It’s Not that Hard to Understand

By May 5, 2014Education

My work rarely leads me to speak on policy matters or political issues. I’m an educator. I highly regard those who work hard in areas of policy and politics. I know that most of the rules, regulations, freedoms and frustrations we have to deal with in education usually emanate from the offices of those who address those issues on a daily basis and I’m serious when I say they have my respect.

I get passionate about the learning process. I know that we can make whatever rules we want, pass whatever laws we want, structure whatever environment we want. However, at the end of the day, this whole thing comes down to one thing: did that child or adolescent LEARN what they were supposed to LEARN that day? That’s what gets me passionate. That’s what keeps me going. Is there a level of motivation in the learner that creates the opportunity to learn? Is there true and authentic engagement by the teacher with EACH learner? That’s why I’m here. And, if you burn everything else away, that’s all I care about when it comes to education. If the learner learned, we succeeded. If not, we failed. Too much of what we talk about and scramble for, revolves around adults; you, me, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and on and on. TOO MUCH.

So, I don’t spend too much time worrying about policy. However, there is a paradigm, a way of thinking, about education that has to be established and agreed upon once and for all. Without it, we will continue to misunderstand each other and blame each other and point fingers and talk and talk and talk. There is a frame of thought that we have to begin with. And, I hate to even say it, but for some, it’s an idea. Idea seems to be too small of a word. From my vantage point, it’s more than an idea. It should dictate all we do.

And, it’s not that hard to understand………

That paradigm, that thought, that idea?

CHOICE

I don’t get it. Having a choice is the underlying support system for who we are and why we live here. I like being able to choose. The only time I would say that a choice should not be offered is when that choice hurts someone. If my choice harms no one, why would I be denied the ability to choose? Surely, it’s because someone has an agenda for me that would deny me my freedom to choose. Last time I checked, I wasn’t here to satisfy their agenda. Someone tell me if the rules changed and I didn’t get that email.

I’ve never been much of a flag-waver or a sign-bearer. I’m not a spokesman for anybody. But I do know that there are just some things that have to be defended and we should be stepping to the front with no fear or apologies when it’s time to do so.

So, to make sure it’s understood; every parent has the right to choose the educational option for their child. And if there’s no option, every community has the right to have those options available for the parents of that community. I’ve always been careful, as an educator, to never think that I replaced a parent in any way. Outside of keeping a child safe from harmful situations, I’ve never thought I could overstep my limits.

Parents have a tremendous responsibility. In doing what is best for our kids, we have to always know that a parent faces what a lot of us may not face each day. It’s that parent lying awake at night, worried about their child. It’s not me. It’s that parent with a broken heart because their child may be doing things that are clearly wrong. It’s not me. It’s that parent that nurtures, cares for, pays for and loves on their child more than me. They know their child and love their child more.

I’ve had plenty of people in private education tell me that children should be attending private school because there is more control of what the student is taught. I’ve been in private education and I appreciate everything it brings to the table but it’s not always the answer and it sometimes presents a huge problem for parents economically. I’ve had people in school districts tell me that the traditional school system is the only venue that should be responsible for all children and anything that diverts funding to a charter school takes away that money from the district. I’ve been in public education and, last time I checked, the money doesn’t belong (ever) to a district. It has always belonged to the parent for their child to be educated. I’ve had people in charter schools express that they wish I would articulate a stronger stand on charter schools. I’ve worked in charter schools and I know that charter schools, in and of themselves, are not always the answer for a child.

So, what is the answer? The answer is choice. Every parent deserves the right to choose. We cannot expect a parent to make decisions for their child until that child reaches the age of 5, and then expect them to just turn them over to an educational system without having choices.

I am patient with anyone (and I mostly have to be patient with myself). However, I would think that any of us would have a problem with rhetoric that eliminates, argues or fights the concept of choice for parents. I thought we had already worked our way through this issue. But we haven’t. The ugly head of denying parents a choice can sometimes raise it’s head and it takes us backward.

I’m not speaking policy here. I’m just expressing the idea of freedom that I think anyone can agree on. Choices and options for parents. It’s not that hard to understand.