Sunday, July 2, 2017

Teachers WILL lead...they MUST

I saw an article this morning about our illustrious Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos. It will come as no surprise that I am not a fan of Betsy. My biggest complaint about her is not that she has destructive ideas about school choice, or that she wants to filter public money into private institutions, or that she has no interest in civil rights or equity. Although...those are pretty awesome arguments for why this woman has no business leading American education. My biggest argument about Betsy??? Her credentials. Or lack thereof.

Betsy, like so many other educational leaders and reformers, knows not of what she speaks. She has absolutely no idea how her ideas and decisions affect me and my kids. I'm clear that she doesn't care and is in this for the power and ability to make herself and her rich friends even richer. The job cost her well over 200 million dollars to secure. Her campaign donations to her party secured her spot as the Secretary of Education.

Some people might don't have to be a teacher to make decisions about education.

Yes...Yes you do. Because if you aren't a teacher, and you are making decisions about teaching, you know NOT of what you speak. And this phenomenon is happening at a state and local level as well. Day after day, year after year, decisions are made about what I will teach, how I will teach it, and what will happen to me if I screw it up.

I contend that if you have not been in a classroom at all during the past decade, you are NOT qualified to make decisions about mine.

I am not qualified to make decisions about engineering simply because I have been driving a car since I was 16 years old. And I can't apply for a job as a prosecutor because I never went to law school. And doesn't matter that I watch a lot of Law and Order. I still can't try a case. And I know this. I accept it. But this message and expectation has gotten lost in the field of education. Teachers have been put in their place on a daily basis for the past decade. Great educators have left the field and are still leaving in droves. And this is why. We are on the verge of bona fide teacher shortages across the country, and there is no end in sight to the reforms that are ruining the education of our children. 

I can't count the number of times I have been asked, "Why are you still in the classroom?" After all, I have a Master's in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate in K-12 Curriculum and Instruction. I could have begun my climb to the top a decade ago. But I chose not to. I chose to do the most important job. I chose to use my education to be the best teacher I could be. I use my curriculum and assessment skills to help kids and other teachers. I'm so glad that I made that decision. If I had left the classroom ten years ago, today I would no longer be qualified to discuss what teachers and kids need. I wouldn't know what it takes to teach the Common Core. I wouldn't know how to use assessment data to drive my instruction. And I would have no idea what it feels like to be required to do 150 things per minute, all while recording and reporting my student achievement data in hopes that I will be rated as effective. 

The world of education has got to change soon. The pendulum MUST swing back and the only people who can effectively lead us all through it??? You got it...TEACHERS. 


  1. Tera, your blog is especially timely - Arizona just passed legislation that allows anyone with a college degree (accountant, landscape management, interior design) to become a teacher. Could anything be more disparaging or belittling to the education profession? Betsy DeVoss is the poster child for the destruction of public education. She is NOT a leader of leaders. You, however, are. At the expense of your students, you are needed in administration at some level. Building principal would be a minimum starting point.

    1. Mr. F....this means so much to me. While I am happy to have taught and served so many students and families, I am looking for a way to make a broader impact. I wasn't ready ten years ago...but I am now. I don't know what that looks like just yet...but I am open to leaving the classroom if I can make a difference. I reminded my sister just yesterday that last year she said to me, "We have ten years to revolutionize education." She said she noticed I had taken her quite seriously. And she was absolutely right. (and I think I may have just inspired my next blog post...) Thank you for always being my teacher and hero! I was planning to stay in the classroom until I was as good as you. But that's never gonna happen.