Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos

Dear Betsy,

May I call you Betsy? I feel I have earned the right to this bit of familiarity. Why do I feel I have earned this right? Here’s why. The thousands of dollars I have in student loans that were acquired at a University splattered with the DeVos name is why I feel I have earned that bit of familiarity.

Betsy, I am a teacher and a (twice) graduate of Lee University. I was SO excited when I saw that you had been nominated for Secretary of Education. I asked my husband (also a Lee graduate), “Is that Betsy DeVos as in THE DeVos family?!” All I ever knew was the wonderful altruism and support of education that came from the DeVos name. It was one of the first names I heard as a scared freshman many years ago. So long ago, in fact, that Lee wasn’t even a university, yet. Just Lee College.

Betsy, I am heartbroken. I had high hopes until these hearings. I really thought that the support of education I had seen all those years ago would filter into this nomination and (at the time, hopefully) your appointment. I have kept quiet and adopted a “wait and see” approach when others were so negative about this. I seriously thought you were going to be the ace in the hole for public education. I mean, a family that was SO devoted to higher education had to believe in education, in general, right?

Betsy, it’s starting to look like I was wrong and I write this with tears in my eyes. Why have you not educated yourself on education? Public education, in particular. Why have you not taken the time to talk to educators? You seem to think public schools are still “reading, writing, and arithmetic”. We are SO much more. We are STEM, we are arts, we are language, we are relational, we are sports, we are clubs, we are hygiene, we are food, we are shelter, and we are LOVE.

Betsy, what we are not is a moneymaking machine. Public schools are not about the dollar signs you seem to be seeing. Public schools are not about the companies that try to profit from selling their multitude of products to us, constantly. We are bombarded with “new and better” all the time. Everyone has the “latest and greatest” thing in education. Guess what, half the time, their newest thing doesn’t last beyond a semester or a year, if we’re lucky. How many of those companies do you have investments with?

Betsy, do you have any idea how many hours per year teachers in public schools spend trying to better themselves? Do you have any clue how many of the things you are trying to say are a better idea are actually happening on a daily basis within our public schools? Schools have not been “one size fits all” since before I was in high school. And, Betsy, no offense intended, but, you’re not much younger than my own mother. Maybe that’s why your notion of public schools is so antiquated.

Betsy, I URGE you to spend some time in public schools and with public school teachers. I BEG you to try to understand why people are so upset. I IMPLORE you to put yourself into the shoes of the people who go in day after day and try to make a difference. I BESEECH you spend 9 hours a day in a public school and see exactly what is happening there. Our day starts at 8:00. Between 7:30 and 8:00 this morning, I dealt with students dealing with a pregnancy scare, a relationship breakup, and a poor home life. I also had to make copies and get ready for my first class of the day during that time.

Betsy, I am extending to you a personal invitation to come visit me for the day. I’d love to show you what it’s really like in a public school. I’d love to show you the differentiation that’s happening. I’d love to show you the programs we have in place for students who struggle, who don’t struggle, and who do well. I’d like for you to see how we care for students who are hungry, who are cold, who need a home other than a shelter. It would be great for you to watch us include students in sports, academics, and arts. I’d love for you to see how ONE teacher and ONE classroom can encompass all of that and still have successful, well adjusted, engaged students who come to school and want to learn, feel safe, and feel valued.

Betsy, come on down to the trenches and see how the soldiers work. See how the soldiers march. See how the soldiers soldier on in light of all the things thrown at them from so many generals who’ve never stepped foot into a classroom (except on paper) to tell them how to be a good soldier.

Friday, August 12, 2016

"What's Wrong With You Today" or "Why Do I Have to Grow Up?"

I've had a couple of days this week where I woke just feeling "off". Ever have those days? Something's wrong, but you have no clue what? Something is bothering you and you're not sure why? You have this feeling of dread and don't know where it came from? This morning, it hit me hard. Really hard. I wasn't sure what the heck was going on. I'm typically a pretty laid back, happy, easy-going person. But, my heart felt heavy today. I had no desire to do anything. But, I forced myself to get out and go for a walk. I needed to walk and clear my head. While I walked, it hit me. I'm growing up. Wait, what? You're 42 years old, Shannon. You should have grown up a LONG time ago! Yeah, you're right, but, as long as my children were "not grown", I didn't have to FEEL grown...

