Easy for us to judge educators without stepping foot into a classroom for the past few years. Pundits, national and state politicians, and other public figures have drawn a picture showing our public education system as a failure to all children. Through this picture, all public school educators and school-level administrators are seen as money hungry individuals who only care about their pockets and not the children they are serving. Politicians and other public figures give press conferences to continue to paint this picture by discussing failing grades on standardized tests and the need to reform our public school system to “save” our children by providing vouchers, increasing charter schools, and closing public schools. This leads to changes in policies and laws to continue to push the messages crafted in the picture created by our “leaders.” Even though they are out there, we rarely, if ever, hear about the successful public schools, educators, and school-level administrators. This does not belong in the picture created by our “leaders.” Therefore, we are led to believe that our schools and educators need reform and all of the policies and laws that come along with it. When we come to this assumption, we do not realize that most of the individuals creating the picture have never actually taught in or led a public school. They are mostly going off of their beliefs from reading reports and statistics rather than finding out what really takes place within the classroom.
As the president of the parent-teacher group in my school, I’ve made it a priority to ignore this fictitious picture and go into my school to see first-hand what my public school’s educators and administrators are going through. My background is not in education but I truly care about our public school and feel that I won’t know what is truly going on unless I get a first-hand account. This helped me see what is going on inside of the school and how the new policies and laws are affecting our educators and school-level administrators. I am realizing that the reform movement is not the benefit to our children that our politicians and other public figures would like us to believe. The countless assessments that our children take are drowning the creativity and enthusiasm out of them. In addition, these assessments and the hours of reporting, observations, training's, and meetings are drowning the enthusiasm from our educators. Unfortunately, in New Jersey, this is only the beginning because major changes in assessments and processes (i.e., Common Core Curriculum Standards, PARCC exam) do not come into effect until the next school year. We won’t know the full damage of these new policies and laws until 2016 and beyond. By that time, our public school system will be destroyed, making it easy for our politicians and public figures to tell us that their picture was accurate even though they were the ones that truly destroyed the system in the first place. Therefore, we should think twice before believing that a picture drawn by non-educators is an accurate depiction of our public education system. Maybe it’s time for us to sit down with our educators and school-level administrators to get a real look into what is affecting our local public school. It might open our eyes before we sign up to destroy it, our educators, and the entire public education system.
Jersey City, NJ