I think a lot about legislative and societal attacks on public education. It is hard to ignore the constant barrage of insults and negative news pieces that are thrown at my profession. Everywhere you look in the “grab your attention” news cycle you see some outrageous headline about the ails of public education and the wrongs committed by educators. I can’t deny that schools have their challenges and that there are some bad apples out there making poor decisions. I would argue, however, that the “bad apples” that work or have worked in education are the extreme minority. I would also argue that this same group of people exists in every job field but that the newspapers don’t sell nearly as fast when some business man is involved with something that they shouldn’t be.
The reality, as I see it, is that education is under attack because it is so near and dear to most people’s hearts. After all, it involves our children! It is also easier to blame schools, principals, and teachers for a changing society than it is to point the finger inward in self-reflection. Here’s the rub; schools are being tasked with educating students with an increasing number of demands with the same or less tools and resources that were previously available. More and more students are coming to school unprepared mentally and physically than any other time in my career. I don’t blame the students for this, they are a product of their situations. I don’t blame the parents either. In fact, I am not going to lay any blame at all. Laying blame at this point is a distractor from doing what is right by those students. My ask is that instead of throwing insults and complaints, consider working with teachers and schools to come up with creative solutions to helping students get to where they need to be. My school runs from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm. For 7 hours each day students are in my building under the care and watchful eyes of my staff. But 7 is not 24. The majority of a student’s day is spent outside the walls of the school building. Just like it took a village to raise children in the tribal days of human development, it also takes a team of people to educate our students. What happens outside the walls of the school does matter.
My purpose in writing this post today is two-fold; one to enlist the participation of others in the education of our students and two, to be preemptive in the fight between educators and society. Every educator has heard the derogatory comments directed toward us made by people that have never walked a mile in our shoes. “Those who can’t do teach,” or “Must be nice having those summers off,” to name just a few. These comments are hurtful and degrade the important work that teachers and school staff members do every day in the service of your children. When I look into my crystal ball I see two armies building up for a battle that will only result in a negative impact for students. I fear that educators are becoming so worn down by the insults that they are slipping into the stereotypes that society has made for them. Simply put, we are feeling defeated. It doesn’t need to be this way though. If we work together, communicate with one another, and share our collective insights we can do what is right by students. In the end, isn’t that what we want?