This morning, my child who NEVER gets out of bed without being told texted me before 6:00 AM telling me that she needed to be at school at 7:00 AM and not PM like she originally thought. She got up, got ready, made her breakfast and lunch, and left me, to be grown. She had a practice and band camp, today. She's considering joining a student-leader group. She's trying to add a college credit course to her school load. I'm growing up.

My son who NEVER gets out of bed without being told came down the stairs at 8:00. He said, "I've got 30 minutes to get out the door." He made his breakfast. He got his work clothes together for the evening shift he's working. He's spending all day in a leadership course for band. He's contacted his football coach to let him know he can't make practice, today because of the two other things he had to do. I didn't have to tell him to do all of that. He got dressed and left me, to be grown. I'm growing up.

My other son (after getting extra rest and being told to get up) got out of bed, ate something, took out the garbage without being told, and cleaned the kitchen after being told. He emailed his band director to ask questions about next week, without being told. He's going to football practice this afternoon. He's taking his shower supplies and work clothes, he will leave football and go to work. In a few hours, he will get dressed for practice and leave me, to be grown. I'm growing up.

All of the funny sayings, wisdom from elders, and horror stories really don't prepare you for what's happening right in front of your eyes. They don't attempt to explain the ache that starts once you realize they're starting to "not need" you. It doesn't begin to prepare you for the tears that randomly show up when you see a "Timehop" picture from four years ago. In no way do they start to describe the confusion a mom feels when they take the initiative to contact other adults instead of asking me to do it. They cannot in any way enable a mother to deal with the stabbing pain of watching other people "court" her children to come and become part of a new (college) family or team. Don't get me wrong, they'll always want their mama in their life, I hope and pray. One of my boys has taken to calling me as soon as he gets off work and talking to me on his way home. That gives me hope. That hope helps me because I'm growing up.

My role is changing. I'm becoming less "mama" and more "advisor". We're talking about tough decisions. We're discussing their futures. We're talking about whether to expand the nest or leave the nest. We're discussing money and making decisions about money. I'm doing my best to make sure they don't make the same mistakes I did because I'm growing up.

Wait, don't you have another kid? Oh, you mean the one who is 12, going into the seventh grade, and already talking like a college professor while simultaneously being addicted to video games? The one who is already talking about the activities he's going to join this year? Yes, I still have my baby boy. But, he's a baby boy with a mustache who recently posted a bunch of selfies with girls on his snapchat story. GASP! Well, I guess I can be thankful that this is my last time to deal with hormones, at least. I guess that too means I'm growing up.

I am already missing my babies with a year to go before two leave whether it's physically to a college out of state or metaphorically by living at home and going local. So many sayings about roots and wings say things like they need to be given wings in order to fly. I don't want my children to fly. I want them to soar. I want them to rise about the clouds, catch a wind and lift themselves higher than I ever could. In order to do that, I have to believe I'm growing up.

So, here goes. Grow, my children. Change, my children. Fly, my children. SOAR, my children. Don't worry about me. I'll be okay. You see, I'm growing up...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Heart is as Broken as Our Country

This is my country! Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth! This is my country!
Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold,
For this is my country to have and to hold.
What diff'rence if I hail from North or South
Or from the East or West?
My heart is filled with love for all of these.
I only know I swell with pride and deep within my breast
I thrill to see Old Glory paint the breeze.
With hand upon heart I thank the Lord For this my native land,
For all I love is here within her gates.
My soul is rooted deeply in the soil on which I stand,
For these are mine own United States.
This is my country! Land of my choice!
This is my country! Hear my proud voice!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold,
For this is my country! To have and to hold.
Written by: Don Raye, Al Jacobs

I learned this song a very long time ago. I wasn't even a preteen. 
I was so proud to be a Girl Scout. I dove into everything there 
was to offer. I earned badges left and right. I had friends. Many 
friends from all over. Daddy was in the military. We were exposed
to everyone from everywhere. 

I learned to make homemade tortillas from my mother's friend. I 
might have been 11 years old at the time. She was from Puerto 
Rico.  We stayed with them while Mama ad Daddy took a short 
vacation. We loved her and her family. We loved all of our friends. 
We didn't know there was such a thing as race problems or 
inequality. Where we were, everyone was the same. 

