Let Teachers Teach

Pretty teacher smiling at camera at back of classroom at the elementary school

Increasing education opportunities for students and elevating teachers to be leaders will bring lifelong success to students in Mississippi. 

We have a national crisis – teachers are leaving the field of public education in droves. They are tired of being micromanaged, overworked, and kept in a box of standardization, ultimately dehumanizing their professional expertise and students’ educational journeys. Many public school teachers experience a lack of classroom freedom and a top-down managerial and instructional approach that leaves them frustrated. 

Teacher freedom recognizes that most teachers are professionals with the education and expertise needed to meet a child’s individual needs. It empowers teachers to operate the classroom through their own decisions, designed lessons, and experiences, allowing students to grow academically. 

Our education system should seek to support students’ success rather than systems, curriculum, or tests. The ultimate barometer of student success is his or her preparedness for life after graduation. Teachers understand that relationships, learning spaces, and local environments contribute significantly to students’ individuality and lifelong success and are uniquely situated to guide students toward that success when not burdened with excessive bureaucracy and government micromanagement. 

The path to teacher freedom begins with education leaders. School districts and building principals can foster a culture of freedom by simply supporting them and giving meaningful purpose to their work in the classroom. Yes, direction, management, and accountability are necessary, like any profession, but teachers typically understand their students, the subject area, and the environment in which they provide instruction. Education leaders should encourage creativity within curriculum and instruction, empower teachers to collaborate with their peers through professional learning communities, and utilize their expertise to make meaningful decisions in their classrooms and school. The result is more outstanding student achievement.  

Truly “letting teachers teach” means trusting them in the classroom. To that end, greater teacher freedom heavily relies on trust and communication between parents and teachers. In today’s digital world, lessons, assignments, assessments, and grades should be available in one place through a well-kept learning management system and a multifaceted approach to engaging parents by phone, email, and in-person conferences. This is why we see a greater sense of parent involvement in schools that embrace this level of detail needed for significant educational advancement.  

There is a rapidly growing climate of worry and a lack of trust in public institutions, and rightfully so; no one wants their child indoctrinated or bound by their residency for educational opportunity. Legislation that supports education opportunity in Mississippi will create competition, giving teachers the freedom to rise to the occasion. A parent’s right to choose their child’s education, and a teacher’s right to educate freely, will result in a better, more competitive, and trusting learning environment for schools.  

Accountability becomes more natural, based on greater parent involvement and teachers meeting students where they are. We know this to be accurate, as charter schools, which support innovation and creativity in the classroom, have high parent satisfaction. Almost 100% of charter school parents are satisfied with their students’ academic progress and agree or strongly agree that charter schools are preparing students for college.  

Teacher freedom is an outcome of education reform and changing our mindset from a centuries-old philosophy of education to one that transforms learning spaces and environments – supporting student success rather than systems. Education leaders can guide and support rather than micromanage standardized curriculums. Parents can choose the right education opportunity for their child and be confident that instruction is high-quality, balanced, and transparent. In Mississippi, legislation is critical to create a larger supply of education opportunities, build a competitive effect, and improve student outcomes.  

Most teachers are experts, and we should treat them as such. When coupled with sufficient transparency and parental involvement, we can honor their field of work and let them teach more freely. A better Mississippi depends on them.