I wanted to share with you a deep concern I have, which I hope collectively we might solve.
The newspaper bylines noting the concerns of Utah teachers about the precedent that is being set by the Ogden School District only underlines the extra concern that should be felt by not only educators, but all who have a vested interest in a quality education for our state and nation. Sharon Gallagher Fishbaugh, UEA President, has stated, “this move is a symptom of a national controversy” which I believe effectively takes teachers/educators completely out of the process to ensure quality education.
During the past decades, under a Federal reform effort proclaiming “No Child Left Behind,” teachers have become the “heavy” in a race to insure that every child can read and do math at the state standard grade level, while throwing out that which has made America the leader in innovation and leadership for well over a century. That being the process of providing opportunities for everyone to find their talent and build upon that talent for the individual, community and national success.
Teachers/Educators, before Socrates, have provided the mentorship to enhance and build on the talents, prior knowledge, and dedication of students as they strive to increase their ability to become lifelong learners. Teachers come from many different roles in a child’s life, but when as a community we entrust that role to those who choose to be the teacher/mentor of many as a vocation, one would believe that we should entrust them with the latitude and respect to determine not only the methods for educating each individual child, but also the outcomes as defined by the partnership they develop with the student and the parents.
As we continue to move even farther away from entrusting teachers to control the educational environment and entrust the determination for quality education to the political process, I fear we chance to lose all we have gained and what other nations are now finding so important as they try to compete with this nation. Look at the common denominators of the quality education programs around the world and you will find that first and foremost is the respect and honor of teachers. They are rewarded with equitable salaries, esteem befitting the highest careers of their nation and support not only in the classroom, but continued support from parents and the community, as they collectively work to educate their most valued treasure — their children.
Where have we lost this very valuable understanding and belief in a time-honored profession? I hope we soon refocus on quality education by supporting quality educators with respect, salaries and trust.
Dixie Allen, Vice Chair
Utah State Board of Education
435-789-0534 cell: 435-790-6673