In a nutshell? Teaching isn't fun anymore. Kids can't have fun learning anymore.
Instead, we're looking at "Value-Added Measures"--basically a series of standardized tests--in order to judge students and their teachers. Why?
Well, one thing I know for sure--it's a lot easier to give a standardized test than it is to go into classrooms. We don't really want to see what a teacher is doing to get the students jazzed--no one cares whether or not my students feel safe, their opinions and insights as individuals valued--and never mind that I introduce them to things they never even knew existed; things like the parallelism between "West Side Story" and Shakespeare, "Weird Al" Yankovic and parody, and the shootings at Kent State and political activism.
First, let me tell you why I became a teacher.
I became a teacher because I had great teachers. I had teachers who were not afraid of standardized testing. I had teachers who did not have to worry about having their names published in the paper for having "failed." These teachers: Dorothy Johnson, Norma Crane, Hilde Griggs, Bob Strong, Betty Nelson, Ginny Johnson, Bill Reilly, Norma Gunkler, Steve Murphy, Mike Savage, Nancy Compton, Carm Pascarella, Nancy Bauer...even Betty Coman, despite the fact that she didn't give me the English prize, though I was CLEARLY the best English student in the class of '78 (and to her credit she admitted such many years later) are remembered for making my educational experience important. I remember every single one of them for different reasons--they may have challenged me, or enriched my life in some way--but I am fifty years old. To remember these teachers after all these years is to affirm their lives as teachers.
On the other hand, I have had over a thousand students in my career, and I doubt if even one of them can say I made an impact. I have had to spend the bulk of my career "teaching to the test," and worrying whether or not my kids will "make the numbers." They end up hating school, and who can blame them? Several days each quarter are used up by testing, and kids are having to sit quietly for hours on end, focusing on multiple choice questions, sometimes with no right answer, filling in scan-tron bubbles.
DO YOU REMEMBER 8TH GRADE??
Because if we're being completely honest here, we'll admit that it was really hard to concentrate for more than thirty minutes at a time. For some of us, it was hard to focus at all.
Honestly? I don't want the responsibilty any more. When my principal tells me that if I don't make the numbers, he won't go to bat for me--and 52% of my 8th graders have to make the 99th percentile--it's time to do something else, because this is statistically impossible. I can do a lot of things--like get kids who've never read for pleasure to VOLUNTARILY pick up a book--but I am not magic.
Administrators ask us to "create a safe environment" for our kids. They ask us to monitor our charges and report any bullying we might see. Yet, they are creating a climate of fear and distrust.
And it's not fun anymore.