Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jamie Vollmer - He spent two days as a teacher's aide and that has changed his mind!!!

I saw an interesting article in the Livingston County Press last week.

It was about a speaker who is coming to Brighton on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. His name is Jamie Vollmer. Perhaps you have heard of him. He is a former attorney and business man who ONCE believed public schools should be run like businesses. He felt that teachers’ unions were killing public education. But he told the Livingston Daily Press and Argus, “….once I saw how hard the vast majority of teachers work, I realized it isn’t the teachers failing the students, it’s the system.” He now says that the community must join together to make schools succeed.

Vollmer has written a book called, “Schools Cannot Do It Alone”. He has entitled his public speech, “The Great Conversation”. It is free and open to the public on Aug. 31st, 7 PM at the Brighton Center for Performing Arts. His Sept. 1st date is at 1 PM at the Howell High School Auditorium on Grand River. (I know you’re busy!)
Vollmer does believe that education needs to be revamped. He believes that the system is designed for an industrial society than no longer exists. Here’s what I really liked about what he said!

He changed his mind about public educators and began to back them after spending two days as a teacher’s aide in Iowa. “My assumptions were bad,” Vollmer said. “I learned they could work 100 hours a week and that still wouldn’t be enough.”

He continued, “Teachers today are dealing with the most diverse, distracted group they’ve ever seen, and most of them are dancing as fast as they can. Each year, the Michigan Legislature asks them to do more. Now they’re asking them to do more with less and to do better at meeting obligations.”

He also explained that his reasoning comes partly from business ideals that include choosing how to produce their products. He notes that public schools do not have that opportunity.
As teachers continue to be bombarded by Federal and State mandates, diminishing dollars, and laws connecting student performance to teacher pay, I find this shift in public discourse encouraging. How often have we looked at one another and said, “I wish Bill R. or Gov. Snyder would come to my classroom. How long would they last?”. This is exactly what Mr. Vollmer did. Perhaps we will continue to see people who take the time to actually observe the people they dictate to…..the teachers and public schools.

I know that many of you have already spent 100 hours preparing for the new school year. Or, you are planning another 100 hours this coming week. I would like to commend you and say that I know WHO truly makes a difference in the lives of public school students…….the teachers! We are all making a masterful difference in the life of the students we see every day. No one can take that away from us or our students.

I truly hope the messages in the media are beginning to favor teachers, but even if they don’t, we need to have conversations that support one another! I am always tremendously proud to be able to represent the fine educators in Walled Lake! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the lives of Walled Lake students! As we make our way through this new school year, I know that the students in our schools will have the best there is to have!