Interlude: Pledge LA

I was trying to make our hero look like she wasn't working that hard...

I was trying to make our hero look like she wasn’t working that hard…

My co teacher and i went to Pledge LA headquarters. There, we had the privilege of direct interaction with, and discussion of educational policy with, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. She was quite charming, and at one point I actually offered her a job at our school that I am no specifically empowered to hire for.

Are we really not going to hire the US Teacher of the Year? No brainer, that.

I got to exchange harsh but quiet words about policy with Pledge LA’s CEO, as suggested above. Mostly this had to do with education over technology and toys, and it was taken as well as could be expected. Given the epic failure of the initiative this year, and our probable failure of making the CST goal of 700, my commentary and demands were to be expected.

More interesting than me laying out a Suit who is mismanaging education were the National Teacher of the Year’s ideas. She was all about the impact of a teacher beyond measurable numbers, about intervention, about reform. My co-teacher and I were pretty impressed with her appraisal of the need for twenty first century skills, and the need to stand up and fight for students.

I’m afraid of being a teacher like her, though. When we talked to her about coming back to the classroom, after being a political figure for a year, she referenced Plato’s allegory of the cave. After leaving the cave, you can no longer see the things inside it the same way…that was Plato’s point. National Teacher of the Year provides a level of access and celebrity that makes returning to the staff room, and the copier that doesn’t work, a serious problem. That’s almost a quote.

I’m afraid of that. It’s the same problem i have with the Suits at E4E, and at the Union. How can you truly stand up for the students, if you don’t actually sit or stand in front of them, and do your best to do right for them, every day. They can’t just be “the kids” in the abstract…they have to be your kids, that you know. My co teacher and I tread the line of classroom and politics, and I always wonder at what point you are through the looking glass, outside the sensible world and in the wonderland of policy.

Thankfully, I remain pretty grounded in the problems of one school, that needs to be fixed. I think if everyone focused on that…cleaning up their own proverbial house as much as possible, the educational system would begin to right itself.

It was surprisingly heartening to have an ally as public, as strong, and as clever as the National Teacher of the Year. I need more days like that, where I feel like hardworking teachers are the norm, and the forces of corporate evil something that can be pushed back with the force of energy, of solid ideas.

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