I'm not in charge. I don't set the timelines, or decide who participates, or any of the dozens of other things that those in charge have to do.
This week I got an angry email from a professor I do not know. He sent me a "how do you dare..." letter. He was angry. He had read about the standards project in the paper and decided he knew all about it, and was incensed that teachers weren't included in any of the panels, and wanted to know how I could take part in such a shameful exercise.
I could have told him that decision was above my pay grade, but decided to have a bit of fun at his expense (I must admit I don't like angry letters questioning my motives from folks who don't know me). So, I questioned why he was so angry. Not surprising, he had no more self awareness than a rock. He wrote back, angrier still... How dare you question my motives, he queried, you don't even know me. And so it goes!
This professor teaches teachers to teach reading, but apparently he had never heard of critical reading... you know, where you don't believe everything that you read, or don't assume you know the whole story because you saw it in Education Week.
I try to take a different approach than this guy when I read a news story that gets my dander up... I wonder what the reporter left out... what he or she didn't bother to ask or to reveal. If I'm as chagrined as this fellow, I might even write a note to find out what I want to know (though, unlike him, I would write to the people in charge rather than the glittering consultants).
In this case, I did just that. I wrote to the folks who are in charge of the standards project and asked about teacher involvement. They were taken aback... of course, there are teachers involved at every level of the process, was their response. They hadn't mentioned it to the press because, you guessed it, the press hadn't asked about it. And because no one asked, there are now folks out there spreading the word that there is no teacher involvement so you should oppose the standards... which just demonstrates how much we need reading standards!
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