Time to Engage our Youth
What I found fascinating about this PBS NEWSHOUR production was the student engagement. The unfortunate part of school reform is that it rarely takes the time to listen to the most important part of any reform--the students.
How would school reform look and feel if the most troublesome, the most disengaged students were brought into the forum. As it stands, very few teachers are actually brought into the forum. The education reform movement has marginalized students as nothing more than a demographic statistic and the ensuing data points. It has marginalized teachers as nothing more than overpaid, underqualified whiners and the sum of the student data results.
As always, it is important for me to state my belief in a need for reforms. There are teachers who are not qualified and who are overpaid (for what they produce). There are students who are not going to buy in and who are not going to college (even if they wanted to).
In this upcoming school year, I want my professional growth plan to focus on school culture. It is my hypothesis that academic performance will improve when our students want to be in our building. To find out what will keep our students in the building, we must engage our students in dialogue. We also must be aware of a reality--students at failing schools have developed a distrust of most adults in charge. They have been marginalized for so long that they won't have that immediate trust simply because we come to them. But if we don't go to them, there is no amount of money, no number of new programs, no special masters capable of enacting any long-term and real reform.