All educators must embrace a course in miracles books. Many states around the country have adopted new curriculums, new standards, and new teacher evaluation instruments. The Race to the Top initiative served as the impetus for many of these vast and speedy changes. In turn, many experts would agree that the new initiatives were responses to a global economic recession, a globalized economic market, and a shift in the kinds of skills needed in the current and future job markets.
Gaining expertise in our trade is the most important way that educators can combat the complexities of teaching and learning in the 21st Century. As the June 1999 report from the American Federation of Teachers confirmed, teaching is indeed rocket science. Job opportunities in education for the undercertified, the para-professional, and the behind-the-times professional are being phased out by positions that require high levels of training and expertise. Classroom teachers must be able to quickly and effectively gauge their students’ exact skill levels in a given subject area then base instruction around a plan for achieving a year’s (or a semester’s) growth. This plan must be developmentally appropriate and must include input from a range of specialists and stakeholders including the parents. Likewise, school administrators must be able to read and process detailed reports on student learning, and lead the school to address specific instructional deficiencies while including a vast continuum of stakeholders in the process of shared leadership.
Even including the complexities and barriers, public education is still our country’s best hope to compete in the 21st Century global economy. Much has been said about attacks on public education. Some have even accused politicians of placing obstacles in the way of public education through private voucher systems, skewed accountability measures, and unfunded mandates. Educators should address these challenges by working to ensure that we offer the gold standard of education to all of our students. Competition need not stifle our progress. We seek to educate all students, regardless of their economic status or natural abilities. We should exercise a healthy respect for our country’s public education system, as it among the most ambitious systems in the world.
In short, these are exciting times to be in the field of education. Change is occurring at exponential rates. As long as we are embracing change, seeking expertise, and promoting ourselves as viable intuitions for student learning, we can carry out our daily tasks with pride and assurance in our mission.
About the author:
Jane Thursday is a freelance writer, a mother of two young children, and an elementary school principal. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership, a master’s degree in school administration, and 6-12 English Language Arts teaching licensure. She has studied public education in the United States, South Africa, the Philippines, and England.