Another Way of Thinking: The Education Situation

Perhaps teachers aren’t the problem.

Is it really a surprise that students in the US lag behind other countries in science when we as a society accept as political leaders people who admit in public and with pride that they don’t “believe” in evolution or climate change?

Is it any wonder that students in the US perform below other nations in mathematics, history, and their own mother tongue, when we as adults plan public policy based not on needs being met but taxes being cut.

Can it be a shock that students in the US fail and dropout at disastrous rates when education is seen as something outside of an apart from the other institutions of society and as such it is safe to tinker with, to use as a political football, and generally stand in as whipping boy when other problems within society need attention but prove too politically dangerous to tackle.

Intellect is frowned upon in our society and education seen as something you have to endure in order to “get a job.” Perhaps these attitudes and practices are to blame for student performance and it is the teachers who are actually the only people holding us back from falling off the precipice of tenuous civilization and into the abyss of utter barbarism.

We need to ask ourselves this question:

Is the purpose of education to evaluate teachers or to educate students?

For a very long time, principals and department heads and involved parents and state auditors and the entire administrative bureaucracy of public education in primary and secondary schools all across this nation somehow managed to evaluate and as needed improve teacher performance.

Now, for reasons no one has yet to make clear, we need more oversight of and less job security for teachers in order to improve the performance of teachers.

How does that work exactly?

Considering why people become teachers (and it’s not for the pay, trust me on that), how does making an already stressful and under appreciated job also less secure and more constrained going to inspire educators to work toward better outcomes?

More to the point if the bigger problems in education are structural and systemic, why are we fixated on fixing the teachers in the first place?

The current mania is to blame teachers and judge teachers and punish teachers. Is it any wonder that college students avoid education as a major and teachers already in the profession, burn out and quit in such large numbers?

If you want to evaluate teachers, here’s what you do.

Volunteer at the local schools in your area and observe for yourself.
Go to PTA and Open Houses at your local schools.
Attend school board meetings
Talk to teachers, parents, and students.
Talk to past graduates of the schools in question.

Adding to the workload of teachers so that we as a society can feel like we’ve done something good when in reality we have not won’t solve anyone’s problem and will most likely just make things worse.

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