Ed note: Throughout the month of March, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary Duncan highlighted the importance of investing in education to win the future. On March 14, the President spoke at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., about the importance of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—commonly referred to currently as No Child Left Behind—in a way that is fair, flexible and focused.
Below, one teacher in the audience at Kenmore, Dina Rock of Solon, Ohio, shares her thoughts on the Obama administration’s Blueprint for Reform.
President Obama inspired me as I listened to him speak at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va., a couple of weeks ago. The President affirmed that No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB)—goals to help all students to learn are right. “It’s the strategies,” he said, that took a wrong turn. That resonated with me because I have long felt that NCLB had great intentions, but that the law’s unintended consequences have derailed its original goals.
As President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan spoke of the need to have effective teachers in the classroom, I found myself nodding in agreement and thinking that we must move toward having thoughtful and sound evaluations for teachers, not just ones based on test scores, but evaluations that take other variables into consideration.
There is a myth that teachers don’t want change and accountability. Actually, we welcome it. As a teacher in my 23rd year, who still loves to teach, I can tell you that many teachers are reform-minded. We long for change. Perhaps part of our problem is that we’ve been down the reform road before. Our classrooms are filled with binders stuffed with the latest greatest “philosophy” of the month, all with the intention of transforming education, but rarely is there any follow through.
I suppose I would be thoroughly jaded by now, if it weren’t for the game-changing work I’ve done with the nonprofit Hope Street Group over the past two years. Together, teacher leaders from around the country have collaborated for months to create a set of eight thoughtful and important recommendations for teacher evaluation systems. Being involved with other teachers in this process of reform, rather than having it imposed on me, has made a tremendous difference. I am hopeful that teacher groups like Hope Street can begin to look at the real issues and strengthen teaching so that it becomes a revered, iconic profession.
As long as the President and Arne Duncan are transforming education with teachers, instead of doing it to us, I am in. All in.
Dina Rock teaches 5th and 6th Grade at Agnon Elementary School in Beachwood, Ohio.