Thursday, March 06, 2008

Treating Teachers With Contempt; Sure Way to Fail

The Lansing State Journal published two excellent viewpoints on "Failing Schools". For the full editorial go to

Dianna Topper, a Lansing Eastern teacher eloquently laid out the case that there are many factors in the "failing schools" equation. Some of her comments:

Unfortunately it is not schools that fail, it is people.

Teachers fail when:

-they cannot utilize the educational tools they know need to be used because they don't "fit" with one-size-fits-all curricula imposed by the school districts, the state, and the federal government

-they are not allowed to demand excellence from students

School districts fail when they....

-hamstring a teacher's classroom effectiveness by refusing to remove disruptive students

-allow students to ignore policy and parents to circumvent it, all the while holding teachers responsible for enforcing it

-choose not to listen or act upon teacher's concerns and solutions regarding student skills, behavior and attendance

Parents fail when ...

-attitude and behavior are not addressed outside of school

-they do not make sure their child is in school on a regular basis and timely basis

-they keep children home unnecessarily, or when vacations are routinely more important than being in school

Politicians fail when they...

-expect all children to learn exactly the same things in exactly the same amount of time

-expect schools to remedy all the disparities and shortcomings of society

Society fail when it...

-pays only lip service to the importance of education

-focuses attention on what's wrong, only with schools, and students take no ownership of their role in the problem

Students fail when they...

-don't appreciate what a gift education is

-have been raised to expect continuous entertainment, not effort

-have no concept of hard work

-believe that just showing up is enough and not showing up is no big deal

-believe the responsibility for success is not theirs.

Richard Trainor, the president of the Mount Pleasant Education Association writes:

Congratulations to the " dictatorintendent" of the Lansing Public Schools. His plan for your high schools will likely have many consequences. Unfortunately, many of them are likely to be less than positive.

Lansing parents should expect the following "improvements"...

-an exodus of your best young teachers, who read the action and the false statements of the dictatorintendent as a message that Lansing is not the kind of district to which they should commit their lives' work unless they enjoy being thrown under the bus when times are tough

-departure of good senior teachers

-a concerted effort by districts to head hunt those displaced

-students go in distress because their favorite teachers are gone

-teams and clubs are put in turmoil as teachers are shuffled like cards

-buildings end up with administrators who know less about their staff than they do today

No one wants students to succeed as much as teachers. No one does more daily to that end.

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