Last week I went to a state Council for Exceptional Children’s meeting and heard the discussion about accommodations. The teachers are waiting to hear what tests will be given to their students and then what accommodations that can be given. The district won’t tell them because they are waiting for the state department of education is waiting for the legislators to make decisions. Again, it is the students who lose in these situations. While the bureaucracy plays their political games, students aren’t getting the help that they need.
I don’t have any magical answers or solutions to situations like this. For years I have seen this played out over and over again.
I believe as teachers, we need to get legislators involved in our classrooms. Just as in war time, political players go to the areas where wars are being fought. They get firsthand knowledge of what our soldiers are facing and some of the needs. Well, our war is in the classroom and we need to get these political leaders in our land to see firsthand what is needed for the students.
We can talk with legislators on the state and capitol level all day long. We can write letters and attend rallies to help. But until these legislators spend time in the schools and classrooms for a length of time, they will never understand what teachers and students need.
I have heard several teachers tell me that they tried but didn’t get any response or willingness to be present. My answer to that is to keep trying. Be persistent. Don’t give up. Don’t just invite them to observe but invite them to participate and interact with the students. That will help them get a better picture.
Make a list of three key players and invite them to teach a mini lesson to your classes. Or have them come talk about their position as a law maker and what things they do. You can tie subject areas in to their visit and ask them to explain to your students how they used reading, math, and writing in their everyday lives.
If they don’t accept your invitation this year, then try again next year. Keep offering the invitation and they might feel bad about declining and eventually accept.
Meet with legislators on a regular basis and offer to be available if they need information or input about a certain topic. Legislators need to hear from people who work in the classroom so that they can make informed decisions.
We can’t expect the legislators to come to us. We need to step forward and make this happen. We can’t sit back and complain about the bureaucracy and feel helpless on the sidelines. We need to take action and bring the decision makers into the classroom.
How can you go about involving legislators in your classroom? Please share.