I had breakfast with a friend, a fellow educator, the other day and we discussed the many challenges and issues facing public education today. Our list included (but was not limited to)...
- high stakes testing with little positive impact, if any, on kids;
- poor implementation of the Common Core State Standards (are the standards the issue or the way they are being implemented?);
- the current push to reform educator evaluation models and establish a direct link between educator's evaluations and the way students perform on one high stakes test;
- the standardization of instruction, which is unfolding in many schools behind the thin veil known as the Common Core State Standards (do standards mean we must standardize the way we teach?);
- issues like poverty and class that impacting many of our schools in this country - will the Common Core close that "gap" for kids?;
- the ineffectiveness of some educators who are either in classrooms or leading schools/districts today - they are not the majority but they are in our schools and they are impacting our children in a negative way!
- the fact that non-educators are making decisions about teaching and learning... people who have never taught a day in their lives nor have they spent a moment of time in a public school today... yet they have more voice than those of us who dedicate our lives to this world!
- are we actually preparing our children for their futures? Have we correctly qualified what it means to be college and career ready? What should education look like for our children today?
Of course, the list above could go on and on (please feel free to add to the list in the comments section) but the question still remains... Now What? If there are thousands of us, and I will go a step further and say probably even hundreds of thousands of us, who agree that the issues outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg plaguing our schools today, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to change things? What will we do to advocate for the needs of our children? What will we do to change the landscape of public education?
We can no longer close the doors to our schools or classrooms and do what we want in isolation (even if we are doing some awesome things for kids); we can no longer just complain about the problem or merely acknowledge its existence; we can no longer allow others, in many cases people who are not practitioners working in schools everyday, to make decisions that impact learning, instruction and best practice in OUR schools. NO!
We must figure out a way to regain control of our schools... our classrooms... our collective voices in an effort to do what is best for children! The time has come and we must work together to answer the question... Now What?