Monday, March 5, 2012

SB 24 My Response

Education Reform Bill SB24

It is my humble opinion that education is the one institution that has to be the priority.  If citizens aren’t educated none of our institutions are going to survive”.

Todney Harris.  (educator)

As a veteran educator, I cannot support this initiative.  I have seen my fair share of changes to the American educational system but this initiative is by far the most unfair and disrespectful attempt at education reform thus far.  I cannot believe that this type of bill has been introduced in the state of Connecticut.  This state has always been the gold standard of the educational world.  Connecticut’s standards have been copied and put into place in other states.  I really do not understand how this type of thought process regarding educators has come into being.  I understand the pressure that the Federal Government has enacted on states due to the No Child Left Behind Act.  However, enacting such sweeping changes to our current system is not the answer!  Most importantly, enacting such measures in an attempt to preserve federal dollars and preempt the consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act is a futile attempt at best. 

I will state for the record that any attempt at reform must have the direct input from the educators.  The language in this bill obviously hasn’t been reviewed by any educators whatsoever.  I just have to ask a question:  Why is it so hard for politicians to ask educators what is best for the profession and most importantly for students, when we are the professionals who have the experience and the expertise?  Thus far, I am not alone when I say that the professionals who care and nurture children want an answer to that particular question!  I have heard it asked by novice and veteran teachers for many years.  I don’t recall citizens constantly questioning the authority and judgment of lawyers and doctors as they progress in their respective professions.  I am quite sure that lawyers have made incorrect judgments and innocent citizens have faced consequences due to negligence.   Also, there has been numerous malpractice lawsuits brought against doctors for negligence as well. These professions aren’t under fire for the miscalculations of a few.  There are many mitigating factors that probably influenced the miscalculation.  As a result, the professions haven’t suffered any major rebuke from the public.  Yet, educators are constantly under fire from the public and politicians.  I can state for the record that there are plenty of mitigating factors that prohibit students from learning.  I know full well that educators have not created these problems.  However, education is the only profession that expects solutions to society’s problems!  The buzzword that all educators across the country are hearing constantly is accountability.  If you are going to make teachers accountable, then parents need to be included in the reform conversation.

Next, I wish to speak about the relationship between parents and teachers.  In my humble opinion, in order for student achievement to function at the optimal level, parental involvement must take place!  Students across America perform at their highest level when parents offer their encouragement, love and support for any and all educational activities that students of the modern world will encounter.  Let me be clear:  all parents must be involved in the educational careers of their children.  Skills that are a requirement of the modern world aren’t going to just magically materialize.  If parents do not take a personal stake in what is occurring educationally, how can parents expect to achieve results?

My experiences have led me to the conclusion that a parent who is completely involved in the educational lives of his or her child yields maximum results.  The parent who is not completely involved yields little or no results.  The connection is clear and truthful.  The children who have learning disabilities or behavior issues have the most parental contact from an educator due to the fact that these issues consistently interfere with the learning that takes place in a classroom setting.  These parents become disconnected to the process and it takes a toll on the educator and the student.  It is almost impossible to strategize methods to deal with the societal problems or issues that students bring into the classroom on a daily basis.  Parents of children with behavior issues or undiagnosed disabilities expect the educators and the school system to become surrogate parents and take care of the issues that they have created.

I have spent thousands of dollars in educational institutions in preparation for becoming an educator.  I have spent thousands more preparing myself for being an administrator as well.  As of now, my professional experience and college experience will mean absolutely nothing if this bill is allowed to pass in its current form.  How can my license be revoked based on one year of bad data?  How can I be forced back into a college program based on a biased view of my performance?  It is my opinion that this bill unfairly attacks teachers.  Also, I believe that the veteran teachers are the target of removal!  One thing that I have learned from the current trends within the field of education is that organizations such as Teach for America and Americorps are definitely gaining support from corporations and states such as Connecticut due to the fact that they have brainwashed the public into the perception that they can teach in a more cost effective manner.  I especially don’t like the fact that I have to constantly defend myself to the public as it pertains to being an educator.  I do not believe in being a teacher who in inflexible to change.  I would go so far as to say that the behavior of modern children dictate ultra preparedness.  If a teacher is in a classroom unprepared then that teacher will not be a teacher for very long.  These kinds of teacher are weeded out naturally.  Everyone can spot a “bad” teacher dead on.  It doesn’t take such sweeping legislation such as this to incorporate good judgment and remove a teacher who isn’t up to par.

I would encourage all members of our wonderful state who are elected officials to visit schools!  An impromptu visit would give all elected representatives enough information to make their own judgments!  One last thing, teachers do the very best with what they have!  Remember, not all districts are created equal!  The poor students are the children who are at risk.  I find this legislation discriminatory.  It is the students in the poorer districts who are going to suffer from having a lack of quality educators. 


Todney Harris

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