I was always so proud of that song and the National Anthem. My 
heart still swells and I get teary when I hear the National Anthem. 
But, this isn't MY country. It's OUR country. It's always been OUR 
country. But, right now, everyone is acting like it's "MY" country. 
This isn't that country I knew as a child. This isn't the acceptance 
learned as a youngster. There is so much more violence, hate, 
bigotry, division, and racism. My older eyes see it. My younger 
heart  is crying because of it. I've raised my children the way I knew 
to raise them. We accept everyone. We love everyone. Hate takes 
too much  energy. Hate takes time to teach. Divisiveness starts with 
a tiny spark that can cause a great explosion. 

I look at all of the things happening today and I can only ask why. 
Why did we let our nation get like this? Why did we teach our 
children hate  instead of love? Why did our world become so selfish? 
Why are we allowing the hate to spread like wildfire? Why are we not 
dousing the fire with love, patience, and understanding? Why are we 
so unwilling to compromise? Why is it only one way or the other? 
The only answer I have is SELF. 

People have become lovers of self. People have become selfish. 
People have become so focused on themselves they refuse to 
acknowledge others. They refuse to see that someone else has an 
idea. They refuse to see that someone might need help. They 
refuse to look past a pigment to the same beating heart. The 
same color of blood. The same organs that perform the same 
purposes. One doesn't work without the other. We cannot work 
without each other. This country cannot work without all of us. 

If your child wanted to date someone who you knew had a bad 
reputation, would you be apprehensive? Would you try to stop it? 
Would you ground your child? Would you react first when the kid 
showed up at the door and ask questions later? If you were a cop 
who was about to arrest someone who you knew had a huge rap 
sheet, would you be apprehensive? Would you react first and ask 
questions later? I'm NOT defending the fact that people have 
died. I'm not getting into any of the statistics of race and crime, 
here. You'll not drag me into any debates about proportionality and 
disproportionality. I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong. I'm 
simply saying that nothing is ever as black and white as people 
selfishly want to make it. 

I'm so saddened by the recent reports of people refusing to serve 
police officers. How can one summarily decide all officers are 
bad? How can you refuse service to those who have dedicated their 
lives "to protect and serve" YOU? I've been a mother for a very long 
time. I don't believe I have EVER punished all of my children for the 
actions of one. Even my identical twins are two distinct people who 
deserve to be treated as such. My boys are not a "unit". Police 
officers work for a unit and can work as a unit. However, all  are 
individuals. Just as I could never paint all men with the same brush 
because one or two hurt me, all police officers cannot be painted 
with the same brush as some who overreact, act too quickly or 
harshly, or, are just bad guys.  

I agree that voices need to be heard. I agree that changes need 
to be made. Do you agree that change starts with you? Nothing 
ever changes with violence. Violence begets violence. If someone 
comes at me with violence, I'll protect myself as violently. If 
someone comes to me willing to talk, willing to discuss, willing to 
have open and honest discourse, I'll meet halfway and further. 
Organizing is amazing. When people are willing to work, willing to 
organize, big changes can happen. But, while you're working on 
your protest, take a minute to be selfless. Hand your unopened 
bottle of water to the homeless guy sitting and watching your 
protest. Pick up the candy wrapper the chick in front of you just 
dropped. Clean up the city park and have your organizational 
meeting there. 

I'm going to end this with this last bit of thought. Everyone, 
everywhere do yourselves and everyone around you a favor. 
Turn OFF the news, close OUT your social media, disconnect 
FROM the Internet and LOOK around you. What do you see? 
What do you look like? Look INSIDE you. Is it the same as what's 
around you? Look back at your social media. Is it the same as 
what's inside you? Are you helping to end this division or 
perpetuate it? Are you posting all of this divisive crap? Are you 
reposting half-truths without researching them? Are you using 
the same manipulated statistics? Are you reposting the same 
old tired quotes? Are you being selfish or selfless? Do you 
want this to be YOUR country? Or would you rather have 
OUR country?

