Last week I sent out a tweet in a reply to my post on Obstacles in Education and it got me thinking about my role in our democracy.
My tweet,“Legislation without contemplation, consideration, or communication is not representation,” sent a thought running through my mind that I need to do more to stand up for the beliefs that I hold dear for education. Here are some realities that I have come to know about politics and education:
- People are not happy with public education and are placing heavy pressure on government towards improving it.
- The people who scrutinize public education do not know much about it.
- There is very little conversation going on between schools, parents, communities, and the Legislature.
These three points bring me to the conclusion that public educators need to do more to improve our own working conditions by making more of an effort to reach out to parents, communities, and our elected officials about what is going on in schools. This includes having conversations with stakeholders about the demands that are being placed on us in the face of financial restrictions and threats to our well-being. It is no longer acceptable to take the hits and keep trying to persevere without telling our story and sharing our challenges.
We elect officials through our votes and we trust them to represent our best interests when they are put into office. All too often we fail to follow-up with these officials to let them know what our best interests are and the result is that they vote on legislation that fits their view of the situation. When you look solely at production numbers you deal in hard black and white data that fails to capture what schools are all about. Schools are not factory lines and we cannot be measured by test data alone. Students must learn skills like grit, determination, and social interaction as much as they must learn the Pythagorean theorem or their periodic tables.
Unfortunately, unless more educators voice their opinions, the only evidence that our elected officials will have to make up their knowledge of schools is that test data. I have been hesitant in the past to contact my representative and senator, but I will not be any longer. The future of education and our children is too important to leave at the hands of people who have not worked in a classroom and do not know what goes into educating a child. People will not know what it takes until we teach them. I refuse to lay blame at the feet of people who do not know better, but I do vow to do my part in making sure that they can no longer claim ignorance in their vote and I encourage you to do so as well.