The noon #edchat today was built around the prompt: “How do teachers as education experts regain the leadership of the discussion on education reform?” I typically feel like an outsider when the conversation is ed reform since I’ve spent my entire life and career in the independent school world (well, my entire life since fourth grade, to be more precise). It is always dispiriting to hear my fellow teachers and administrators in the public school world describe their problems and frustrations.
Actually, there is more optimism in a Twitter chat on this topic than in the general society at large. Connected educators feel like they are part of a movement that is going to have a powerful impact (eventually, somehow). We all feel like we need to stop talking and do something, but every movement goes through that phase. Many participants feel, and I agree with them, that the increased communication and connectivity has an effect on reforming the industry even absent any other activism. More teachers and administrators are sharing ideas instantaneously, so one could argue that the pace of positive, incremental evolution within the existing system is already accelerating.
I hope I’m right about that because the chances for top-down reform that isn’t a political boondoggle are pretty terrible. My frustration while participating in the chat on this topic is that the education sector is hostage to all of the structural problems in our political system, state budget woes, and family balance sheet disasters that are afflicting all of the other areas of the economy. It’s tragic to see so many trapped in the system, and I feel guilty for having the means to exempt myself. This is why the independent school corner of the business has to continue to focus relentlessly on accessibility and affordability.