A Teacher’s Wish

 

People often ask me what I’d change about education if I could change just one thing.

But they don’t seem to realize that our schools are kind of like Jenga – if you change one thing, you might set off a chain reaction and it all comes tumbling down.

Change one thing – the RIGHT thing – and you may change all of them.

Maybe even for the better!

Why worry about that now?

Monday is my birthday. I’ll be 48.

Old enough to know that birthday wishes don’t come true. Unless maybe you wish for cake and ice cream.

But I can still see myself staring into the candles as friends and family sing the obligatory tune.


The orange flames wave back and forth atop tiny wax fingers threatening to burn down the whole chocolatey confection.  

But before they do, I just might give in and make a wish – a birthday wish – and….

You never know!!!

So here goes.

Candle burn, candle bright,

Let me strive to make things right,

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish, I wish tonight…

 
I wish there were no more standardized tests.  


 
No more judging kids entire academic year based on their performance in a few hours of multiple choice Hell.  


 
No more assessments where a multiplicity of nonacademic factors like parental income, childhood trauma and corporate bias are hidden behind a numeric label.  


 
No more evaluations based on eugenics and pseudoscience. No more tests supported by the bottom line of corporations who make money creating the tests, grading the tests and selling us the remediation materials to retake the tests.  


 
That, alone, would make such a difference.  


 
No more teaching to the test. No more narrowing the curriculum. No more pressure to increase test scores.  


 
Just the freedom to teach.  


 
To empirically observe a classroom of students, see what they need and try to help them get it.  


 
And since I’m overturning that stone, I’ll topple another one. 


 
I wish schools were budgeted fairly.  


 
Not equally, mind you, but fairly.  


 
I wish every student got all the resources necessary to meet his or her needs. No! I wish they got MORE than enough.  


 
I wish we funded schools the way we fund the military! I wish schools had money flowing through them like a river of gold. I wish school buildings were marble palaces where the community could come together and learn and play and talk and interact. 

Imagine how that would impact class size.

No more 20-30 kids stuffed into a single classroom with just one teacher between them.

No more trying to differentiate, grade, instruct, counsel, and inspire until there’s nothing left of you at the end of the day.

No more being on stage every moment but instead having dedicated times untethered to students where you can actually think about things – how to teach this or that, what students really meant when they made certain comments, how to best help parents…

But wait there goes another pebble!

I wish there was no school privatization!

And I do mean NO school privatization.

There shouldn’t be schools for some kids and schools for others.

We should differentiate by need but not by income bracket. We shouldn’t divide kids up based on race, ethnicity or their parents biases.

No more prep schools. No more parochial schools. No more prestigious academies. No more charter schools. No more home schools.

Just public schools of every shape and size.

Schools funded by everyone to teach everyone’s kids. No place to hide money for some and deprive it from others.

Oops! There goes another stone overturned!

I wish there were no more segregated schools.

No more districts or buildings or classes focusing mostly on white kids, or black kids, or rich kids or poor kids.

Silly privatizer, schools are for ALL kids. All kids mixed together. Because only then can we ensure they all get equity and that they learn the true face of America.

Only then will they learn how to get along, how to understand where they’re coming from and how to embrace their differences.

Uh-oh! Did you hear that!? There went a whole mountain of stones!

No more profiteering off children!

No more data mining!

No more developmentally inappropriate standards!

No union busting!

Teaching could become a calling again.

Educators would no longer be seen as overpaid babysitters but trusted pillars of the community.

They’d be respected – their opinions sought after in educational issues like diamonds.

And the pay! No longer would any teacher need to work more than one job! They’d be compensated like professional athletes. Maybe there’d even be a draft in each state where the most promising prospects out of college would be fought over by schools with children who they think would best be served by their hire.

Imagine a country like that! One that put children first by putting education first!

Imagine how it would change the landscape. Adults who grew up in such a system would be pretty hard to fool because they’d be critical thinkers.

No political charlatan could come in and bamboozle them with nonsense and charisma. No corporation could trick them into pyramid schemes and tax evasion.

No wars for oil.

No climate denial.

No banning books.

No gun ownership without strong regulations.

No lack of social services, public healthcare, public goods!

Ah! It would be a much better world I think if my wish came true.

But…

Oh…

Sigh!

I don’t see it happening.

No even a little of it.

After two decades in the classroom, the wind always seems to be blowing against such things.

But then again, I have a chance to change the wind come Monday.

We all do.

If you’ll help me blow out the candles.


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7 thoughts on “A Teacher’s Wish

  1. In 2013, Michigan became one of many states that began using standardized tests in reading, writing, and math as a requirement for teacher certification. The backlash was significant and around 2020, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) finally eliminated its standardized test standard.

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  2. Have you read The Monkey’s Paw, a short story by W.W. Jacob?

    If you have, you may probably understand why I think you should change the language for this wish:

    “No more 20-30 kids stuffed into a single classroom with just one teacher between them.”

