Michigan used to be a state that produced some of the best teachers in the country. As a result, we were able to hold on to the most talented educators and even had talented educators from outside of our state applying to come work here. Over the years, the system has been under attack and as a result we have issues retaining quality educators, resulting in our state rating of #36 for education in the US.
As a teacher who works tirelessly for my students to ensure that they develop into thoughtful and caring citizens who are not afraid to work hard, it saddens me to continue to read report after report showing our demise. Most teachers will quickly agree that the old system of schooling does not work and that we as teachers need to be flexible in our approach, however it is really difficult to figure out how to best teach our students when the mandates continue to poor in dictating what students should know. The best get better and are provided with additional resources while the bottom of the barrel struggle to advance. How about we fix education from the top down and the bottom up at the same time?
Provide high poverty districts with additional resources such as more counselors and social workers to help truly handle the trauma that many students are entering school with on a daily basis. Give more freedom to teachers to mold and shape curriculum to ensure all students learn, but at the same time also understanding that all students are not at the exact same place within their learning process and may not end at the same place. We teach for growth and work toward mastery, but a much more important skill is teaching the students how to chart their growth and to set goals. Maybe they will reach them, maybe they won't, but there is as much opportunity for growth in failure than there is in success.
The listed articles below illustrate where we are. Once we acknowledge this and truly embrace it, we can begin to move forward. Politicians need to stop dictating how education works unless they have the actual credentials to do so. I am not telling the governor how to govern (and technically he works for all of the citizens of our state, therefore it would not be wrong of me to question). All I ask is that he stays out of my classroom.
We know we have work to do, but more governing and mandating is NOT what will get us to the top 10.