Trust us: It is We who are on the side of children here

I have been accused at some instances throughout my life for agitating for no good reason. Why can’t you just play by the rules?

I don’t agree with a tremendous deal of what accounts for “education reform” nowadays. A lot of these reforms happen so quickly that we barely have time to catch up. Legislatures and governing bodies pass rules and regulations that make alternatives impossible. Trains leave stations. Now, if these ideas were so good, why not an extended period of review? Why mandate them behind closed doors and then open it up for discussion?

When many of us, perhaps in higher education mostly, argue back and forth about these ideas, children and young persons are rarely mentioned. We MUST adhere to, for instance, the common core because, well, this train has left the station. I always hear that, trains leaving stations. Don’t they have brakes?

But when I do point out flaws or try to make the case for a more careful and concerted approach, I hear about grants, funding, pots and pots of money that no one ever gets to see. Where is all this money going? Will I get to see any of that money? I mean, are you not doing all of this in my name as an employee of a certain institution? Is the only benefit that I have employment? That’s it? Well, as actors wonder, “What’s my motivation?”

But in defense of mandated, top-down reforms, I hear, “Well, we got Race to the Top money, so, you know.” Or, “Well, we took [other pile of money], so we simply MUUUUST do this.” Well, wait a tic: is this about students or what? Is this about a war chest?

I think it’s the latter. Everyone in faculty rooms across the country who will be receiving professional development this fall know what it should really be about: the kids, the young people. So, we should be able to ask, “What if it’s not working, do we get to change our minds?” The response should NOT be, “Well, we sort of took the money, so we have to do it no matter what.” No, the response should be that we stop it, immediately!

Trust me: I taught. As a matter of fact, I was teaching second grade just six weeks ago. Where were you six weeks ago, in a grant meeting? In a leadership meeting? At a convention? I was teaching six weeks ago. I’m teaching college-age folks right now. Where were you today? In a meeting? In a workshop? On the phone? Emailing? I was in the classroom.

I’m on the side of students. Whose side are you on?