BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — The purpose of any education system is to educate the children within it.
These days, much time is spent talking about education reform. Many new programs have been put into place in hopes of giving children a more up-to-date education that will allow them to compete in the 21st century.
The problem is that some school systems, including Bristol’s own, could care less about the opinions and ideas of the people who have to deal directly with these new programs: teachers and students.
It seems obvious that a student who has to deal with a new program would know how it would effect him and if it would be effective. Yet time and time again, not a single student – the person who will feel the impact of the program – is consulted.
This proves that our school system, which is supposed to be understanding and connected to the young people of our community, cares little for their opinions.
A school system that does not communicate with the concerns or needs of students cannot, and will not, be as effective as one that does.
After all, no matter what test scores or the heads of schools say, students know more about the actual education they are receiving than any school board official or administrator ever could.
Teachers also have insight as to whether a program will work or not. But they are all too often not considered when board officials make decisions.
Even if teachers oppose a program because years of experience lead them to the understanding that the behavior of students will not permit such a thing, it is “not their place to say.” Why? Because just like the rest of us, they have bosses, too.
If they want to keep their jobs, they will do whatever the big man upstairs tells them and not fight against it. This now seems like more than discrimination against students, it’s disrespect for the professional opinions of teachers as well. And, surprise, it’s happening right in our own town.
America looks on its teachers as the very hope for crafting a bright future. But school officials look on them as just another work force churning out merchandise that is in demand from consumers.
Our teachers have no say. Too bad it’s no ordinary product. It’s our children, and it’s their future.
In essence, the Bristol Board of Education has claimed a divine right. They decide everything for our students. Even if they are not well-educated on an issue or program, that means nothing because they don’t have to listen to what anyone thinks or says. And chances are, they won’t.
We all need to get together and decide that all we really want is the best education possible.
To accomplish this, school board officials and administrators must listen to teachers, students and even parents.
What may seem ideal to those in positions of power, may be wrong from the standpoint of students and teachers. If we work together on compromises, new programs can be worked out so they are good for everybody.
If the school system really cares about educating with excellence, that’s what it will do. But in the case of the Bristol school system, it is questionable if its leaders care about anything at all.
Amanda Lehmert is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.