Monday, November 19

Student Thought: Trust and relationships in education

The key factor in both the transmission of knowledge and the growth of a student as an individual is trust. Trust is necessary to build the relationship between a teacher and student. To run a school effectively, there must be an atmosphere of trust between teachers and administration. This principle — of trust as the mortar that holds together our education system — is also fundamental to the relationship between the DOE, the city and the members of individual schools, specifically the teachers.

The city's new initiative to fire more teachers is a betrayal of this trust. The DOE's new Teacher Performance Unit, a group of five lawyers headed by a former district attorney, has been given the goal of helping principals create cases against tenured teachers and getting rid of unsuccessful young teachers before they get tenure.

The way that the DOE has handled this program reflects a pattern of disrespect that the DOE has shown to other members of the educational community. Through initiatives like the cell phone ban, the DOE has continually antagonized students, teachers and parents. Instead of engendering the trust necessary to hold our schools together, they are creating a situation filled with fear.

Students have often felt over-criminalized by policies like the cell phone ban and random scanning. By hiring former prosecutors to fire our teachers, the DOE has, as Philissa said, made being a bad teacher a crime. The program also sets principals against teachers, further dividing our school community.

In order for Mayor Bloomberg and Joel Klein's reforms to be successful, they must first end their pattern of bullying and disrespect. They must instead seek to create an atmosphere of trust: one in which the most basic relationships within the system: those between students and teachers in a classroom setting, mirror the relationship between the city and DOE and the various constituent groups within our education system. That is the only way that we can hold an education system a large and complex as the one we have together.

Cross-posted at NYC Students Blog

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