Education is at the forefront of the media, political battles, legislation and everywhere you turn. There are some major issues being discussed and some are valid, some not so much. Education is a very dynamic, individualized, NOT-one-size-fits-all issue that needs real support and change. Here is my take on the big issues:
1. Teacher attacks - stop attacking teachers! We are not the cause of everything bad in the world. We are not responsible for everything about a student. We work hard, long hours. We act as surrogate parents, psychologists, social workers, mentors, and teachers. Yes we get summers off...from our main job. Most of us teach summer school or have another summer job to make ends meet. We can NOT do it all. Educating our children is a TEAM effort, that needs the community, schools, and parents involved.
2. Standardized Testing - I have no problem with giving students benchmark, standardized test occasionally. However, to say that these tests will be used to evaluate (and decide pay and firing of teachers) is ridiculous. Standardized testing is one way to assess PART of a student's learning and abilities. It can be useful to find areas that need to be addressed. But it is not the be-all-end-all of student, or teacher, assessment.
3. "Education Reform" - what a mess this is. Corporations and Politicians thinking that they know more about education than educators. There is a motivation behind much of education reform that is all about money. More standardized testing, textbooks and curriculum lead to more money for many companies. More charter schools equal more money for the companies that run them. Bad evaluation methods of teachers, tying teacher evaluations to standardized testing, and attacking teachers work to push good teachers out, and get them replaced by new, temporary, lower paid teachers. If we want true education reform, we need to have educators working on the plans, not politicians and private corporations. Read more here.
4. Literacy - this is one of the main issue that affects our students' ability to learn. We have students entering school who have never been read to, or taught anything about reading and they are way behind. Poverty and family life contribute to this issue, with many students having parents who don't/can't read or don't speak English. We need to improve the reading skills of our students so that they can read textbooks, web sites, and other educational materials and learn from them.
5. Poverty - Poverty must be addressed to help our students, and schools, succeed. I wrote more about it here.
6. Student Learning - students need to learn certain skills and concepts. They will not learn these from more testing. They will not learn these from canned curriculum. They will learn them from experienced educators doing innovative, interactive projects and lessons in the classroom. These Skills are vital for students to be successful in the future. What politicians and businesses want to do will not teach these skills to students, they will just teach them to take tests, and hate education.
What do you think about all the issues affecting public education today?
Who's responsible for failing students/schools? Everyone!
Assessing Student Learning - do it like assessing someone in their job
Musings on education reform
Educational Issues in Connecticut - what a mess!
Why Teachers Like Us Support Unions
Some Common Education Myth's Debunked
Incompetent Teachers or Dysfunctional Systems? Fix the system to support the teachers.
Just the Facts Please! The facts about "education reform" from NEA Today
Infographic - consequences of teaching to the test