Indiana, PA - Indiana County

LISA ADAMS: Don't judge a school by its number

on April 29, 2013 11:00 AM

We live in a world driven by numbers, statistics and data.

You either qualify, or you don’t. You are right, or you are wrong. You are proficient, or you aren’t.

Is a number a fair assessment as to whether or not a student, a school or a district is “making progress”? And who decides whether this progress is adequate? The individuals making these judgments are very often people that have never been educators and who may not even have exposure to children in general.

When a school or district isn’t “making the grade” according to the state and federal government, the blame is often levied on teachers. This may sound logical. After all, teachers spend 178-plus days instructing students.

However, that’s largely where our involvement stops. We don’t control whether the kids we teach are fed, loved and properly cared for by their parents. We don’t control the student-to-teacher ratio, the flow of tax dollars or how they are apportioned. We don’t control the state budget or federal funding. We didn’t create or have any input into “No Child Left Behind,” the national law put in effect to decide what and how we teach.

Teachers are forced to cover an astronomical amount of information, chosen by the state, in a limited amount of time. Somehow this is to be accomplished despite obvious barriers completely beyond our control.

To add further insult, teachers are no longer valued or regarded as experts in their field.

Believe me when I tell you that teachers take great pride in their chosen profession. Teaching is a calling to make a difference in the lives of kids, in the future of this country, of this world. We aren’t here to see kids fail, but someone is here to find a scapegoat for societal woes.

I urge you not to jump aboard that bandwagon. I urge us to come together and tell those who are making the rules how the game should really be played so that all the players win.

It is often said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Our village consists of parents, teachers, administrators, superintendents, school board members and community members.

When the village school doesn’t make the cut, look beyond the teachers. That “cut” is a reflection on all of us. We are all stakeholders.

Lisa Adams

Homer-Center teacher,

education association president

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