Thursday, August 20, 2009

oh, public education...

today was: the beginning of the discovery of the extent to which education is ruled by bureaucracy and bullshit. why do we suck so much at this game?

i'm not saying i have all the answers. and i'm not saying we are necessarily worse than anyone else. but something has got to give. the way things are now, is not helping kids be better. it's not helping teachers be better. it is making it difficult for good teachers to be good teachers.

i want to teach kids. i don't want to waste my time turning in bullshit paperwork under the facade of accountability. that is time i could be spending helping kids.

i think part of what really bothers me, is that we have all of these rules and regulations and guidelines and policies. and we all put up a good front. we smile and nod and turn in the things we're asked for. but when we go into our rooms and close our doors, almost every teacher is picking and choosing, following just enough to not get in trouble and disregarding the rest. our focus is getting the kids what they need. sometimes the district is really helpful in that regard. sometimes it is really not.

what bothers me about this is that it's such a facade. if no one is really following all of these things anyway, then what's the point? can we set it up somehow so that there are the guidelines and support that are needed, but in a way that teachers can really use and follow? actually follow. what are teachers already doing that will tell the policy-makers the things they need to know, without requiring extra asinine paperwork that is supposed to tell you what we are doing, but essentially means nothing? can we please align these things a bit more? is anyone even asking the teachers? it's unfortunate that not a lot of teachers feel inclined to go into politics. (really, i find politics to be kind of unfortunate in and of itself, but that's another rant.)

now, i don't want anyone to think that i'm proposing that we have no restraints or guidelines for our education system. even good teachers need support and guidelines to help inform their practice. and i understand that having district or schoolwide policies in place is important in saving everyone from a lot of legal trouble (which is also a rant for another day). there are also quality control issues to consider. i fully support accountability of teachers. i just want it to be authentic and meaningful. i'm more than happy to turn in and do things that are actually helpful and meaningful for my job. which is to teach children and create good citizens. but i don't want to waste my time on things that, in the end, are nothing but not helpful b.s.

is there a way to balance the accountability and guidelines of a district with the freedom teachers need to be really stellar?

see also this TED talk about rules gone bad:
Paul Romer is discussing cities, but i can't help relating his ideas about unfortunate policy to the educational system. i'm not sure about applying his solution to education on a widescale. charter schools come with their own problems. though it's something i'm willing to consider.

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