From the front lines

I spent all afternoon hiding from the heat and trying to understand the fine line between Rapcore and Nu-Metal music, fusion genres combining hip-hop, punk and heavy metal influences. Now I was born in the Bronx; aspired to being a graffiti artist, bought Slick Rick and Dougie Fresh on vinyl and swore I was going to marry Rakim when I heard his smooth, bass delivery—-

But this is not about me.

I am tuning in to the pulse of this generation and listening for new trends of expression to introduce them to because I am their teacher.

The recent cheating scandal, where 178 principals, teachers and staff of the Atlanta public school system falsified student answer documents to inflate test scores, is calling into question the integrity of educators on a whole, but of all the people involved none stands to lose as much respect as the teacher.

Teachers are on the front line. We cannot afford to have our expertise, our authority, and our dedication questioned because it is the teacher who knows her student best. And it is no secret that though we spend the most time with the students and are well aware of their needs, our voices can’t compete with No Child Left Behind or the Race to the Top.

My issue is not with accountability which is how teacher concerns about testing are deflected.  It is simply that the high-stake tests do not take into account the needs of our students.  We do the delicate dance of introducing children to their dreams, giving them the skills to communicate and understand ideas and offer them the tools to become life-long learners. All while following the dictates of a pacing guide designed to cover material slated to appear on a test.

We work in a system that does not always trust our professional opinion and in the aftermath of the APS cheating scandal, we will have to assure the public that we dedicated ourselves to this profession to serve the next generation. We know our students and we dream the autonomy to design a curriculum related to the needs of the flesh-and-blood people in our classrooms instead of one focused on an assessment that doesn’t make sure our children are poised for the possibilities.

This is not about us.

So while I turn my attention to influences of disco on funk music to create themes for my class website, somewhere there is a teacher stockpiling pencils found on sale and another perusing the aisles of Barnes and Nobles for recommended reading

because we know what the true focus is—

It’s about the next generation.

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