Saturday, October 25, 2014

Attractive Poison

Alison Randall recently told the story of stepping out of her front door to pick up the morning paper, and noticed the red mound that had been created by fire ants during the night.  Alison, probably like many of us, learned by painful experience that fire ants were not anything to be trifled with. She went to the garage for some pesticide to apply. The instructions on the label read: "(This pesticide) is highly attractive to fire ants. They will carry it into their mound, feed it to their queen, and the colony will die"  Alison followed the instructions as listed, sprinkling the granules on and around the mound.  A short time later, she noticed a great deal of activity around the mound.  The fire ants were busy collecting the granules in their pincers and sprinting to take them inside their home, not knowing yet the fatal consequences of their choices.

I think about this story and its application to our education arena today.  It seems with each year, education appears to be an easy target for legislation reform.  And while I'm all about improvement, it appears that most efforts are spearheaded by well-funded individuals and groups who have a very limited view of what quality education is and how it should be defined.  It is how we got to our current over-assessment of students and cutting of creative opportunities for students.  It is what has created the overall belief that our schools are failing (a belief that I don't share, btw).  Even in my home state, we are preparing to vote on an education amendment, a piece that has made it on the ballot through the efforts of a well-funded interest group.  Ask any given educator, and chances are high this amendment would be considered a poison; and to the individual voter who doesn't take the time to understand the natural consequences, it may appear to be attractive.

Our schools are wonderful places to create learning opportunities and connect students to their future. They are also bound by the limitations that our society places upon them. Part of our challenge and responsibility as educators, and as leaders within our neighborhoods, is to help our communities understand the directions on the label, and that through their votes and voice, they are our greatest partners by the excellence they insist upon, including not allowing the attractive poisons into our schools. Please join me in advocating what is best for our students.