School Reform: Contrary To Popular Belief, Everbody Isn’t An Expert

So often our perspectives are skewed or enlarged by our experiences. When we have limited experiences we are likely to possess skewed perspectives. When our experiences are far and wide, we are more likely to have the ability to see things from multiple viewpoints. If we aren’t careful, we make judgments and develop opinions that we sometimes advocate as if they are facts, based on a skewed perspective. When it comes to school reform, I often see this taking place. 
As a former teacher, assistant principal, and principal with 17 of my 19 years spent inside the school building, I feel compelled to point out the gaps in the perspectives of others who lack the same “inside” experience yet make decisions that impact those who are “on the ground”. So often it is clear to me that they lack context. That is, they have no frame of reference on which to build their opinions and draw their conclusions. As an analogy, imagine someone developing the rules of the road who has never driven a car. We’d all think that was insane, yet when it comes to school reform, we have folks who are fastened to the rhetoric of failing schools, value-added firing and evaluating, and the deeply held opinions of those who have never sat in the seat as a teacher or administrator. I’m fascinated by the level of confidence folks have in their expertise of turning around schools who have never even held one in the road. 
As I wrote about in my new book, there is an assumed widespread expertise regarding teaching and learning that baffles me. In no other profession does one presume to know how to do it best, fix it when it’s not going well, etc. Even the argument that this collective expertise is because we’ve all gone to school is up for debate in my mind right now. Does riding across a bridge or road in a car make you an expert civil engineer? Does going to the doctor mean you should serve as a part of the American Medical Association? Does operating a computer give you the experience you need to reform Information Technology? 
When it comes to school reform, however, this is the flawed logic we’ve used since he release of 1983’s A Nation At Risk. It seems so obvious to me, that professionally certified and licensed individuals who have had extensive training in teaching and learning, had that knowledge assessed via a certification assessment, been required to maintain that certification via continued learning credits, would be seen as the experts, yet that does not seem to be the case.
Is this due to a lack of respect for the profession? Is it because educators are viewed as being intellectually less capable than other professionals? I can’t seem to stop thinking about this, yet I know the reason for it isn’t what’s most important. Right now what is critical for our country is to give educators the respect and dignity they deserve, to end the perpetual narrative of a failing public education system and failing schools, to acknowledge that via this narrative we have demoralized educators and their profession and we now stand in the midst of a teaching shortage that could potentially be like none we’ve ever seen before.

Make no mistake, I plan to spend my entire career advocating for and serving in public education. It’s time we positively advocate and elevate the most noble profession in the world. For more on how you can join me in this #call2action4ed, please check out my new book, Burned Out, Beaten Up, Fighting Back: A Call To Action For America’s Public Educators! It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle: https://t.co/BodQc4FTqt

Until next time, be you-be true-be a hope builder!
Latoya

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