Today the mainstream media was quick to jump on the PISA school rankings. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a ranking of schools worldwide that occurs every three years.
The results are clear, what we are doing in the United States is not working. The current political agenda to attack teachers, slash budgets, and starve our public schools is actually moving us backwards.
Everyone knows and understands that we need to make changes in our schools. The key is how we make those changes. What changes are truly going to help our children learn and grow?
The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, released the following statement after the results we announced.
“Today’s PISA results drive home what has become abundantly clear: While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top—focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools—has failed to improve the quality of American public education. Sadly, our nation has ignored the lessons from the high-performing nations. These countries deeply respect public education, work to ensure that teachers are well-prepared and well-supported, and provide students not just with standards but with tools to meet them—such as ensuring a robust curriculum, addressing equity issues so children with the most needs get the most resources, and increasing parental involvement. None of the top-tier countries, nor any of those that have made great leaps in student performance, like Poland and Germany, has a fixation on testing like the United States does.
“The crucial question we face now is whether we have the political will to move away from the failed policies and embrace what works in high-performing countries so that we can reclaim the promise of public education.”
After the 2009 PISA report, Weingarten visited the top-performing nations of Japan, China, Singapore, Finland, Canada and Brazil to talk with teachers, principals, students and government officials about what makes their systems work for students, teachers and parents. Many of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s recommendations informed the AFT’s Quality Education Agenda and its Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education principles.
AFT also released a short five-minute video that explains how we can learn from the PISA results. The results show that we need to be supporting our teachers and creating an environment of mutual collaboration with our teachers unions.
We also need to look deeply at two of the major factors impacting our schools. The poverty level of the students, and the continual budget cuts that are starving our schools.
While pundits on the right say we are overpaying for our children’s education the truth is far from that. We also fall far behind many of the other countries in funding for schools in impoverished areas.
See what the facts are behind the media headlines in the PISA results.
Read more on how we are ‘starving our public schools’ and AFT’s plan to ‘Reclaim the Promise’ of public education.