I have had the good fortune to have traveled all over the country working with educators of every school size and grade level. I really enjoy this because I find it interesting to listen to what educators from other places talk about. Do the teachers deal with the same issues in Arizona and Missouri as they do in Michigan? Are the student behaviors really any different? Do they face the same criticisms from their public and politicians as we do?
What I have found out is that they deal with almost the exact same issues. As I have mentioned before, education is not a perfect profession. Like anywhere, you will occasionally get the bad egg. But when you look at the number of teachers on average who are dismissed from their jobs due to poor performance, it is less than one percent. All school employees are hard working individuals regardless of location, school size or cultural make up. Union members, non-union members, support staff…it doesn’t matter. They all want what is best for the students and are willing to do whatever it takes.
The piece of information I found the most interesting was the universal frustration with those people or groups that are the most critical of our educational systems (particularly the teachers), yet know the least about it. I wish there was data showing how many educators are asked about issues discussed in the political arenas prior to them taking action. Maybe this data is out there, but I have not found it.
I made it a point to read us much of the recent campaign materials here in my local area as possible. I even made phone calls to ask some of the individuals there direct thoughts on the schools and education. The personal conversations I had were pleasant and convinced me that they truly want education to be the best it can be for all those involved. The unfortunate piece was their personal opinions were based on information gathered from very few people and some of those people were not in the field of education.
For example, the Common Core is a big issue in education, therefore it is a big issue in the political scene as well. One individual is under the impression the Common Core is completely bad and should not be the curriculum of choice. They were stating this because they had watched a short video presentation of a college professors opinion. Now the Common Core may be terrible or it may be great or it may be both, but the thoughts and opinions of it have to be based on more than one source and preferably those sources are the educators that have to deal with it directly. Like the saying goes “Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution”.
This is just one example. There are many times in education when the thoughts and opinions and most importantly the decisions are not based on what the educators know, but rather what others think.