Education has been in the public spot light for the last year. Teachers have seen various pundits speak as if they were expert teachers. Many have stated education just needs more “dedicated” teachers who “care more” and “work harder”. Some experts have been teachers, for Teach for America. Now they are policy experts, after teaching two years. Other experts are come from industry or policy think tanks, with no experience in teaching except having been a student. These attacks hurt and make teachers feel unvalued in their profession. This is not where the frustration sets in.
Frustration comes when the leaders of education, superintendents, accept these criticisms. These leaders except the changes based on political and funding pressures. They fear for their jobs and district funding. Money seems to have power over even the most intelligent educational experts. The best research out today, says the one size fits all models don’t work in education. When big money from state and federal government and private donors like the Gates and Broad Foundations are at stake, best research goes out the window.
Teachers are frustrated because they don’t have an advocate that is being heard. Sure Diane Ravitch, the AFT and NEA are vocal opposition to the “reform” movement. They are viewed as radicals or groups with vested interest not to change. Teachers don’t fear change. They fear a world that leaves students that are poor or that have special needs behind. Teachers fear a educational system that believes all students learn the same way at the same rate.
Teachers believe that all students learn, in their own way, at their own rate. Do all children walk or talk at the same age? Teachers believe that standards are guidelines not rules that are written in stone. Teachers feel the pressure of the world, since any time society sees a problem, society wants schools to solve it. (Think childhood obesity and bullying)
The teacher frustration will end when OUR leaders stand up and say ENOUGH!! Schools need to focus on students needs and students learning. Not meeting an expected score one day on one standardized test. When the leaders stand up, the teachers and communities will stand behind them. Then and only then can education focus on REAL Change: Making schools a place where everyone can learn.