The Need for Recognition

Our efforts to improve public education have created a focus on results and a reliance on technology.  We now use sophisticated ways to track learning; our students’ scores on national, state, and local assessments are warehoused in systems that follow them through their educational experience.  Cutting edge technology helps us deliver a national curriculum, evaluate our effectiveness, and prepare students for the 21st century. We use a variety of data as evidence of our progress.

However well-intentioned these reform efforts, they have resulted in unintended consequences. As our attention shifted to results and technology, we lost focus on the only critical components of education: our young people and their educators. They have become invisible. If our efforts are to be successful, we must begin at a personal and individual level. We must recognize our students and teachers.

In this sense recognition does not refer to praise or reward for some behavior. Recognition is instead seeing the value of another person, acknowledging that person as "one of us."  When we are recognized, we see ourselves as a valued part of a collective action. Without this recognition, we find it difficult to see ourselves as part of a greater whole. 

In order to move forward, we must recognize those for whom these extraordinary reform efforts are designed to serve.  Moving students and their teachers to the forefront of any and all educational initiatives is the only way.

We must say to them in actions and in words, “I see you.”


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