I’m going to share something very powerful with you today from my good pal Christine, who has begun her Fulbright in Finland. Away from the slings and arrows of her role as classroom teacher and in the land of education nirvana, she is getting the ideal opportunity to think and breathe and share her reflections on a brand new blog, An Educator’s Re-education. She wrote this letter yesterday, shared it on her blog and Facebook, and has had 4,000 hits already.
So if you have a minute, take a read below and click over to her blog to leave a comment if you are moved to do so.
I’m so proud to know her and work with her.
I am off today to DC for the NWP’s annual conference and some additional work with Maryland University Writing Project. I’m be slicing from there.
I am your child’s teacher. My role as educator extends far beyond the walls of my classroom. It is my profession, what I practice. I have chosen to devote the better part of what will be the years that make up my life to educating your child. I take it very seriously and I should; I am a stakeholder in your child’s future.
And so are you. You take it seriously also. You take your role in your child’s life more seriously than probably anyone else ever will. You have spent countless hours modeling empathy and kindness, teaching right from wrong, helping your child learn how to navigate through an increasingly complicated world and spending time to understand who your child is and where he/she is coming from. You do this in order to help guide your child down the path to who he/she will become. So I ask you, taking all of this into consideration, how willing would you be to allow some other parent to take over this role for you –someone who claimed to know “better” than you about what was right for your child?
Think about it.
Because that is what is happening in my classroom. And it isn’t because they know “better” than I do how to educate your child –the undertaking I have chosen to devote my life’s work to becoming better at doing. It certainly isn’t because they have spent months getting to know the individual you have raised in an effort to better understand what your student needs to thrive in a responsive learning environment. It has nothing to do with the relationship they have formed with your child in order to show respect and care for him/her as a person and as a learner. It doesn’t, for a second, reflect the passion I have for the subject I teach –passion that I pass on to your student in every way I can and at every chance I get.
It simply has to do with money.
It has to do with the $500 billion dollars allocated by the United States government to children like yours. Your money. Tax-payer money intended to directly benefit students. Money that is being hijacked by for-profit educational management companies. The same people who are using their voices to belittle me and my colleagues, and our schools, and your child’s performance, in order to rationalize their hidden agenda: making money.
They are spending their own money too. They are using it to pay lobbyists who help manipulate educational policy and dictate allocation of resources towards private companies… and it is working. The $13 million dollars they had their hands on in 2005 had already risen to $389 million by 2011. Don’t mistake it: there exists big profit potential in your child. Three hundred and eighty-nine million dollars…and that was two years ago.
So today I ask you this:
My life’s work. The countless hours I spend with your child presenting new material, creating on-going formative assessments that are authentic and based on your student’s individual needs at a given moment in time, the active learning and knowledge-construction happening in my classroom on a daily basis, the time I spend creating lessons which require students to build upon and re-evaluate prior knowledge and the work that reflects the relationship that I have worked diligently to foster with your student: is it worth putting all of this hard-won expertise on the back-burner so that someone can divert money intended for your child?
The person your child is and how he/she learns and grows cannot be gauged by an answer bubbled onto a sheet of paper. Your student deserves my full expertise, not a narrowed curriculum and hours devoted to my teaching to the test. My colleagues and I deserve to be freed from the negative impact that the calculated teacher-bashing and union-bashing is having on our profession…because it is calculated, and by this point I don’t think I need to tell you by whom.
So please, educate yourself. Have a voice in this issue. Talk to teachers and administrators about what is happening in your child’s school as a result of America’s education reform; support teachers you know are there for your student; question media reports that claim there is a simple answer to so-called underperformance; and be aware of what is happening on a local and national level. It is affecting your student . . . and it isn’t going away any time soon.
To learn more: