“I Dreamed a Dream,” the famous song from “Les Miserables,” describes my educational journey this year in Louisiana. As a veteran teacher, I am despondent over an educational system that equates test scores with success and devalues teachers as agents of creativity and change.
The Compass system, flawed to its core, essentially makes teachers an obsolete facilitator versus an engaged catalyst for learning. Students should direct their own learning, create their own assessments and evaluate themselves in some Utopian fantasy. Compass rewards interactive learning, denigrating all other styles, including lecture-style learning, which most students will encounter in college.
My paycheck will depend in part on the scores of temperamental, hormonal teenagers who aren’t responsible adults yet. People use the analogy of stockbrokers who earn bonuses based on successful portfolios, but educators are not handling inanimate stocks. The time we invest will take years to bear fruit, but legislators and parents want results now. We don’t pay doctors based on patient mortality rate, so why is a teacher paid according to teenager performance?
State Education Superintendent John White has publicly stated there is no exodus of teachers, and that those choosing to leave are the ineffective ones. Such callous disregard for human beings is unbecoming of a leader charged with improving the state of education. One does not save a child by savaging a teacher.
I am blamed — three simple words, but they sum it all. Student failure does not reflect on student motivation, home life, parenting skills, economic status or geographic location. A dentist is not blamed for the cavities of his patients, but I am blamed if a student fails.
The closing lines to the song above are prophetic: “I dreamed a dream my life would be, so different from this hell I’m living. So different now from what it seemed. Now life has killed the dream I dream.”