Preparing For Back To School

By Diann Woodard, AFSA President

How quickly the summer’s warmth turns into the cool breezes of fall as most of us begin the opening of schools.  We have a big job ahead and an even bigger target resting on our backs. In the coming weeks, we will open school buildings sorely in need of repair, some lacking supplies and equipment and many in unsafe areas.  Yet, we will cast a spell to ignore most of this as we watch teachers transform classrooms into oases of tactile learning centers. We will preserve the sanity of a good, well-rounded education for every child in spite of the world’s outcry for increased test scores.

We will review our schools curriculum and ensure that it is enriched with solid goals and objectives that will excite and ignite young people to learn in all areas including the sciences, social studies, arts, physical education and more.  We will see that our schools are equipped with programs that focus on developing the whole child by providing counseling, nutrition, daycare centers, after school programs, tutoring and mentoring. Finally, we will prepare to test the children. To paraphrase Cross, We will stimulate these “ordinary” children to unusual effort. Not simply to IDENTIFY winners, but to live another day to MAKE winners out of “ordinary” children.

If these were the only demands of our profession, they would be challenging enough.  But the target on our backs calls on us to be leaders in our communities, confronting misguided experiments by those seeking profit or satisfied with solutions for educating some of our children at the expense of universally addressing all of their needs.  We urge you to work with our union, our local AFL-CIO councils and state federations to ensure that educators and our students are not victimized by business-model “reforms” that promise much while ultimately undermining the hope of educating all children.  Both we and the students we serve deserve better.