Each time I read about failing schools, drop-out rates and dumbed-down curricula I am usually reading a lament about the quality of teaching. No Child Left Behind was worthy in concept attempting to address many problems including functionally illiterate high school graduates. NCLB addresses the problem at second-stage rather than source.
A recent email circulated a circa 1930 eighth grade graduation test. The email talked about the amazing depth of the testing and the fact that “only an eighth grade education” was not synonymous with under-educated. In fact, the email challenged college graduates to take and pass the test.
Elementary teachers interact with students approximately six hours a day for 185 days each year. Middle and high school teachers have far less one-to-one contact with individual students. Principals and counselors are expected to be behavior specialists fighting the daily disruptions that are crushing the educational process. In-School-Suspension is just one of the strange concepts developed to remove kids from the classroom while accepting that parents don’t have time to step-up to the problem.
Of course, there are problems in our schools. My return to college when my children were in elementary school happened because I witnessed the problems. My determination was to be part of the solution.
Teachers do not need a defense from me. Day after day, teachers return to the classroom, determined to make a difference, to address the problems and educate our children. And the rewards certainly don’t come in the form of high salaries. The rewards come because students are important and teaching is a way to be part of the solution.
Teachers cannot monitor nutrition, hours of sleep, quality of friendships, choice of heroes, time spent on video games, texting with friends, homework completion, hanging out at malls, forms of discipline, behavior expectations and television, music and movie choices.
Teacher definitely do not need a defense from me. What they do need is a new paradigm in which education is higher up the scale of cultural values.