Monday, April 26, 2010

No More Fingers, Action

Great job everyone.....not.

To wrap up this series of posts on stakeholders, I thought I'd do something terribly difficult to pull off- point the finger at EVERYone for allowing American education to take a nose-dive. This is something I've thought about lately when listening to various people state how fixing one or two things in the system will solve ALL of the problems. I don't hold any super-advanced degrees in ed theory or policy, nor do I have a great deal of experience, but I'm starting to suspect, based on that little experience as well as my knowledge of American history and American education, that a system as massive as our education system (which is technically more than fifty separate systems) cannot be "fixed" through a couple simple changes in policy, but will require a movement from the masses.

What I can say is that it is not just one group of stakeholders that is to blame for the woes of our education system. Sure their are terrible teachers out there. There are also abhorrent administrators, really bad parents, and young people in schools that can certainly cannot be called students. The long and the short of it is that a large number of us are falling down on the job and then pointing fingers elsewhere instead of demanding that our own ranks improve and that we ourselves do our jobs.

Sounds cynical, right? Perhaps it is. And bit wishy-washy? Sure. Regardless, I would like for people to stop blaming the parents, the unions, the students,the teachers and/or the administrators individually as the downfalls of the students' education and get more people to start looking for solutions to fix all of these vital roles. The idea rolling around in my head recently has been to find ways to hold each group of stakeholders accountable in a way that will promote the achievement of our students. As of right now the most popular attack seems directed at teachers and teachers' unions, but their accountability is being sought in such ways that, to me, seem detrimental to students.

The entire country has a vested interest in creating the best education system (or systems, depending on your views on state control of education) on the planet for all of our children. If we're going to get serious about educating ALL Americans in a top-notch way we need to stop bitching, stop the finger-pointing, hold up our end of the bargain, and then (and only then) demand that each major group of stakeholders be held accountable as well.

More on accountability later. I feel like I've strayed away from directing these posts toward advice for the first years and those in school of education. There's not a lot to be said about this topic save for the fact that perhaps in the first year you shouldn't worry as much about this as how you hold things together in the classroom. Last year I certainly wasn't thinking as much about how to keep students, parents, other teachers, and administrators accountable because I couldn't even keep things in line in the tiny part of the system for which I was directly responsible. Telling others how they should be held accountable didn't cross my mind as much as dreams of reaming out other stakeholders for not doing a damn thing to help (aggression that was somewhat, but not wholly, misplaced).

Today's Wine: Bodega Sur de los Andes Malbec. This guy was really very good. We had it at Pasita in the West Village. The place was great and the wine well-balanced, not very fruity and not too dry. Great by itself.


  1. I think this is a natural transition in education - as we grow as teachers, we start to become reflective of our surroundings and well as ourselves - kind of like focusing on the subject and the surrounding depth of field.

    This is also in no way finger pointing, but truly collaborative and inquiry, because I respect your writing: in your own patch of teacher-ness, what do you do to hold yourself accountable? I'm going to give this question some thought too, and see consider what I'm growing in my own proverbial garden.

  2. That's a good question. It's tough to keep yourself accountable when your end-year state exam means diddly squat and your administration doesn't provide a whole ton of (but some) constructive criticism. Perhaps the rough days I have once in a while (still too frequently) keep me honest and thinking about how to improve my craft.