Several years ago in a random (and rather embarrassing) accident, I tore a ligament in my knee. Upon initially being injured, I was pretty certain that it was nothing serious and that if I stretched my knee and walked around I would be fine. Well, what I didn't realize was that I was making the situation much worse and eventually, I could not straighten my leg so I eventually went to the doctor. Upon a quick examination of my knee, the doctor was pretty certain that all I needed was some physical therapy and my knee should be fine. Of course, he wasn't satisfied with making a diagnosis and laying out a treatment plan solely based on his quick examination and his history with similar injuries. Instead, I was sent for an X-Ray, which showed nothing was broken, and then an MRI, which showed a significant tear in my meniscus that would require surgery immediately. Upon reviewing the results, consulting with another doctor in the practice about what type of surgery would make the most sense and speaking with a physical therapist about an appropriate post-op therapy plan, my doctor successfully repaired and treated my knee so that it was back to full strength within a few months.
Well my fellow educators, herein lies the problem in the world of public education today. Certain people (educators with limited or no classroom experience, politicians, business men/women, non-educators, etc.) are laying out quick-fix "treatment plans" for how we can repair all the problems in the world of public education today. Unfortunately, these "treatment plans" are being laid out without close examination, without all the facts (facts that come from both hard and soft data), without consulting the people who are currently meeting with success in the field and without thinking about the people who are most important in the world of education - our children - and what they need! "Treatment plans" are being laid out based on the results of standardized test scores; "treatment plans" are being laid out to help facilitate the implementation of new standards; "treatment plans" are being laid out by a bunch of politicians, commissioners of education and other professionals who are sitting in a room discussing the problems and how they could be fixed; "treatment plans" are being developed in a vacuum; and most disturbing, "treatment plans" are being developed to address what BAD educators aren't doing instead of looking at what GREAT educators are doing (and how we can recreate those practices across the country)!
Are there some problems in the world of public education today? YES! Do we need to enhance practices being implemented in our classrooms? YES! Do we need to prepare our children to successfully function in today's world? YES! Can we address these issues by implementing new national standards (which I do believe have some merit) and examining the results of standardized test scores where our kids are answering endless multiple choice questions? NO! In my professional opinion, in order to address the issues in public education today, we need to tap into the resources in our amazing schools - we need to talk to the incredibly dedicated classroom teachers and specialists to find out whats going on and whats working; we need to talk to our passionate instructional leaders who understand that educating the whole child is our daily goal and that standardized test scores are merely a moment in time; we need to talk to our students' parents to find out what things they see working and what areas they would like to see enhanced; we need to talk to our kids and see things through their eyes - they can share such amazing insight into many things; and most importantly, we need to visit the many classrooms where incredible things are happening - instruction is being flipped or teachers are differentiating and personalizing instruction based on various data points or kids are having fun learning without realizing they are doing any work! This is how WE diagnose and treat a problem - examine it carefully, look at it from different angles, consult the experts and make decisions in the best interest of everyone involved. This is what WE need to do; the WE who live for the success of public education (or any education); the WE who have devoted our lives to doing what is best for children; the WE who get excited when we walk into a classroom; the WE who are passionate about learning and teaching; the WE who are GREAT educators who are using relevant and cutting edge practices, materials and techniques!
We must start a revolution and do whatever possible to make sure that "treatment plans" and educational reform ideas are NOT being developed and implemented based on what BAD educators are not doing.