A Common Thread

If you don’t subscribe to the weekly Tip of the Week newsletter from the Sisters – Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, you are missing out on something really special.

This week’s front page essay was written by Joan and it really struck a chord with me. Teachers in current education practice are often stuck between a rock and a hard place: we often are charged with a mandate that we, as teachers, as professionals, know is not in the best interest of our students. What do we do – beside the obvious choice of continually attempting to change thinking? Joan – and Gail – raise an issue that, in my opinion, makes education a different kind of career.

Or does it? When an employee in the private sector – an employee at a large corporation – encounters a mandate that just doesn’t make sense is there ever any pushback? When the directive is one that impedes or prevents the employee from accomplishing a goal, do employees abandon their own thought and analysis to blindly follow a directive “just because”?

My sense, which is anecdotal of course,  is that they do not. Maybe educators need to be more forceful advocates for what benefits our students when we get a mandate that clearly won’t be helpful.

Which brings up another blog entry that was recommended to me this week: The Real Mr. Fitz. In his “Letter to Mr. Obama”, David Lee Finkle points out the irony of some of the more head-scratching initiatives that have impacted education in recent memory. Need I mention it is statistically improbable – if not impossible – that 100% of all students will read on grade level by 2015.

As David Lee Finkle says

…reformers are saying we should put students first. That is what I try to do every single day in my classroom. But I feel the reformers are putting everything but students first: test scores, data, common standards and assessments, value-added models, and standardized curricula are all coming first. Real, flesh and blood students with real problems, hopes and dreams are the last thing on the reformer’s agenda.

Two blog postings connecting with a common theme: teachers DO know what they are doing, we are here for the kids.

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