This is why I teach

Last Friday, just before we dismissed students, one of my charges folded a piece of notebook paper and slipped it into the correction basket.  I discovered it this afternoon as I did my Sunday prep for the week ahead.

Today was the best day ever. We had popsicals (sic) and extra reacess (sic) and I couldn’t do it without you.

On Friday, my students who had followed classroom and school rules – “stayed green” – for the entire month of September, were recognized with Popsicles and an extra 20 minutes of recess. For this student, it was the first time she had accomplished this goal since the beginning of third grade.

No doubt, she would have accomplished this on her own. I don’t do this job for the accolades. But this note made my day. It will be a while before the grin is wiped from my face.

An Invitation

If you believe everything you read about education, you would think that public schools have been taken over by slackers only interested in making a quick buck, the “generous” benefits, and extra long summers off.

If you truly wish to know what really happens in a public school classroom, go visit one. Seriously. And be certain you go to a PUBLIC school, not a charter school funded by the public and run by for-profit corporations. Then write about what you observe.

So many private sector business types want to “improve” education by standardizing it. They figure that if clueless educators know what the expectations and goals are, the students will naturally perform better on standardized tests. They conjecture that making teachers accountable for the standardized test scores of their students, by quantifying a teacher’s worth with some “value-added” metric, the challenges of education will be solved. And it won’t cost a penny.

These ideas are coming from the very same people who give themselves 6-figure bonuses, but won’t up the minimum wage.

How I wish that those experts with the answers to all things education would step into a classroom for a couple of hours before spouting off! But then, those that don’t see a need to provide a living wage to their company’s workforce would probably not notice the child who can’t focus because food is in short supply at home, or the child who needs glasses to see, but whose parent can’t afford them, or the child whose culture and gift for speaking in a language other than English needs a more time to learn the nuances of English – the test language under which they will be assessed for the whole of their education.

The experts and pundits probably would not see that the social challenges of families living on or below the poverty level are nearly insurmountable in this “ownership society”.  Own what, I might ask. Well unless you own a big fat CEO-style paycheck, you are basically screwed.

It’s a lot easier to pontificate about what is “wrong” in education, to advocate for a program which just happens to provide some investment opportunity which may become a “profit center”, and to ignore the neediest of our society.

Everyone deserves an education. That’s right. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. How can this be called a civilized society if only a select few are allowed the advantages of learning?

So if you ever want to take me up on that challenge – to see what it is truly like to teach in a PUBLIC school classroom, my door – and the invitation – is open.