I have been in the educational profession for 8 years working in NJ and all jokes aside, I love my state. My parents were lifetime educators in NJ as well. For as long as i can remember, or at least as long as I care to, I have had this perception of the Department of Education as this group of faceless suits that sit in offices and are so disconnected from the classroom that they couldn’t possibly know or care what I do each day. Harsh I know.
I don’t know if this perception is commin in other states, but I know I am not alone in NJ. I saw Bari Erlichson who I recognized as a DOE member from a #njed chat I was in on twitter. I followed her beacause I was hoping to learn from her posts more about the state level ideas.
So Imagine my surprise this morning when I got a direct message from her telling me she wiuld love to chat about Student Growth Percentiles (a topic I was “not praising” just a little earlier in the morning.).
Bari exchanged message with me while I checked email, read an article about planning “unconferences” and tying the strings on kites. Here are some things I learned:
– The DOE definitely have people who want the best for our schools. Bari seems as genuinely passionate about giving kids a great education as myself.
– We have common ground. There were many things upon which we agreed.
– Just like different levels of leadership do in a school district, the DOE had to filter through their own (for lack of a better word) crap, much of which they deal with before it gets to the district level.
– At least for one member, its clear she is interested in what goes on in the classroom. It is incredible to think that she took a half hour of her day(i am sure she was multitasking as well) just to talk to a teacher (aspiring administrator) in a tiny South Jersey school.
I don’t know how many more DOE members engage with the general public, but her efforts go a long way to dispel the myth I had never questioned. She is pulling back the curtain and bridging the gap between leaders in the warroom and schools in the trenches I hope I find more people like her, willing to engage and meet Teachers on their level to communicate and understand the issues from all sides.