Thursday, January 12, 2006

Teachers are Important

In an article found on the KOMO 4 News , one of the two local news stations I will watch, website, a report was made on the Washington D.C. based movement First Class Education. Entrepeneur Brian Janssen is quoted as saying,
"The idea appeals to me as a citizen and a taxpayer and as a parent," said Janssen, who grew up in Spokane and attended public schools. His parents were both public school teachers. "I don't think that kids, in general, are being extremely well served by today's public education system."

The basic premise, it seems, is that at a minimum, 65% of all education money allocated for schools, be spent directly in the classroom. In the classroom spending is described as "... teacher and aide pay, textbooks, distance learning expenses, field trips and supplies. The initiative excludes construction costs, principal salaries and interest payments on debt."

In theory, I like the idea. What teacher would not like the idea of better pay? Textbooks? Absolutely. But, as with all education reform ideas, the most important element is ignored. Educating the parents. When it comes to public relations, teachers are notoriously inadequate. Ask for more money, the parents point to the 182 day work year. Leave a child behind, the parents want our heads.
In order for First Class Education to find success, it truly needs to be a collaborative effort, not between the union and the public, but between the faculty members and the community in which they teach. It is time that teachers, not unions and not The Suits from the state capitol, take charge.
Not to knock First Class, because I believe in their basic premise, and because the article is not written by them, but where are teachers mentioned in the equation? How can education be reformed if the very instruments of that reform are not a part of the process?


At 10:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teachers working with parents; building community. Amen.

At 2:46 PM , Blogger Maura Larkins said...

I agree that schools don't do a good job of turning parent complaints into mutual cooperation. Schools are handy and accessible targets for parent dissatisfaction, and teachers often take criticism personally. As a result, teachers and parents far too frequently end up working in opposition to each other. It would be better to channel the energy that worried and upset parents and teachers bring to school, instead of trying to block it or ignore it. There should be a lot more communication going on among teachers, parents and administrators.

I also agree that individual teachers, not administrators or a committee or the union, know what is needed in their own classrooms. They should choose materials and specific learning experiences for their students. Kids benefit when a teacher is allowed to work with ideas and materials that inspire him or her. A good teacher can find a thousand different ways to teach a concept or a fact.

At 8:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


1. I think unions would be well-served to spend more money on Teachers' PR... if nothing else, more public respect from teachers would help them negotiate when the time comes.

2. Implement Ouchi's solutions from Making Schools Work. Genius.


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