Dear Education Reformers,
Somewhere there is a school where Snow White is teaching her seven "dwarfs." They come to school every day with freshly scrubbed faces and new pencils and homework they gave their all. They place an apple (no, not a poisoned one) on her desk. All of her students learn what she is teaching and no one is ever left behind.
People think that working with children is a fairy tale or at least that a competent teacher would make it into one. My experience working with children is more like really juicy reality tv. Sometimes it is moving; sometimes it is funny; sometimes it is heartbreaking; it never follows a straight line.
I am so tired of fairy tale politics.
Many of my students do not have it easy. They come to school in dirty clothes, with hungry stomachs--if they come at all. They come to school angry about whatever is going on at home. They come to school tired. Many of my students face obstacles on the inside. Letters reverse themselves as they enter my students' minds. Mental impairment can make a student younger on the inside than on the outside.
Don't think for a second that I don't feel the struggles of my students. Don't think for a second that I don't fight for their success. Don't think for a second that my mind is on making my own job easier. I just know that there is not an easy answer.
Your quick-fix solutions are making it worse.
Because of your fairy tale philosophy, you have taken all accountability away from students and parents.
A school should be like gym, where we help students work towards potential and their effort leads to success. You've turned our schools into hospitals where we treat deficiencies in education. Our students become like patients; it's our job to make sure they get educated even if they just lay there. Lack of education is not a disease; it's an opportunity!
You wonder why our highest achievers don't do more. You wonder why our students aren't prepared for their future. You wonder what is wrong with the teaching methods or the tests or the curriculum. The problem is how you saw them. You didn't BELIEVE in them.
You demanded hard-working teachers, but you didn't demand hard-working students. You can continue to pass more legislation about teacher accountability. You won't find your fair tale because it is just fantasy.
It's not fair. Some students will have to work ten times harder than others. Some will learn their lessons the hard way. It won't follow a perfect line of progress.
If you want to fix education, change the what you're searching for. See the opportunity where you once saw the deficiency.