The last few years have been difficult for those who work in Michigan's public schools. Laws were passed that forced both administrators and teachers to implement a new evaluation system. A whole series of previously negotiated rights for teachers were classified as "prohibited subjects." Bus drivers, custodians, and food service workers have either been privatized or forced to accept steep concessions in many districts.
School districts have seen a series of "accountability" systems. A top-to-bottom system ranks all districts in the state. A color-coded accountability system was implemented in which over 95% of districts in the state were rated yellow or red. It is safe to assume that yellow and red are not the preferred colors.
So as Thanksgiving rolls around it is fair to ask, what do those of us who work in schools have to be thankful for? Let's make a list.
They challenge us, they frustrate us, they even ignore us. But they also inspire us. They ask of us our very best. Every day they arrive and expect that we will provide a safe place for them. They expect that we will help them be prepared for their world. They expect us to help them understand the complexities of a future that they - not us - will spend most of their lives in.
We can be thankful for our students. We see them grow. Our job is to help them. For that we can and are thankful.
They challenge us, they frustrate us, they even ignore us. But they also inspire us. They ask of us our very best. We share with them our frustrations and our successes. We ask them questions. We answer theirs. We are vulnerable and strong, depending on the day and the student.
We can be thankful for our colleagues. They help us grow. We help each other survive. For that we can and are thankful.
They challenge us, they frustrate us, they even ignore us. But they also inspire us. They ask of us our very best. Every day they trust us to treat their children well. Parents believe that we will help their children prepare for a life to be lived well beyond the walls of our schools. Parents are willing to listen to us because they believe that we, like them, want the best for their children.
We can be thankful for the parents in our district. They support us. They challenge us. They want the best for their children. For that we can and are thankful.
It's Thanksgiving. There is a lot for which to be thankful!