In the current age of student accountability, the classroom teacher is often held hostage by those outside of the profession. Decisions on the educational agenda and what should occur within the classroom are often made by individuals far removed from the realities of everyday classroom life. These decisions then are often misinterpreted by the same public that is served by the profession.
Classroom teachers must then find the balance between those setting the educational agenda and the public failure to understand the process as a whole. Holding teachers accountable for the “product” that they produce, as many teachers will say, is a good thing. The frustration for educators is simply that teachers are only one component of the process, and all pieces should be held to an equitable standard of accountability.
Throughout the state of Georgia school districts laid off large numbers of classroom teachers due to budget shortfalls as a result of the negative turn in economy. In one school district in metro Atlanta, over 270 teachers were laid off at the end of 2009 – 2010 school year. This has caused teachers to be accountable for educating larger class sizes, and thus increasing the accountability requirements of a classroom teacher. Of course, this increase in accountability did not bring about an increase in pay as most other professions typically offer. In fact, many teachers across the state have had their paid cut due to furlough days imposed by the employing school districts.
Accountability with in the classroom only begins with the teacher. One must understand that the teacher is only a piece in the process. There is an adage that says, a teacher gives 33 1/3 %, the student gives 33 1/3 %, and the parent must give 33 1/3%, thus equaling 100% for the educational process to be successful. If this simple adage is true, there should be accountability measures for both student and parent as well. However, an equitable system of accountability is not in place.
Holding the classroom teacher hostage to demands of complete accountability does not make a stronger educational system. It is like placing a band aid on an amputee. Those within the profession must unite under a common banner, one that implores doing what is best for each individual student, not something that attempts to mask and confuse the serious responsibility of preparing students to be productive contributors to society. Classroom teachers should be accountable, just how accountable is the question that we must answer.