WHAT’S WRONG WITH AMERICAN EDUCATION?

First In A Series

My advocating passion for teachers was reawakened just now. @DanaPerino (Fox News) cited the NYT article bemoaning the decline of reading scores in half the states. She continued to share her emotional upset: America is failing her students. I agree. But let’s stop wringing our hands and throwing more money at the problem. Over the next few days, I will address all issues where America falls short in preparing her young people for the real world. Here is one of the reasons our educational system is not able to keep up with other global systems.

UNIVERSITIES: Teaching teachers is not a high priority. How do I know this? I have volunteered to speak (gratis) about today’s issues in education at my state’s universities. Most will not return my phone call or email. My own alma mater finds me irrelevant. Yet when I graduated from this state university decades ago, my student teaching experience was filled with teachers, in the trenches, sharing their real life experiences. University instructors were current on the educational trends shaping our culture. Most just arrived to the university setting from at least a decade of successful public school teaching. Today, not so much.

At a recent book signing, a first year teacher stood before me. I asked her how her year was going. She looked at me with sad, blank eyes and stated: I wish my college had prepared me for the emotional drain I experience in the classroom every day. The reason why today’s post secondary education scholars cannot prepare our teachers? CHECK THEIR RESUME´S! Most have not spent more than three to five years in public education. Today’s collegiate professors could not possibly instruct classroom management, crisis intervention, active shooter response, bullying…well you get the picture. Today’s teachers are a product of an out of touch university system.

SOLUTION:

1. Hire seasoned, successful teachers currently in the field to instruct new teachers. These educators are and will continue to be the frontline in mentoring today’s new hires. 2. Stop insisting on abstract educational research for professorial tenure. 3. Instead, require professors to serve part time in a public school setting. 4. Stop reinventing the wheel. Go back to the basics of teaching math and reading. 5. Stop using professors’ untested dissertations as the next model of “how to teach anything.” What do these five proposals cost? Nothing. It does require a real dedication to mentoring America’s students through the reconfiguration of the university teacher education program.

“RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!” raises issues and identifies solutions for students, parents, teachers and administrators. Available at Barnes & Noble/Amazon.

TEACHERS: DO NOT STRIKE!

As a retired teacher, how could I make this statement? Do I not remember how my salary barely paid bills? In real time: how am I making it on my retirement? Why am I unable to fathom today’s educator dilemma?

After 46 years of teaching, I understand all of the dilemmas teachers face! That’s why I wrote “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” But striking is against my better judgement. Here is why:

  1. Parents have to scramble to find child care.
  2. Many parents will find it necessary to leave their children unattended during the school day.
  3. Children need a regiment to afford better retention of learning. Staying home for days, often unsupervised, postpones if not cancels the child’s ability to retain previously learned concepts.
  4. The community does not see the plight of teachers when they strike. They only see the empty school house, void of instruction and safety for their child.
  5. The potential loss of pay or postponement of salary may place the educator behind the proverbial eight ball even farther.

Is there an antidote for the teachers in this nation who work daily under poor conditions, low pay and constant verbal attacks? Yes! WORK THE RULE. Back in the ’80’s, I worked in a school district where the education association was extremely proactive in garnering salaries. At one point, the association and school board were at impasse. The proposal to WORK THE RULE was executed with great results. Here is a portion from my book regarding this concept:


When to Work the Rule: Commitment to teaching for a substandard salary took its toll. The teacher representatives decided all teachers should “work the rule.” Teachers reported to their jobs 30 minutes before their classes began. The school day was filled with teaching and assessment. Everything, including grading papers, took place within the school day. When the children went home at the end of the day, so did the teachers! No homework assigned. Extracurricular activities postponed. The community needed to understand how much time their teachers worked outside the school day. After almost two weeks, the board felt pressured by the parents to end this stalemate and find a salary compromise.


Working the rule became a powerful tool when negotiating. The majority of the staff, in order for the shortened day to produce an impact on the administration and parents, must agree to participate. This approach challenged those of us who gladly gave extra time and energy to our jobs.  Perhaps “work the rule” would better facilitate the impending teacher strikes. Keeping students in a routine and providing working parents a safe place for their children is paramount. Strikes punish the student and the parent more than anyone. Teachers, administrators and school boards cannot afford to lose the support of their community.

Purchase “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” TODAY from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I hope one day this book will serve as required curriculum for university education programs.

PILING ON!

In the Colorado Springs Gazette, David Ramsey’s headline reads: Piling on refs at a crisis point, threatens youth sports. As a teacher of 46 years, here is my own headline: Piling on TEACHERS at a crisis point, threatens EDUCATION.

Who are guilty of the “piling on?” Chronic, complaining parents and non-supportive administrators. In the article, Mr. Ramsey continues “We’re on the brink of an officiating catastrophe. Fans who shout insults and threaten violence are sending high school officials into retirement.” Our country’s educators are also heading into retirement in greater numbers than ever before. Why? As a teacher, vitriol parent emails filled with insults and threats found their way to my computer. On one occasion, my principal sent me home due to a telephone threat by an intoxicated parent stating he was coming to school to “get me.”

How is this allowed to happen? As a performing arts instructor, I found myself the object of parental unhappiness, due to auditions. The administrators were always carbon copied on the emails. How did my administrators react? Hiding in their offices! In my final End of the Year evaluation (where I was terminated), a handful of parent complaints ended my career. Is this simply a poorly run district’s issues or is it a national trend?

In my book signings (Colorado and Nebraska) and social media platforms, I witnessed a national trend of attacking teachers. I was not a microcosm. This is not a local problem. Today’s educational community is facing a crisis. What needs to change?

Parents: stop venting by email or speaking poorly of your child’s teachers behind their backs. If you feel cause exists, please schedule a meeting with the teacher. If you feel awkward about doing this, stop and re-evaluate the true importance of your “problem.”

Administrators: stop excusing parental meanness and stand up for your teachers. It’s just that simple. Long after the disapproving parent and their child leaves your school, you hold an obligation to insure teachers stay on your staff for more than the national average of three to five years.

Parents, teachers and administrators: Purchase “Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!” TODAY (AMAZON/BARNES & NOBLE) and initiate an atmosphere of positive communication. Today’s trend of losing one of our country’s most valued assets needs your direct involvement. Teachers are a precious commodity. Retain them and know our children will directly benefit.