Today, teachers across the nation are participating in Education Communication Day in preparation for the Million Teacher March in Washington, D.C. in July. We have been bashed and vilified on a regular basis; and feel it is necessary to speak out on behalf of our students and public schools in general. Public school teachers are NOT the cause of ineffective schools. We are more than willing to work for a positive reform in our school system. The following statements from Chris Janotta, the founder of the SOS Million Teacher March (http://www.facebook.com/SOSMTMNEWS), sum up our major concerns.
“Teachers want to be part of the reform process, but this means instituting respectful reform that makes sense. Currently, teachers have no input into what should be taught, how it should be taught, or what the best way to measure performance might be. We know that teaching to a test does not prepare students for the real world. We know that pulling students from social studies, science, art, physical education, or other classes just to provide them with more test-taking skills is committing a severe injustice against our students. We know that every student learns in a different style, at a different pace, and with different resources. We know that there is no one single blueprint that will help all students to succeed. Yet we have no say in any of this. Our day-to-day experiences with the children in the public schools gives us a unique viewpoint UNAVAILABLE TO ANYONE ELSE IN THE UNITED STATES, yet our experience and knowledge is being wasted because it is not valued by those who are currently involved in educational reforms. Teachers WANT to do a good job. Teachers WANT to help every student. Teachers WANT to work with those who have similar viewpoints, varying viewpoints, and viewpoints that are at the complete other end of the spectrum AS LONG AS THE END GOAL IS TO HELP AMERICA’S SCHOOL CHILDREN, NOT PUNISH AMERICA’S SCHOOL TEACHERS.
Teachers understand that America’s current economic situation makes it difficult to fully and fairly fund ALL public schools, but difficult is not the same as impossible. By using creative means, by working across party lines and across economic classes, by being willing to sacrifice in other segments of society, and by admitting that the education of our nation’s children is THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY of any successful nation, we can face this difficult task head on and make sure that every child in America goes to a school that is fully funded and fully staffed no matter in which zip code he or she lives. To not make this happen is to admit to our children that they are not important enough for us to even try. Try we must; succeed we must.
Teachers and students need quality class rooms with safe environments. From the teachers’ perspective, this means having the help of community leaders, government officials, and other outside agencies. In order for a teacher to truly be able to focus on teaching, there must be others willing to step up to act as mentors, disciplinarians, counselors, and mediators. These are currently some of the additional roles teachers must take on in order to ensure an environment conducive to learning. However, not only is this causing teachers to be overloaded, it also isn’t enough to create a completely safe environment for every student. Beyond this, some issues are beyond the control of the classroom teacher and can only be remedied by those with higher authority. A quality class room must contain all of the tools needed by both teachers and students. Some of these tools include up-to-date curricula, up-to-date textbooks, computers and other technology, and many other modern class room supplies (including desks, chairs, etc.). Right now, what is taken for granted in one school is simply unattainable in others. Equitable class rooms provide for equitable learning opportunities.”
It is time for all Americans to claim ownership of the public schools and demand that a true reform take place in the system. Testing is not teaching!