Friday, March 4, 2011

Listen to Iowa's educators

CAM High School has a hard working staff of professionals teaching a fantastic student body and I am proud to be their Principal. It’s not uncommon for the climate in education to take a negative turn, but the ripples of negativism that are spreading across the nation from Wisconsin is, in one word - disgusting.

Before listening to the talking heads, to Bill Gates, to the U.S. Department of Education head himself, Arne Duncan. Listen to the educators of Iowa who have stepped into classrooms. They are the ones who have worked with struggling students and are working hard to change education in Iowa. Listen to the people in the profession before you turn to the media and the politician.

Listen to the words of Iowa’s educators and administrators as collected by Jason Glass, the Iowa Department of Education head appointed by Governor Terry Branstad. Go to New Director Offers Roadmap. He had a tremendous outpouring of responses to three questions he asked in his blog - “What should we keep doing? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing?” Simple, reasonable and collected from those who will take their own time to answer, not positioned on a political stage.

The problem in education is should not be put on the shoulders of teachers financially or philosophically. There are many states that have budget gaps to fill due to the recession and other factors. It would be nice to have an honest, open, all-inclusive discussion on the causes and the solutions. Cutting down a profession that works harder, under higher expectations, than any other profession.

It is a rare and wonderful day when you find a “natural” teacher, someone who commands the classroom, relates to the students, can deal with parents, and juggles a social life (or plain just doesn’t have one). The rest of our staff we must develop and assist in their journey. These are not jobs where they clock in, sit at a desk and collect a salary. They have prom committees, concession duties, meetings, student-assistance meetings, school board appearances, conferences and the like. All while trying to raise a family, coach little league, serve on church boards and live a spotless lifestyle.

We are fortunate to have developed many tools and have made innovative steps in improving education. We have a very well received and developed evaluation system that allows us to work with new and career teachers to improve. It’s allows for collaborative and constructive talk around instruction. The Iowa Core is moving us towards a system where instruction in the focus of professional development, and peers hold peers accountable. Technology allows us to even the playing field, help those who need help and accelerate those who are able.

I’d like to tell the Governor, or anyone interested in stopping the progress of the Iowa Core, to tune in Sunday night at 7 p.m. on Twitter for the Iowa Core chat. We break down the outcomes and how they are being implemented in each of our districts. We talk about the training and guidance we get from the meetings they are about to cut out of the budget. Join us because the discussion will not stop even if we shift to something new.

There are thousands of hardworking educators in the state of Iowa and I challenge any profession to match our work ethic, integrity and determination. The teachers in our district and state are owed gratitude and respect. Not cheap shots and cost cutting measures.

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