While purported to be a blessing the ancient Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” may be a curse. Teachers certainly live in interesting times but we are plague with much turmoil in our professional lives.
The seemingly endless discussion about designing national standards is one of the many inflictions cast upon teachers. I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States listening to academics, government officials, and policy makers talk about the need to implement a set of academic standards that will best serve the needs of over 60 million students. The goal is to homogenize 50 state standards and, ostensibly, provide a child in Arkansas the same level of education provided a child in Massachusetts.
Few people would argue that receiving a quality education is a birthright that should not be affected by birthplace. And I suspect that even fewer people would argue that the “race to the top” is a national endeavor considering the fact that we live in a global economy. But the very important discussions taking place concerning national standards is being held on a wobbly table. A table made unsteady because it is missing the teacher leg.
Teachers are being left out of the process of designing national standards and this is a recipe for disaster. Committees comprised of government officials, academics, and policy makers form an incomplete framework without the support of teachers. Teachers, after all, will be expected to implement the standards once adopted. The malformed thought that teachers should not play an integral role in helping develop national standards is just that: a malformed thought.
I can feel a palpable anger when standing next to teachers who feel ignored and marginalized by the committees designing national standards.
It’s time to let teachers help right a wobbly table.
The opinions expressed in Road Diaries: 2009 Teacher of the Year are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.