I'm not an educator. The closest I've ever come to knowing how to teach would be what I've learned somehow through osmosis. I come from a lineage of teachers who went to school and received a degree in education. In fact, every member of my immediate family possesses a teaching degree, whereas I do not. Therefore, I don't pretend to tell anyone who gets up in front of a classroom on a day-to-day basis on how I could do their job more efficientlyor, in the end, yield better results. However, it doesn’t take an educator to recognize that teachers in the United States suffer under regulations made by individuals who have never stood in front of a classroom of students.
I believe that teachers should be able to do the job they were trained to do. No more, no less. In today's society, apparently that makes me different from nearly everyone. I'm not sure if you've been paying attention lately, but the teaching profession has become increasingly political, and there are more rules than ever surrounding what content should be delivered, how it should be taught, and how a school should run.
I know very few educators who wouldn't agree with the following statement: This over-regulation, in the form of laws, rules, policies, code, and (my personal favorite) non-regulatory guidance, is ruining the science and art of teaching and should change, immediately. It is zapping the amount of time a teacher can actually spend on instruction (what truly matters, by the way) and is making new teachers wash out at an unprecedented rate.
This systematic over-regulation is, typically, the result of well-intentioned policymakers (at the local, state, and federal level) who don't understand the fundamental issues in education. It's very tough to understand those issues if you haven't been in the trenches to see them.
Make no mistake; there is a litany of concerns that educators and stakeholders must address. But when we continually churn out legislation and policy -- it, by its very nature, restricts and negates the benefit of the professional judgment of those that were trained to perform the task of teaching our children. Effectively, we reduce their capacity to problem-solve by limiting their response to a particular intervention.
Imagine if we told physicians they could only use one protocol for each form of cancer, or required traffic engineers only to use roundabouts or stop lights instead of stop signs. Imagine the calamity that would ensue if we told attorneys they could only file one type of pleading or if we forced their paralegals only to use Microsoft Word or Word Perfect -- or we required them to update the state every time a client missed a meeting. Teachers must be allowed to choose methods that speak to their unique teaching style as well as the individual needs of the students in the classroom.
All politics are local. That's also where almost all education occurs -- in the classroom. We should set goals at the state and local level, provide the resources required to get the job done, leave as many educational decisions as possible to the professional judgment of educators, and hold both them and parents accountable for the results. In essence, we must return the majority of policymaking to the local level and let teachers teach.
Russ Davis may not be an educator, but he spends a lot of time working with educator and for educators creating tools that give them a little more of what every educator needs: time. Find out how Russ and SchoolStatus are Changing Education, Forever HERE.