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Arizona Stories from School: This Feels Like a Slap in the Face

For a second year in a row, the White House has taken Teacher Appreciation Week and added a privatized twist to it. It is, yet again, National Charter School Week. So, while parents are sending cookies and principals are setting up luncheons, the head of education policy nationwide is taking this week to highlight non-public schools. 

As a public school teacher, this feels like a slap in the face. There are fifty-two weeks in a year. The White House could have focussed on public schools this week and charter schools next week. Instead, he will parade around the country at the highest-performing charter schools while at the same time touting many of the reforms that the rest of us have to follow. 

Is it any wonder that the White House is surprised by the backlash against the Common Core? Is it any surprise that the mainstream media seemed caught off guard by Louis CK's rant against Common Core, Race to the Top and the standardized testing culture? People are angry. Really angry. 

This week was a chance for an olive branch. This was a moment when the president could have celebrated the amazing teachers we have in our public schools. Instead, he is grandstanding at charter schools, sending an implied message to parents that their neighborhood schools simply don't cut it and they need corporate reformers to solve the problem. 

Last year when this happened, I assumed it was yet another White House gaffe (not unlike the poor roll-out of healthcare.gov). Now, I can't help but see this as a deliberate message to the public that the White House does not stand behind teachers or public education. As the voice of Federal education policy, he is sending the message that we, as teachers, don't matter. 

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day from the White House.

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John Spencer

John Spencer has been a teacher coach and a classroom teacher in Phoenix, Arizona, for several years. He has written five books, including: Pencil Me In, an alleg...