“You cannot improve education by alienating the profession that carries it out.”
-Sir Ken Robinson
Since the passage of NCLB teachers and schools have seen an increase in testing, evaluations tied to student performance, privatization of schools through charter schools, decreased funding at all levels of government, increases in programing expectations, and demands for better performance. All of this has felt like something done to us and out of our control. The result among teachers and staff has been poor moral and people leaving the profession or not joining the profession. Despite our poor moral and disillusionment with the top down approach we know that in Idaho at least, teachers are most beloved by parents and voters. So, why the disconnect? Elected officials in our state have not been listening to the voices of those most impacted by their policies, parents and teachers. We are now at a crossroads where we, the professionals, must get back into the driver's seat and demand that our voices are heard and be included in the process of making eduction policy at the state and local level. We need to partner with parents and our community leaders to take back ownership of our public schools.
This week we made some wonderful strides in showing our community our unity and strength as we begin to take ownership of our schools once again. First, members and non-members joined together to exercise their first amendment rights by attending the regular November meeting of the Board of Trustees. Staff members packed the Minnie Moore Room at the Community Campus and approximately 20 current and retired staff members gave public comment on a variety of issues from IB to the splitting of the business manager/treasure position. We appreciate the willingness of the Board of Trustees to listen with open hearts and minds to the professionals who work everyday to ensure that students get the best opportunities to learn in the classroom. But, we need to make sure this isn’t a one-off. The Board and our District leadership need to continue to hear from us as we have an open dialog regarding the budget and policies. The BCEA needs 2-4 staff members per building to attend these regular Board meetings and when appropriate make public comment. Please complete this form and make a commitment to attend at least one Board meeting this year.
In line with our goal of increasing our visibility in the community was a tremendous community event co-sponsored by the BCEA and BCSD: Educator for a Day. This week marked American Education Week and we celebrated it by inviting community leaders into our classrooms on November 18th to see what happens in our schools first hand. Approximately 20 community leaders were paired with 20 teachers preK thru 12th grade and were asked to teach for half a day. A luncheon held after allowed guest educators to share their experiences with other guest educators and their host teachers. Everyone left with smiles and positive things to say and will hopefully head back into our community as ambassadors of public education and teachers.
The words of Sir Ken Robinson resonate deeply with educators. But now is not the time to hang our heads but to stand up as participants in the democratic process and let our voices be heard. Now is the time to state proudly that we are teachers who care about kids and their learning every day. As a community we should demand high standards for our students, our schools, and our teachers but we should not forget that WE the members of the BCEA are part of that community as parents, taxpayers, and professional educators. Now is the time to take ownership in our public schools.