There is an old saying that goes “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”
If you’re in the education profession, and take offense to this (like I do!), then there is a variation that is more your (and my!) speed: “Those who can, teach. Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.”
On its face, U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) has an idea to get lawmakers to see just what teachers go through every day. Kennedy has submitted Senate Resolution 356 in an attempt to raise awareness and pitch an idea that would put lawmakers closer to the front lines in the war for education.
S.Res.356 – A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Members of Congress should substitute teach at least 1 day per year in a public school to gain firsthand knowledge on how to address the prevailing challenges facing educators and how to remove obstacles to learning for students.
According to Congress.gov, the resolution was submitted on December 11 and made it to the floor, where it was considered and passed with a voice vote.
So, as well-intentioned as Kennedy’s resolution may be, it is little more than an acknowledgment that teachers do go through some tough times. It is not, however, a solution to get lawmakers to better understand the challenges of the classroom.
First of all, it’s a resolution. Those, frankly, mean nothing. There is rarely a game-changing resolution coming from a legislative body. Resolutions are lip service to issues, and nothing more.
But, had this been a policy proposal or even an attempt at adding this to law, one day per year? That is nowhere near enough time to learn what teachers go through day in and day out.
Now, if Kennedy wanted to offer a real solution, then get Congress to pass a rule that Representatives and Senators have to spend no less than three days per recess substituting in classrooms in their districts/states. Different ones, too, with different performance levels and different school grades. Spend a day in an “A” school and then go work a day in a “D” school, for example.
But, a resolution saying folks in Congress should spend one day per year in a classroom? That doesn’t solve any problems at all, and Kennedy very likely knows that.
The teaching profession has a lot of struggles that lawmakers should get to see and maybe even experience. But, they aren’t always in every classroom every day. They are spread out over days and weeks and even months. That has to be experienced if you want to get a grasp of it, and you have to spend more than eight hours with these kids, teachers, schools, and communities in order to come close.
Lip service and resolutions simply won’t cut it.