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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pondering our Education System

Education is one of the major building blocks to a successful life. I have been thinking a lot recently about the role that education plays in our lives and how it interacts with other competing interests such as sports and other social programs. I find myself frequently wondering why sports programs are so often put ahead of educational programs. I am angered by what I have seen firsthand in my own daughter’s school. When things got tight with the budget many programs such as art and music were the first to be cut with almost no thought as to what the consequences would be. Young teachers that the kids liked and that had new perspectives on teaching were laid off and the entrenched tenured teachers that had been in the school system for many years were kept on with no regard to teacher performance; at the same time the school sports program surged ahead with my town voting to build a brand new state-of-the-art track.
This is really troubling and I don’t think that it is something that is confined to my town only. If the American people and politicians truly want American kids to grow up to be world leaders in areas such as science and math we need to put education first. That is not to say that sports don’t play a very important role; I do believe that programs that challenge kids physically are very important, but it is a matter of finding a fine balance between too much and not enough with more emphasis on cutting edge education .
Bureaucrats at the top of our school system need to start being more creative and look for ways to do away with the tenure system. There are many young teachers out there that are unemployed or unable to get the jobs they want because of the way the system is set up. Many of these individuals are vibrant and enthusiastic about learning and teaching. They would bring a love of learning and a new perspective on learning down to our kid’s level where it is needed the most. Of course there is one major obstacle in the way...teachers unions. 
I am also perturbed by the way that a select handful of students that are ahead of the majority of the class are made to wait for the rest to catch up instead of treating each kid as an individual and challenging them on their own level. Imagine the things that could be done if each child was infused with a love to learn without limits and challenged to always try to do better, making learning fun but not boring! This kind of philosophy starts at the very top. It is high time that Americans got a fresh start and bounced back.  For our economy to flourish again we need to be leaders not followers. We are clearly not leading the world in manufacturing anymore. If jobs are to be created we need to take action now and ensure that our kids have a brighter future and keep the American Dream alive and well.

7 comments:

  1. Well, you have a pretty good idea how I feel about these issues! Also, you know what I think about the best way to make sure that kids get individualized attention at their own level, and learn to love learning :0) Homeschooling is the way to go! OR, since everyone might not be able to homeschool, public schools should be transformed into more like community learning centers with much more freedom in the structure, NO TESTING (and the resultant teaching to the test), and interest-based learning. Just my two cents...

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  2. I just think it is ridiculous the amount of worksheets the students are given these days. Were is the creativity? Every child needs to be given the tools to learn to their individual capacity. One child should not hold the whole class behind. I don't see why the teacher can't break the room down into groups and give each group a certain task that is on their learning level. Children do not learn all on the same level. Each child needs to be challenged.
    I am just frustrated with the public school in my town. My daughter came home today and said the whole class is going to have time out for TEN minutes tomorrow because one child was acting out in the line to go to the cafeteria. Why isn't that one child punished? Why should my child suffer the consequences because of one child's actions? Also, where is it the teachers position to tell a first grade class that there is no such thing as Santa Clause? Public schools really need to be revamped. Out with the old in with the new.

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  3. Well said, all around. Lots of things need to change. As you know, I'm one of the new teachers looking for work, and did have a job for almost a year... It's very discouraging, though, when you get a job in a school system that holds you back and forces you to teach in a way that you DO NOT agree with. This is what some school systems are doing. So, yeah: definite changes need to be made when a system stomps on a teacher's entire education and tells them to scream at kids, load them up with at least three worksheets a night, on top of CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test) packets, and so on...

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  4. Very well stated. I don't have any kids but I think frequently about the state of public education in the US. It seems, sadly, to be persistently declining. One of the multiple reasons I don't have any children is because I wouldn't have the time to ensure that they get a quality education at home, and the public school system doesn't seem capable of providing one.

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  5. It seems that the only way to provide a decent education for our kids is either private school or homeschooling. Sadly, I don't think that either option is feasible for the majority of us and unions are such a strong force that changing the system seems hopeless...I have never really thought about the standardized testing aspect but it is certainly worth thinking about. I believe that getting rid of the system of tenured teachers would solve a lot of the problems. I am hopeful because I do hear politicians talking about the problems but so far it is just talk.

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  6. Danny, by far the most important peice you've written about so far. Our education "culture" is definatley in need of major change. We need to let our children learn about what they're interested in. Government run/ subsidized schools are outdated, try to take that tax away from them! Once again, governmant is not the answer. If we paid our teachers privatley instead of through taxes and bereaucracy we would do better. This is just the short...very short, answer. Parental involvement is key. Try to mandate that.

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  7. I agree Don, like I said before, the problems are so embedded that it will be very hard to change. You are right though, parental involvement is definitely VERY important.

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