To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, April 23, 2021

Observercast

Education Leaders

on

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

4 COMMENTS

  1. According to conservatives, our education system works perfectly. All those dropouts continue to fill our armed forces, so we can keep up our perpetual wars. The smart ones can go to private business colleges, so they can continue to work on Wall Street, figuring out non-productive ways of making themselves rich and avoiding taxes. The rest can work at McDonald’s or WalMart. What’s wrong with that?

  2. Sharon you are a breath of fresh air….. my granddaughter is a teacher, and it makes me sick the way we treat them… and of course people want the teacher to raise the kids for them give them good manners, keep them from joining gangs etc… all for no money, and no support… Thanks for the great article..

  3. Sharon, you just hit the nail on the head. As a National Board Certified Teacher, I found it personally insulting to be excluded from a conference where teachers were previously welcomed. And yes, more and more I am feeling like I ended up in the wrong place. Not because I ended up as a teacher, which is my passion and which I love, but because I suddenly find myself in a state that is being led by people who clearly do not value my dedication or my expertise. Thank you for speaking out on our behalf!

  4. I don’t know that railing at the State Department of Education is productive and appropriate, clearly they’ve been put in an untenable position, don’t shoot the messenger. Clearly they’ve reacted badly.

    Vickie – the real people who don’t value your dedication, hard work and expertise are the majority of the people of Oklahoma (speaking through their elected representatives) who are happy funding a below average public educational system. After all it worked for them … and they’ve got a great job at the casino or the call center.

    It will only get worse, money isn’t the only answer, accountability, cost-effectiveness, administrative top-heaviness and yes, sorry, defined benefits pension plans are probably all going by the wayside.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.