First of all, I want to thank Will for inviting me as a guest blogger. He is highly invested in conversations about education and where it should be going and what's best for students and teachers.
an article I read about education reform in Oregon. The article itself was nothing I hadn't heard before. The author was recommending that budget cuts not be made at the classroom level by cutting teachers and classes like art, physical education and music, but by eliminating costs like textbooks and teacher professional development while also capping the number of charter schools allowed in the state. I had mixed feelings about some of what she was saying, but did not find the post itself that inspiring.
I had been sent the link by a friend of mine who suggested that I look through the comments. As I scrolled down and began to read, I was shocked. Commenters were posting mathematical equations and financial numbers justifying why teachers' wages should be cut or frozen or why retirement funds are bankrupting the state and they were blasting teachers and teacher unions.
While I don't pretend to be a banker, financier or an expert in government spending, it seems that the opposite is true. Everyone who pays taxes assumes that they are an expert on education because, at some point, they went to school. I'm not saying that taxpayers don't have a say or that we shouldn't be looking to experts in the financial industry for ideas, but schools are not businesses.
What I began to realize while reading the comments was that the biggest problem is a lack of communication across 'sides.' As educators, we need to understand the perspective of taxpayers, community members and parents. In return, we need to for community members, parents and taxpayers to understand what teaching children means in today's world, and it is also important that both parties get to know each other as people, as partners in shaping the future.
So my question is: How do we foster these kinds of open dialogues?
photo courtesy of mynameisharsha on Flickr