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Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018
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Terrible for teachers

Am I a teacher or a scapegoat? I've been wondering about that a great deal lately. It seems that every society has them, usually commencing with the recognition of some societal ill. In the past decade, that malady has become education - in particular, teachers. Apparently, we're solely to blame. The phrases "professional development," "teacher effectiveness" and "teacher accountability" are harped on by pundits and politicians outside the profession.
In what other public-servant sector do we demand such accountability? Do we blame police officers for arriving at the scene of a crime too late? A firefighter for not saving a home from the flames? Certainly, these public servants do their best. We don't single them out as the lone variable when life goes awry. Or how about accountability for our politicians who kowtow not to the demands of their constituents but to the dollars of lobbyists and special interests who truly run this "democracy"? State Sen. John Thrasher, sponsor of Senate Bill 6, is seeking to pile even more accountability on our shoulders while basing our performance as teachers on nothing more than student statistics. Well, I have an interesting statistic of my own: 1.7 percent. As individual teachers, our students spend 1.7 percent of their time with each of us in one calendar year. If one were to only include waking hours, the number becomes 2.6 percent. Taken from a collective standpoint, students spend 14 percent of their time in one year within the classroom (again, the number rises to 18 percent if you consider sleep). Whether it is crime, dropouts, graduation, FCAT, reading proficiency or any other rate or percentage being pinned on our profession, the truth is we take 100 percent of the blame, though we comprise only 14 percent of each student's time. It is time for accountability to be spread out evenly. As teachers, we cannot control the 86 percent of the time our students are not within our classrooms or any of the variables that affect a student's education. Accountability should begin with the student and be buttressed by the parent. It should continue with the teachers, guidance counselors and administrators while in school. In a perfect world, accountability should be part of a continuum - an unbroken chain in which we all play a part. It is foolish and delusional for politicians and parents to believe we are a panacea for these social ills. Real progress will begin when our society stops blaming and starts helping. Only through cooperation of all parties involved in the academic process will it be possible to right the ship of education in the United States. Senate Bill 6 is progressing in the Senate. I am urging all of you who care enough about our educational system, our collective dignity as professional educators and, most importantly, our students, to engage in your civic duty by writing or calling your state legislator and voicing your concerns about this bill becoming law.

Ryan Haczynski is a teacher in the social studies department at Durant High School.

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