Once I decided that I was going to become a teacher, I pursued jobs that I thought could prepare me for my future career. I worked for The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital. I was an education assistant and rehabilitation aide for student’s that were considered medically fragile. I also spent time working as a teacher’s assistant, in a public elementary school, serving Pre-K students with developmental disabilities.
The most perspective-shifting experience that I had, was while I worked at a local non-profit youth and family agency, as a Youth Development Specialist/Job Coach. I was oblivious to poverty until I worked at this agency. My team and I helped provide holistic counseling, job placement, independent living programs, emergency shelters, diploma and GED recovery services, and anything else that was needed. I was a young college kid trying to understand, counsel, and teach students that were not much younger than me, but had generational wounds that were extremely deep.
I currently teach at a school that is of low SES. I am grateful that I had these previous job experiences, because I feel that I can better meet the needs of my students. I feel that my job is extremely difficult, but these past experiences have made it easier to create relationships with my students.
Our extremely polarized political parties try to pit us against each other when we talk about poverty. We have two choices and that’s it…1)A far right-winged Republican that doesn’t care about the poor. 2) A liberal Democrat that enables those in poverty. We must move away from this divisive rhetoric.
Just because we are “recession proof”, does not mean that we are poverty proof.
We live in this, “just have some grit and pull up your bootstraps, kid” society. As a society, we must admit that poverty is a real thing. Poverty isn’t a villain created from folklore. It’s a generational factor, which impacts all of us. Nearly every student is a member of our future workforce, so we should be trying everything imaginable to provide early, intentional, and long-lasting interventions. Many of our current elected officials have not developed policy that helps this demographic of our population. They have chosen to further the rhetoric that high standards, accountability, and increased punitive mandates will automatically help all of our students. They are wrong. They must be voted out.
High standards and accountability are extremely important, but these aspects have to be implemented with meaning and relevance. We need to elect people that will decrease our unfunded mandates, and fund meaningful programs that will benefit all students. We need to decrease the money, time, and energy spent on standardized testing, and increase the amount of meaningful professional development and collaboration for teachers. Schools need to become the center of the community, where more than just standardized learning occurs. It needs to be the epicenter of positivity, and the safest physical and emotional place for our students. Administrators need to have less time with these accountability requirements, and more time being able to be instructional leaders that develop their staff. Teachers need less time worrying about VAM and test-spec items, and more time focusing on instruction. As Parker J. Palmer would describe it: we must “grow” children, instead of “make” children.
For all of these reasons and more, I will be voting for Joe Dorman for governor. He has proven that he will work as a bipartisan public servant, and that he will put the needs of the people above his own. He has been collaborative throughout his campaign, and has sought advice from people of numerous industries…including education.
Both candidates for State Superintendent have been extremely visible with their campaigns. I had the opportunity to be panelist at one of their debates, and I was impressed by both candidates. With that being said, I will be voting for Dr. John Cox for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. I believe that Dr. Cox has devoted his career to serving Oklahoma’s students, and I believe that he will be extremely collaborative at the state and local levels. I don’t have any ill feelings about Joy Hofmeister, and I believe that she has shown a level of collaboration through #oklaed chats and #edcamp participation. I believe that she has unique experiences that would benefit the office as well. If she wins the position, I will support her as our state’s education leader, unless she gives me a reason otherwise.
My ballot usually consists of votes for Republicans and Democrats, so let me make it clear: this is not a straight party vote. I have supported both of these candidates after a lot of research.
Regardless of the winners of these two political races, we must continue to keep #oklaed momentum moving forward. Parents, educators, PLAC’s, and citizens must continue to work together and keep our elected officials accountable. We can disagree on our favorite candidates, but we must continue to agree on reducing standardized testing, increasing education funding, and developing and retaining high quality educators in Oklahoma.
I have read several outstanding blog posts during the past week. They are the usual suspects of outstanding #oklaed blogging: Brett Dickerson, Claudia Swisher, Okeducationtruths, and Rob Miller. I highly suggest that you read the each of the following posts from these bloggers. We don’t all have the same opinions, but I think that we all respect one another’s opinions.
Rob Miller: Why I Hope for Joy!