I teach fourth grade, which means that my students will turn ten at some point in the next eleven months. There’s something special about being ten. In a lot of ways, people are more confident and self-assured at age ten than they’ll be in a long time, if not forever. When you’re ten, you’ve pretty much mastered childhood. In another year or so, you’ll be in the throes of The Awkward Years, and then its adolescence, from where there’s no return. Ten year olds know a lot, but it’s what they don’t know that makes them so fun to be around.
CSTP is also turning ten. Like my students, CSTP came along at a time when those of us in education were getting blindsided by the stupidity that was NCLB, a misguided law that blamed schools for everything wrong with education. It was the beginning as the great data bath that has consumed education for a decade. Then came the current administration, which refined the blame game by targeting individual teachers, touting overbearing evaluation systems as the silverest bullet.
As this mess has played out in Washington State, CSTP has played the role of the adult child in the room, reminding the children adults that you don’t get anywhere by pointing fingers. You get somewhere by empowering teachers; by helping them help each other become better. You get somewhere by encouraging teachers to collaborate and by helping them find a voice and tell their story.
Like my students, CSTP is young; young enough not to have a vested interest in the battles that consume so many school reform and anti-school reform stakeholders. And like my students, CSTP has a long, promising life ahead of it.
Because I honestly believe we’re at the cusp of something huge. And I truly think that organizations like CSTP are uniquely poised to take us there. I think that soon we’ll see a great coming-together of all the disparate fragments in education. Advances in neuroscience and learning theory will converge with increased private and public funding and the realization that every cog in the system is important; every parent, every teacher, every principal, every lawmaker, every venture capitalist, and – most importantly – every student. We’ll stop blaming schools and teachers for our shortcomings and instead of blaming someone new, we’ll realize we can actually solve our problems by working together. And organizations like CSTP, which have always had that attitude, will become the drivers of this new spirit of cooperation.
Or maybe I’m just being overly optimistic. Which is what you get from being around ten-year-olds all day.