Comprehensive Education Reform and our National Priorities

by Dennis MacKenzie on March 1, 2005

“It takes an Educated Village to raise a child.”

It does indeed take a Whole Community of dedicated, sincere, respectful and committed adults to acknowledge and comprehend the incredibly difficult and challenging work that Teachers face each and every day Inside our Public School Classrooms: These qualities of integrity and deep concern for the individual and social health and well-being of ALL our kids are not just the human qualities necessary for Educators and Teachers who DO the Impossible work, every day – day in and day out – to provide intelligent, honest and safe educational environments; but these are essential, required qualities of all the adults and leaders of our Village of San Francisco.

If you have never worked inside the Classroom,
and closed the door behind you – and cared
enough to listen to the words and thoughts,
attitudes and social realities that our children
face and bring into the classroom from their
personal lives, family dynamics and the
relationships that they experience in the
complicated world we all live in today – you
have no idea of the incredible responsibility,
dedication, respect and compassion for students
that it takes to educate and help our kids in
meaningful ways.

Teachers must interact and work with 100-150
students in critically responsible and
interpersonal ways every minute of every day
with 30, 35, and 40 students or more in every
Classroom; Education vs. Crowd control? (SF Bay
Guardian/”Waking to Reality”, Tali Woodward,
2/16-22/05; SF Chronicle/”School board airs
offer to teachers”/Heather Knight, 1/26/05; SF
Examiner/”City schools face closure”/Bonnie
Eslinger/1-27-05)

Students bring all of their social situations,
challenges and social injustices into the
schools and classrooms, which all together plays
an integral role in relation to their personal
ability and responsibility for their educational
success, including their classroom behavior and
capacity to learn; and affects deeply their
ability to sit at a desk and learn, and listen
to their teachers; to read a book; to write an
essay, and to speak and act responsibly and
respectfully with all their peers, classmates,
teachers, substitute teachers, hall monitors and
school security, including all other adult
authority figures.

The challenging psychological dynamics that
educators face is done for the benefit of all
students; and in order for the kids to
understand the self-discipline and self-
responsibility for their studies that is
required – regardless of what teacher,
substitute teacher or other professional
educator is present with them in the classroom –
the entire Village needs to participate and
support the difficult work of educating our
children, as well as the dedicated, professional
educators who work in the classrooms and
schools. Teachers give their hearts, minds and
lifeswork to assist students in every way
possible in order to help them attain their
goals and visions, and to live a productive and
caring, compassionate and peaceful life – in
whatever Village our kids eventually choose to
live and work in.

There are many reasons that responsibility for
education must also be accepted by the students
themselves, in order for any young student to
achieve success inside the school walls, as well
as preparing for a rewarding career in the ‘real
working world’; and yet, local, state and
national public servants, school districts and
private sector leaders treat Professional
Educators who do the most difficult and
challenging work we have as a society (working
with the young developing hearts and minds and
emotions of evolving human beings – not
manufacturing some kind of automobile part in an
assembly-line!!) with a total lack of respect
for the essential and overwhelming work that all
educators must do; “It takes a Village”? (San
Francisco Board of Education /SF Unified School
District meeting/1-25-05)

Once again, our national priorities, Overall
(Essential) Educational Funding, Class size,
Regular Classroom Teachers, Substitute Teachers,
Para Professionals and student responsibility
make NO difference in the social, psychological
and behavioral dynamics of students and the
success – or lack of success – of our
Educational System? Professional, dedicated
educators of all categories who are responsible
for our children’s ability to live decent,
respectful and responsible lives is one of the
most difficult fields of work in any nation of
the world; education develops the core of the
health of our society, including our global and
international relations. Our education system
is where our leaders of today – and tomorrow –
develop the integrity and wisdom to lead.
(Educe: to draw or bring out that which is
within. Capable of being educated /i.e.,
Coachable)

Yet, unfortunately the current local, state and
national priorities that create our socio-
economic realities offer this: a total lack of
respect for all teachers, and what educators
earn – and deserve. Is there any reasonable
explanation as to why our Urban Public Schools
are in such desperate need of Reform, and
Transformation?

Maybe – just maybe – it will take good, honest,
and respectful Teamwork; and maybe – just maybe –
“It takes an Educated Village to raise All our
Children.”

With respect and appreciation for all our kids,
educators, and parents.

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