“High surveillance societies produce conformity, because we are what we do… If you are constantly under your boss’s thumb, you learn to reflexively act in ways that will satisfy your boss.”
It was the kiss-ass, go-along-to-get-along attitude of some co-workers that enraged me during my three pre-retirement years as union rep in a large urban high school. Union members regularly accused me of making labor-management mountains out of personality quirk molehills. (Molehill example: So the principal suddenly requires on-the-dot morning sign in, then starts highlighting the names of the not completely compliant: what’s the big deal? People should arrive to work on time, right? Well, most people. The counseling staff gets cut some slack. After all, they stay late sometimes. ((Yeah, yeah, teachers stay late too, but teachers have students waiting at their doors when the bell rings. Counselors don’t.)) And of course teachers with childcare issues should be given a pass if they make a special deal with the principal. And sport team coaches. And assistant principals. And deans. Special deals can be worked out on a one-to-one, non-contractual basis, espeically if you’re someone who has a friendly relationship with the boss. And yeah, sometimes the wrong classroom teacher name is highlighted as “not signed in” due to clerical error, but if you know you didn’t do anything wrong, and you and the boss are friends, why worry about being publicly reprimanded for doing something wrong?) I was told to chill out.
I am much cooler in retirement.
That admitted, I didn’t, IMO, overreact in recognizing and calling out the signs of a new regime of patrician administrators and their toadies monitoring and punishing teachers into plebeian compliance.
Last week, Anthony Cody offered a concise take-down of CCSS here: Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors – Living in Dialogue – Education Week Teacher. Error #8:
“The Common Core is associated with an attempt to collect more student and teacher data than ever before.”
Cody focused on student data in his description of error #8 and didn’t describe the possible results of teacher data collection. With the dawning realization that Common Core is indeed common curriculum (see Common Core Is Curriculum, Contrary to Advocates’ Claims), it’s not much of a stretch to foresee compliance with delivery of that curriculum as a significant part of the data that will be used to monitor and control teachers. The freedom of craft and artistry that made teaching such a rewarding career will diminish for most.
Stubborn, independent types might be able to preserve some autonomy. If I was in a humanities high school classroom these days, I’d focus on debate and make rational skepticism the goal of everything I taught.