By John Rajcic
The classroom has not changed much since I entered the first grade 75 years ago. What has changed dramatically is societal respect for the teacher. Why is this? We teachers ourselves may be a bit responsible; however, I believe, it is the diminishing authority of the teacher due to countless laws and policies — state and federal intervention also.
This is somewhat in jest; however, in humor there is invariably a kernel of truth.
I was going to write an article on the 8th Amendment but no need. One needs to just sit through an entire school board meeting, with zipped lip, to appreciate the purpose of the amendment.
I would hope the board as a minimum would allow a publicized 15-minute, non-structured question and answer period for the general public. By so doing, I believe our schools would lose nothing and gain much. Confident and competent administrators should welcome community feedback at any time at any place.
Under current policy, it appears useless to ask the board a question or express a concern. The board does not respond. Apparently not ever, even if there are only two people in the audience.
Our student representatives on our board will shortly be able to become Marines in Afghanistan. As a minimum, involve them in the dialogue as appropriate. It would be informative and keep them awake.
The presentation by Randy Schimpf on “21st Century Learning” was very informative, interesting , entertaining and very well done. Randy should receive a bonus at the end of the school year.
Sitting at the meeting as a classroom teacher , I said to myself, “my God, that is just what we need—another regulation.”
What happened to personal and individual responsibility? We should be thinking about shrinking the voluminous education and administrative codes, not adding to them.
Are more policies and rules really needed? It seems every move a teacher makes is already covered somewhere in existing laws, regulations and policy. Detailed regulations may in fact limit discretion and prevent a teacher from doing the right thing at the appropriate moment.
Policies should be broad statements of intent and implemented in a “reasonable” manner. Teachers must be trusted.
About the school lunch program. Farm lobbies have more to say about the National School Lunch Program than dieticians and parents. Our Food Service Policy should be nine words: “The district will endeavor to serve healthy, nutritious meals.”
Now thinking about moving the sixth grade to the junior high school. I say “junior high school” because it is a more descriptive term than middle school. We should be decentralizing, not centralizing. Consider the additional costs to the district and inevitable increase in incidental costs to families. Why spend finite resources and time fixing something that seems to be working well?
Now the curriculum. Set objectives, supply materials and stop changing and fussing with details. Don’t water down courses, be creative. Teachers have different styles and they know best how to do their job. Teachers try different approaches to “reach” a student—approaches one cannot find in a manual or rules and regulations. Teaching is an art. There is not one way to “teach” 1,000 students but 1,000 ways to “teach” one student.
We must restore more trust in our public schools. Teaching is not a lost art, but regard for teaching seems to be a lost tradition and voluminous policies and finite rules do not help .
Good teachers will just do the right thing, whatever that may be. Teachers may not realize it but next to parents they are amongst the most significant people in a child’s life.
I have a high regard for those that run for any public office, including our nonpartisan school board. I believe our board strives to provide a good education for all children that come through the school house door. It is never to late to do the right thing.
I pray that 2012 will be a great year for our school board, teachers, dids and community. May God help us all do the right thing.
John Rajcic is a Ramona resident.