    The greedy fraudulent, fascist zombies behind the war on OUR public schools would read that and then advocate stuffing more than 30 kids into a smaller than average classroom and provide teachers with HS degrees and no experience to teach anything because one reequipment would be those teachers would have belong to QAnon and hate reading. Imagine one of those old fashioned phone booths with 35 kids crammed inside it. The teacher would be the phone, but when it rang would any of the students be able to pick up?

    Here’s my suggested revision: “Classrooms must have 20 or fewer students with one teacher and a trained adult aide in each class.”

    Even better, Make class size equal to the same private schools Bill Gates and his children’s attended. I recall those classrooms had one teacher for 12 students.

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    • Thanks, Lloyd. I teach “The Monkey’s Paw” to my 8th graders so I know what you mean. I meant to be describing what was happening now not prescribing what I hoped to see. It’s hard to give an exact number for class size but 20-30 is not it.

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  3. I would add MORE school librarians. Removing library time and certified librarians from school, is another Jenga piece.

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  4. The situation here in Indiana is such as these issues that you openly talk about. Not to mention we have severe problems even in my small town of Salem, Indiana (population 6,300) with bullying and bully enablers in school administration that create more problems because they won’t confront the bullies and those in school who are enabling such behavior.

    This boils back to the Republican War on Teachers that has been going on for many years to the point that the teachers are the ones getting dumped on. Here locally we have a small school corporation of about 2000 students while having a great many administrators who create a lot of issues rather than just basic operations.

    For example, my child is a autism spectrum disorder student and ends up being bullied and nothing gets done about it by the local administrators and the zombies running the system. So instead of him getting the education that he deserves they instead cut hours off his school day because they don’t know how to deal with a child with autism. All the while in the State of Indiana we are a state that supposedly has a law that requires the schools to provide appropriate education that I feel is lacking especially when the school consistently sends him home claiming he was sick with pink eye when he wasn’t sick at all and went back to school 2 days later. Not to mention he never had COVID and has always wore a mask since early 2020 when school was suspended and last year I was teaching him and his grades and understanding of the subjects that were required was quite good as was his grades.

    I wasn’t a particular fan of the online system due to kids needing to be in school and taught by professional educators that know what they are doing. However, I’ve spent the entire year fighting the school bureaucracy of their lack of imposing discipline on the children that obviously want to pick and bully on a special needs child. I’ve complained about it and was promptly told by the assistant principal to leave his office before he threatened to call the police because I asked him sternly what was going to be done to the bullies that attacked my kid where he hit his head on concrete when they double teamed him. He threatened of course to call the school resource officer because he said I was talking down to him. Instead of being a grown adult and having a mature conversation regarding the issues at hand the so called assistant principal was involved in yelling and being a jerk when he was questioned. These kind of people don’t belong in administration especially when they don’t bother to get the facts and the fact was that this was the second time my child had been attacked once on the playground and second in the classroom which he promptly defended himself.

    Meanwhile the local school can’t provide enough classroom materials to the teachers to the point that the school has a fundraising program through a school store program where people can buy 20 and 30 dollar bags of popcorn so the school can get classroom materials instead of them being paid for out of taxes and then properly distributed. Heck, I would even give my child another 100 or 200 dollars in classroom materials if I knew they would be properly used and not distributed to people that simply could pay some extra money for their children to get more materials. However, our smallish school corporation of 2000 students in a county of 28,000 people has all kinds of money that should have been spent on more classroom teachers and less on administration when the administration is very ineffective and constantly gets bad rankings from the state and nothing ever gets done about it. Yet the school for some reason cannot find enough money that needs to be used for proper classroom instruction and I attribute some of that to administration. Yet also I think that the state governments and most of them Republican ran states could care less about education and progress. It’s their mode of operation and business of doing things to build a bloc of voters who are uninformed and superstitious rather than people who are informed, logical and rational.

    I’ll give you a bit of information about how our state rankings work on a A-F scale and our local elementary school nearly every year since 2013 a period of 8-9 years has ranked at a D level by our state here in Indiana. The middle school in this small agricultural and manufacturing community most of those years is the same and the high school isn’t much better. Which is why after 13 years of school we have many students that end up lacking basic skills such as properly knowing how to use math to solve problems and making change or balancing check books. That’s also in addition to the rot with the lack of knowledge in US History, US Government, Indiana Government and their lack of knowledge of world current events, math and science skills, technology skills and even basic reading issues which shouldn’t be a problem with someone that graduated high school.

    The current American educational system has been allowed to rot over the years and this problem has festered for going on decades now with no real attempts to turn back the clock and adopt some ideas that would make America first again in education like we were for decades. Instead, we’ve allowed our educational system to rot just like our highway infrastructure, ports, bridges, railroads and much more. This has a snowball effect of allowing the country to slide downhill like it has greatly in my lifetime. This needs to be addressed at the highest levels but I’m not sure that anything will actually get done because there are too many vested interests with money who are more interested in money than providing students and parents the ability to get the best results and best education possible. Keep up the fight though and I enjoy reading your blog.

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