THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com) (this remains one of my all-time favorite blog posts)
RANT ALERT – I will probably get myself in trouble but here goes…
With all due respect to:
- the President of the United States and his staff
- the Congress and their staffs
- the State Governors and their staffs (Maine for me)
- the State Boards of Education (Maine for me)
- the Teacher preparatory programs at the University/College levels
- the Educational Consultants
- the Corporations who sell educational products
- and everyone else who thinks that they have latest answer to the problems in our classrooms
JUST SHUT UP!
When was the last time any of the above were actually in public classrooms for more than a few hours or at best a day or two, for an observation of carefully selected classrooms. Almost all of these visits are what I classify as dog and pony shows or photo ops where leadership get to see everyone on their best behavior, with everything all cleaned up, after all we don’t want to embarrass ourselves when powerful people visit.
When we do this those people, don’t get to see the reality of what is going on in that school that they spend a few hours at, but woe be the teacher that doesn’t have a neat as a pin classroom or misbehaving students during this visit. I know that it is unreasonable for high profile leaders to actually be in one place for any amount of time, they must rely on their staff’s for that level of information and it is those staffers that must provide honest and accurate appraisals of educational proposals.
In order for those staffers to provide pertinent information to the leadership they first must have experience in the areas they are advising people on. If they don’t how can they realistically provide accurate advice, if it is even wanted????
What would a quick staffing analysis reveal on how long it has been since: Staffers who’s job is Education policy; Department of Education personnel at the Federal and State levels; University/College professors and all the others who provide input to K-12 education policy; actually taught in the K-12 classroom. I believe that those statistics would be very enlightening to the rest of us. Unfortunately, it might also show how out of touch those policy makers are with what the real impact that their policies are having in the K-12 classrooms of today, not how it would have been when they were last in the classroom 5-10 to even 20 years ago which was a different set of kids and a different set of issues.
I would love to see a requirement that every other year Department of Education (Federal & State), University/College teacher preparation program professors and their staffs – be required to teach for at least two weeks in their specialty in a so-called poorly performing K-12 school/classroom. Letting the regular teacher(s) observe them in action and remind those advisors/staffers or professors of the difficulties or challenges of teaching in the K-12 classroom, not just observing and making suggestions – which is quite easy to do. This would give those who are policy makers a brief, but representational idea of how their policies affect the students and their teachers and remind them how “easy” it is to change a student’s interest in education.
When DOE, College/University or even consultants come to a school how often do they interact with the students or the teachers and who is their actual audience? A one to two day seminar for staff doesn’t cut it for finding out first hand what is happening in a school. You find out so much more after that first week, your newness wears off and some of the glitz is gone, the intimidation factor isn’t as big a factor. It would be then that the policy makers and teachers would see much more quickly what educational policy they are proponents of actually works or not and what possible impacts it will have on the classroom teacher. A reality check so to speak.
Teachers and local Administrators all know that there are problems in the classroom and most of us are working our butts off to try to fix them and continue to teach our students. However, in my opinion many of the regulations and laws and regulations have been passed recently or that “leadership” are thinking about passing are not/will not do what is expected in our classrooms. They have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Don’t get me wrong I have a great deal of respect for the hard work, knowledge and dedication that many politicians, DOE staff (Federal & State) and preparatory program professors and educational consultants have and do (as a former State employee in another department). You all work very hard and I believe you think you are doing the right things when you suggest or implement these changes. Most if not all of these educational leaders have a lot more initials after their names than I ever will and have pertinent information that I am not privy to, which impacts their decision making process.
But when you roll in for that 1-2 day seminar or visit, telling us the changes that are necessary and then you are gone, you don’t realize the possible or probable long-term negative effects those policy changes have on the classroom, the students or teaching staff. If you do, do you dismiss them as necessary and don’t try to think about what the impact is to those implementing your policies in the classrooms. Well out here we do think about it and it affects us daily because we are attempting to implement the laws and regulations policy makers have implemented whether we agree with them or not. We don’t get to pick and choose what ones we will follow or not – we have to do them in order to keep our jobs as teachers.
More centralized control of education has not made it any better at the local level where most K-12 education happens, standards have not made our students any smarter, standardized testing has not made our students better students. These plans all sounded good initially, had great intentions, but are they working, have they actually made a difference in the students education? I don’t believe so.
Bad laws or regulation are not blamed for not improving education or not working, it is the teaching staffs and local administrators that get the blame, from those that don’t want to admit their ideas didn’t work and should be changed. I don’t mind trying new things, but when they don’t work admit it and move on – don’t cook the stats or lower the bar so that you meet the standards which makes everyone look bad.
Everyone in education and government needs to stop posturing, shut up and discuss openly and freely what actually works in classrooms – remembering to actually listen to those who actually are in the classrooms – not just give us lip service and then ignore us as the “elephant in the room”. Please implement what will work or allow us to experiment with new methods that show potential with the absolute minimum of regulation and law necessary for oversight.
Maybe it is time to return education back to the local level where there could be at least more opportunity for excellence instead of an overall mediocrity that we appear to be heading towards in our public schools, with our present centralized control leaning system. Centralized systems seem more interested in accountability, rhetoric and finding blame than actual progress in educating our students.
Sorry about the rant, I have been reading too many stories on how our leadership is going to or has made education better over the past couple of weeks and just got tired of the game.
Our leadership needs to focus on what the students need, not what other adults or corporations need or who gets the money (which I think is more of the issue than anyone wants to admit).
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