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Too Many Chiefs, Too Few Indians

Too Many Chiefs…

Over the last twenty years there has been a general trend in education to expand the number of administrators and so-called specialists as the number of students teachers deal with has increased along with all their extra duties. Instead of a superintendent at the top, and a few assistants to make sure rules are followed and funds are provided with secretaries and clerks to make sure everybody gets paid and has the benefits they deserve, there are supervisors who supervise other supervisors who drift down from their ivory towers to bestow their blessings on the working class; the teachers.

Each school building has its principal and assistant principal and dean of students as well. When you figure in all the supervision and professional development so teachers will know what the supervisors’ supervisors’ supervisors have in mind, all DATA BASED mind you, every teacher has dozens of people they answer to, including all those supervisors and administrators and parents and professors who oversee the courses they are required to take to maintain their status as teachers. Oh and did I forget to mention the children they are responsible to every day?

Teachers have to have excellent management skills these days, to manage the wide range of students they have in their classroom, who enter with different attitudes, behaviors, skill sets, attention spans, emotional conditions, aptitudes and intelligence quotients. Was a time that children with disabilities were separated from their same age peers, that stopped when folks realized that special needs students performed better when challenged by their peers, and their peers learned valuable lessons in accepting individuals who were a little different then they were.

Trouble is, the programs went from “Resource” programs, where they spent at least some of their day with teachers specially trained to deal with unique learning styles (special education teachers), then those classrooms folded and the special teachers moved into the General Education classroom with the teacher and all her General Education students. This was okay and team teaching was effective, until someone figured they could do without the special education teacher and the general ed. teachers were left on their own.

More and more has been put on teacher’s desks with Federal Mandates like “No Child Left Behind” or what I call: “Note: Child Left Behind” or “Race to the Top” (Race to the Crap). Why am I so harsh? Because it’s Top Down Education, where the ideas flow from think tanks and pencil pushers who think every student can be qualified and quantified like a precision cut die that is manufactured to exact specifications and those off by even a fraction of a millimeter are tossed in the scrap bin. These are kids. Not widgets. They all have unique potentials and need a teacher who genuinely cares about them, has the time (and class size) to spend with all of them, and the latitude, the FREEDOM to teach in the way they have been taught and know in their hearts is the most effective way to reach them. Teaching to a test is not fair to anyone; the child, the parent, the teacher, the principal the district the state, the country. Sadly we are failing our students, many of them if not most. As my 38-year career drew to a close, I can’t tell you how many times I told folks, “ I am so happy I am at the end of my career not the beginning, because it simply isn’t any fun anymore.”

The wrong people are in charge and they don’t have the slightest idea what they are doing, and worse yet asking teachers to do. I have long maintained that the best of us are teachers, in the classroom every day teaching children, touching lives. Too many who started out in the classroom left because they could not connect with kids, they wanted power and control, and left too soon before they learned what it was to BE a teacher, then became administrators who try to tell real teachers how to do their jobs. If one day every administrator dropped dead, and all that was left were the secretaries and the teachers, and specialists -for the counselors and psychologists and speech pathologists and nurses and others are so essential to support what teachers do-life would go on. And be better off for it.

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