Let me state a few things up front:
First, I’m grateful to the parents who support and respect us. Trust me, there are plenty of them around.
Second, our students are generally good kids who are respectful, hardworking, and academically talented.
Third, I’m all for high standards and accountability.
Now, on to the featured article…
If you’ve noticed like I have, all the talk about school reform seems to begin and end with teachers. Teacher preparation, teacher observations, teacher evaluations, teacher tenure, teacher dismissals, etc. You would think that the reason this country is in the education predicament it’s in is all because of the person in front of the classroom. Teachers are blamed for poor test scores and are used as scapegoats for low achievement, while being characterized as untalented and lazy. And that’s on a good day.
There are bad teachers. Just like there are bad doctors and bad lawyers and bad mechanics and bad referees. Being bad at what you do is very American. Just ask Isaiah Thomas.
There are lazy teachers. Just like there are lazy accountants and lazy carpenters and lazy talk show hosts and lazy cashiers. Being lazy is very American. Just ask anyone who watches The Weather Channel.
There are also great teachers. Just like there are great baseball players and great politicians and great public relations specialists and great landscapers. Being great is what defines America. Just ask me George Washington, whose birthday we celebrate today.
Teaching is no different than any other profession. Except that teachers are bashed constantly, blamed for everything, and disrespected daily. When it comes to school reform, or what some experts are now calling ‘so-called school reform’, holding teachers to a higher standard is a good thing. It cannot, however, be the only thing.
We need to hold our elected officials accountable for tackling school reform but not addressing the issue of poverty. In an op-ed piece for Hearst Connecticut, Joseph A. Ricciotti, the director of the teaching internship program at Fairfield University, says it’s easier to blame teachers than to deal with poverty issues. I might add that it’s also more politically correct.
We need to hold parents accountable. Parents who don’t parent and parents who parent too much. Some parents wouldn’t know or wouldn’t care if their child got an F. Some parents cry foul at a B+. Some parents wouldn’t know or wouldn’t care if their child was doing drugs. Some, well, remember the Greenwich Time article on teen drinking?
We need to hold students accountable. What’s more important, a cell phone or a cell membrane?
We need to hold society accountable, too. We live in a culture that’s obsessed with celebrity. A society that fawns over Justin Bieber, but ignores the struggling kid from the inner city.
A society that says that no matter what happens, we’ll just blame the teachers.