I’m not one to run at conflict.  I’m that quiet person that sits in the background and works behind the scenes, listening to both sides, and working to channel frustrations towards positive outcomes.  I’m not that person who sounds off at meetings, who goes door to door, or who marches into the principal’s office with his list of problems.  Nope, I’ve tried some of those before and been burnt, others I’ve just never had the confidence nor the need to be the “star” to have that happen.

Yet, my guiding force behind my teaching comes from something my principal from Missouri taught me: Is it what’s best for kids?  She was a ball of fire, Mrs. Brent.  Kids loved her because she knew all their names, kindergarten through fifth grade within two weeks of school starting.  Some teachers did not like her what so ever because she was very much a “my way or we’ll find someone who thinks like my way” kind of person.  I loved her style, her passion, and her excitement over education.  She worked so hard to make sure kids could read, worked hard to make sure she had the best staff possible, and yet, played hard too (still does after 10 years of retirement), making sure we took care of each other, and ourselves.  She taught me that in the end, that has to be what drives us.  It can’t be all the other fluffy stuff that goes on, it must be is it what’s best for kids.

I’m a teacher in Iowa (shocking I know) and our current govenor came in guns blazing.  He’s the “new sheriff in town” and by gosh, things were going to change.  We had a major educational summit where speaker after speaker talked about how early childhood education and programs for struggling readers were key in the succuess of students.  Yet, here we are, April, and in a current article:


The governor chided Senate Democrats who he said should follow the lead of the Republican-controlled House and push for “bold” reform.

“My message is this: If you want to vote against that, we’ll be back next year after you’re gone,” Branstad said. “You can be part of the solution or you can be part of the problem, but we’re going to get this done.”

The rest of the article is here: http://goo.gl/zrDpu

My question: is this what’s good for kids?  Is it good for there to be this attitude of my way or the highway?  Is it good that there tons of research out there that says retention is the not the way to go, but yet, we are having it jammed down our throats by our “experts” in Des Moines?  Is it best for kids to be tested more?  My students lose, on average, somewhere close to three days of classroom instruction time due to testing.  Is that what we truly see as best?

Is it best for kids to continue to hammer on the “first in, first out” idea when many districts in Iowa DON’T actually use that?  And finally, is it best for kids to have more and more money from outside the state flow in via television or radio ads, from people who don’t live here?  Both of my daughters will be products of Iowa schools, and I do want what’s best for them.

I love what I do and I do what I love.  I have Mrs. Brent to thank for my development as a teacher (no, Mrs. Brent, I’m still as unorganized as ever, sorry!), yet, I know she’s appalled at what her passion is becoming.

So I’ll ask you: Is this what’s best for kids?