Since the implosion of the NB Government’s disastrous attempt to reform (read eliminate) the French Immersion program, classroom composition seems to be the new target, and not entirely without cause.
It’s clear that finally, at least on this, teachers are being heard, and it’s about time. However, we need to hear from other stakeholders. We need to hear from the Teacher’s Assistants and the Guidance Councillors. We need to hear from parents. We even need to hear from the workforce, especially the minimum wage employers most often hiring students or recent graduates of public education. We need to identify and define the purpose of our education system. Then we must ensure the proper tools and resources are in place to deliver it.
For the People’s Alliance, we fear that to save face and be seen as doing something, the government is again focusing too narrowly and acting too quickly, targeting the symptom and not the cause. Classroom composition certainly has room for improvement. Some students can not benefit from, contribute to, or do not belong in a traditional classroom environment; however, blaming inclusiveness for all that’s wrong in the classroom would be a huge mistake.
Somewhere along the lines, our education system has become a glorified catch-all for everything from childcare to medicine. Our teachers have been expected to manage and modify behavior, deescalate agitation and sometimes violence, diagnose physical and mental illness, administer medication, provide counseling, teach values, intervene in interpersonal student and student/parent relationships, and more.
Teachers are expected to do almost everything except teach the basic, fundamental skills needed to grow and progress. On top of it all, most of what we demand of our teachers, we expect with inadequate resources and minimal support. And heaven help them if we decide we don’t like how they’re doing it!
Too often, schools are treated like babysitting facilities instead of learning institutions. They are expected to fulfill the roles of parents, government, medical staff, therapists, police, etc. As a society, we’ve declined to live up to our responsibilities and offloaded them onto schools and, by default, the teachers.
Our schools play a vital role in our society and its future, but they cannot be everything to everyone. It’s time we let teachers do their job. Teach.