Your Voice Matters
Readers who have been coming to my blog since I started writing in April know that sometimes I will wake up and read something that totally sets me off. Today is one of those days.
The editorial in the Oklahoman this morning basically tells teachers to worry about the things that go on in their classrooms and not concern themselves with policy decisions. I’m a big believer of the idea that life is too short to get worked up over things that are out of your control. Unfortunately, parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members don’t have a say in matters of public education policy and funding.
But we do have a voice.
Across Oklahoma, students are back in school – 11,000 more than last year. Teachers are starting the day with well-planned instruction. Administrators are trying to piece together budgets with limited information from the state and less per-pupil funding because of conscious decisions made in May by the legislature and in July by the SDE.
This isn’t going to be an easy school year.
- We are all still working to implement the Common Core State Standards.
- We are learning about our new evaluation models for teachers and principals.
- We are providing remediation for secondary students so they can meet ACE graduation requirements.
- We are preparing to implement mandatory third-grade retention for students reading below grade level.
- We are adjusting to new federal standards for child nutrition that are a game-changer in and of themselves.
- We are changing testing companies.
- We are trying to manage increased costs for fuel and utilities.
- We are putting students in online classes and assigning them nervous teachers of record in our schools.
The Oklahoman calls the “polarizing rhetoric” about education “disheartening” because it focuses too much on funding. The state’s largest paper thinks there are other discussions to be had.
Newsflash: we’ve had them. That’s how the state adopted all of these reforms. The one major unsettled piece of the conversation is money. None of these reforms have been funded, and none are revenue-neutral.
Sure, teachers can just go into their classes and teach. They can bury their heads in the sand. The truth is that none of us got into this profession to have policy and funding discussions. We did it because we wanted to change lives.
But now that school is starting, now is not the time to be silent … especially if the Oklahoman would prefer it.