As I was getting ready to publish this blog, I came across THIS article. My disdain for Mrs. DeVos as the Secretary of Education is clear, but despite the degree of sourness I am learning to accept the final decision which was made.
No, Betsy DeVos doesn’t have experience. And, yes, vouchers are a horrible ill-thought out idea. But there comes a time when we need to accept that our ideals are not what the majority decided was best and move forward seeking common ground in another way.
Having said that, after watching Mrs. DeVos’ address to the Education Staff, I stand slightly bit more at ease with her approval vote. It sounds like she has a bit more understanding of the enormity of her position and that she is merely one person in a team of educators responsible for “making education great again.” Or, maybe I’m just too hopeful. Either way, though, perhaps it was not her that our education system needed to improve but, instead, the firestorm of of passion that resulted that needed to be ignited in order to start a constructive dialogue as to what really needs to happen to better our state of education. If so, then so be it… let’s get to work now.
We need a plan of action. (I’d suggest that one of the reasons why MANY people didn’t and still don’t like this new woman in charge is that she didn’t have such a plan, and only regurgitated vague lines ‘passion for change.’) We need an action plan… to tackle the real problems. And vouchers, as she dreams, don’t tackle don’t do that.
In order to create such a plan, we need to identify these REAL problems. So WHAT are the they?? I ran across this article by a one Jody Stallings that summarized the issues quite succinctly:
- Student discipline.
- Parental support.
- Administrative power and teacher discretion.
I might add another one to the list– teacher support. We start with this one because it’s really one that the others are rooted in. Both sides of the divide have made it clear that the students are the focus, but as one teacher-author from Kiddom App put it, “Whoever our next Secretary of Education is, they need to advocate for all of our children and our teachers…” Note the “…and our teachers…” Nobody knows our students better than those who are boots on the ground with them on a daily basis.
It’s important to listen to the teachers and to take into serious account any and all of their concerns. If you don’t, then you will end with dire situations like that in Florida… teacher’s burning out due to low pay, under-appreciation, and ridiculous standardized-testing protocol. And that severely affects the students because they are losing their support systems that are the teachers.
So what does Teacher Support look like?
The answer to that question comes in one word… resources. Resources, resources, resources.
- Technological Resources. Teaching is most definitely an art, not a science. And yet the bombardment of teaching pedagogies and ‘best practices’ is overwhelmingly unreal. Teachers hear a lot about the use of technology (by which they mean computers and iPads and the like) to engage students’ learning. Truly, there are many amazing games and apps (see: Kahoot! and Socrative as only two examples), but the accessibility to resources is unreliable. Issues lie in uneven funding to secure equipment for schools, unreliable access to wi-fi, and/or maintenance of computer equipment. Perhaps a solution to this lies in increased community/business partnerships within education, but I digress… that’s a different soapbox.
- Parental Resources. As a teacher myself, I would have to argue that the BIGGEST mode of support you can give teachers is to support the parents. Teachers hardly plan supportive parents anymore. These “personal student support structures” are hardly home anymore, most specifically in lower socioeconomic areas, due to the fact they are working multiple jobs just to put a roof over their child’s head. Read more here. Teachers understand this which is why they very often find themselves in the role of teacher AND parent. THAT. Is a very much overwhelming responsibility. How can we help the parents so that they can actually have time to spend with their families… and “parent”?? Answer this question and you may just find the answer to other problems such related to student discipline. Now, lets get to work and DO THIS!
Carney, J. (2017, February 07). Franken: DeVos ‘fundamentally incompetent’ to lead Education Dept. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/318198-franken-devos-fundamentally-incompetent-to-lead-education-dept
H. (n.d.). DeVos nomination stands at 50-50. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/susan-collins-betsy-devos-confirmation-234497
Hertz, M. B. (2014, April 24). Appreciate Teachers By Understanding What They Do. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/appreciate-teachers-by-understanding-mary-beth-hertz?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
Kahlenberg, R. D. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/01/can-vouchers-save-failing-schools/515061/
Mista, Y. (2017, February 03). Let’s Not Lose Focus. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from https://blog.kiddom.co/lets-not-lose-focus-4b10ad883b86#.7kzck7a33