Response to snot (Original post)
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 12:27 AM
proud2BlibKansan (96,791 posts)
2. Thank you. I'll attempt to answer at least some of your questions.
Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth?
Yes and no. I think we're teaching much more and at a more rigorous level. However, we teachers don't have a lot of say in WHAT is taught and there is content we are NOT teaching that many of us believe we SHOULD be teaching. Cursive handwriting, for example. And once Common Core hits (in 2015) we'll no longer be teaching much classic literature.
Have kids gotten harder to teach?
Yes. We've struggled to keep up with technology, like video games, that holds our kids' attention better than traditional instructional methods. We also have many more children growing up in poverty and in difficult family circumstances that impact how well they are prepared for learning.
Are parents working too hard to help their kids, or to notice if they're failing, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections?
Not where I teach. Lack of parental involvement is a major concern. I also believe school administrators have unrealistic expectations of parents. For example, in my district, our admins and board are seriously considering buying a laptop, tablet or similar device for every student and are encouraging teachers to develop homework assignments using these devices, even though a large percentage of our families don't have internet access. This just widens that gap between school and home.
Are class sizes too big?
YES! And they just keep getting bigger. As long as I've taught, I've said give me 15 kids and I'll work miracles.
Are populations more diverse?
Yes. But I don't see this as a bad thing.
In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago?
I'm not sure but I don't believe we've ever spent enough per child.
What factors are actually different now from when they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)? What are the causes of those changes, if any?
More students are living in poverty. More are homeless. More don't speak English at home. More children come from single parent homes. (I have tremendous respect for single parents but you can't deny that two adults can do more than one.) More families are under stress or 'dysfunctional'.
How does the current system actually work? How are the administrators selected?
Administrators are hired by district level administrators and then formally approved by school boards. It's pretty much the same way teachers are hired.
Where is the union, what role has it played? How are union leaders selected?
This varies, as in many states, the power of unions has been diminished by state legislatures. In some states, unions are no longer allowed to negotiate contracts for teachers. Union leaders are elected by union members.
What are the large and small, direct and indirect causes of the problems?
Large - We need to define the problems correctly. I don't believe we've ever done that. We also need to stop looking at test scores as the source/definition/solution for our problems. Standardized tests are being over used and misused to diagnose and correct problems in education. These tests were never designed to track individual students' progress. We've developed an obsession with data and test scores that distracts us from real solutions to real problems.
Small - Teachers need to be allowed the autonomy to let children grow and learn at their own pace. Kids aren't widgets and the assembly line approach won't ever work in education. We know how to nurture children. Let us do that and I think we'll see happier classrooms with more productive results.
What are the real solutions?
Federal and state legislative bodies need to chill. NCLB has been a disaster. So has most legislation at the state level since 2001. I believe Common Core will also be a disaster. Legislators need to adopt BROAD policies that guide our work in education (length of the school year and day, policies that guarantee equal access to our children and provide a safe environment for students and teachers) and our legislative bodies need to STOP micro managing our schools.
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Thank you. I'll attempt to answer at least some of your questions.
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