In a March 16th article on National Public Radio (NPR) Alabama teacher, Jennifer Brown explains that she had never thought before to invite legislators to visit her classroom and the classrooms of others in her school. Many lawmakers said, “No thanks,” to the invitation but some said, “Yes.” Those legislative visitors reported that it was an “eye opener” for them and reassured Ms. Brown that it would have an impact.
In a school recently, a teacher told me that a recently-hired administrator who was making an impressively high salary did not really know what he was doing, so the teachers had to explain to him how to do his job. The teacher wondered why his six-digit salary couldn’t be split among the teachers, and they could do the job the administrator was attempting to do.
It is a mystery why teachers allow those who know little or nothing about teaching, or children, or schools, to tell them all what to do. The same Jennifer Brown was quoted saying, “People tend to think that they’re experts in education because they were educated.” The point is that an education does not an experienced educator make. So then why distract from the essential task of educating youth to explain to the under-informed administrators what it is to teach and manage this highly sophisticated art form of teaching so that they can, in turn, tell teachers what to do, what to teach, how to teach, and what criteria qualify a teacher?
In a January tweet, Jennifer Brown wrote, “Educators are the only ones who can change this conversation!!” So let’s really change it! Only those who can productively speak about education, curriculum, child development, varying learning approaches, children, should be on the invitation list for conversation towards change…that is, only teachers.
This will, of course, inevitably prompt an outcry for “accountability.” This could be called “silly,” given the fact that we hold legislators so little accountable – the visit to the classroom the wise Ms. Brown engendered was the first of its kind in the legislators’ lives – for understanding these important things when they cook up laws that govern and dictate what’s to be taught to our children and how it must be taught and at what pace and at what age.
Jennifer Brown is absolutely right to say that educators are the only ones who can change this conversation. Change must include the truth that no one is qualified to develop curriculum or explain how and when things might be taught except educators. A one-day visit to a classroom for a politician might be an eye-opener, but it does not qualify as expertise in education, so needed to determine what effective, moral, and sensible teaching looks like. How many credit hours would a legislator deserve for a visit like that? Whatever we might decide, it’s not nearly enough to qualify him to write a single law that properly governs education!


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