Friday, June 27, 2008

FL is dropping support for National Board Certified Teachers - Who's to blame?

The Tallahassee Democrat is reporting today that the State of Florida is dropping its financial support (app fees, mentor pay, etc) for our National Board Certified teachers, which will obviously mean less Certified teachers for Leon County. The reaction from local teachers, and our union leadership, will be predictable - state government leaders (meaning GOP leaders) are again attacking education. But is it the Republican Party's obvious disdain for public education (read in sarcasm here) that's at the heart of this situation? Perhaps, but it likely goes much deeper. Indulge me please.

Government leaders - and yes that means the big bad Republicans too - are naturally inclined to do what voters want. When the public wants to pay less in taxes, the legislature responds by cutting taxes. When voters support off-shore oil exploration, government leaders follow suit. Likewise, the views of many of our political leaders follow the attitudes of the country as a whole when it comes to education. Sure, voters always find it easy to talk about their support for education. For the uninformed citizen, it is easy to support any hair-brained idea that makes it onto the ballot (remember FL's class-size amendment - see here and here).

So rather than jump to shortsighted conclusions when it comes to this current issue involving Board Certification, as citizens we should first look in the mirror. If your mirror is fogged by partisan ideas, perhaps you should take a look at Bob Compton's film Two Million Minutes. The film clearly portrays a society that has become complacent with its position in the world economy. By comparing how students in the US, China, and India use their time in high school, Two Million Minutes puts the responsibility for our nations attitude toward education squarely in the lap of our citizens (i.e. parents).

Whether you agree with the overall message of Compton's film or not, it should at least force us to look deeper than the usual knee-jerk partisan reactions.

Here's the trailer for Two Million Minutes:

Tell me what you think.

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