While there was no vote about the reasons behind the teacher shortage on Monday, I think it was pretty clear what will happen. Nothing…nothing to right the wrongs that have caused this shortage. Nothing to undo the damage that has been done to our public schools. While over 40 parents, educators, and concerned individuals waited five to six hours to be heard, most of them carrying the same message of how we need to undo the damage that has been done to cause this shortage, I’m sure none of their suggestions will come to fruition. Near the end of the hearing only 6 of the 16, legislators were left, so how could their heartfelt and impassioned testimony be heard anyway?
What took the majority of the day were the supposed “experts.” While some of these “experts” had some interesting data, I’m sure what most of our legislators will only remember a few words. The gentleman from Ball State ardently stated that there is no teacher shortage. The gentleman from Georgia suggested we use “alternate” teachers and ease up on teacher licensure. He also pointed out how many billions of dollars we would save if we dumped most of our support staff.
My visit to ACJC the other day reminds me of the world in which our legislators live. One of my colleagues who read my blog commented that I wasn’t prepared for my visit to this juvenile detention center. I wasn’t. Being a former educator and a guidance counselor, I really can say I’ve almost seen it all. But that was ten years ago. Since then my focus has been my children. I’ve been living in my own little dream world where everything focuses around my own family. I’ve forgotten about a lot of what I saw while working in public education. Why keep memories of children living in unbearable situations?
Our legislators live in their own little dream worlds, too. I’m sure they envision a school where all children come ready and willing to learn. Where all children sit quietly waiting for the next direction from the teacher. Where all children have been fed a healthy breakfast at home. Where all children come from functional two parent families. Where all children return home at night with books, pencils, paper, adequate lighting, a place to do homework, and a parent ready to assist when questions arise.
This is exactly why legislators with no background in education should not be making education legislation. What they believe to be true and our state’s reality are completely different things. I am sick and tired of fighting for what is right, yet I know there is no one listening. I’m tired of our legislators not listening to the REAL experts. Our parents and our educators know what is best in order to educate our young people. When will their voices be heard?