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Teacher Professional Organizations Exhibit Ultimate in Anti-Intellectual Behavior

by Susan Ohanian

I received two messages from professional organizations with which I have had strong professional ties. The first came from NCTE, the organization to which I have belonged for 40 or more years.

Dear Susan Ohanian,

Welcome back to school! The Elementary Section leadership wishes you the best as you begin this year's adventure with a new group of students. As we work within parameters that are sometimes quite confining, remember that NCTE and other like-minded educators are always here for one another. . . .

Feel Empowered

Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year and author of the forthcoming Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards: English Language Arts, Grades 9-12, reminds us that the most effective curriculum is the one created by individual teachers focused on the learning needs of their students. NCTE's Core Standards Book Series and Conference Recordings will empower and inspire you to keep the focus on student learning.

Indeed. This is how the professional organization that was once my beacon now plans to empower and inspire teachers.

And then, there's NCTM. I no longer belong to NCTM, but I was an active member in the 1990ies. My book Garbage Pizza, Patchwork Quilts, and Math Magic documents my observations of teachers in 26 states working to change the way they taught mathematics. These teachers were involved in a special project that got them involved with NCTM and helped them implement the first set of highly-lauded NCTM Standards. These teachers regarded NCTM as their lodestar. The organization inspired their professional growth and their daily classroom practice.

By the way, NCTM received all royalties from the book.

Now this is what came in my mailbox today from NCTM:

Get the Latest on Common Core
Standards & More in Atlantic City

Make the right choice for your career and join the best and brightest math educators in Atlantic City, October 19--21, to learn more about the Common Core and more. Check the sampling of presentations below and search the Online Conference Planner to find presentations that suit your teaching needs.

Learn more and register early to save up to 24%. Use Source Code eg817.

Eliminate Speed Bumps on the Road to Common Core Math Standards
Participants will consider specific examples and discuss strategies for most effectively implementing the Common Core State Standards: more

Essential, Immediate Actions to Implement the Common Core State Standards
Learn about crucial differences between CCSS and current practice and how to modify your instruction to meet these new expectations: more

NCTM and Issues around Implementing and Assessing the Common Core
This session will discuss NCTM's related professional development work, publications, and joint work with other organizations, including the two Assessment Consortia:

All this and more!

Search the Program to Find More
Topics & Presentations

Visit the Online Conference Planner to find presentations for your grade level or search for topics and speakers. You can create a personalized schedule to update and save for the meeting.

Book Your Hotel

NCTM has reserved hotel rooms at discounted rates as low as $154 a night! Visit us online to find more information about NCTM's discounted hotels, including:

Area Map with Hotels
Hotel Rates
Hotel Amenities
How to book at NCTM Rates

How far NCTM has fallen. Doesn't this remind you of one of those schlock late-night TV ads for 63 cooking utensils that glow in the dark? And then the schlockmeister says,"But wait, there's more. . . Call within the next 42 seconds and you'll also get this free 14-function knife at no extra charge."

Our professional organizations have abandoned any shred of intellectualism or even integrity.

Congratulations, Bill Gates, you have won.

We would do well to remember this observation in an exceptional article by Christopher Tienken:

"Many of America's education associations already pledged support for the idea and have made the CCSS major parts of their national conferences and the programs they sell to schools.

This seems like the ultimate in anti-intellectual behavior coming from what claim to be intellectual organizations now acting like charlatans by vending products to their members based on an untested idea and parroting false claims of standards efficacy."

Christopher H. Tienken, "Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making"

AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice Vol. 7, No. 4 Winter 2011

I sent this message to the NCTE Open Forum today.

I am not religious but I just sent a donation to United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries--for doing what my professional organization, which has been the recipient of my dues for 40+ years, refuses to do.

Annually, at the start of the school year they issue a big, passionate, informed statement about education. This year it's Why the Conventional Wisdom on School Reform is Wrong and Why the Church Should Care.

We need "Why the Conventional Wisdom on School Reform is Wrong and Why the National Council of Teachers of English Should Care"--but we've been told we're not going to get it.

That's why the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries just got my grateful support.

I sent a second message: I find NCTE's silence since the passage of NCLB to be devastating. I won't be renewing my membership.

— Susan Ohanian




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