Educators are beginning to feel like soldiers under attack. We are not prepared for the attack we are receiving, as it is coming from the very government we have pledged ourselves to serve. While we are dedicating our efforts to our mission to educate all of Michigan children, our support systems are being cut off and the standards and training needed to be successful in our mission are being curtailed.
As teacher educators, we are on the front lines of seeing that teachers are well prepared to fulfill their duties to the state and its citizens. We are also under attack. We have been doing our jobs with integrity to the best of our ability, preparing teachers to be effective in the schools and classrooms of this state, but now find the leaders of that state undermining our efforts, and therefore limiting the effectiveness of our candidate in the field and endangering future lives and our state and country’s mission.
Teaching, like military service, is a mission-focused team effort. Though we may have heroes and moments of heroic activity, the success of our missions depends on the dedication, collaboration and competence of all members of our school or unit. Currently the teachers and leaders of schools have some assurance that the teachers and administrators in their schools have been well prepared for their jobs. They have all gone through the same rigorous selections process and training to be where they are. They can and will do what they have been well trained to do in the mission of educating our state’s young people. If they do not measure up in battle, they are made able to do so, reassigned or dismissed. If they cannot rely of the other personnel in their units who were not required to meet the standards or training as they were, their effectiveness is greatly limited.
If they cannot trust the government, whom they are serving, to keep their best interests at heart, their morale and effectiveness will be harmed. We as teacher educators, who have prepared these teachers and administrators for the classrooms and schools, feel a special duty and responsibility to make sure that those we have prepared to serve their state and nation are given the support they need to be effective, otherwise, we have done a disservice to them. Without the support needed we can see our mission of quality education for all will fail. We have not given our talents and lives to fail, and cannot sit idly by while others dismantle the years of building we have done.
There is more to soldiering, teaching and leading than meets the untrained and inexperienced eye. Listen to those who have the training and experience before you make decisions that will have a negative impact on our state’s welfare for years to come. Governor Snyder stated: “We also have to send a clear message in every school and community that we honor teachers and value great teaching. We need our best and brightest, in teaching, in Michigan. We should provide the highest-quality training that can ensure that every child is taught by a skilled professional who can help that child succeed. (2011, p. 9). The proposed changes do not honor teachers, value teaching or assure the best and brightest will get high quality training.
I appreciate that the Governor wants to allow quick entry into teaching and administration for those who do not want to or necessarily need to go through standard programs. He states: “They then would be held to the same rigorous performance standards and student proficiency requirements as any other teacher” (p.11). The alternative routes allowed in this code do not provide for the same rigorous standards that other candidates who wish to become teachers must meet. Alternatives should exist and do exist. If more needs to be done, then work within the established and proven structures to do it.
Our kids do matter. They deserve the best teachers and administrators we can give them. The changes proposed will erode that possibility. These reforms realign our education standards downwards.