Listening to NPR prevents me from turning my work commute into the final 15 minutes of “The Road Warrior.” Recently the failure of Public Education was the listening topic for my drive. Betsy DeVos was mentioned, (the Anti-Christ as I like to call her) as well as the push for school choice. They softly discussed Federal oversight of the states, equal protection for LGBTQ, and bathroom laws. Very educational! So educational, that not a single person on the panel actually worked in public education! Remind you of any state education agencies or school boards maybe? This must be how women feel when a panel full of only men discuss women’s health rights in Congress. For crying out loud, it’s summer time! You couldn’t find one educator to talk about education? You couldn’t find a Principal, or an Assistant to the Assistant Superintendent of School Assistant’s to assist you in this matter? No! We get three journalists discussing only education’s “fast food” topics?! While these problems are important, their discussion turns out like Tom Sawyer white washing the fence. I know they are only discussing current affairs. However, I find it interesting that these three huge problems in education are never discussed:
1. WHY DO OUR SCHOOLS LOOK LIKE PRISONS?!
When was the last time you entered an institution? By institution, I mean a public school. They look like prisons, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. There is nothing about what our schools look like, that makes any kid want to learn. Other than technology, a school room looks eerily similar to the one-room school house of the 19th century. No wonder children hate going to school when the environment is
colorless and lacking in any artistic creativity. It’s as if they entered a Charles Dickens novel! New buildings are expensive, but there is a lot that you can do to spice up an old building. Joanna Gaines could ship-lap all the walls, put in some recessed lighting, hard wood floors, fresh paint, and VOILA… a learning environment that promotes the energy and creativity we desire. There is a tremendous amount of study regarding how the appearance and upkeep of school buildings correlates with increased academic growth. Why are students not involved in the upkeep of the grounds? I am not talking about tarring the roof or redoing the electric. I’m talking about students being empowered to create their learning environment. Empowerment equals a shared buy in! Far too many of our schools are falling apart or look as though they were abandoned during the dust bowl. Would your learning be conducive in an environment like that? No? How do you think our kids feel?
2. THOSE WHO CAN’T DO….TEACH!
I hate that saying! However, there is a small grain of truth to it. I know that this opinion may anger some, but I think it needs to be said…anyone can become a teacher. Anyone who can read, write, complete some math, and pass a test, can easily walk into a classroom fully licensed by the state. Let this be clear, I am not throwing any shade on any one certification program or any individual’s journey in front of a white board. GENERALLY SPEAKING, I find it extremely troubling when, arguably, the most important profession on earth, is so easy to obtain. Colleges and alternative certification programs churn out teachers the way Nabisco bakes cookies. Why is Education Law not the very first class a potential educator needs to study. Ninety percent of what we do is mandated by laws. Its too hard and complicated for a beginner class? Well, if so, would it not weed out a significant portion of the J.J.A club (those who only wish to teach because of June, July, and August). Increasing the rigor for teacher training could also help to reduce the number of scandalous teachers entering the profession.. I’m pretty sure that Facebook and Yahoo could still survive without the latest scandal being plastered all over the world wide web, as if every teacher is required to read “Lolita.” My profession is suffering an image problem. A pretty good part of it stems from the lack of grooming, training, and producing quality educators! As teachers know, higher expectations equal greater gains. Why don’t we follow that mentality in our certification programs. According to economics, more teachers + less skill= equals low pay. Less teachers +increased skills= higher pay. Supply and demand. Think about it.
3. MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO’S THE BIGGEST PROBLEM OF THEM ALL?
If you really want to see what biggest problem is with public education, then you need simply look in the mirror. That’s right you… me… all of us. WE are what is wrong with Public Education! It’s public for a reason. It’s the public’s responsibility to ensure its schools succeed and it’s children are educated. You pay for it, you might as well own your stake! You can call it pie in the sky thinking all you want, but our apathy, and lack of community involvement is what is killing public education. Think of it this way, would we be better off as a community if we focused just a little more attention at what happened in our schools? What would happen if communities decided to invest their time and energy into the school system as opposed to letting some billionaire, snake oil salesman from Michigan, appointed by a tangerine, do it. Think of what could possibly happen when we stop pointing our fingers start rolling up our sleeves. Imagine the repercussions if more people focused on who runs for the school board. Public schools are not failing. The public is failing our schools. Funny how responsibility never begins with I. If we took care of this part, everything else takes care of the rest. So, how do we do it? Well, if I had all the answers I wouldn’t be writing this!
Am I right on, out of touch, or missing something? Feel free to comment. As always, thank you for reading Tales From The Red Pen. Subscribe if you haven’t and Share with friends! I will be on vacation for the next week! But I will return with new discussions for you.