To have, and to hold...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Trump Wins and We ALL Lose or I'm Calling You Out, Bible Belt

           I am simply astounded by last night’s Super Tuesday results. I sat with my mouth gaping open as update after update came in. Really, Bible Belt? REALLY? What has happened to the part of the country I’ve always been so proud to call my point of origin? When did it become okay for someone like that to become a leader? I’m going to debunk some of the crap I keep hearing spewed about how “great” this man is and how he’s going to “make America great again”.
            The first piece of nonsense I’m hearing is that he’s “financing his own campaign.” Bull. If he were, there wouldn’t be a “donate” button on his website. He wouldn’t have raised 27.3 MILLION dollars to “finance” his campaign. No, it’s not as much as some, but, it’s not small change, either. Here’s another little thing for you to think about, he’s not a self-made man. He received a LARGE inheritance from his father, which he then used to build his “empire”. He also used the U.S. government to help restructure his businesses four times through Chapter 11. He did this four times. He got debt forgiveness and extended time to pay bills. Trust me, people, he’s not going to show you how to get rich. If he can’t manage his money or businesses without governmental intervention, how in the world is he going to manage a country that is trillions of dollars in debt? 


            Another piece of nonsense I hear is that he’s going to “protect us” from all of those “illegal immigrants”. You know the ones I’m talking about, the “murderers and rapists”.  Of all the rapes in the United States, 65% are done by WHITE AMERICANS. Of all the murders in the United States, 48.2 % are done by WHITE AMERICANS and 49.4% are done by BLACK AMERICANS. Of all the illegal immigrants in the United States, in 2013, eight, yes EIGHT were convicted of murder. Just in case that doesn’t make sense to you, look at it this way, that’s eight out of 11.2 MILLION illegal immigrants. They aren’t the ones doing the murdering and raping, here. Most of the ones I’ve met or seen are hard-working individuals trying to save money and send it back home to their families. Am I saying let everyone in who wants in? No. We need to support our own. We need to feed our hungry and homeless. But, let me remind you of Christ’s words in Matthew:

Matthew 25:42-46New International Version (NIV)

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
More nonsense is how he respects the “working man”. I struggle with how anyone could respect a man enough to vote for him when he has no respect for anyone other than himself. He is constantly belittling and putting down others for being different. His disdain for women is evident. How many do you think he will have in leadership positions when he’s done? He speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He says what people want to hear when they want to hear it. He’s making a mockery of diversity when his own family was immigrants. How many of your family were immigrants. Only part of mine was. How do you think he is going to act in a room full of foreign dignitaries? Does he really deserve to represent our country? Let me tell you what the Psalmist David has to say about that in Psalm 140:

3They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.
8Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord;
do not let their plans succeed.
11May slanderers not be established in the land;
may disaster hunt down the violent.

            I feel sorry for people who are listening to his words and taking them to heart. I feel sorry for people who believe he will truly do what he claims to do. When was the last time you voted for any politician who kept his or her word? It saddens me to think of all the people who are voting for him, particularly in the Bible Belt. How can they love all people as we are instructed, yet permit this person to become a leader when he has only love of self? He’s saying things and doing things that make me wonder how many people truly feel the way he feels in their hearts. How many of these people are actually closet racists? If the man is standing up there and making generalizations about people based on their race, he’s a racist. If you agree with him, so are you.
How many are actually more in love with this man for his money than his actions? He’s not putting any of that money to work for you. Do you REALLY think he’s going to stop the tax breaks his wealthy buddies get? He’s building an empire on poor people. How many gambling addicts support his empire? If it weren’t for people with addictions, he wouldn’t have the empire he has. Do you really want to be associated with that? Aren’t we, as Christians, supposed to be helping those in need and not making a profit off of them? How about this, how about people spend some time examining their hearts, examining the facts, examining the scripture, and then examining him. I think you will find some big discrepancies in what God says and what he says.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

An Open Letter to ALL Iowa Legislators

Dear Senator

I teach multiple science classes at Boone High School. I live in Ames and my children attend Ames Schools. No school funding increase means my science classes are larger, I have to make materials stretch even further, and I have to spend less time allowing my students to explore. Science is NOT a subject one simply learns. It is a subject one DOES. Less funding means we do less. Doing less loses students. Their interest wanes. If we want our students to become world leaders through a STEM education, it must be funded on every level. Our students cannot compete globally if schools are wrecked financially. The World Class Education we are reaching for and trying to compete for to allow our students to have will never come to fruition if our schools are not funded and supported by our state. 

It seems to me that you spent more time on school start dates than you have on school funding. Is a fair really that important? I understand it brings revenue. Changing the start date of schools really isn’t going to bring in more revenue. The people who choose not to attend will still choose not to attend. Most families prefer to go on a weekend day, as it helps keep their children on a more routine schedule. Is potential revenue from a fair really more important than students having current textbooks and access to materials for their classes? Are you going to put that extra revenue towards schools as you used this as your excuse to change the start dates?

