Make or Break Time for Education

As an educator, I saw an opportunity in the return to school after that COVID-induced stretch of remote learning.

Not that COVID is really over, as much as people want to pretend it is. Right now it feels like we are fudging our way through the positive tests and the obvious illnesses. Back to knowing that if a parent has no daycare options, a sick kid might be sent to school. Onward, implementing the merest measures as a society in order to keep people at work, and students in school, protecting economic interests first.

The pandemic revealed our society for what it really is.

Regardless of what political party holds the reins, it would appear that a market-driven strategy that defers to efficiency and easily quantifiable outcomes wins out over the human endeavor of educating. If a truly educated and capable citizenry were the goal, how we design and implement the systems that allow us to educate would reflect that. There would be more honesty in policy language coming down into our schools and classrooms from above, and it would be more about learners and a comprehensive, whole-child look at their needs, less about the limiting boxes on spreadsheets filled with standardized test scores.

The opportunity I saw in the return to in-person learning was a chance to rethink our priorities regarding the goals we are setting for students.

A reach for our better selves and a higher purpose in our service to students and communities is needed, and I feel we are in a make-or-break moment for choosing to do that. The data we are mandated to collect officially is far different than the data we are compelled to collect by the multiplying realities in the moments instruction should be happening. Those “confounding variables” keep popping up to get in the way of better outcomes.

What data educators collect matters. How we use it to build understanding about the learners as developing human beings with needs and inform our educational decisions matters more. Empowering the people actually doing the work matters most.


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