Community | Opinion

School reform should be led by teachers: Part 6

In the last part of this summer series, I figure that I would propose a perspective on the way forward. There are growing concerns of teacher shortages nationwide, and fears about how a shortage will impact the overall education of students. In Michigan, certain districts are encountering difficulty to find qualified candidates for specific subjects. The shortages are more dire in other states, which begs the question. Is Michigan in a position to retain students in collegiate education programs and attract the best nationwide?

In this series I have written about layoffs, low pay, and disparity, but one thing that is easier to turnaround is the power to reform. Typically school reform is a top down approach. What money districts do have for improvement is typically spent on outside consultants and big programs. Other times the reform is mandated and teachers have to restructure on their own to a one size fits all idea. Since teachers are closest to students in school, it should be the direct educators leading reform.

Every teacher in America has two things that work for teacher led reform. They are educated and they are experienced. This is not to say that educators or former educators are not part of the top down approach. It is to say that education reform is missing out on the largest and most valuable resource. Great ideas come from the right knowledge and the right experience. By truly opening up reform to all teachers, the likelihood of finding truly inspiring ideas multiples many times over. There are not many professions where you have highly educated and diverse experienced people working toward a common end that are all driven by an enduring passion.

If every student is unique, then every classroom is unique, and every school is unique, and every state education program is unique. The only thing that is not unique is when we look at America’s education system as a whole. Positive reform cannot take place if the uniqueness of each student is lost, and committing the fallacy of lumping all students together in national trends is a is a good way to lose it. Any national coalition should be idealistic and should guide toward the concepts of freedom, equality, and justice. The pragmatic reform should be driven by local educators existing free from a negative, authoritative environment that tends to pit teachers against each other.

I have not met one teacher who did not know how difficult and disrespected the profession is before they got in it. They teach because something moves them from within. It is time to realize that we cannot have great schools unless schools are stress free and the education profession is respected.

Find the rest of my series at my Dvoice profile by clicking on my name.

Paul Ruth
Paul obtained a M.A. in English from Marygrove College and is a high school English teacher at East Detroit High School and adjunct college English instructor. He has been published in various places around the web, and seeks to write on topics that impact the greater community.