I have a question for you. Why is it necessary to have an $718,000,000 surplus/emergency fund? I agree we need an emergency fund. Natural disasters happen. However, nearly a billion dollars sitting in your pockets while students have to SHARE textbooks is asinine. A mere five percent of this “surplus” would cover what schools need.

So many of my coworkers and the educators of my children take summer jobs to help make ends meet. I, myself, have done it many summers while my children were home. Why do we do that? It’s not because the pay isn’t enough. It’s because the school funding isn’t enough. We buy many of our own supplies as it is. We feed children from our own pockets. If you take away all of our funding, we will have to purchase more supplies in addition to the food many of us keep in our classrooms.

As a teacher in Boone Schools and a citizen of Ames, I implore you to take a serious look at the school funding issue presently in front of you. Currently, because of your partisan, contentious arguments (also known as a pissing contest) with each other, students, schools, and school personnel are bowing under the pressure of a zero percent increase. Did you take a raise this year? Was it your education that helped you to get into the position you currently hold? Or did you just have the “charisma” and “luck” to get elected?

You have two options at this point. You can fund schools, allow our children to continue to grow, give them the opportunities they need in order to become globally competitive, and allow us to encourage their further interest in education. OR, you can continue to ignore the fact that our schools need more funding and push Iowa further down on the list of states with well-funded and well educated students who will make an impact in their communities, their state and the world. The choice is yours.


Shannon Lumley

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fat, Flawed, Forties, and Fabulous

I often never know where I'm going to go once I get started on a blog post. I usually just let my fingers express what my brain is trying to say. I've had something rolling around in my head for a while trying to get out, so, I'm going to put it here. I have been seeing a lot of things lately about weight loss and weight gain. But, what I'm seeing is, deep-down, about so much more than weight. For me, bottom line, the issue is about acceptance. It's about accepting ourselves, accepting others, and accepting life for what it is and what we make of it.

I never struggled with my weight. I gained the "Freshman Fifteen". No big deal. I was pretty skinny. I got married and got pregnant right away. Twins! What a blessing! I didn't know that twins would take all 5'3" of me and twist and turn and pull and stretch until certain parts never resembled the girl/woman who first got married and pregnant. Though the boys were born at 37 weeks, I measured 48 weeks. Put in other terms, HUGE! It wasn't pregnancy weight that changed me. It was pregnancy skin. That skin even hung on the insides of my thighs where skin had been pulled UP to accommodate two rather large babies. But, that skin was the start of a downward spiral for me.

One of the first things my doctor told me was it would NEVER go away. It didn't matter if I did a million sit-ups a day, it was there to stay. No big deal. I wanted more kids and was too busy with two little ones to worry about it. Fast forward five years and there are two more. Four kids aged five and under. Drinking Dr. Pepper all day helped me have the energy I thought I needed. Eating became stress relief. It was a treat to have ice cream or sugary cereal once all four kids were down for the night. It was my down time. It was my de-stress time. It was my "fill in the skin that's stuck there because it's never going away, anyway" time.

It took a long time before I finally got sick of myself and what I looked like. I got tired of going to plus sizes. So, I decided, FOR ME to do something about it. That's where the problem lies for so many. My husband never ONCE criticized me for how much weight I had gained. He loved me for me and never pointed out I wasn't the same size I was when we married. He even said it was partially his fault because he wanted kids as much as I did. Once I started losing weight, it got easier as the time went by to keep doing it. I lost 50 pounds and thought it was great! Until, I started looking around me. DARN IT! There were STILL plenty of women smaller than me! I slowly gave up. I slowly got "too busy" to work out any more. I convinced myself "I'll never be small enough" and "without surgery to get rid of the skin, I'll always be a size or two larger."

This is where we, as women, totally screw up. We constantly compare ourselves to others. We are inundated with perfection. It's on TV.  I'll never forget a commercial for ham where these women are watching another woman eat. They are gasping and shocked that she's just eating the ham and one of them comments, "A perfect size SIX!" That suddenly became my goal. I truly believed a size six was THE perfect size.

