One of the hardest things you have to do as a teacher in the age of standards and high stakes testing is determine your “throughlines,” which might be loosely defined as your philosophy of what matters within the constraints of your discipline. It is impossible to teach everything, to remediate every skill, to satisfy the needs and desires of every parent and every child.
You have to decide as a professional, as an expert, as a trained technician, what matters and how to proceed based on your VALUES of what matters. You have to take heart in the faith that the government and citizens have in you, which is implicit in your hiring: you have the power to discriminate. The onus is on you to decide what is necessary and what is possible.
Obama has done a BRILLIANT job tonight of articulating just this:
When faced with the question of how he will cope with spending in the context of a financial crisis, Obama said that he will use a SCALPEL, not a HATCHET. He said, and I paraphrase, that you have to know what your VALUES are before you decide where to cut. You have to be in touch with what you BELIEVE.
Obama BELIEVES in PEOPLE, which is why he will still fund Early Childhood Education in a financial crisis, and why he wants to rewrite the tax code to tax corporations and the wealthy more heavily.
When faced with the question of how to proceed in Iraq, he emphasizes that it is not a question of whether or not to use military might but HOW to use it, and says, and I paraphrase that it is HOW we use our military judgement, not whether we use military. WE MUST USE GOOD JUDGEMENT.
Obama is prepared to lead us from his throughlines. He is being transparent about what he wants to teach us, and how he wants to lead us. This is how we teach. This is how we learn. This is progress.