I recently got to spend some time talking with Antero Garcia, co-author of Pose, Wobble, Flow and what he had to say about the current state of education was very interesting. We talked about my teacher as advocate badge and what exactly the issues are that affect students today, and where they are in dire need of an advocate to assist them. The topic that dominated our conversation was the Every Student Succeeds Act passed last year. Antero has worked in education legislation before and had a very unique perspective to contribute.
He said that one of the most pressing issues in education is the upcoming presidential election. It is quite obvious that most candidates do not know much about education, since they will end up delegating to their secretary of education, but the change will still inevitably alter the future course of education. Antero suggested that because of the electoral politics surrounding education, teachers must advocate for students in a forum that they have limited access to and understanding of; legislation.
There were undeniably flaws in the No Child Left Behind provision. Now that legislation has changed we wait to see what the alternative could be. A lot of the issues surrounding the provision were implementation based, which could very well be a problem with ESSA. Consensus has widely been that standardized testing needs to have less power over what we teach in the classrooms and how we measure success. ESSA transfers much of the testing and standardization powers to the states, but we have not found a way to change the values that we hold in high academic esteem.
Testing only assesses a narrow facet of a student’s thinking. It does not address multiple intelligences, individual skills outside of academia, or a student’s true propensity of thought. Though this type of assessment does not yet exist, we need to start working towards something like it. We need to acknowledge the skills and abilities that heavily contribute to our society, but are not recognized in the academic world.
Meeting with Antero was incredibly beneficial and I wish we could have talked longer. His insight gave me a real idea of what the issues are facing the students and teachers of the next generation. It gave me a glimpse into the future of education and what I need to invest research into for effective advocacy when I finally become a teacher. The most valuable thing I learned from the experience was that advocacy must be a very public, very political endeavor if real change is the goal. It gave me the nudge I needed to realize that I cannot stay quiet and hope to create change. I need to go public.