I was born poor, but I had a great education. In public schools. Across the USA. Including Texas.
I didn’t have to take advanced classes to get that great education. I didn’t have to take a state mandated test to see if I was actually learning. We did take part in a national norm test, but it just told us where we ranked compared to others.
A free public education is essential to democracy. Don’t believe it? Check out countries without.
Tonight at small group we discussed how education in changing, and I’m frightened. If we change to a nation where only rich students learn critical thinking skills, where only rich children have the opportunity for small class sizes and elite level teaching, where only rich children learn more than the content of a standardized test, where will we be? I know the answer and it’s scary. Public educators have to stand up now. They have to say we are the USA and all students deserve a quality free public education, not just those who can afford high tuitions. I understand our states are in a crisis, but killing the public school is NOT the answer.
I keep hearing that teachers are whiny babies who need to “suck it up,” and it kills me. We’re not whiny. We’re the first line of defense against the destruction of a nation built on the foundation that all men are created equal. Like all bureaucracies, there is waste in education, but filling our classrooms with 40 students isn’t the answer. Eliminating pre-K and all- day kindergarten isn’t either. The answers aren’t easy, certainly not as simple as line item cuts on budgets filled with numbers with no thoughts to the lives behind those numbers.
On Saturday educators, students and parents from across the state will gather in Austin to make this point. I hope someone listens. We have a rainy day fund, and it’s pouring outside. The state needs to dip into the fund and protect education now. And they need to take a long, hard look at the practices we’ve embraced that have had zero impact on student achievement.
I’m lucky to work for a district that had been completely transparent in this process. Educators are actually part of finding the tough solutions, solutions that will still be painful. Perhaps the state should follow our lead.