Friday, September 08, 2006

Highly Qualified Teachers Are Not The Problem

Apparently, the good graces of the almighty Federal Education Department have fallen on states and teachers around the country. The uproar has been over how states classify a qualified teacher. Apparently, they were doing enough. But the Education Department has backed down a little. Today, Secretary Spellings said states were, "strongly encouraged, though not required, to stop using the method to rate teachers."States were told that 100% of their teachers must meet federal standards to be "qualified." States protested saying many veteran teachers would be excluded. States had been classifying these teachers as qualified based on "job evaluations, teaching awards or service on school committees." The Education Department said that was not enough and to slowly phase out this method over a very short period. When states didn't fully comply because of time constraints, some people got upset. Any change of this magnitude would affect tens of thousands of teachers. This blasted No Child Left Behind law is the problem. At every turn it assumes that the teacher is the root of all evil in a school district. It assumes that we are the problem. And by assuming, it has made an ass of itself and the federal government. Teachers are not the problem in this country. The problem is with the unqualified people making laws and the people enforcing them. The government needs to take a good long look at where the real problems are in education. Many of them stem from poorly organized administrations and mismanaged districts. Yet these people are not on the chopping block. Teachers are. The government also needs to understand that two parts of the education puzzle are given NO responsibilities by No Child Left behind. These two parts are the students and the parents. Teachers need to be left alone so they can do their jobs. If we have to do tons of paper work, teach in a very restrictive curriculum, and deal with poorly planned ideas to improve schools, then how in the Hell are we suppose to teacher effectively. There needs to be more responsibility placed on students, parents, and administrators. At the moment there is none. Principals and superintendents are not screened to see if they meet No Child Left Behind standards. They should be. If teachers have to be, wouldn't the people directing the teachers need to be also? It seems like common sense. And what about highly qualified parents? There is no such standard or classification placed on them. Parents are not held responsible for the failure of their children. Why not? They are more important in the education of a child than even a teacher is. Public education, too many parents, is a baby-sitting service. It is a way for them to get rid of the kids during the year. And when they are out of sight, they are out of mind. Until they fail and then it is very convenient to blame their failure on the teachers. Students are a big part of this too. In the end, it is the student that has to learn the material. It is the student that has to take the tests. Why isn't the student responsible for either of these things? Why is it assumed that if students fail a test, their teachers didn't teach them? What sort of logic is that? Students need to be pushed as hard as possible in education. For too long, teachers have been forced to spoon-feed material to kids and it is making them stupid. If we make them responsible for their own learning they will have to do it or fail. We need to stop feeling sorry for them and start MAKING them get an education. I don't think they should have a choice in the matter. The point is, the government is the wrong "man for the job" in education. The only people qualified to make decisions on education are teachers. And we get NO input on anything in education. None. Until that changes, the state of public education in the US will continue to decline. We will be passed by all other nations and we will fail in the global market. And it won't be because of teachers. But I'll bet we get the blame.

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