One Teacher's Voice

Think.Learn.Know.Act

Property tax caps = Public education funding cap

IPS says it must cut $27 million from budget (5/17/2012–J.K. Wall, Indianapolis Business Journal)

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“Indianapolis Public Schools said Thursday it will need to cut $27 million from its 2012-13 budget due to declines in state funding and local income restrained by property-tax caps.”

First word that comes to mind? Infuriating. I experienced this for the first time while working in public libraries. Here it is all over again. It’s infuriating that our legislators and leaders seem to refuse to listen to any and all educators when they say, “Guys. WE’VE GOT THIS.”

Teachers are trained in effective pedagogy, instructional practices, child behavior, learning theory and best practices in education. What we learn is based on peer-reviewed research from real-life, current issues in education around the world. Why do non-educators (legislators, people in business, billionaires) seem to think they understand these concepts better than researchers, school administrators, professors and teachers who have dedicated their careers to best practices?

We shouldn’t just fire “bad” teachers anymore than we should just fail “bad” students anymore than we should just close/take-over “bad” schools.

How about we encourage teachers (new and veteran alike) to continually grow their pedagogies and adapt their instructional methods accordingly to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse group of American students.

How about we look at the way public schools are managed and look for de-centralization of operations? Instead of district mandates defined by one small team of teachers per 32,000 students, how about educational strategies (based on current evidence and research) agreed upon collaboratively and locally by teams of teachers currently practicing?

How about instead of dictating how teachers assess their students, we trust they have the knowledge (once again, backed up by current evidence and research) to effectively assess a child and how to appropriately use that information to guide instruction? And if a teacher needs support in developing that knowledge, then let’s provide it!

How about we stop trying to standardize our children (standardized curriculum, standardized high-stakes testing, country-wide education standards, etc.) and allow them to be the diverse, creative and unpredictable little people they are? How about allowing teachers the freedom to effectively teach to the best of their abilities by lessening mandates and restrictions on teaching?

How about instead of destroying the future of our democracy by eliminating crucial resources to already underfunded public schools, we instead shower them with support and high-quality resources that let them do their jobs better and provide more opportunities for all children.

How about we we take a serious, critical look at the opportunity gaps both in and outside of education that exist for those in our country who are routinely marginalized?

How about we start investigating why poverty is on the rise yet the rich keep getting richer?

So I guess the last question is how do we get our policy makers to listen?

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Here is an article from Education Week with some more critical questions about the standardization of American education.

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