Be Bold My Fellow Educators, BE BOLD!

This is a post that has been brewing in my draft pile for some time now.   I am going to break my rule of staying apolitical at school and on my blog….well sort of. I am tired of the the “Right” and the “Left” talking about what needs to happen in education, because, frankly, they have not a clue what they are talking about.  They are not qualified to suggest policy on what should happen in classrooms with your and my children!  That’s right. This is personal for me.  My children go to the school I work in.  If you do not think I want what is best for the kids in my school you are sadly mistaken!  In other words, I got skin in this game!  I don’t go into restaurants and tell the owners how to run their business using the analogy I like to eat what I think is good, therefore do as I say. I know food.  Any fool can look on from the sideline and have an opinion.  Politicians need to stay within their expertise, oh, wait a minute….never mind.

Enough about politicians and being a hypocrite.  The real purpose of this post is to call out my fellow educators (as well as myself) and their practice of railing against the popular school reform movements in such a way that we end up looking like we are defending the status quo.  When all we do is say that we disagree with testing, charter schools, value added evaluation…etc., we are actually validating the argument that professional educators are part of the problem and that the reformers are right.  I think there are a lot of things we do in the name of educating students that make little to no sense.  We do need to change, and that change needs to be led by educators!  It is easy to do what we know and feel comfortable with.  Comfortable is not good enough for your children, nor mine.  Be bold. Try new things.  Make the learning in your classrooms and schools an active student exercise.  Schools no longer hold an information monopoly (and we haven’t for some time) .  Our charge is to build relationships and challenge our students in ways in which they build skills and a desire to keep growing.  Be bold my fellow educators, BE BOLD!

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6 comments for “Be Bold My Fellow Educators, BE BOLD!

  1. September 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Dave, I respect the passion you’ve written this piece with, and the earnest want for school-based reform (and not simply those who consider education reform a side hobby to get them into a golden door of sorts). Having said that, many of our colleagues (including myself) have understood anti-ed-reform as bold. Speaking to the ills of testing, inequitable funding, and value added evaluation is that boldness you seek from educators. To believe that people “who have skin in the game” matter more than those who proffer deform is exactly why many activists have stood up as they have.

    Maybe some parrot others or make the same arguments without providing solutions. But to simply dismiss it as the status quo seems disingenuous since all these things are so prevalent, they are the status quo. Whole child education matters. We can be bold about that.

  2. September 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Jose, There is nothing wrong with being anti-ed-reform. In my limited argument, I failed to state that we must proffer solutions to problems that we know exist. To simply state that ed reform is misguided without doing so, in my opinion, is wasted energy. I really believe that we need to be able to talk about what we are doing for our kids with the same veracity that we denounce “edeform”. With that being said, I applaud all efforts on behalf of making education the best it can be for our students. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Alan Salt
    September 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Dave and Jose,

    I’d agree we have to talk up our efforts (Dave) and feel free to be unapologetic in our opposition to reform we feel harmful (Jose).

    disagree that is as simple as offering “solutions” to issues. Strong education systems share local, democratic autonomy amongst professionals (follow @pasisahlberg). It is centralist political reformers who are obsessed with overriding “solutions”. As educators I feel we should be free to passionately make the case that we don’t know “what” to do about education, but that we know “what to do” when we don’t know what to do, i.e work together for local solutions that serve our children.

    I wouldn’t presume to know what the solution is to education problems in a neighbouring city here in the UK, let alone abroad, but I feel that whatever solutions there are most likely to come about from giving local teachers autonomy (and therefore responsibility) for designing curricula and ethos that serve the needs of their communities, and are democratically accountable to those communities.

    Really enjoyed the post and comments!

  4. Judi
    September 28, 2012 at 3:34 am

    A timely post. I have recently led my school to move to a portfolio as a mechanism for communicating with students and parents about their daughter’s learning ( an all girls school). I will admit that we escalated the process by making the decision to go forward last June and implementing this fall. What I struggle with is that the work that was done by a terrific staff in considering the change took a full year of work and research. We didn’t communicate this work as we wanted to be sure of our decision before moving forward. No matter what, we would deal with opposition so why bring it on unless we were sure. Having been an administrator for several years and having changed a system of reporting four or five times previously, I knew that we would have our battles. In each case, I fail to understand the reaction. We are not changing our delivery of our program and are strengthening our pedagogy and program. Who could argue with this. I am not even sure why I am having conversations about why the school should remain in an antiquated system that breeds mediocrity! I am not clear as to why I am having uninformed debate. I am not sure why I should be forced to defend an action which has zero evidence against it and a multitude of support that has been developed for over twenty years to support it. I value community input, I believe that I must always consider the community perspective but why must I accept that it is how we have always done it?

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