By Matthew Tyson
Between the Students First Act, the Alabama Accountability Act, and now the controversial RAISE Act, it should be obvious that Senator Del Marsh sees himself as a champion of education reform.
However, I’ve never seen an education reformer who is so widely vilified by actual educators.
In today’s hostile political climate, there’s not much that will unite Republicans and Democrats, but Senator Marsh seems to have done that just that. Teachers of all political persuasions find common ground in their opposition to every piece of Marsh’s education legislation.
Considering this, perhaps Senator Marsh should take time to reflect on his work and have an open, honest dialogue with the teaching community to ascertain why his reforms are so hotly contested by educators.
Personally, I think Marsh’s fatal flaw is that he’s a businessman. He’s familiar with the flow of a capitalistic entity. He comes from a place where an employee’s worth is measured by his or her ability to generate profit.
The only problem is that you can’t apply the same way of thinking to education, and that’s the mistake that Marsh makes. He believes our education system can be fixed through business tactics. But it can’t. And the reason why is summed up perfectly by John Archibald with the Alabama Media Group when he said:
“It (the RAISE Act) relies on the false presumption that teachers are motivated exclusively by money. If that were the case, they wouldn’t be teachers.”
Truer words were never spoken. Teaching is one of the most selfless careers a person can choose to pursue. The decision to become a teacher has never been motivated by the desire to make money and it never will.
Schools don’t exist to generate profit, and teachers don’t serve a single authority with a single goal in mind. They don’t just answer to the principal. They answer to parents. They answer to the students. They answer to the public. We weigh on their shoulders the collective wellbeing and education of our children, all of whom hail from different backgrounds, social settings, economic statuses, religions, races, sexes, nationalities, interests, and more. You simply can’t automate something like that. You can’t optimize it the way you would a company.
The world of education is broad, complex, and subjective. Teachers need the space to breathe, think, and create. They need the freedom to change direction, adapt to new situations, and to find a way to incorporate multiple different learning styles.
I understand that Marsh is trying to attack a problem that plagues the nation, but this isn’t the way to do it. Of course, I can’t say I have the answer either (certainly not one that can be laid out in one post), but I know a better path exists, and perhaps the first step in finding that better path is to listen to the educators. I understand that he has more than just teachers in his district of constituents. But if he’s going to author bills that deal directly with the jobs of teachers, then their opinion should take precedence, because it’s their livelihood he’s affecting.
Matthew is an Anniston native, a writer, and a representative of the Democrats for Life of America. If you want to support the DFLA cause in Alabama, you can contact him at [email protected]