In light of all the things that are going on in Iowa today with the GOP and the press descending into my neighborhood coffee shop and the fact that I spent an hour listening to the governor this morning, I decided I needed to blog...something more thought provoking than the past two blogs which was pretty much a complaining session.
So this morning I went down to listen to the governor and Deputy governor at a townhall meeting to discuss the governor's new Blueprint to "fix" education in the state of Iowa. The first 15 minutes was spent listening to introductions, some words from both the governor and our deputy and then came the "feel good" video. Branstad spoke about the Educational Summit this summer, his job in his first term, his job as president of DMU, and how his daughter was a teacher and how he knew exactly where teachers were coming from...then questions were asked from the public.
All the while I listened to this, I wanted to hear something that would make me feel alright...something that would make me think, "maybe this isn't so bad". I found one....the blueprint will do one thing that is a really great idea. It will give education majors more hands-on time in classrooms. It will give them time with a master teacher to really see what it's like to teach and the type of students they will be teaching. I love this idea. I'm totally on board. I think this will truly weed out those people that maybe just shouldn't go into the profession. I'm hoping that it won't discourage those that are...but I believe it will make these people better teachers.
The rest of the it....ugh. Other countries were spoken about and how they are doing much better than we are...I wonder if people understand that students in many of these countries are tracked. Students take a test as they get older to figure out if they should even go into university or not. We don't do that here...I mean formally. We don't walk up and crush the idea of college to anyone - but educators do understand that everyone isn't headed to higher education.
When questioned about what the blueprint will do for URBAN families...his response was that there were programs...United Way, in fact, that were in place. Yeah, United Way is there...in fact I give part of my check to continue these services...but it's there for people that actually use them. Many families don't....again, what do we do about these families? Most of what he's proposing sounds really good....but not for urban families.
I was not surprised to hear that he had planned several of these townhall meetings....but NOT in Des Moines. He had to be almost petitioned to have one in our state capitol with those teachers who understand that this blueprint doesn't fully help the neediest of our state's students. In fact today when families were brought up...his response was that they were meeting with parents....IN WAUKEE. What does that for our low income families...? They're NOT in Waukee!!!
Another thought, is in reference to what I wanted to do...which was to invite our governor and deputy and anyone else to come into my room...especially Legislators....it was offered by someone in the crowd. The response...we've been in classrooms... For me...I mean go into an urban classroom and not one in the suburbs. Go to schools that are struggling...with behavior, test scores, and have populations that we're talking about. Go to talk with urban families and find out what low economics means for them...because I'll bet you it means something COMPLETELY different to them than a rural or suburban community.
Finally - it was requested that teachers need to start being respected. Real respect. If we're talking about other countries, if you say that you're a teacher, you garner respect. The teacher asked for it...in this blueprint, in public, by the governor, by the Legislators....just in general. I agree. I'm not sure when educators became the dumping ground for the problems of education, but I'm done with that. Education should be everyone's responsibility, not just those that are associated with the field.
As 2012 rolls around and we are inundated with the political junk, I'll be interested how they refer to those in education field and education in general. I hope, in the end, I'll have someone to put my vote towards because I'm not very hopeful right now....