Name the 5 most influential people in your life. How many of them were teachers? Name the 10 most successful people in this country. How many of them were educated in the PUBLIC education system?
Thomas Jefferson placed education as the foundation of democracy. You cannot by definition have a democracy without public education. Scott and Hill (1954) wrote, “There has been a subversive attempt to discredit all democratic institutions. The primary institution of democracy is public education, education for all, not just the elite, everyone.
Education in this country has always been responsive the culture of the country and responded to the concerns of the times. During the sixties and seventies there was a government mandate to shift from academics to the emotional health and attitudes of students, to creating world citizens. Reading and writing took a backseat to values clarification, humanistic education and my personal favorite, the self esteem movement. Don’t get me wrong, on the surface each of the things had something to add, something we needed but they were really an attempt to undermine education and by definition democracy.
Today failing schools are big business. Millions of dollars are spent on outside consultants who ride into town on their white horse to save us from ourselves and ride out with a bag of money under their arms. Everywhere you look headlines scream the same message, Failing Schools! And who’s to blame, if you believe the mob mentality its teachers. That’s right folks, we have horns and tails.
Is it any wonder that the after five years almost half of all new teachers leave the profession? We are hemorrhaging teachers in this country and they don’t leave because of the salary. “Poor administrative support, lack of influence within the school system, classroom intrusion, and inadequate time are mentioned more often by teachers leaving low-income schools where working conditions are more stressful; salary is mentioned more often by teachers leaving affluent schools.” Claudio Graziano
Teachers have become an easy target. They are the one variable systems have control over. Systems do not have any control over parents, poverty or a culture that has declared open season on teachers. We have a climate of fear in this country. That’s part of the problem. We have a problem of poverty in this country, working class, two parent families who live below the poverty line.
Remember what happened with the military during Viet Nam, body counts, spitting on soldiers, all that? That’s what education is going through now. Public Education and all that it is needs to be supported. Stop listening to the rhetoric and start asking questions about what is really going on? You want to fix education? Fix poverty! You want to fix education? Stop paying ball players millions and teachers pittance. You want to fix education? Get involved! Or would you rather sit on the side lines and complain?
Don’t get me wrong. I know that we have problem with education in this country but let teachers be part of the solution instead of only holding the blame. This is our profession too. This is our country and for a long time no one has listened to us. We need to restore the public trust in teachers that we used to have. The lack of trust among teachers, parents, administration and the public is killing us.
Stop complaining about education. Stop blaming the people who have the least influence in decisions the effect education, teachers, and start asking them what they think. Start celebrating teachers who make a difference in quite ways that go unnoticed. Get involved with your community. All it takes is one person one moment to change the life of a child. All it takes is one person one moment to make a difference. Be that person.