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Last night I watched episode 1/Season 4 of The Wire, which has a disturbingly realistic scene depicting a demeaning session of Professional Development (PD) for a group of Baltimore inner-city teachers. I posted the clip on YouTube for your enjoyment.

Please note the intellectual and emotional death evident in the teachers. They are texting, exchanging notes, and looking skyward (with the exception of the odd keener, taking notes). When the leader asks for a loud and enthusiastic response, “I A L A C”!!!!, they give her the inevitable monotone reply of a group of adults resigned to the humiliation of being treated like kindergarten children.

I Am Loveable And Capable (IALAC) is a true acronym. According to Urban Dictionary, it was introduced to the education world by Dr. Sidney B. Simon, a professor of education in Massachusetts. It’s fairly typical of the “Self-Esteem” movement in education – requiring that teachers affirm a student’s value regardless of the actual quality of their character. It’s a bad acronym anyway, with some unintended meanings. Read it the following way: I  A LACK.  As in I A LACK LOVEABILITY AND CAPABILITY. Or  “Aye, alack the day I had to sit through a PD session on IALAC”. It also sounds like a brand for infant formula. “Here, teachers, drink your IALAC with this baby bottle and then go teach those loveable and capable kiddies. Goochie goochie goo.”

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