After my time in Peru, I really wanted dive into public education. Because between budget cuts and private or charter schools, there is a lot of change going on. Obviously with the Trump’s administration things are also changing. I think that I underestimated just how politically charged this issue is.
I was thinking about urban schools when I was in Lima. Many of the public schools that are struggling find support from groups like the Jesuits. This made me wonder about how schools that have limited resources in the United States are able to find support. I found so many cases where churches were denied funds because of the separation of church and state. I did find some articles about how California is now providing funding to Pre-K programs. An article from US News brought up a question that I was actually thinking myself “what will the quality be and who will have access?”.
I was doing some more research about funding public schools and some articles criticized raising state property taxes to help public schools. It is a complicated battle because even though the Common Core requires assessing schools nationwide, most of the funding is actually coming from state taxes. I don’t quite understand why the national government will implement assessment without giving the tools to help students be successful. It seems like our current system is punishing the struggling schools and not offering the support needed.
I really enjoyed the time I spent in Peru, watching the community come together to better the school. I read a lot about the divide that takes place between parents and teachers due to a lack of understanding and or ethnic differences. It is hard because in many the schools that I saw in Peru, the teachers were often from the same neighborhoods as their students. That’s not to say that teachers cannot teach students of a different race. But in such a large country, why is it that we have such a teacher shortage?
Many classes that were axed during the Great Recession are being brought back – think more PE, art, music etc. And going back to budgets, many public schools can’t afford to pay teachers very well. The shortage of teachers is leading to increased class sizes. This can make teachers burn out much faster and those inquiry based activities more challenging to manage. The focus has often been on how to attract more teachers but it is equally as important to keep the teachers in the profession satisfied. So here is yet another reason to use parents as partners. Together we can support the kids in public schools.
I’ve quite recently discovered that you can literally get lost in the politics of education. In public schools, there are a lot of voices to consider, including the State and Federal Governments. It is important to keep a level head and to stay current on the issues BUT I think that by far, it is important to stay tuned to what is relevant for your students and their families. I don’t want to be that pessimistic teacher that thinks there is absolutely nothing that I can do about the social and political climate we’re in because that’s just not true. I don’t ever want to think that way and definitely don’t want my students to think that way. In a public school I may not be able to hand my students all of the monetary resources but I am in control of my most priceless resource: my time. In my research (and observations in Peru) about being a teacher in a public school setting, that is actually the most valuable thing to give students and their families.