BY SHARON MARTIN
The State Department of Education threw an educational leadership conference. Their website invited administrators and teachers to sign up, but when a local group suggested that National Board Certified Teachers who lost their funding should attend the conference, the website was taken down.
The web address where educators were directed to sign up for the conference had only a picture of people in evening dress and one guy dressed in shorts. The caption read: “Ever feel like you ended up in the wrong place?” As a teacher in Oklahoma, I certainly have felt that way.
One persistent teacher finally got through to a live person at the state department offices. She was told that the conference wasn’t really for teachers; it was for education leaders.
Who needs teachers anyway? Can’t some writer somewhere create a script that anyone can follow to teach a class? Can’t a computer program do the job?
In the comment section of a Tulsa World article online, one commenter told a teacher, “… Why don’t you quit and do the taxpayers and the children of the state a favor. They can get a better education online a lot cheaper.”
If you believe this, you’ve not spent much time in front of a group of students, no two alike. They learn at different paces, in different ways, and for different reasons. A few students learn best in isolation, staring at a computer screen or reading alone at the dining table. Most need a classroom with its exchange of ideas.
What our State Superintendent and the people who pull her strings really want is privatized education. But private isn’t necessarily better. Nor cheaper! Have you priced online classes lately?
Real education leaders aren’t charter school corporation CEOs and venture capitalists. They are administrators, researchers, and teachers who believe all children deserve the best education we can give them. They ask questions: “How can we meet the needs of every student? What do we need to do to get real results?”
Classrooms, both public and private, are where education leaders work. If we want education to improve, we need to support teachers and the real work of teaching.
At the next leadership conference, perhaps the folks at the state department should ask legislators, business people, and school board members how they were educated. They might discover there were actual teacher-leaders involved.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer
BY SHARON MARTIN