Change may be hard, but what good thing doesn’t come with a bit of a struggle?
In listening to Secretary Arne Duncans’ speech to teachers, I could just feel my political ignorance showing. I am a 21 year old woman who has thought of little other professions but teaching since my junior year in high school, and I can barely articulate the NCLB act, let alone tell you what different states are currently striving for under the NCLB waivers. This is going to be my future career, my lifeblood, and I sit shamefully and self imposedly uninformed. Which led me to wonder– what does the general public know about teaching and teaching standards? Do they know not only what their children are being taught in school, but what they are being tested on and why? Do they know the workings behind the curtain as the both the government and the bureaucracy of the schooling system decide what the students should and should not be doing? Sure, everyone knows that teachers don’t make much–more on this in a second– but do parents of a children recieving a subpar education know that their child is being taught what they need to bubble in in a standardized test, instead of curriculum that will enrich their cultural, historical, political , social and emotional background? The problem with things like NCLB is it focuses so much on proficiecy that it doesn’t account for progress. A brilliant speech by Taylor Mali succintly says” a C+ look like a congressional medal of honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face, and how dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.” This tiny clip from his speech sums it all up for me– standardized testing cannot even begin to calculate what such a wide spectrum of students found in the classroom are actually achieving. It is why I love that there is a new lean towards progress instead of proficiency.
I do truly appreciate how much time Duncan spends applauding teachers. We, as teachers, will honestly never really achieve infamy. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can. But the truth is, to some student, we WILL be the person that changed their mind about something, that made a difference somehow, who really cared for the first time, who pushed them to work harder than they ever thought they can work. All the teachers Duncan mentioned are names to us, but everything to some kid in some school. And THAT is why change, no matter how hard and how slow, is worth it. This field, the field of education, is the lifeblood of so many other professions. There are no doctors, lawyers, or politicians who got to where they are without a teacher and school system, and that is why it scares me that the education situation in this country looks the way it does. It cannot and it should not remain this way, and it pains me to think that there are probably people even more blissfully ignorant about education reforms than I was about NCLB. His speech kicked me in the butt, from now on I want to strive to be more educated about educations state in this nation. Because as much as my personal passion may drive me, ultimately, there is red tape covering every single thing a teacher does…and that is not the way it should be.