A Southern Teacher's Take

Monday, November 13, 2006

Leaving Children Behind, Part II

The thing is this: as long as education is a political issue, numbers will be more important than students. And not only has education become a political issue, but it's a polarizing issue. Teachers find their way into campaign ads, newspaper headlines read "Teacher Union Supports Candidate X," and educators' associations appropriate millions and millions of dollars, yearly, for the purposes of lobbying.

Enough, already.

All of the politicizing has placed education under a microscope so powerful that our every move is scrutinized by people who've not been in a classroom since they were students.

Sort of a new topic: Quick! Name the Secretary of Education!

Okay, don't worry about Googling it; I'll tell you. Margaret Spellings.

We can name the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Vice President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Labor...but most people (the vast majority, likely) have no idea who the Secretary of Education is. Most teachers likely don't know who the Secretary of Education is. Yes, we live in a time when the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security are in the news far, far more often than the education leader.

And yes, public education is, at its core, run at the state level. And I'm not advocating a change in that regard. The thing is, though, that we need stronger federal leadership. Not in the form of mandates and directives, but in the form of a person. How is it that education is under such scrutiny but no one knows anything about the Secretary of Education?

So we're leaving children behind because we're scrambling to meet goals, goals that have been established to appease our critics...critics who generally know little or nothing about how educaiton really works. And I'm not saying that politicians are necessarily our strongest critics. Anyway, we're leaving children behind, children who have fallen, so that we may remain positively accountible.

Margaret Spellings, this is a mess. WHERE ARE YOU?

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