Are teachers to blame for all that’s wrong with our public schools? Of course not. While many frustrated folks may want to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of educators, it simply isn’t the case. There are too many factors in the mix for any one individual to bear all the blame.
When we look at problems like achievement gaps and graduation rates, we know that these issues did not materialize overnight. There is no one stakeholder to blame. We all bear responsibility for our situation, be we parent or policymaker, educator or activist.
Why, then, is it OK for the defenders of the status quo to say that only teachers should be involved in education reform efforts?
For years now, we have heard some educators say that those who are not in the classroom have no business engaging in school improvement efforts. That this is only for teachers to solve. The classroom educator knows best.
If teachers aren’t solely responsible for our K-12 ills, why would be possibly think that they are solely responsible for fixing all that’s wrong in our public schools? It took a village to get us to our current level of educational mediocrity, and it will take a similar village to get us back on an upward trajectory.
As a parent, I have a responsibility to do everything possible to ensure my kids get the best public educations possible. As a homeowner, I want to know that my local school district is excelling, exceeding expectations. As a taxpayer, I expect my taxes are being well spent and my schools performing above the state mean. And as an advocate, I demand that all children — regardless of their race, family income, or zip code — have access to great public schools.
Rather than looking to exclude key stakeholders from the ed reform discussion, we should instead be focused on how to build greater awareness and involvement from all of those in the educational village. It is the only way we will make the progress needed … and it may be the one way we ensure that others at the table don’t place the blame solely at the feet of our teachers. We all need to own the reform process.