Education Reform From the Teacher's Perspective

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Governor of California decided recently that he needed to cut the budget, which most people would agree would be a good thing, sometimes. However, his budget cuts are biting deeply into funding for schools. I recently raised a question at a staff meeting at my school to which I recieved no answer, but which I will answer myself.

The question: “Since the budget for our district is being cut by nearly 11 million dollars, including cuts to programs aimed at raising student achievement, and given that our school in fact our entire district is Program Improvement, is the Governor going to suspend NCLB implementation?”

I knew when I asked the question, I would get either a blank stare or the focus would be changed. I got both. An answer to the question was not what I was seeking, rather, I was intent on letting the powers that be understand how cutting vital services such as K-8 Summer School, after-school tutoring, counselor staffing, etc., will severly impact the ability of the teachers to continue to raise student achievement.

Under the cloud of NCLB and the stigma of being “program improvement” simply due to the fact that our assessment scores aren’t rising fast enough, and not due to poor teaching necessarily, how can we as educators expect to impact our student’s lives and learning?

Perhaps we who are “in the trenches” of education must rise to this challenge and find new ways to increase achievement without the traditional programs we have relied on before. I for one will be looking for ideas and new methods of content delivery and motivation of students, not because I want to have “higher numbers", but because I am firmly convinced that a student who is successful will have a richer and more rewarding life as an adult. I care deeply about my student’s futures, as I would hope most committed educators do as well.

Traditional or even newer ideas about teaching have to be constantly evaluated and updated. Funding is never certain, but good teaching is always more valuable.

Dr. James Norwood is a middle school teacher (English/Language Arts and Drama). He is very passionate about true education reform that reaches all students and all parents. Dr. Norwood possess a PhD in the area of curriculum and instruction and spends much of his time working with his school and district developing a more holistic approach to the curriculum. Contact me


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