Every time I turn on the television news lately I’m alerted to the sad state of American public education. Apparently, teachers, administrators, and everyone down to the cafeteria staff are in the middle of the crisis of our lifetime. Supposedly we’re all waiting for Superman to come save our education system. There’s only one problem. He’s already here.
Not just superman, but Spiderman, Batman, and certainly, Wonder Woman are in classrooms making a difference in the lives of children one lesson and smile at a time. They realize there are obstacles to overcome, but each morning they arrive with the optimism of Pollyanna, hoping, knowing they will make an impact and become someone’s hero.
No doubt there are a few Lex Luthors, Jokers, and Green Goblins lurking about, but in my humble (and I hope not too naïve) opinion, even they want what’s best for the students in their classes… they’ve just lost their way, lost sight of the excitement and energy that brought them to education in the first place.
As I watch politicians, businessmen, and even evening news anchors try to solve the ‘crisis’ in the American education system, I can’t help but wonder where are the teachers? Who asks us for guidance and opinions? From what I gather, the solution might just be money. It appears the more money you throw at a problem, the easier it is to solve. Problem is, with the cool crisp air of autumn, the money tree seems to have lost most of it’s leaves.
As we wait (and wait…) for Superman, let’s not forget, even if he decides to show up, Lex Luthor always managed to find a shard of kryptonite to foil his plans. As we see the focus on test scores increase it appears the system is falling harder and faster than ever. We need to remember a huge part of our jobs as educators (and parents, and friends…) is to instill a love of learning in our sprouts. We need to show them the value of eye contact and a firm handshake is just as important as a high score on an assessment. Perhaps the answer to our children’s future isn’t going to be found in a bubble filled in with a number two pencil, but in the smile of a hero.