About a week ago, this article What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents, caught my eye. It was intriguing- though a bit too one-sided for my taste. Then yesterday, this one came across my Twitter feed. Again- a bit too one sided for me, but well intentioned. In fact, if I were to make a bumper sticker about the Edu-Debate these days, that’s what it would say “One-sided But Well Intentioned.” Or maybe “Yeah…it’s more complicated than that.”
It seems that the big debate about education these days has been reduced to two sides- either your for the union and/or the teachers or you’re for the kids. Alternately, you either believe that poverty (which, by the way, is at an 18 year high ) is a primary reason why kids struggle in school or you’re using poverty as an excuse not to serve kids. While I realize that it’s much easier to keep score when there are only two teams, the oversimplification of the issues is beyond crazy-making.
Schools are made up of people- all kinds of people- and we know that no two people are the same. As such, no two schools are the same. So trying to do anything with all of them at once is sort of like trying to use the same tool to fix a Chevy and a 747. The tool may work well, but not in both places.
The us-and-them rhetoric isn’t helping. It’s distracting us from what matters and it’s creating a level of hysteria that drives good people to make stupid decisions. Here’s a crazy idea that I’d encourage you to ponder:
What if the people making decisions about what should happen in the school were actually the people closest to the school? You now- parents, teacher, principals, kids…those folks. And what if they could make those decisions from a place of optimism and positive intent rather than fear? What if parents hadn’t been lead to believe that teachers where money-grubbing and apathetic? What if teachers didn’t have to be afraid that parents weren’t going to be supportive? What if instead of all of that fear, we asked only one question:
What do our kids need to:
- be safe
- be happy
- be successful?