Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Education again

Seems as though the state of our school is on everyones mind.

From the CNN story
There's no question the economic fallout of these astonishing dropout rates will be devastating. High school dropouts have much higher rates of poverty, imprisonment and welfare enrollment. Even if these dropouts can get a GED and a job in our increasingly credentialed workforce, today's high school dropouts will make at least 35 percent less than high school dropouts of a generation ago. Worse, of those who are fortunate enough to graduate, too many lack the skills to enter college....
Those numbers indicate the critical need to mount a national attack on the crisis that is far worse than administrators and educators have reported. Whether schools and their administrators are lying or cheating, or they're simply incompetent, matters little. Without independent educational studies, we would have no idea as to the depth of the crisis that faces our public school students in this country.

I am a public school teacher. I believe in our public education. It has been on my mind so much these past years as I see the system fail our kids. When our country turns a blind eye to the over 30% who chose not to continue in school--a 30% that we ignore and allow them to chose a path that will lead them nowhere (I know there are exceptions)--as though we don't care. Well every child we allow to drop out and we chose not to service is a burden the next generation must bear. I worry about the state of our country because of our apathy towards those who do not function well in our school system. The system itself is outdated and this has to be addressed. It cannot be fixed by passing a law that we have to educate each child--HELLO that is why many of us become teachers to educate. I don't think any of us come to work on a daily basis thinking "I am only going to teach Johnny and Sally..." It irks me that the government only looks at the obvious solutions--get better teachers--How about get better schools. Get a new design. We spend more on education than any other developed nation, yet we are at the bottom half in terms of skills and abilities. Money will not fix the problem. Forcing teachers to take more classes and be more "qualified" is not going to solve the problem.

We need more teachers and we need teachers who want to be teachers. To get quality teachers you have to pay a quality salary. I take home about $2000 (after taxes)a month as a fourth year teacher. I couldn't support a family on that. If I was working in the private sector I could certainly make much much more with all my education. It isn't going to be fixed with bonuses for teachers if their students do well--it will ecourage teachers to teach to the test that will be used to evaluate them. That is just what happens when you attach a reward to a behavior that should be driven intrinsiclly.

What will it take for our government to understand that the problem cannot be fixed by legislation, more money, and rewards to teachers for doing what they should already be doing anyway. Until our schools change and our children begin to value the "free" education they are guarenteed then it doesn't matter what we do--the status quo will continue to rule. As states and schools are threatened with punitive actions, schools become less concerned with educating childern and more concerned with covering thier own assess. It needs to change. We need to change it.

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