Education Reform

Ok. Who wants to be a teacher in the 21st century?

Having done my tour of duty in the 20th, I can emphatically say “not me!” I suspect that answer will become increasingly popular as the education reform model of “blame the teacher” game continues to be played.

Recently a large number of teachers were fired in D.C. and earlier this year in  Central Falls Rhode Island. Why? The students weren’t performing well.

Why is it that superintendents of failing school systems can’t share in the blame and be fired?

I personally, would love to see someone like Michelle Rhee tossed out on her ear for such demoralizing, dehumanizing, fascistic, and draconian tactics. In the face of such behavior who want to pursue a career in education, knowing that every time little Johnny flunks he or she could be fired? Does it matter than Johnny rarely comes to class , doesn’t do his homework, or can’t sit still to save his life? No. Administrators such as Ms. Rhee and Frances Gallo have decided that its the teachers’ fault and they should be dismissed.

Want to be interviewed for the position next after reading about how 241 of your fellow educators lives were just flushed down the toilet? No?

Educational leaders need to learn to bring out the very best in everyone on their team, from the most talented to the least, and stop throwing out needed resources in the mistaken believe that their easily replaceable.

I have yet to hear about how education reform efforts address student discipline. What about suspension and expulsion? If the child brings a weapon to school, physically or verbally attacks a teacher or another student – the child should be suspended. I once tried to send a student from my classroom down to the principal’s office and was told “we can’t hold children” by the secretary. On another occasion, I sent a disruptive student into another teacher’s classroom. The principal promptly sent this student right back into my room. How’s that for support?

Teachers who are given 3rd grade students incapable of doing 3rd grade work, and then told that they can not use 2nd or 1st grade materials of any kind with such students are being set up for failure. If there are 25 students in a classroom and  five of these can’t read – when and how is the busy classroom teacher supposed to bring these children up to par while teacher the 20 students who can perform? Is it really fair to hold the teacher accountable for the deficiencies he or she was handed via social promotion, poor parenting, or any of a host of other factors? How much can teachers be expected to fix what’s at home?

Where does accountability start? Where does it end?

Until we get serious about supporting teachers and addressing student disciplinary problems will you ever see true student improvement. I’ve vented on this topic previously –…and-discipline/, but it bears repeating since so few in power seem to be listening.

Realistic assessment of accountability -Melissa Kelly wrote a balanced review of factors other than teachers which strongly impact learning, without discounting teacher quality.


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