Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your commitment to "No Child Left Behind," which has come at tremendous cost and minimal benefit, at best. I especially appreciate how the imagination and discretion of those that spend their time, money, and resources are stifled. You, obviously are trained in education philosophy, and know so much about the plight of the average American in the dilapidated schools and books that are outdated. You are far more qualified than those teachers that selflessly get up each day genuinely trying to make a difference in the lives of children, often using their own meager salary for their classroom budgets.
Mr. President, I know it must be difficult for you to understand, not going to public school yourself. We have a different experience than you have, not being part of the elitist society. I can understand how you could be so out of touch with the rest of America. We do things differently, Mr. President. Hopefully, you can understand that.
Teachers are required to do so much more than teach. They are forced to give so much more. Teaching moments are not always about the lessons themselves, it is about building trust and teaching children what they need to be prepared for life. Memorizing facts is not going to save these children. Children need to have their basic needs filled before we focus on TESTING, TESTING, TESTING. What has your focus on testing gained us? Are we a smarter society? Are children really learning all you believe they should? How are your home state's test scores these days? Oh, you do not want to talk about you?
During my time teaching in the inner city, I saw teachers sharing their breakfast with kids that got themselves ready for school, their siblings, and all without the supervision of their parents. I saw teachers buying lunch for kids that did not have lunch. I saw teachers bringing in three-ring binders, notebooks, paper, and pencils for those that could not afford supplies. I knew teachers that put together clothing drives, yard sales, and field trips to bring joy to these children's lives.
For some of these inner city kids, school is an escape from the abuse in their homes. It is an escape from being left alone while mom is out all night with her boyfriend. It is an escape from the step dad that picks on them. It is a place where they can be kids for a moment, not caretaker of their four siblings. School is a place where a warm heart welcomes them in the classroom. It is where they can believe in themselves and use their imagination.
Mr. President, in every profession, there is someone that ruins it for the rest. This is true in your line of work to be certain. Do not believe for a second teachers do not know who these individuals are. They are easily identified. They are the last to arrive to work and the first to leave. They are waiting for retirement, working for vacation, and are not competent to be in the profession. These teachers are bad apples.
There are those that have the gift to engage their students. There are those teachers that care and they are experts in their field. I am referring to the great story tellers, the ones that teach morals, manners, and values to our future generation. These are the teachers that are teaching basic skills such as saying, "please," and "thank you," how to ask nicely, and simple things that most take for granted. I implore you, LET THEM TEACH.
It is a sad, sad time, where children are not getting what they need from home. Parents are wrapped up in being busy. Family is not the focus. Our focus is on accumulation of wealth. Our priorities are in the wrong place. This is a societal problem that far outweighs any test score. When children are fearing the bully's, feeling stressed out, burned out, over tested, performance is sure to suffer. It is time to rethink your strategy.
A concerned parent and former teacher-----------------------------------
Laura is a stay-at-home mom and former high school teacher. She lives in San Diego with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a cat. She blogs at Laura Lohr : My Beautiful Life, where she talks about running marathons, being a mom, traveling, and anything else that comes to mind.