Armando Christian Pérez was on the View this morning and inspired me to write about his past, present, and outlook on education. Armando opened up an estimated ten locations, since 2013, of his SLAM charter school network in various states. SLAM stands for Sports Leadership and Management.
Though he did not graduate from high school nor attend college, Armando has become an inspirational leader for disadvantaged students worldwide. While on the view, Armando stated, “The system was booked to fail you, instead of push you through. Why is education so important to me? Because a teacher changed my life. Ironically, the system might have failed me, but a teacher changed my life. A teacher believed in me.”
In the short segment that Mr. Pérez was on the view, discussing his challenged, disparaged childhood and educational journey, he maintained a positive outlook on life thanking his mom and a singular teacher who changed his life. This particular teacher pushed him to take risks because his teacher expressed, “the biggest risk you take is not taking one.”
The system has been failing students and teachers for decades. However, even with a continually failing system, everyone can remember a teacher who made a difference in their lives and who inspired and influenced them to be more kind, to be a better person, and/or to be successful in life.
Great teachers are leaving the profession. More and more teachers who love what they do are exiting because of the failed system, not because of the kids. The system has failed teachers to do their jobs. Teachers, current and past, know exactly what I am talking about. Teacher expectations, including class sizes, are increasing yearly; however, their school districts lose funding or money is allocated elsewhere, hindering their pay and benefits.
I have been expressing to everyone I know that education needs a major overhaul and transformation. We have school leaders in positions where they are ineffective due to their lack of knowledge of the ever-changing profession. These leaders who taught in 2005, or even 2010, and became leaders continue to use systems that worked back in those times, however, ineffective in today’s schools. Principals who taught even five years ago are out of the loop, in many cases.
Every teacher knows that students act differently when school leaders walk in, therefore, these leaders experienced a flawed viewpoint of the classroom and teacher effectiveness. I could go on an on, to be honest.
What needs to happen, though, is a focus on teacher happiness and satisfaction. Any CEO with a successful business model will tell you that happy employees create happy customers. Education needs to implement this too. Happy teachers will produce happy students, creating successful communities. Students should always be a priority, obviously. They are bringing in the funding after all, but a shift needs to occur to target the overall well-being of ‘the teacher.’
Thank you, Armando Christian Pérez, for all that you have done for education. You may know him as an American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer, named PITBULL.