Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Worthwhile education..."

With all of recent emphasis on standardized tests as a means to identify ineffective teachers, I realized that this is really a distraction form the real challenges we face. Of course there are bad teachers, but what percentage of our profession qualifies?

I think the real challenge is looking at the context of education; students come to school un-rested, under-fed and under-stimulated (with regard to measuring and reading). The onus is on families to take care of their children. This is not to suggest that we can simply blame families; it's hard being poor in America.

I think we have to look even broader. What are the conditions that are creating and maintaining a class of poor people in the first place? And who benefits? (It's like a blame game re: the Deep Horizon oil leak; everyone---including the media---is pointing fingers without asking the important question of energy sustainability).

Having teachers focus on managing ineffective teachers is a distraction. I'd rather work closely with faculty/admin/students & community to cultivate the characteristics of worthwhile public education*:
  • Well-rested, well-nourished and engaged students
    • alongside a political economy that provides meaningful & flexible employment, access to healthcare, safe neighborhoods
  • Equitable building resources (playing fields, books, science equipment, travel/experience budget)
  • 2 year-long co-teaching/internships for new teachers (at a respectable salary)
  • Teacher-led professional development
  • Democratic distributed leadership
  • curricular and instructional flexibility in alignment with content area concepts/principles and developmentally-appropriate learning
  • site-based budgeting & site-based hiring
What do you think are the characteristics of worthwhile public education?

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