Teacher of the Year: Focus on Children, Not Data

Full remarks by Arjun Ravindran at KCPS 2018 Annual Progress Press Conference


The following are remarks made by Kansas City Public Schools 2018 Teacher of the Year Arjun Ravindran during a press conference to announce the school system’s 2018 Annual Progress Report results on Feb. 1, 2019 at Woodland Early Learning Community School. Mr. Ravindran teaches eighth-grade math and algebra at Central Middle School. KCPS earned 82.9 percent on its 2018 APR, the best result in modern memory.

Good morning, everyone!

I want to extend my thanks to Dr. Bedell for asking me to help share this important news.

As Bridgette alluded to, I do teach algebra at Central Middle School. And it does seem fitting that the news I am helping to share is centered around data. Trust me, I love data.

But I think it’s important to iterate that teachers don’t enter the classroom because they love data; we enter the classroom because we love kids. We don’t spend years studying our own chosen academic focus because we really want to administer standardized tests. This is hard for me to say as a math teacher, but the truth is we don’t actually care that much about rates and charts and percentages; we care that much about our kids.

We are teachers because we are driven to help children become successful adults. With all of the recent news and noise surrounding public education in this country, I think we need to remember that one essential data point: teachers love children – individual, sometimes frustrating but always uniquely wonderful children.

And given that fact, our measures of success can’t be graphed. How do you plot that moment when a student suddenly realizes they understand integers? Sure, that skill can be assessed, but the hope and resilience that the light bulb moment instills, that’s the real value of a great public education.

So please keep that in mind as we share our news this morning. This data represents real teachers and real students working together to build a bright future for Kansas City, our country, and the world.