Monday, April 12, 2010

My Letter to Governor Crist of Florida

Good morning to you Governor Crist

You may remember me from the short discussions we have had in Tallahassee and in Orlando. Although I assess this not to be the case, I feel it pertinent to share with you that we have spoken on the topic of education a few times prior. Today I share with you a few thoughts that I have, with a lasting idea.

A population in the modern world can only be as strong as its leaders. Many years ago, the leaders would say that they are the voice of the people, and that it was the people who were strong. In reviewing the history of man, it does seem that modern governments have become stronger than the people, and that with this switch in social structure, we, the people need very strong government leading us.

Politicians play a very tedious game of back scratching and power pleasing that sometimes the goal of our passions is lost to the power of our greed to belong. This is not necessarily a bad thing if we are able to keep in mind who we are serving; the people

In this current legislative session, I do not feel the people have had a fair voice. The members of the Senate and the House have become so entrenched within their positions, that I feel they are not considering what is best for the people. As a teacher in Florida, I know you have been privy to all the aspects of the bills that are now found on your desk. The bills involving education that are on your desk, in my mind do not bring a team atmosphere to education. Instead it brings anguish, and competition.

The members of the Florida congress that feel competition is important in schools are people who come from a corporate environment, and truly do not understand the power of collaboration. I worked in the corporate world for the first years of my career and now am in the field of education. Without collaboration and team work in all facets of this job, there may be a huge drop in the success Florida has been building over the past twenty years.

Some aspects that you are aware of, yet I feel repeating this will help in your decision.

  1. As a teacher, you do not get to choose the students who enter your classroom. You receive 25+ students (assuming you veto class amendment and force the State to find the monies necessary) who come from all walks of life. They also enter with all of their prior baggage that we, as teachers are not allowed to have an HR department take care of
  2. In the classroom you have 5 hours per week to influence students. That amounts to 12 minutes per child if you truly were able to offer individualized teaching.
  3. Each child sees at least 5 teachers through the day, and then goes home with homework, and has a responsibility to complete this work in order to achieve the educational desired outcome
  4. Most students go home and refuse to complete homework, which means they fall behind or force the teacher to help them, and or worse of all for the teacher not to give any homework, and therefore slowing down a course
  5. Teachers are not allowed to offer true value grades, as they are seen as failures if too many students fail. Therefore they are to create a systemic bell curve to show they are valuable.
  6. Teachers are allowed to educate students within their classrooms, yet they are not allowed to be part of the technological world with the students. Students today are technologically advanced, it is time to allow teachers to reach students in the 21st century
  7. Teachers can only influence and educate students who in attendance. In a normal educational environment, a teacher can expect 2-3 students per class to be out. Some of these students are habitual with being absent. Without any form of punishment over these students, educating them becomes a null situation, and it is unfair to blame a teacher
  8. Education has differing levels. Many counties now offer open enrollment to AP courses, and Honors classes. This open enrollment policy has created a situation where AP classes are now the honors classes of 10 years ago. Honors classes of today are the Regular Education classes of twenty years ago, and Regular education is so watered down it is closer to basic education, rather than regular education.
  9. Special needs students are also setup to fail in this current environment, as they have specific needs and educational growth standards. Creating a measure for all students to meet is fool hearty at best, and for these Special Needs students it is simply abusive.
  10. Degrees matter. As a Bachelor level student I received a good education in my field. It was broad and I was a good teacher. Entering into my master's degree, I learned so much more, in a far more narrow setting, which allows me to be a better teacher, and offer the students a more realistic perspective of my area of expertise. Now I am a PHD candidate, and I am learning even more, for which my students benefit, as I bring this back to the classroom. Taking away the desire for a teacher to earn further degrees will affect the standard of education being offered to students. People who cannot earn more for their degrees will take their skills elsewhere. This is the same concept in the corporate world, and is not a valid aspect of any career. Furthering education is atop the president's agenda, and it should also be for the State of Florida.

I state all the above issues, and offer a solution. Create a task force, which is not directed through lobbying monies. It is an opportunity for you to reach out and hire teachers from all levels of education, and some business people. Perhaps 15-20 people and hire them t0o create a fair systemic education model. These people work around the State collecting data and researching the best possible solution for the new Florida education model that will work. One that is fair to most of the teachers and students. My suggestion is that the State creates a model in which the State of Florida and the Florida Education Association can truly agree on; and one that recognizes the benefit of all aspects of education for students, parents, administrators and teachers alike. Being able to create a truly rigorous environment which offers the students a chance to excel is what is important. We are here to teach students, and guide them to a greater life. That should be everyone's goal in the field of education. It is time for our political leaders to lead, and be the powerful guides we, the people, are asking for.

Governor, I have been considering the aspect of a new education model for Florida for a while now, and in review of where the State Congress feels we should go, I feel that a complete overhaul may be a better direction. This could be a great legacy you leave behind, rather than leaving the State with a failing system of education

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