The personal learning network for educators
In response to The Education Revolution
Dear Mr. Vera,
I am a teacher and I teach in a rural, low socioeconomic school district. The majority of my students come from broken homes and have lived through circumstances I had only seen in movies. We may not have the gang violence or violent crimes urban areas do, but many of our students have been abandoned, abused by their family, exposed to the prenatal consumption of alcohol and drugs, and often come to school hungry and dirty. Many of these students go through our system being defiant, disrespectful, and aggressive and are punished by suspension and expulsion. I agree that many teachers and administrators react to their misconduct without being aware of why a student might act the way he or she does.
I try to make a point to get to know my students. If they misbehave or are disrespectful, I try to get the full story. I ask them, I call home, and I ask previous teachers if I have access. I do this on my own time, taking away from the time I have with my husband and children. I know I am probably in the minority of teachers who commit to being involved in my students success in and out of the classroom. You can criticize teachers and administrators for their lack of apathy and blame them for the lack of education being provided to troubled students. However, you are blaming the wrong infrastructure. If you want my opinion, it is the legislatures and testing companies who are to blame for the high amount of kids suspended and expelled every year and it will continue to increase as the consequences for unsatisfactory test results become stiffer. Teachers have to use every moment of plan and instruction time to meet the mandates of standardized tests and prepare their students for high stake testing. Legislators have imposed their idea of what schools should teach and it has left educators with little time and patience. The slightest disruption or disrespect could have an impact on several students who hover the line of what the state thinks is satisfactory and what is not. Losing a few students who continue to disrupt the learning process of other students is worth the cost of potentially losing the other 30 students who have been crammed into our classroom as well.
I know your post comes from a great place and you care deeply about the future of our students. I do also. But our legislatures passing more laws is not going to help the situation. Government has already taken away our creativity. They have already pushed away many great teachers who have left the profession because it isn't worth the stress it has put on themselves or their family. They have already strained the relationships between administrators and teachers because of the consequences imposed if students perform low on state tests. In the end, government has also taken away the time teachers have to be caring and nurturing adults in their students' lives. I agree that the problems in our educational system calls for government action. This is a mess they have created. But instead of passing more laws, they need to retract the laws they have already passed that has left our students unengaged with a fragmented education. Instead, they should leave education to the professionals who are educated and hired for the task and our legislatures should stay the hell out of it!
Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it ~Dwight Eisenhower