Takeaways from a Late-Night Chat with Alabama Educators


I had an amazing late-night-chat-fest-plus-hors d'oeuvres after my presentation for Alabama educators at the recent Alabama Community Education Association (ACEA) gathering. I have come to the somewhat obvious conclusion that there are great teachers everywhere faced with great problems trying to come up with great solutions ... and I was pigging out in front of three of them. Other takeaways:

1. There's a difference between accountability and trust and clearly Alabama is just one of many (if not all) states struggling to find the right balance ... to test or not to test ... and you know the rest of the chatter.

2. Top-down directives that are hyper-focused on forcing teachers toward specific instruction place a stranglehold on the fine art of keeping young minds engaged.

3. I noted at one point that if William Shakespeare were alive he'd likely pen a tragedy about precious time wasted asking disadvantaged kids to care about his soliloquies when what they really need is a system focused on pragmatic, pointed, hand-holding mentorship and unwavering guidance towards solvency and a fair shot at good citizenship.

High fives and fist pounds abounded on that last one. One teacher hesitated, but I think I had some guac on my knuckles.

These teachers also told me they were dumbfounded by the pernicious attacks by policy makers and their attempts to defund public education. They wished these lawmakers would find a different hobby to fail at. I was struggling to top my last commentary and lobbed up, “Yeah, that would be like a state defunding clean drinking water.”

Silence, followed up by a collective sigh.

Check, please.

EducationKathryn Lake