Social Commentary

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Could a Cat Show a Dog How to Bark?

In Education System in America on September 28, 2010 at 3:09 pm

How do we fix a failing educational system?  I would love to answer with a simple, “It’s easy.”  But, there isn’t an easy solution, obviously.  It took years to get in this disturbing position, and it will take years to get out of the situation.

Throw money at the situation, fire bad teachers, extend the school day.  These are all potential, quick fixes that will not necessarily help all school districts prosper and survive in an ever-changing world.

Who would be best qualified to make decisions about making changes in school systems across the nation?  

Government officials?

The owner of Microsoft?

Anyone with an interest in education?

All of the above can be instrumental in helping to make schools more effective.  But, they are not qualified to address the direct, academic needs of students. 

So, who is most qualified to suggest and implement changes in education? Let me give a clue:  They have received 4 to 8 years of instruction in the area of education, and they have extensive experience in the classroom as…a teacher!   

For years, education reform efforts have NOT centered around conversations with teachers.  Teachers are in the trenches everyday.  So, how can someone who has never stepped foot in a classroom, as a teacher, make effective decisions that will affect classrooms?  Could a cat show a dog how to bark?  Impossible.

It is great that the topic of education is so popular, lately.  But, we must be very careful in terms of upcoming changes as they relate to individual school districts.  We must be careful, for example, not to make blanket mandates that will apply to each and every school district. 

As we know, some schools are made of students who come from more affluent backgrounds.  Some schools are comprised of students who come from poor circumstances.  A teacher who teaches in a well-to-do suburb cannot create a template for a teacher who works in the inner city and vice versa.  A “one size fits all” approach will surely be a template for disaster.  

Just as “professionals” such as doctors and lawyers monitor and set the standards for their professions, teachers must gain more control of the teaching profession.  Then and only then will the best practices in education have a chance of entering all classrooms.  And, then we might have a chance at a template for educational success. 

Teachers must become an ongoing, pivotal part of the conversation…


Much to do About Education

In Education System in America on September 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm

My background…in brief 

I am a former teacher who taught in an inner city school system for nearly ten years.  I am no longer teaching due to a physical disability.  However, I will always be interested in the education system.  It’s just in my blood.  My mom is a retired teacher, my sister is a teacher, and I have many friends who are teachers.

Needless to say, over the years, I’ve had many conversations with family and friends about the pressing issues that are affecting our schools, today. The dialogue is often fueled by frustrations and comments like, “It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure it out…”

This week, many conversations have been going on about the failed educational system in America.  NBC’s Education Nation initiative has sponsored insightful forums and roundtables.   Even Oprah Winfrey has gotten in on the action, engaging in dialogue with players from the much buzzed about movie, Waiting for Superman.      

The conversations are getting exciting out there.  But my question is, where was Superman when President Bush and his supporters were making a bad situation worse with the mandated No Child Left Behind?  Back then, I wish someone would have created a documentary called Every Child Left Behind–catchy title, isn’t it? 

A ton of money is being thrown at various school districts across the nation by independent donors and/or corporations.  This is an admirable attempt to make a difference in the lives of students across the country.  But, will these monetary attempts to fix a broken system only serve to put a temporary fix on an enormous problem?

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