On September 27, President Obama and Today’s host Matt Lauer discussed the state of education in America. Matt Lauer opened the interview by sharing very statistics that are almost overwhelming. According to Lauer, one-third of our high school students will not graduate, another third that do graduate are not college-ready, and one-third of our high school seniors cannot read.
Obama made probably one of the most truthful statements I have ever heard regarding education. He said, “We can’t spend our way out of it.” He said that per-pupil, the spending is actually higher than what was spent a couple of decades ago. To sum it up, in the age when we have access to more information than we ever have, we have the most amazing technology tools at our disposal, and in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we cannot educate our children.
Where does the money go?
So what is broken? The President suggests that the answers lie in preparing our teachers better and extending the school year. Close, but no cigar. You see, I think it is about money, and it’s also about teachers. I am not calling for higher teacher’s salary, although I wouldn’t turn it down either. However, we have created a system that values just about every position within the public school system more than we do the teachers. If you are a teacher, you are basically at the bottom of the school districts employment structure. We have created a system where it is more lucrative to become a specialist, not a great teacher.
You see, much like our national government, our education system has become extremely top heavy. We basically encourage our best and brightest teachers to leave the classroom! If you are great teacher, your reward is to become a specialist and teach other teachers how to do their job. The problem with that is after just a few years of no longer having to deal with parents, behavior problems, and the day to day trials in teaching, you can no longer relate to the teachers. There is nothing more frustrating than a “specialist” to come down from the ivory tower to deliver yet another requirement. Their response to the frustration they encounter from the teachers is a heart-felt “you can do it” speech. Thanks.
Where does the time go?
You see teachers already have to plan everything, document everything and report on everything that happens in their classroom. Many districts have found ways to relieve teachers of this compounding paperwork. They simply hire the teacher a substitute teacher to teach the class while the teacher works on paperwork all day. So, even our current teachers are not with the kids because they are so loaded down with paperwork.
Our kids do not need better computers, textbooks, or even teachers. They need more quality time spent one-on-one or in a small group with their teacher. We do not need to hire more teachers to decrease class size, we just need to move our teachers back to the classroom.
Maybe this answer is just a little too simple for Washington, but it is all I have to offer. I think that 99 percent of the teachers in the classroom are doing everything they can and they are great. However, they overworked and stressed out. They do not need more training, they need more time with their kids in the classroom as well as their kids at home. So, why don’t we take all of the individuals who make tons of money just sitting in office trying to figure out how to make one more male minority pass the state mandated test, and put them in a classroom teaching the third of students who cannot read.