Education, Politics, and What Really Matters

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For as long as I can remember I’ve had an opinion – a strong one – and a pervasive need to engage others in friendly debate, even for the purpose of persuasion. My parents taught me early that your greatest attributes can also be your Achilles’ heel if you do not harness the positive elements of your character. Passionate can be seen as obstinate if you are not careful, assertive can be aggressive, and confident can be arrogant – it is all a matter of perception. Knowing that, I take my strong opinions and attempt to portray myself as a passionate, assertive, confident woman who never crosses the line to obstinate, aggressive, or arrogant. That is my disclaimer.

There are a few things in life about which I am insanely passionate: education, politics, and children are always among the top five. Two of my favorite tag team reformers, Tyack & Cuban, say that there is an inextricable link between education and politics. I concur. That might be why I spend so much time engaged in the idea of systemic education reform. What are we doing now and what can we do better? When I think about these things, I often think comparatively about traditional versus virtual school, and challenge some of my core political beliefs.

In the traditional school, most teachers work on professional service contract. At Florida Virtual School, tenure (a professional contract) does not exist. This is dichotomous, for sure, and challenges both ends of the political spectrum. I cannot help but wonder if one yields better results (we are so data-driven as educators).  I think about issues of equity and access, as well as what I believe needs to be done legislatively to provide all students with the pragmatic opportunities to utilize FLVS courses. I have an opinion on budgets, on competition in the educational marketplace, on parent trigger bills, on virtual charter schools…on just about every major educational issue that is facing our schools today – because these issues impact our children. I will not share with you my opinion on budgets, charter schools, or insufficient infrastructure, because at the end of the day, when I look comparatively at education – here is what matters:

Today I spoke to about a half dozen kids who gave me the most sincere thanks for taking the time to talk to and listen to them.

Three students who might not otherwise graduate high school finished English 3 today and are on the road to graduation. There will be more tomorrow and more each day until graduation.

Today I welcomed in four new students to my class who are brand new to FLVS, all eager to get started. Three are attempting to dual enroll and start earning college credit next year.

Two of my teenage moms are making sustained, significant progress and soon will complete their graduation requirements.

I measure success in my class in many ways, every single day. Significant learning is taking place, and I am exceedingly proud of my students and of my work as their teacher.

There are a slew of political issues that I have not sorted out and that will always be debated, but here is what I know: children learn well at Florida Virtual School because we teach strong curriculum well and make meaningful connections with our students. Consistent engagement happens at a high level in a way that I have not encountered in many traditional schools. I meet with measured success repeatedly; my students and their success tell the story every day. That, for me, is what really matters.

Post by: Darcey Addo, NBCT, MEd;  English III Instructor

2 comments on “Education, Politics, and What Really Matters

  1. Brian K. Marchman

    Extremely well stated, Darcy. For what matters most — more than educational philosophies, pedagogies, or politics — is the collaborative work we do to meet the learning needs of each child. Your insight is inspiring; continue to lead the way!

  2. Amanda Mann

    This is really lovely, Darcy. Your willingness to engage your students and keep them at the center is truly the heartbeat that keeps FLVS strong and vibrant. Thank you for your hard work and your well written thoughts.


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