Let us compare two scenarios.  For simplicity’s sake, I am tightening up the role of a doctor and the medical field.  Please do not disregard the entire thread because of this:

A, part 1: A patient, unhealthy, goes to see the cardiologist.  The cardiologist does some tests on the patient (mandated by the people who recommends tests for patient care) and comes back to say the patient is not within the normal range and intervention is required.  The cardiologist puts the patient on medicine and reccomends a diet change and exercise regime to go with the new medicine.  The patient says they cannot afford their medication, but the doctor finds a program the patient can apply to in order to get their medication.  The patient says they cannot afford the healthy foods the doctor is now requiring.  The doctor provides information on ways to find healthy foods within the patients budget.  The patient says they don’t have time to work out; doctor cannot do anything about that but its still necessary for the patient’s improvement.

B, part 1: A student, below grade level, goes back to school.  The teacher does the initial testing (mandated by the people who recommends tests for student monitoring) and comes back and says the student’s scores are not within the acceptable range and intervention is required.  The teacher puts the student into a special intervention period and recommends daily practice exercises and occasional homework to help supplement the lessons as well as daily silent reading..  The student says they cannot afford the supplies for school, so the teacher refers them to the Communities in Schools program for resources.

A, part 2: The patient comes back to see the doctor for a follow up.  The patient’s blood levels have not improved.  The patient isn’t taking their medicine: they didn’t apply to the program.  The patient’s diet has not changed because the healthy good just doesn’t taste as good.  The patient has not been exercising because it’s “boring” and they “don’t want to.”

B, part 2: The student goes up for another round of progress monitoring.  The student’s academic skill lever has not improved.  The student has not been reviewing the material: they did not do the intervention work in class or the occassional homework.  The student has not been doing the reading because it’s “boring” and they “don’t want to.”

A, part 3: The patient, after repeated warnings and offers of help from the doctor, dies as a result of their untreated condition.

B, part 3: The student, after repeated parent contacts and offers to stay after school and help, fails the mandated state assessment, the class itself, and is still passed to the next grade.

End result for the cardiologist: They keep on doing what they’re doing and seeing great success with the patients who did take their expert medical advice.  Patients do not, as a rule, stop coming to the cardiologist because a patient chose to ignore the doctor’s advice.  There is no publication in the paper that “John Smith died because he did not listen to or follow his doctor’s advice.”

End result for the teacher: They are reprimanded because a child did not demonstrate grade level mastery of the content, regardless of the great success achieved with students who did take their expert educational advice.  All the paper’s publish is that the local schools failed to meet one benchmark; not a work about all the effort the school put in to getting there or the students’ effort or lack there of.  Parents who do not know the situation request their child has “anyone but” this teacher.

While the analogy is not perfect (I’m not a total expert in the medical field), it does hold up time and time again.  I fight day in and day out to help my students get to where they’re supposed to be so they can have a better life; I don’t really care all that much about their state assessment scores except that is the asinine marker of whether or not I am a “successful” teacher (and, in many districts, determines class placement for the coming year).  Americans die every day because we ignore advice from the experts in the medical field: eat healthier, stop smoking, etc.  Students fail every day because they ignore advice from the experts in the educational field: read more, do the assignments, pay attention in class.  Yet, I find that only one of these two professions is under constant and prolonged fire in our society: teachers.

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