25 April 2016

You & Your Students Matter

After reading the article shown above (during my lunch hour), I find it readily apparent that the issues affecting education are much broader and far-reaching than the current situation we are facing in Oklahoma. (I'm sure this is not a surprise to anyone). This article does an excellent job to highlight the myriad issues facing educators today. Even when we have an educator (Arne Duncan) running the show from the Top, it seems that the situation continues to get worse.

So what are educators and education advocates to do? How do we change the system? What recourse do classroom teachers have? How can administrators encourage teachers to stay and keep up the good fight?

I certainly don't have the answers, but I want to send a note of encouragement to my educator friends:
  • Keep working to build deep relationships with your students. That matters. That's counts. 
  • You may be the only stable person in your students' lives. 
  • Your classroom may be the only safe place students have right now.
  • Your students are people. They are more than a number. More than a score. More than a statistic. 
  • You are more than a formula
  • You matter. 
  • You have influence. 
  • You can make a difference, even on the days when you feel like you aren't.
Often attributed to Albert Einstein, others credit noted psychologist William Bruce Cameron with the following quote:
Not everything that can be counted counts.Not everything that counts can be counted.
The love you show toward your students is literally immeasurable.

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…”

23 April 2016

There's only one solution to fixing education in Oklahoma - VOTE!

As I read this article, I see a strong case against what our legislators here in Oklahoma are doing to education. If you look beyond the rhetoric and look into these issues on your own, you may find that there is some truth to what this article is trying to say. 

Our Oklahoma legislators are being led in the crusade by Sen. Clark Jolley (he's introduced more bills than any other sponsor in the Oklahoma legislature), Rep. Jason Nelson, & Rep. Jeffrey Hickman who are trying their best to change the face of education in OK. From where I sit, that new face of education looks like a system which can hire teachers with no certification, with no limit on how little teachers are paid, and containing no requirement on paying into teachers retirement. How does that draw highly-qualified teachers to (stay in) our state? How does education de-regulation benefit our students? This sounds a lot like a charter school. These are the same exact "benefits" which apply to charter schools.

The real question here is "Why are our legislators NOT considering what is best for students?" While I can't answer that, I do know that something must be done. It seems to me that the easiest way to fix the problem is to remove the factor(s) causing that problem. So we need some new leadership (this also applies to our national legislators. (**Don't even get me started the US Congress! The fact that the vast majority of senators and representatives have been able to make a career out of doing their job so ineffectively it borders on criminal, is absolutely baffling to me.) 

I hope that all of you will look into your candidates and consider their position on education. This is the single most important factor facing our state (and country) today. Without an education, voters are unable to critically think about how his/her vote affects who is elected and how who is elected affects him/her (the voter). Without an understanding of how one's vote affects society, why even vote? A lack of education leads to voter apathy and voter apathy leads to a lack of education, at least at least it seems to here in Oklahoma. 

The fact that many educators in Oklahoma have decided to run for office has been widely reported. Teachers in Oklahoma are tired of negligence on the part of our legislators to properly equip educators to do their job and are taking steps to make a change. It is absolutely ludicrous to think that some people run unopposed in elections. That makes my case for an apathetic electorate even stronger! 

Teachers, remind your high school juniors and seniors that they need to register to vote. Encourage them to look for resources containing candidates' information. Connect the kind of analysis you do in class to real life by applying it to issues. Give them a means to affect change AND practice the skills you teach in class. I know their children will thank you.

Imagine what could happen if everyone who has ever said, "Meh, my vote doesn't matter. I'm just one person; I'm just one vote!" took that civil responsibility seriously? People died for the right to vote; yet here we sit preferring to [insert ridiculous, mindless action verb here] rather than exercising our rights.

"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." - FDR