Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Not with a bang but a whimper." - My thoughts on #MakingTheGrade and @StrongerAmerica

I was able to attend the @StrongerAmerica #MakingTheGrade event hosted in Detroit by MSNBC. I was curious about attending this panel discussion on education. Since it was in my backyard, I figured it was up my alley.

I'm not going to go into great depth in this post, partly because the #MakingTheGrade didn't and that is one of the issues I had. Everything was neatly boxed into 12 minute segments on the various issues in education. Once they hit the time limit, they were ready for the next issue. I think that is a problem with having so many panelists lined up. If a quality discussion develops, it has to be killed to allow for the other talking heads to have their say.

That sounds mean. I'm sure the people on the panels are all very good at their jobs and have a certain level of experience that is important. I will not tell them they should not have a voice because that would not make me any better than the people who silence teachers. I actually asked @TamronHall during a break why current classroom teachers were missing from the panels and she said there was one. I'm not sure who she was talking about because nobody that was on stage spoke about their time in the classroom.

I would really like to see a panel with teachers talking about the problems they encounter and what they need to make their schools better for the students and the staff.

I was surrounded by passionate people from the Detroit area that were mostly upset about the current state of Detroit Public Schools. It was nice to see people ready to speak up, even if they were not given a chance to speak.

There were some students there, but not nearly enough. I would have loved to see students on the panel now that I think of it. Why not ask the students what they actually need?

I used the quote from Elliot because I'm an English Teacher Nerd and I feel it sums up how this event, and many like it, seemed to end. Everyone talks about the end of public education and it gets everyone riled up, then we move on to the next show.

For real change we need to start with a bang and end with a bigger bang. Empower the people that are ready to make the changes we need to see in our schools so they can be successful. Stop looking for the silver bullet and start listening to the stakeholders (Parents, Teachers, Students, Businesses, etc.).

Many will view this entire show as a pointless. It's hard to argue against those people. However, if one parent, student or teacher decides to become actively involved in changing education because of something they heard during the discussion, then maybe it is a success. I prefer to look at the positives in any situation.

I'm an optimist.

I have to be.

I'm a teacher.

- @TheNerdyTeacher

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