I’d like to start off by saying that I do not have a degree in education, never have or doubt I ever will, and that all I know about education is what I’ve read and reported on in the last 10-plus years of my journalism profession and what the last two generations of teachers in my family have taught me.
With that being said, I wish that the individuals—parents, politicians or advocates who make it look like they have a vested interest in education—would quit trying to “educate” the masses about what should or should not be going on in a classroom. I personally believe that our public education system is broken and I don’t think it’s because there isn’t enough money in a district’s piggy bank or that the teachers don’t have a doctorate degree. It’s because people who have no idea what they’re talking about are trying to dictate what happens in a classroom, and they never seem to remember the most important part of this whole thing—our kids.
I remember as a child, which was longer ago than I’d like to admit, the size of a classroom, the amount of money the district had in its budget or the number of degrees a teacher earned, didn’t determine my success. I did well because my teacher encouraged me, both in the classroom and even on the playground. My parents were there to tell me what is right from wrong and when it was time to do my homework and not play a video game or with my Barbies. I also had people in my community who knew my name, asked how my day was when they saw me in the convenience store or acknowledged that I wasn’t just another kid, but a child who held the future of our country in her hands.
I understand that not every child has loving and supportive parents like I did or a community that wants to support them 100 percent, but that’s the problem. Whether you know a child or not, it’s important for us to recognize that they need our support. If you are no longer a parent, volunteer to read at an area school, sign up to be a high school mentor or attend a Board of Education meeting. If anything will open your eyes up to what some might describe as chaos—that will. Advance warning: some of the board meetings can be crazy long, but all in all I believe the information we need to be better parents, mentors or advocates for education unfolds there. Remember, we voted these people in office—at least those of us who cared enough to participate in the election.
We all need to set aside standardized testing, put down the tablets and think about what made each of us successful. I bet $100 that we wouldn’t say it was our third-grade ITBS tests, the curriculum in our eighth-grade Georgia history class or whether we had a new or old textbook. It was a person. Miss Dixon in first grade, Coach Glanton from fifth-grade P.E. or Mrs. Helms from 11th-grade Trigonometry. These are the reasons I have succeeded and what I believe have made me a dependable and responsible person.
We need to go back to the basics of being a part of the classroom, knowing what’s going on in our communities and getting our heads out of the clouds and off Facebook or blogs so that we can be a part of these young people’s future. If we don’t get our acts together, we’ll be the reason our children fail, not succeed.