There are few things that get me on a soapbox like the term "education reform." It's not like there aren't changes that need to be made to the American education system. My problem is how these changes are made, and who is making them. A politician has as much business legislating my classroom as I have negotiating foreign relations. (Which is to say, none.)
Just because something looks good on paper does not mean that it is practical or even particularly helpful. I believe that mainstreaming has its place, but I also think that it is ridiculous to pretend that all kids are four-year university bound. Because they aren't. College isn't for everyone. Some people don't need it to do what they want to do. (This is where I would list off successful people who didn't go to college if I hadn't temporarily lost my will to Google.) Some kids only need certificates to do what they want to do. For instance, my sister will be graduating next week with her R.N. degree. She attended a local community college, which has a nursing program that is ranked one of the best in the state. When she gets a job, she will be making more money than I currently make. Who am I to tell her that wasn't the right path?
Add to it that in my state, politicians are big fans of unfunded mandates, requiring more work of teachers and students, while stripping resources left and right. The state has won't pay schools what they have been promised, but expect us to work miracles with less and less. It just gets me all worked up! (And let me just say that the people on the State Board of Education are almost as bad as the people in state legislature!)
Every day, I am faced with the intense needs of my students. They don't all come to me ready to learn. Some need attention, some intervention, and some need more than I can possibly provide in a school environment. My work goes home with me every single day, even if there aren't papers to grade. Doing this job is as difficult as it is rewarding and some days difficult wins out. Some days I even think about doing something else, something easier on the soul. But, I know I won't. I am a teacher through and through, and you can't legislate that, no matter how hard they try.