Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How to Get to School Reform

The Eduflack writes about an exchange he had with a reader:
Over the weekend, though, Eduflack engaged in an electronic give-and-take with a reader who saw things differently. The reader suggested that the only stakeholder who should be involved in K-12 reform is the teacher, with the intent being only those who have taught (and taught for more than a year or two) are knowledgeable and qualified enough to opine and decide on what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is measured.
It is exactly this kind of "only I know best" mindsets that always sends me to teh medicine cabinet for pain relief after gnashing my teeth so hard.

Yes, teacher should have a voice, indeed an important voice, in the education reform debate. But they cannot be and should not be the only voice. If that logic is carried to its extreme, most (if not every) member of Congress and most state legislators would not be permitted to opine on school reform (despite the fact that they control the purse strings for education). The same goes for school boards, most of whom are usually not teachers.

Furthermore, if the mindset that Bill Ferriter is running into is any indication of a larger problem, then not only are current teachers ill-suited to be the only voice in education reform, they are likely the worst prepared voice. Ferriter cannot convince teachers to adopt new technology in their classrooms and if that small step appears to be a giant chasm to changing the way teachers teach in their own classrooms, the opportunity for real and substantive change is diminutive at best.

Eduflack has it right and I have said it time and again. Just because I am a teacher does not diminish my voice for education reform, in fact, as a consumer of public education services as a surrogate for my daughter, I would argue I have much more immediately at stake than any group of teachers. Should we listen to teachers? Absolutely, to do otherwise would be ludicrous. But they cannot, indeed should not, be the only voice in the education reform debate.

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