Who Writes the Curriculum?

On September 8, 2008, Maureen O'Hagan of The Seattle Times reported that: "In what many viewed as an inevitable end to a difficult four months of negotiations, Bellevue [Washington] teachers announced Monday night they would go on strike."

Teacher pay was a predictable component of the strike, but salary wasn't the only issue. According to O'Hagan:

"The two sides also disagree about curriculum. Bellevue, which is among the most highly regarded districts in the state, employs a curriculum that teachers complain does not allow for deviation. Dale Folkerts, a spokesman for the Washington Education Association, said there are 'prescripted lesson plans' and classrooms are "micromanaged" down to the minute."

If you were considering a career in teaching, would you apply for a position in a district that would have you teach lessons that were prepared in advance for you?

One component of No Child Left Behind is that each classroom should have a "highly qualified teacher," but there is an incredible amount of dialogue and research about what makes a highly qualified teacher. There is no conclusive evidence that a master's degree makes for a better teacher, or that years of experience translates into higher student achievement. The simple fact is that we have no way of knowing how well students in any class will perform in the upcoming year.

The response to this unpredictability in Bellevue was to implement a highly scripted curriculum, tailored to the tests that students would be taking in the spring in order to minimize chances of failure. In addition, if a child were to move schools during the year, chances would be very high that they would not have to adjust to what was being studied in his/her new school because all of the teachers would be on basically the same schedule of lessons. They felt that this would be beneficial for new teachers as well, freeing up their energies from writing a curriculum and lesson plans so that it could be directed toward classroom management.

But the matter is unsettled. At "The Academy," would teachers go by a scripted curriculum, or would they be free to write and implement their own standards-based curriculum and lesson plans?

Some of the best related readings (from the list on the sidebar):
-Au, W. (2007)
-Datnow, A. & Castellano, M. (2000)
-Kaufman, D. et al. (2002)
-Sleeter, C. (2002)
-Greene, M. (2005)

1 comment:

  1. I think that the teachers should be able to decide what materials they can use to teach. Isn't this what makes teaching fun?