Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stand Up And Be Heard...

It all started this morning with some questions posed by one of the educators I admire most, Bill Ferriter (@plugusin).

To which I replied

To which he replied

There are two things going on in this conversation. The first point Bill raises about "Essential Standards" is one that we need to be questioning. Here in North Carolina it seems as if our curriculum change about every 3-5 years. When I was teaching Science we had radical changes among all the grade levels twice in no less than 5 years. The same was true for math and other areas as well. These are the standards our state feels that our kids need to know. But the point Bill raises is very, very valid. If these are Essential, why are they changing? Should they not be the same year after year after year? Curriculum can change. They have to in order to keep up with changes in history, science, technology, etc. The problem in many states and in this country as a whole is that we have blurred the lines between curriculum and essential standards.

The other point Bill raises is the one that bothers me the most. It is never our job to make any one listen. We can't. Just like we can't make teachers use tech in the classroom we can't make the "powers that be" listen. But, we have to care when they don't get it right. We have a duty to our profession and to our students to hold administrators, Superintendents, School Boards, and law makers accountable for the actions and decisions they make regarding our classrooms. We do our students a great disservice the moment we quit shouting. We have to go to board meetings and stand up and speak. We have to write and call law makers and let them know how we feel, give them first hand examples of how their decisions are impacting kids. Perhaps they will listen then. Or maybe they will listen to the voice in the voting booth. Either way, we have to continue to make our voice heard. And more importantly everyone, needs to hear the voices of our kids. After all, thats what it's all about...


  1. Steven,

    Great post! I think that we have to model exactly what you are saying for our students. Most schools state that a top priority is preparing students to be "productive citizens." I think that it starts with showing them how to develop and use their collective voices to be heard on important issues.

    If the educators out there who really feel strongly about issues such as the one you describe would stand up and be heard, it would be great modeling for our students.

    I know that you tagged this as a rant, but I think that we need to show our students how to turn their rants into organized efforts to constructively play a role in meaningful social change.

    Great goal for 2010 - grass roots effort by students to change what is happening in their schools. I think they get the need for a change much more than many adults.

    All the talk about changing essential standards is really a waste of time and it is holding us up from real change.

  2. I guess we're not alone in Florida. We have major curriculum changes and battles...war really. We've had school board meetings that have lasted until midnight because of the changes. So much is driven by NCLB and now Race to the Top.

  3. Perhaps the reason policy makers keep changing the standards it because we are still refining 20th century standards for a 21st century world. The following 22 minute presentation was made at NEA event by Scott Mcleod provides food for thought:

  4. Here's the thing, though, Steven: If our schools are going to happily play the heirarchy game and leave real decision making power in the hands of those at the top of the pyramid---who get paid a heck of a lot more than teachers and who rarely even invite teachers to the decision making table---then the efforts of classroom teachers to influence change are really kind of Sisyphean. We're pushing rocks for eternity and making no progress.

    That's what gets me. It's not like I haven't worked to gain influence---and I've tried everything. I've tried building meaningful relationships with those who have juice. I've tried honing my knowledge to the point where what I know about almost everything in education is pretty darn impressive. I've tried raising my credibility by sharing everything that I know formally through publications and informally through blogging.

    And yet the only changes that I've ever totally had an impact on have been inconsequentially small---and my influence dries up as soon as the person that I"ve built relationships with moves on to a new position, putting me right back at the point where I started from.

    Does any of this make sense? Maybe we see this differently because you've moved out of the regular classroom and into a position where you have more formal and organized power.


  5. Bill,
    I hear your frustration loud and clear. You have been doing this stuff a lot longer than I and have faced the challenges where I have not. It is just so hard for me to stand by and allow those policy makers to run me over. I believe you are like me and want what is best for these kids and that is why we still have to keep fighting. You are a trailblazer. One who has allowed me to be where I am today and given me and people like me voice. We have to keep fighting and shouting. Eventually, someone has to listen.