So many thoughts and comments have plagued social media after this last horrific shooting, a senseless loss of beautiful lives. Everyone has the answers… it’s: guns, schools, teachers, principals, parents, counselors or lack their of, liberals, conservatives, rotten teenagers, mental health, divorce, media, sensationalism! I say, “you are all correct!” It is a combination of all of the above, but most significantly- it’s a failed system. One in which we can no longer truly help kids and in some instances we can’t even save them from harm. I am an educator and a parent- hear me ROAR!
I have worked tirelessly to change a broken system and to demonstrate that you can change schools into environments where children thrive, teachers care, parents are involved and testing is secondary. To start these schools, one needs to navigate the highly political Charter School process. We have stripped the power from those that need it most to do what is best for children. Our school systems are so antiquated and broken, but so highly regulated by people with little to no knowledge of what actually needs to change. It’s almost like everyone that went to school has become an educator. It’s the same as saying because I brush my teeth, I am a dentist or because I drive a car, I am a mechanic. Educating today’s youth is quickly becoming a lost art form. Pedagogy is the art and science of teaching, and is often no longer considered when creating legislation. We have voided educators of their ability to do whats best for students. Educators including teachers, counselors and principals can no longer make decisions. Much needed school based changes can take months to occur. Principals have to go through rigorous approval processes for even the most mundane changes. In reality, they should be highly regarded as change agents and thought leaders.
Tell me why a chain like Pubix or Walmart can make a decision to pull detergent from the shelves overnight but a decision and follow through to put metal detectors in schools can take a year. We have stripped educators of their right to make decisions and to find creative answers to common problems. Educators no longer can do the jobs that most of us were hired to do… protect, mentor, and educate students. You have asked us to leave our morals, ethics and values at home to keep God and religion out of the classroom. You have asked us to become a blank canvas from which to impart knowledge. It’s abundantly obvious that this is NOT working.Kids learn best when they connect with their teachers. Society has dictated and demanded that we just get them to “pass the test”. Well, guess what… IT DOESNT WORK!
Students need connections. They need to feel love, and in too many cases they are not getting this at home. They need to feel valued and appreciated and when that happens they will “want” to learn. Our role as educators becomes important and inspiring. We, as a nation, have stripped teachers of their autonomy to stimulate critical thinking and inspire a passion for learning and drive to succeed. We have devalued education to the point that we no longer see children… we see numbers and performance data. You want to fix this problem… start listening too and valuing educators! Let them decide how to best help struggling kids, and when I say struggling I mean those struggling emotionally, behaviorally or academically. Let them identify struggling kids and get them help without six months of paperwork to determine that a child doesn’t qualify for a behavioral plan. Every child qualifies for a behavioral plan… remove the barriers for teachers. Give teachers back their voice and remove the fear of lawsuits. As educators, we can’t say anything for fear of offending a student or parent. Get over it! The largest majority of educators are brilliant, well educated, passionate human beings that care more about their students than their own lives. That shouldn’t have to be demonstrated by a school shooting. That should be plastered all over the news. We should hear more about educators than athletes and movie stars. When’s the last time you saw a teacher, principal or counselor being honored on Good Morning America or Ellen for their work. As educators, we make nothing yet we are entrusted with shaping the minds that will lead the future of our country. Yet, soon there will be so few teachers that we won’t even have a warm body “watching over students let alone educating them.” We wonder why no-one wants this job! We wonder why kids are slipping through the cracks! We wonder why no one speaks out about kids with problems! Most importantly, what support have we offered educators when they do speak out… when they cry for help for a student; when they beg for more funding for basic resources; when they plea for more and better food so their students can focus on learning and not their starving bellies?
Wake up America… its everyones problem!