People are asking for the solution to our education crisis.
We already have the answers. Unfortunately, we have too many recalcitrant folks in education.
The old models of lecture-based classrooms work for some, so we keep them for some. We remember that those types of schools were formed for industrial days, when people were taught how to operate sewing machines and work on assembly lines.
We also need classrooms that are inquiry-based and project based. We need classrooms that emphasize music or emphasize art. We need classes that meet us where we are, with our learning style.
We need to throw out language registers as suspendable offenses. Instead of forcing students to focus so hard on the way they speak (for example to say: Good morning fellow classmates vs Yo yo wazzup).
Smaller class sizes? They work depending on the teaching method. I think there were at least 200 people in the audience when I heard Noam Chomsky speak outside the library. 200:1, learning and inspired.
Please don’t give me 200 three-year olds and expect me to teach and inspire them to read for the first time.
The truth? People use the term “equity” and confuse it with “equality”.
People complain, so rigid policies are written. Unfortunately, our “leaders” become self serving and make and take deals because they want to be liked.
My name is Felicia Chew. I am an educator of 20+ years, running for Amphi Public Schools Governing Board, currently substitute teaching and working as a small business owner to end systemic domestic violence.
The #RedForEd movement has empowered teachers to #SpeakUp and say #Enough. Now, we are looking at a teacher walk-out (strike) to make things better for Arizona’s education system. #RedForEd has been leading the way to making things better for Arizona education.
Now, it is OUR turn. Here are some of the actions WE must take, for OUR children, for OUR future, for OUR legacy:
Write to OUR state legislators and to Governor Ducey for a budget that restores funding to OUR education system, and policies that pave the way to strong communities and a strong economy. Write to OUR local school boards, asking for appropriate salary schedules and review policies to ensure that they support today’s student learning.
Share OUR stories and OUR CHILDREN’s stories about the GAPS we and our children see and experience in and from OUR current education system — the large class sizes; to the one or two children who learn differently in class and take the attention of the teacher; to the mostly good but sometimes bad school lunches; to the lack of sports opportunities to younger students; to the lack of support services to children experiencing anxiety; to the lack of school supplies; to the children who refuse to use the school bathroom because it is a place where students get assaulted pr offered drugs, or it just smells funny; to the student who is disruptive because they have fallen behind; to the student who is disruptive because they already understand what was taught and are bored; to the cookie cutter system that education is falling back onto so students score well on standardized tests; to … The list is endless.
Today was GirlPower on Wake Up Tucson! where we engaged in courageous conversations; even when we disagreed with one another, we all agreed that the salsa from The Quesadillas was pretty amazing.
I missed the first hour of the show, but tuned in when Alex and her dad (from The Quesadillas) was online, talking about their little shop on the NE corner of Grant and Craycroft. I was tempted to head that way, but realized I would be late for my time with Chris, Ed, and Adriana, and our Wake Up Tucson friends. So, I headed to the studio, and there was still lots of salsa to try! (And try, I did!)
My conclusions: Yum yum yum. Locally owned, go check it out!
My thoughts: It shouldn’t be so hard to start a local business.
I listened also to Tia Gloria, and her report of the Ward 3 Community Policing Forum (there were two which she attended — I did not attend because I was attending the Health and Wellness Forum for Amphi, and working on the Crisis van, and honking my horn for #RedForEd). I was so interested to hear what the plan is for reducing crime (remember, my neighbor who is a contractor had his tools stolen from his shed).
My thoughts (and I did speak with some of the Pawn Shop workers at First and Prince) — a system where pawn shop workers check on item serial numbers, etc. to identify if the item being pawned is hot or not. Understandably, the criminals could take the items to other venues in town (e.g. the Swap Meet, yardsaling, etc), so more systems could be put into place… but thinking about all of the “problems” of recent days, THE SOLUTION IS EDUCATION:
Educating others to realize that our actions affect others.
Educating others to realize that it is okay to do something different from the crowd.
Educating others to understand that action plans that take into consideration others’ thoughts and perspectives are necessary, to avoid burn-out.
Educating others to realize that ideas come from places where we are not even looking — like our youth, our elders, our custodians, our drivers…
Educating others to realize that we live in a world of explicit bias and fear .
The more you see it, the more you say it, the more you hear it, the more you do it, the better you become at it.
Don’t follow the crowd for fear of being alone.
Know that there are no dumb questions.
Know that there are individuals who get silly to get attention.
Know that everyone just wants to be loved.
Know that everyone has different experiences and expectations
Know that you don’t have to solve all of the world’s problems today
Look all around you, find all of your potential resources
Don’t blame or shame
We spoke briefly about #RedForEd, and I wanted to clarify my thoughts:
I am not convinced that the raise of 20% will solve the problem.
I am not convinced that all teachers know what the #RedForEd movement is about.
I am not convinced that community members know what the #RedForEd movement is about.
I believe a reallocation of money and resources is necessary to fill in the gaps that teachers are trying to do on their own, because they are conditioned to think it is all their fault, and all their responsibility. Teachers — we are not Frodo Baggins, our students are not the Ring, and we don’t have to go to Mordor. Period.
What we need are governing board members who understand the root causes, and provide solutions for them.
Prop 301 provides performance bonuses. (The fact that the bonuses have not all been paid out is a separate problem).
Prop 123 was a mistake (and has been deemed illegal).
Unions should represent the needs of its members.
Fear tactics should not be an acceptable tactic — for anyone in any race.
Money should go where it is needed (rabbit trail here — The City of Tucson should not be leasing electric buses without getting all of the other ducks in a row. If the company wants to demonstrate that the electric bus will work in the City of Tucson, the company should be paying the City of Tucson to use our City of Tucson for testing their product).
