I have been watching the news, reading articles, and listening to friends and family for the past couple of months and everyone seems to be focusing on education, or lack thereof, in America. The Governor has a plan to fix it and even the President thinks he knows what the problems and solutions are.
Teachers are the problem.
If we could only get rid of bad teachers the education problem would improve.
Public education is the problem.
If we could only get rid of poor performing schools the education problem would improve.
Teacher evaluations are the solution.
If we could only improve the evaluation process of teachers we would be able to get rid of the bad ones and the education problem would improve.
Charter public schools are the solution.
If we could only have more charter schools then students would have better, more successful schools to attend and the educatio8n problem would improve.
These problems and solutions are not only oversimplified, they’re wrong.
One third of new teachers leave within the first three years of teaching and about half within the first five years. It’s a tough job and many people don’t realize the hours that have to be put in and the skill required to teach. Once a person realizes that they can make more money doing almost anything else, they have to decide if this is truly what they were born to do, or not.
I agree that we need effective teachers in the classroom, however; I disagree with the statement that most teachers are ineffective because of low student test scores. There has been a plethora of research done on student success and the leading factor in almost every study is economic. Students with an economic advantage have less stress in their lives, are more likely to have educated parents, and are better able to focus on educational success. Teachers are responsible for being prepared for their lessons and delivering those lessons to the class. They are also responsible for classroom management and behavior management.
If teachers are evaluated on the performance of their students then we should consider it for everyone who improves the lives of the people around them. If a person gets a cavity they can assume they have a bad dentist. If a person gets lung cancer, or skin cancer, or colon cancer, or any cancer, they should be able to sue their doctor for malpractice. Diabetes and high blood pressure are because of an ineffective doctor. If a person is overweight, underweight, drinks too much, if they engage in risky behavior, sue the doctor, the therapist, divorce the spouse. If a house gets broken into it’s the police department’s fault and if a house catches on fire blame the fire department for not preparing homeowners better.
With charter schools we take the art of teaching and turn it into a business. The purpose of a business is to make money, and the business of charter schools is very good. (They are making a lot of money.) Educationally however, they are not preforming as well. They expel low performing and behaviorally struggling students or encourage them to return to the regular public school. Even with this advantage charter schools struggle to be successful. The schools continue to receive taxpayer money regardless of student performance and up to a third of the money goes to management fees and other costs that taxpayers have no vote on.
Politicians can tell you that they have the answer but if it involves money or blaming someone they don’t. There is only one thing that research has shown improves education. Smaller class sizes and experienced teachers. Everything else belongs to the lobbyists.