“Back to school!” The signs are everywhere. Where’d the summer go? Why it’s still here, I assure you, and will be for quite some time yet, but it’s time to go back to school anyway. Might as well. It’s too hot to do anything else but swim, and I’m sure the kids are tired of swimming by now. They are most probably ready for a little book learning, as my grandpa used to say. Ready or not, they have to fill their seats in the Appling County Schools come August 4. Eight o’clock comes awfully early after a vacation.
Quite a few teachers have been in their classrooms already, putting up bulletin boards and sprucing up the rooms for new occupants. If you walked down the halls, you could hear singing coming from some of the rooms. Others had music blasting. The behind-the-scenes work has begun. Teachers are ready, or they will be come Tuesday, July 29, the official first day of pre-planning.
The return to school is an annual ritual requiring advance preparation. It is preceded by shopping for new clothes and new school supplies. Excitement fills the air, at least for a few days. Friends lost to each other for two whole months will reunite for another year—teachers and students, for that matter. How then can we channel all this animation and enthusiasm into learning?
Apparently no one asks teachers’ opinions very often. Who knows better how to educate our children than teachers? I spent several summers in workshops at the state level working on some of these tests that we administer to our children on a regular basis. Guess who was in charge? Statisticians, of course. People trained in numbers and probability, not in education. We teachers were there giving opinions, but the last word came from the statisticians. They’d not been in a classroom since they were students, but our students’ futures rest in their hands.
One of the major problems currently is that public education and teachers are under attack. Schools have been subject to upheaval, chaos, and assault when what they really need is stability, not constant turnover and change. Nonetheless, for the past decade, federal and state policies have showered constantly on students, principals, and teachers. Before one policy could be established, another had arrived on top of it to replace it or further complicate it. Consider policies like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Common Core Curriculum.
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