My last two postings presented some issues education reform advocates in Oregon should consider as they work to improve public K-12 education in Oregon and do battle, often with teacher unions, in Salem and in their local districts.
Education reform is well-meaning but does not always further teachers’ ability to teach. I would like to put forth a shopping list of teacher needs. Our primary need is to add back our lost funding, because our students are slipping through the cracks as programs are cut, and class sizes burst at the seams. Oregon teachers need to work in schools where the focus is not on cutting resources.
As the median age of licensed teachers in Oregon increases, future retirements will create new demands for classroom teachers. At the same time, Oregon needs to increase the diversity of the future teaching workforce and ensure that a career pathway is clearly outlined.
Last month I was driving back to Portland from a visit to my friend Sol at Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove. Sol had informed me before I left about the tragedy in Newtown, but I hadn’t heard much in the way of details, so when I listened to the various NPR correspondents offering segments, I found myself having to pull my car over to cry. Part of my grief was out of empathy for all of the parents who would find out that their child had been killed, but a part of me also struggled with this tragedy because of where it took place.