Back to the perfection inundation. It's in magazines. It's in books."She's smaller, she's smarter, she's more successful, her house is more clean, her kids behave better", the list can go on and on. Then, we have the opposite. We have the, "at least I don't look like that, MY kids would never do that, my job makes more money, I get more recognition, I may be fat, but at least I'm a lot nicer than she is". Anyone identifying with me, yet?

Where did we go wrong? I honestly believe we went wrong when we let others dictate what can make us happy. It shouldn't matter if I'm overweight if I'm happy. It shouldn't matter if you sit in a cubicle all day or if you are center stage as long as you are happy. It shouldn't matter if someone makes more money if you're happy. It shouldn't matter if your kids are a little rambunctious and curious if you're happy.

My kids have ALWAYS been curious to the point of tearing things up just to put them back together. I cannot tell you the number of random screws and missing tools we've dealt with over the years. But, I currently have two considering careers in engineering. That makes me happy. I've been criticized for encouraging their curiosity and spontaneity.  It made me question myself. It made me question my ability to parent. But, it made my kids happy.

I'm now 41 years old. A size six isn't possible without surgery. I DON'T CARE. I've finally reached a point my my life where fit is better than fat. I can run up stairs. I rarely get really sick. I have skin and I have stretch marks from my boobs to my knees and I have four gorgeous, intelligent, caring children. I'd take every bit of the stretch marks and skin again. I struggled over the past couple of years with jealous over friends who got bypass surgery to lose weight. I was jealous because they lost a TON of weight in a hurry. Now, I'm thankful I never needed a surgery to lose weight.

Flawed is better than fake. I'm only me and as long as I'm the best me I can be, I'm happy. Do I screw up? Yep. But, when I ground my child from electronics, take the phone and laptop, leave the house forgetting about the kindle, only to come home and find that my child had placed it on top of the phone and laptop, my flaws seem to lessen. I've done my best to teach my children to be genuine and honest. Things like this tell me I've done my job, even when I feel like I'm failing miserably.

Forties and Fabulous are here. I've decided my gray hair is a badge. I've decided I still love my heels and my sparkle. I've decided the best thing I can do is not compare myself to anyone either in a good way or a bad way. The whole reason women are mean to each other is to feel better about themselves. I see it EVERY SINGLE DAY and I try to discourage it where I can. I want our next generation of ladies to embrace each other, to support each other, to help each other, and, most of all, to ACCEPT each other. The time of "me" needs to become the time of "us". Until we do this, it will always be a stunner when an "average" sized, "average" income, "average" WOMAN does something the media labels "special". Guess what, Ladies? We do it, every day. Now is the time to accept yourself. YOU are amazing.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Let Me Teach

CC, RTI, PLC, NCLB, NGSS…know what these acronyms mean? You do if you are an “educator”. Do you know why I say, “educator”? Because we aren’t allowed to teach any more. We are required to educate based on the newest set of letters to hit the academic spectrum. Don’t know what the newest letters are? Better figure it out because your administration does and they want you to follow it. Haven’t been to any meetings or trainings about it? Be prepared because it’s coming. Then, ask your school system…Let me teach.

Why is the failure of the American system of education always blamed on the teachers? Yet, successes are given to a set of letters if the school system follows it? “This is the newest and greatest thing we’ve ever seen!” Until the next one comes around… The only thing ALL of these programs are doing is causing teachers to have to take MORE time away from actual teaching to spend on learning about education and how to fix it. I’ll tell you how to “fix it”. Let me teach.

Why are we comparing ourselves to the Chinese? They are more successful. They have higher graduation rates. Their kids have higher scores. Would you like to know why? It starts at home. When a student “isn’t getting it”, the parents help out. They don’t go asking the teacher why the teacher failed. They EXPECT their student to do the work. They don’t wait until parent conferences to find out what’s going on. They talk to their kids. They set high expectations. They allow their teachers to be professionals and trust the teachers’ judgments. They let their teachers teach.

Our students are throwing around words like depression, bipolar, and even migraine like they are badges or, better yet, excuses.  “I didn’t do my homework last night because I was too depressed.” (Yes, that is an ACTUAL excuse I’ve heard) “I tried, but I didn’t understand it Can you help me?” This is a thing of the past. Parents are not holding their students responsible the way ours did, the way I try to with my own. We are expected to know every problem the students have and try to find a way to work around their issues within the classroom and their assignments. Some teachers are so scared of parents; they have become willing to do work for students. I have a better idea. Let me teach.