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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

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Could not agree more!!! Had my fair share of "slang" teachers.
Abby currently goes to a private school. Frisco has a good school district. We live in a nice neighborhood which includes a school. After looking at all of our options, this was the best fit. It may not be forever. I used to think homeschooling was weird. Now I'm not so sure:)

I completely agree with the idea of offering higher salaries to attract more knowledgeable teachers. I also think our schools need to raise the bar and expect more from our students.

I cannot site the exact statistic, but the reading specialist at my son's school said that in California, they are predicting prison populations based on 3rd grader's literacy rates. Now that is eye opening to the importance of education, specifically literacy. After I heard that statistic I worked with my son diligently and he is in Kindergarten reading at a 2nd grade level. Thanks for the information! Yet another great post.

I remember being stymied by the word "mirror" during an elementary school spelling bee. The teacher advised, "Sound it out! MEEEEEEEER." So I spelled m-e-e-r.

I would love to see a ratio of 15:1. In reality, our ratio is 23:1 with no aide. I am so proud of people who continue their education as I received my masters as well as many teachers who are teaching in my building. I would not flaunt my degree in front of them saying I deserved more. I was very happy to find out the amount of teachers who do hold a masters....who I call master teachers! They do deserve to make their salary. Something to think about. We have all had a bad teacher, doctor, therapist, and lawyer. Those stories do not define how I feel about that particular occupation. It's called life. Everyone has a story. My boys are writing their stories enjoying public education and focusing on the positives that they get every day! Just ask them:) they love school and at the same know that no one is perfect.....

Susan, I agree. And our school district is more like 27:1 and I know some that are worse than that. I certainly know no one is perfect, but I do hold teachers to a high standard and think they should be held accountable for the jobs they are doing, just as others are held accountable in their respective professions. My children will be attending public school too. It's the only option we can afford.

Thanks for your thoughts on this matter!
Anna

Two things from a former high school teacher (and current university professor), if I may.

First, public priorities in the United States are easily identified by the resources allocated to them, either through public means (government spending) or market forces. We give our money to the things we actually care about. If Americans truly gave a tinker's damn about the quality of education in this country, there would be a nationwide hue and cry over the outrageously low per-capita spending on students and the pittance paid to schoolteachers, who typically remain in the profession DESPITE the lack of income and standing. But we don't care. Education is expensive. Good education is more expensive, and you can't extract blood from a stone. Everyone supports improving education until someone has to pay for it, and then, suddenly, all these "pro-education" frauds vanish like roaches under light.

Second, standardized testing, while borne (perhaps) of a reasonable intent to hold educators accountable for the work that they do, does not now and never will sufficiently measure learning. Why? Education is a qualitative process, whereas standardized testing is a quantitative instrument. How in the world can anyone measure a student's sudden appreciation for music, as awakened by a teacher who gave him/her the opportunity to hear a concerto by Mozart? How can anyone quantify a student's discovery of meaning in a painting by Dali or Pollock? It can't be done, which further illuminates our bankrupt understanding of what learning is and how education must proceed—in fits and starts, and in ways that often elude conventional understanding, to say nothing of a "one-size-fits-all" multiple-choice examination. As if that isn't enough, no standardized test can parse the effort given by the classroom instructor from the effort invested by the student, which may well be nonexistent, and a product of factors far beyond the classroom instructor's control (e.g., a home culture that discounts learning or a high school diploma). In my view, this only constitutes further proof that Americans do not truly care about education—it is the path of least resistance, and recklessly unrepresentative of the complex realities of education. If anyone cared, we might actively search for a better way. I see no evidence of any such effort on the near horizon.

I agree with Casey, and have my own points to make. You state vacation days as a perk, and yet our vacation days are not "paid"; we are paid by the day, and our ten month salaries are spread out over a year. I never had a summer vacation while I was teaching the "first time"; I had to work to pay off my college education and classroom expenses, as well as attend continuing education classes. I quote "first time", because I lasted six years before being burned out by 10 hour long workdays with no overtime compensation, and fighting to educate students whose parents wouldn't even supply basic needs for their children, much less read to them or ensure homework was done. It took me six more years before I even thought of reentering the education field, and even then it was for a desk job running special education meetings; paperwork was much easier to deal with than a student who hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday or wore shorts in cold weather.

Your article cites " 68% of 8th graders can't read at grade level". I haven't looked at your source, but I wonder what the reading levels of those students' parents are. Do they live in print-rich environments? Is reading modeled and valued in the home? And if so, are there reading opportunities in their schools, or is precious time being taken up by hours of preparation for standardized testing? (Yes, I have seen that happen.)

I am currently back in the classroom, back to 10 hour days while going through graduate school to become a librarian and manage a household with children. I work with teachers who are often there earlier and later than I am. Do I feel that I need more monetary compensation? No; I choose to stay after hours to complete lesson plans, find differentiated activities for my multilevel learners, and collaborate with my colleagues. However, I find it appalling that lack of funding leads to larger class sizes and antiquated materials. It's also time for this country to start looking globally at countries that do seem to value their children and education, and take some hints. Casey is right: good ol' USA, either put up the funding to educate our children properly, or shut up. And that funding should not be for more mid-management positions or standardized testing! I'll end with a link to my (latest) favorite story on education: http://www.masoncountynews.com/news/print_article.php?id=38280

Great article, Chris! i love it! Thanks for sharing.

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