We need to stand up for our rights. The rights teachers need to stand up for are policies that ensure the best teachers are employed in the City. (I have come across many teachers in Tucson who should not be in the classroom, in their current condition. That said, it is the work environment that is causing once excellent teachers to fail in their profession. *Note* There are many teachers who are *not* in the profession for the money, but they are so tired and fed up, that they are looking for someone to support them. That is what the #RedForEd movement represents to some teachers. It must be clear that the #RedForEd movement must be a comprehensive plan — or, it will end up tied up, as countless other movements become. The Civil Rights movement? Was it really successful? Ask Black Lives Matter. And Blue Lives Matter. This in-fighting needs to stop. Why are there so many fans of Mr. Trump and his actions? The narrative that “White people” are the villains has resulted in fear — and I am fearful too, due to what I know of mob mentality. And this, friends, is one of the reasons I do not attend marches and protests. I love festivals. I do not love protest marches. We must build bridges, not walls)
Some solutions that have been effective, and can be duplicated here (of course with the necessary Tucson twists):
Tap into U of A resources. Students want units. Give them units for volunteering in classrooms and allow them to receive internship credits!
Tap into community members who do not have teaching credentials. Allow a supervising teacher to work with an expert in Art or Music. TUSD has a version of OMA, but the support given to the OMA teachers is minimal.
Create villages with Team Leaders who handle low-level discipline problems, and create activities for the Team. Give Team Leaders an extra period.
Have meetings for real reasons… not just meetings for the sake of having meetings. Meetings should be set up to be for the best interests of students. Teachers need to dump their ego and pride, and recognize that they are NOT better than the students they serve (yes, serve) and support. Teachers are customer service workers, and their customers are students. Teachers need to understand frustration levels to work with students and parents effectively. Administrators need to understand frustration levels to work with teachers effectively. Superintendents need to understand frustration levels to work with parents effectively.
Set an expectation: No grading goes home. Period. Then, allow time during the day for student work to be graded. English teachers should not have a “stack of papers” to grade every night. English teachers should focus on a skill that is being taught for the day, and scan for that skill. Standards based report cards need to be broken into skills based gradebooks for teachers in the classroom. Volunteers need to be able to come in and support the teacher with recording grades (not doing the grading, unless trained). Together Everyone Achieves More. These are all learned skills. The teacher becomes the facilitator of learning.
Speak up when help is needed. Administrator policies should be open door, with more resources for teachers to access, as needed. Teachers are at different levels, just as students are at different levels.
Here’s the kicker: All of this is implemented simultaneously, and the bar is raised. Think about it: Is it easier to put a shirt on when both arms are in the sleeves, lined up? Or is it easier to put a shirt on one arm, pulled up to the shoulder, started with the buttoning, and then insert the other arm? THE IMPLEMENTATION IS KEY.
Money – the root of all evil? Or the solver of the world’s problems? Some arguments have been made that money will solve the problems, but I am not convinced this is true. There is a limited amount of money that exists, in the economy, and to add money into the economy as a stimulus simply devalues money.
We need to get to the root issues.
People take the best path for their situation, for where they perceive themselves to be, and what they perceive to be possible.
I think of Mark Van Buren and the Downtown Marriott. For one year, they were not a part of the franchise. They were still standing at the end of the year. They were worried. They were afraid. They applied to be a part of the franchise again, and are now a part of the franchise. Why reinvent the wheel? Mark chose what he thought was the best route. As an outsider, it could be very easy for me to judge, and try to shame Mark in his choice. (No, that is not what I am doing here). I choose not to shame Mark. I choose to share his story, because he shared it at his celebration last month!
I think of my friends who have chemical dependencies. Some recognize their dependency, and the power of habits, addiction, and not being mindful.
I think of myself, and my years of being in abusive relationships.
My point is that anything is possible. When you have support, you have the ability to choose.
My point is that the money is limited, and when we are in crisis situations, we don’t always make the best decisions.
My solution — take teachers and school leaders out of the crisis situations by funding the schools appropriately, so teachers do not have the jobs of custodian, nurse, social services, dean, all rolled into one.
Here’s something about me I have not shared publicly yet: I would very much like to have the “easy” life. I am tired. I want to have a job where I can do what I want to do. (Keep reading). I want to be a helper elf and support person to others. I don’t like being in the spotlight. I don’t like people. You read that right, and keep reading… I don’t like people… and their egos.
Here’s what I want: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.. for #EachOfUs and #AllOfUs
Here’s what I know: We are all a piece of the puzzle of life, the ripple effect, cause and effect, connection, circle of life… it’s all true. Karma is real, and when we make one change, it eventually effects another.
So, I will keep on educating others about better ways to solve problems. I hope you will join me.
The #RedForEd movement is gaining momentum in Tucson. The question of the day: Will Arizona teachers strike?
Some reasons I have heard for not striking (in no particular order):
– It is AZ Merit testing week;
– Students lose learning time when teachers strike;
– It is hard on parents when teachers strike (no childcare, etc);
– Not *all* teachers are participating
Interesting note: Some Tucsonans are not sure what #RedForEd means… some were looking for someone named Ed (how fantastic that would have been to have Mr. Ed — the horse– out marching!)
My thoughts: Communicate! Bring community members together!
Stop dividing! Stop name-calling!
I support students; I am a public school teacher; I have worked in private schools and public charter schools; My children have attended classes in public schools and private schools. I engage in conversations and take action! I am running for school board to be in a position to create and support policies that are better for all of us. And still, individuals have attempted to privately and publicly shame me.
My point: We can’t strike because there is too much division.
– Coordinate childcare for kids if/when teachers strike;
– Follow the process (if the process doesn’t seem to be working, change the process);
– Be mindful of different perspectives;
– Stop shaming, blaming, and name-calling;
– Work together.