There are many factors that are involved in education today. Teachers would be good to understand each of the groups that are involved and how they affect the overall education for students. Following are the major individuals and groups that are involved in education today.
1. The State
First of all, each state has its own laws that affect education on many levels. They determine the overall curriculum framework for each subject taught in school. They decide what courses students must pass in order to graduate. They also decide upon and institute statewide high stakes testing at various levels throughout the curriculum. Like it or not, the state is involved in your day-to-day teaching in many ways.
2. Local School Boards
In America, there is no national system of education. And while states are key in making overall rules that schools must follow, we have a tradition of local control of schools. The local school board also rules and policies that schools and teachers must follow. Local school boards determine where new schools will be located, which will be closed, and which will be consolidated. They also draw up the local zones that affect where students are to go to school. In many districts, the school board has the ability to determine which textbooks are used and provide teachers the ability to become involved in numerous professional development opportunities.
Taxpayers provide the funds for schools, whether or not they have children in those schools. Therefore, even though they do not have the ability to affect individual decisions within the school, they do have a lot of power. It is not uncommon for referendums to be included in local elections asking taxpayers to increase their sales tax specifically to pay for schools. Their opinion of how the local schools are doing is key in whether or not those taxes pass.
Obviously, the involvement and opinion of parents is huge when it comes to education. Sadly, many parents are not as involved as they could be in their children's daily educational life. As teachers, it is key to see parents as partners in the education of their children. Phone calls, both in good times and bad, can make a huge difference in not only getting parents involved but keeping students on track.
With that said, there is another side to parental involvement that is also very important for teachers to remember. Not all students are coming to your classroom from ideal home situations. While there is not much if anything we can do as teachers to rectify this situation (keeping in mind that it is our duty to report suspected physical abuse), we can try to make our classroom a safe place for students to learn.
Teachers are the core of a school. If the teacher is poor, the result will be poor. If they are mediocre, the students will end up with a mediocre education. If they are effective, students will have a much greater chance at success. The old adage, "as the teacher, so the school" is in fact true. It is our duty as teachers to continue to learn and grow in our profession.
All is for naught if we forget that the goal of our daily endeavor is the education of each student. The student is the goal and the reason of all our hard work. It is key that teachers and schools keep what is best for the students in mind at all time. If they do this, they are a long way towards providing students with the best education possible.