I was invited a few weeks back by the Huffington Post to write a regular blog. Readers must be wondering: Who is this guy? Well, I am predominantly a romance writer. Three of my novels involve the topic of divorce from the man's perspective. But since I am also a 33 year veteran of the teaching profession, I decided, hey, why not a story about teachers and their right to tenure? Here's what I think:
I believe that teachers (the overwhelmingly vast majority) are the good guys! We love our students, know our students better than the State Ed. Department, know their capabilities, know when we are teaching material that is over their heads and I even believe that we teachers are the most qualified to test and evaluate our students! We are the good guys.
The problem is: We find ourselves under the jurisdiction of the state education department. Do I think these guys are evil people? No, I do not. I just think that they are not as highly qualified as the teachers when it comes to reaching and teaching kids. I will tell you what else I think: I think they are out to get us! So I wrote a novel about it. When you write fiction you are basically a story-teller. I make up the characters, the school district, and I get to weave my own take on exactly what is going on in public education. So I wrote a story about a veteran math teacher who is in jeopardy of having his right to lifetime tenure revoked. Is challenging the right to tenure the goal of our educational leadership? I don't really know. I do not attend their meetings and I am not privy to their agenda. But I am a story-teller and this is my novel so I will write what I think.
Allow me to be as blunt as I can without claiming that I know the hearts and minds of those in charge. As I said earlier, I believe that they are out to get us. I don't think that these ambiguous, difficult state exams are about the kids or about how much they are learning. I am not opposed to the concept of the Common Core. It's the tests which concern me. I think the whole purpose of the tests is to show that we, the teachers, are not reaching today's youth and here's the proof. Look at these low scores! The low scores can now be used as a means to grade teachers as effective or ineffective. The low scores can be used to raise an eyebrow and make the public wonder: What's the matter with these teachers? The next conclusion is a no-brainer. These teachers whose students gain low test scores must be lousy at what they do. Let's fire them! Oh, that's right. They can't be fired because of tenure. Well then, let's get rid of this archaic, outdated tenure. And while we're at it, let's see if we can break this strong teachers' Union along with it.
Now is this really what's happening? As I said, I'm a story-teller. I make things up based upon my personal observations. I wrote this particular novel for two reasons. (1) I want to make lots of money! Duh, I think the reader already knew that. (2) I want to get the word out about the reality of what is going on in public education and that the messenger is not to blame. Are there some people who probably should not be teaching? Okay, that is true. But the vast majority of us are doing our jobs, doing it well, and we just want to be left alone to teach.
At the end of my novel I offer this opinion to the state education departments of the United States: Get out of the way! We need the money you have but we do not need your scripted lesson plans, your apparent philosophy that all kids are the same and can learn the same material in a designated period of time, nor do we need your exams. We teachers know how to make up tests based upon the material we taught them in the classroom. We are very familiar with the unique learning capabilities of our students! Please, state Ed. departments, get out of our way, leave us alone and allow us to teach these kids as we have been trained best!
That is the gist of my message in my novel. That is what I am trying to represent and I hope to see the sales of my novel reach not only teachers but the public who need to learn the truth about what is really going on. I decided to write an entertaining story so that people could not only learn about the reality of education, (according to me), but also relax and enjoy a good plot. I believe with all my heart that in the end, the teachers of the United States will win!
Dr. Lee Kronert is the author of a pro-teacher, pro-tenure novel titled 'Don't Blame the Messenger.' It is available at Westbow Press and on Amazon.