We just arrived home and I feel I can say with pride I managed to get through the State Policy Network Conference without totally embarrassing my husband and without selling out the public schools.
The last night of the conference took us on a ferry ride along the breathtaking Maine coast. My husband and I went out on the deck to fully take in the beautiful view and I managed to walk myself into yet another public schools debate...
By this time I must be saying I teach in public schools with some rebellious pride because the man who had politely asked what I did for the movement looked slightly taken aback. He got himself together and announced, "Well, you know everybody here hates teachers." I said I was starting to pick up on that as my husband tried to pull me back. The man carried on the 'hate public school teachers' for a bit before laughing and reassuring me that no, he really loves teachers, and in fact believes that all good teachers should be paid a lot more.
Lovely. I had just walked into the merit-based pay debate on what should be a peaceful ferry ride. Oh, how my husband started to wonder if he should have brought me along at all.I do love a great debate, as did the man I was debating with, and I truly enjoyed our conversation, though neither of us led the other to a change of heart. The bystanders seemed curious at this discourse but at moments looked fearful that one of us may actually push the other off the boat. I really enjoyed the conference, made it through without physically harming anyone and without subjecting my husband to long rants about public schools. Both of these are positives.
I will say though that I wish all of the K-12 reform groups would take time to know teachers, schools, and school communities before trying to make policy changes. No, not everything is perfect, but if you don't fully understand the problem you'll never come to a good solution. With the technology we have today you do not even have to talk to a teacher face to face. Reading our blogs gives you insight into our day to day adventures, our rants, our loves, our acceptances, our struggles, and our successes. Because it's our on-line diary we're not sugar coating anything for you, or making it sound worse than it is. If you are in k-12 policy take the time to scan teacher blogs every week to see what the real issues are outside of 'the movement' and outside of politics.
"No, not everything is perfect, but if you don't fully understand the problem you'll never come to a good solution."
I love that statement! It applies to much beyond the public schools as well. It seems so obvious and simple, and yet something that is clearly not understood frequently.
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