Education is a very personal issue. The recipients could experience the repercussions of a solid or a poor education for the duration of their lives. Those who are professional educators experience it in a way that is often different from business professionals, because they carry the experiences and successes and defeats of the children they serve with them as they move forward in their careers. One educator I worked with from 1999-2002 recently told me that she still wonders if we did the right thing for a student in a particularly difficult situation. These are the trials and tribulations of the professional educator: Your decisions in the moment could have impact over the long haul.
The personal nature of it makes education an easy target to create an audience. It is an easy news item, and a simple way to roil people into thinking their community is in dire jeopardy because we are “not keeping up with our global competitors.” This is a false statement on its face, but it is fairly simple to use some juggling of numbers to make the statement appear to be true. (I intend to address this in upcoming articles.)
So, more than anything today, here and now, if you are an educator, a parent with a child who benefits from education, a teacher who hears all the rhetoric and wonders where the support is, a community member who wants great education for children but hears all the blather, an administrator who knows we have a great thing going here but becomes so disheartened hearing the media talking points, take heart. Our children are learning more than they ever have before. There is more content packed into the K-8 curriculum in most instances than there was at some high schools 50 years ago. There are more 8th graders taking Algebra 1 or higher than at any other time in the nation’s history. There are more and more early college programs available in school districts each year, affording students the opportunity to advance their learning AND earn college credit, often for free!
If you teach, if you work in a school, if you care about and participate in your child’s education, you are making a difference and an opportunity. There will be students and families who do not take advantage of the opportunity made available. There are only so many tweaks and changes you can make to that. Keep teaching, keep learning, and keep making us all better with your time, your energy and your knowledge.