Nothing will change for the better in public education until teachers take ownership and start doing things differently!
One of the most frightening things that can happen to a business is when its customers begin to take their business elsewhere. This is a watershed event and how the business chooses to respond will determine whether or not it survives.
This event signals that customer satisfaction has eroded and has been transformed into customer dissatisfaction. It is at this point when customers begin taking their business elsewhere.
In public education the very same thing is happening. There is a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the quality of education young people are able to demonstrate when they leave school. Public school teachers and other educators may not want to acknowledge this reality but it is real and it is tangible. It is this dissatisfaction that is the driving force behind education reforms and the call for more accountability through standardized testing.
What makes this situation even more critical with respect to public education is that our federal and state governments are encouraging families to abandon their local public schools. Many states, like Indiana, are promoting the creation of charter schools for just that purpose and many are providing vouchers as incentives for families to move their children from public school to charter schools or private schools.
Teachers do not live in an ivory tower and when they ignore the truth about this fermenting dissatisfaction they do so at their own peril. Government, reformers, and the much of the public actually believe the problems in public schools are the result of bad schools and bad teachers.
The only ones who know the truth are public school teachers, public school administrators and those few groups that advocate on their behalf. This reality will not change until public school educators begin doing things radically differently.
This shift must begin with a public acknowledgement on the part of teachers that the crisis in public education is real. This is something teachers already know no matter how much they try to ignore or deny it. The next step is to present to the public the real reasons why so many children fail and they need to make this presentation boldly at every opportunity.
Every teacher knows why the system fails but they need to believe that it is okay to shout out the truth because it is not their fault. They are as much victims as are their students and their communities.
As teachers, you know the educational process if flawed:
• Every time a student shows up in your classroom who is hopelessly behind;
• Every time you must move on to the next lesson when you know that some kids are not ready;
• Every time you are asked to focus on test prep rather than subject mastery;
• Every time you see students who have given up on themselves;
• Every time you see kids who could be honor students if only they cared
and would try;
• Every time a student disrupts your class because they are hopelessly behind and have no motivation to learn;
• Every time the parents of your struggling students:
o Do not show up for BTSN or P/T conferences,
o Do not respond to your phone calls or the notes you send home, and
o Blame you for the problems their kids are having at school,
• Every time a colleague leaves teaching or, worse, gives up and goes thru the motions; and,
• Every time your state or school district asks you to implement policy changes that make no sense and make your job even more difficult than it already is.
You know each and every one of these things is real and can probably add a few more to the list. Just remember that they are not your fault and start educating the American people of the real truth about public education.
The next step is even more important! Public school educators, singly and corporately, must tell the world that they have a solution and that they are the only ones who can fix the problems that contribute to this flawed educational process! Educators must not be afraid to ask for the public’s help, however, because there are believers out there.
Teacher must act or your schools will be shut down, just like that restaurant you once patronized that is no longer there and will soon be forgotten.
Teachers must act because the consequences of not acting will be catastrophic for our way of life. The current reforms will destroy our society as surely as a cancer will destroy the cells around it and time is running out!