I am an education reformer. I have been since the first day that I stepped into the classroom. But my work is not fueled by the idea that schools do a bad job and that educators are lazy. My work is fueled by the understanding that educators are hard working people who’s biggest challenge is overcoming the bunker mentality that is the result of the structure of the system in which they work. Has the field of education improved at the rate that I would like it to? No. Has it improved? Yes. Has the scope of what schools are expected to deal with expanded? Yes. Have resources followed that expansion? No. And that’s my problem right now. In good faith educators have attempted to exceed the requirements that are heaped on them by society and politicians. They have done so out of duty, patriotism and a belief in the greater good (remember, we’ve discussed that if you teach for the money, you won’t last in this field). So it flat out pisses me off when our elected leaders decide to strangle schools and demonize educators to further their personal agenda. Just in the span of my short career the following has become daily practice in most schools: 1. We no longer expel students to the streets. 2. We no longer administer corporal punishment. 3. We feed more students than we do not feed. 4. We include students with special needs in our classrooms. 5. We are accountable for student success, by disaggregated student groups. 6. We are now blamed by parents when their children misbehave. 7. We deal with teen drug use 8. We deal with teen pregnancy. 9. We are now blamed for student bullying. 10. We are now blamed for student suicides. 11. We are held responsible if we miss the signs of child abuse and do not report it. 12. We are attempting to implement improved instructional practices that have never been used at scale in any other era. 13. We are attempting to keep pace with technology that now seemingly changes by the hour. 14. We work extra hours and on weekends with no additional financial remuneration, because the job is that important to us. 15. We submit to regular criminal background checks. 16. We submit to finger printing (which we pay for ourselves). I could go on, but I think you get the picture. But here is the kicker, we do this while every year we are forced to not only tighten our belts another notch but face increasing public enmity. In Texas, our governor uses the success of our schools to further his agenda, up until he is elected. Then, through his policies (in Texas our school finance issues are not driven by the economic downturn), he guts the schools to again further his agenda. As for solutions, in the short run, I have few. But in the long run, vote for education first, second, and third. And here is what I am going to do. From now on, when someone tries to explain to me “What’s wrong with schools,” and their only expertise is that at some point in their childhood they attended a school, I will politely point out exactly why they are an idiot. Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…Follow Sean Cain on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation