Julie Rine, a teacher in Ohio, wrote a public letter to Governor John Kasich, rebuking him for his insulting proposal to require teachers to spend a day in a business to learn about how to prepare students.

“Your proposal in the budget to require teachers to complete an “on-site work experience” with a local business as a condition of renewing our teaching licenses is baffling. Even the state legislators in your own party didn’t seem to see the value in it, and have indicated that they most likely will not support it. What exactly did you hope to accomplish by our spending time observing or even participating in a field outside of education? Despite a lot of press coverage, we were given few details about the thinking behind this mind-boggling mandate, but the director of your Office of Workforce Transformation indicated that this added licensing requirement was intended to “help teachers get a better idea for what jobs are available to students and what skills employers need”[1].

“Governor, even if your proposal does not become a requirement, you don’t need to worry. Teachers know the skills that employers value, whether the job requires a college degree or not: a willingness to work hard, to ask for clarification if a job expectation is unclear, to show up on time, to demonstrate respect when speaking to others, to take initiative and go beyond basic expectations, to work just as hard whether under direct supervision or alone, to accept criticism, to work well with others, to communicate effectively in person, on the phone, or through email. Armed with these skills, a person can be trained in any job from making a pizza to governing a state. Teachers don’t need to shadow a business person to understand what skills make a good employee. We know what those skills are.

“And you know what? We already teach those skills…”

She points out that teachers would be more effective if they didn’t waste so much time prepping for and giving tests.

She has a counter proposal:

“Governor, your proposal indicates that you think teachers are in the dark about life after high school. Frankly, we think you are in the dark about life in the classroom. Perhaps this could be remedied if you and our state legislators spent time with a teacher. Imagine if one day each year, across the state of Ohio, across all content areas and grade levels, in small schools and big schools, wealthy districts and high-poverty districts, every single state legislator and our governor shadowed a public school teacher for an entire school day. We could practice one of the life skills we both want our students to have: learning to see a situation from another’s point of view. Ohio’s teachers would know that when our legislative leaders discuss educational policies, each one of you would have had at least a one-day experience in our public schools with the students and teachers your policies will impact. Your proposal argues that it’s important for teachers to know what jobs await our students and what skills they will need in those jobs; I would argue that it is at least equally important for our politicians to know what our jobs are really like and how your policies affect our ability to educate our students in meaningful ways.

“My spending time working in a local pizza parlor would not likely improve my ability to teach, but your spending time in a classroom could improve your ability to enact policies that would have a positive impact on teaching and learning. Will you visit our classrooms? Will you talk to us? Will you listen? We will if you will. Our classroom doors are always open.”

Thank you, Julie, for expressing so well what every teacher was thinking.

Do you think Governor Kasich and Ohio’s legislators will accept your invitation? Given their penchant for telling you how and what to teach, it would be reasonable for them to spend time in the classroom.