BOOKLIFE PRIZE REVIEW IS IN!

Title: Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!

Author: Paula Baack

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Audience: Adult

Word Count: 72,537

Assessment:

Idea/Concept: Although Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! sits somewhat uneasily between memoir and guidebook, the author ultimately presents a highly informed, insightful look into the state of education in America and the toxic work environments many educators face.

Prose: This book is well-written and organized, while the author’s prose conveys her passion for teaching and her frustration toward the many impediments facing teachers and students today.  

Originality: As a devoted educator, Baack backs up her findings with her own unique experiential evidence, while broadening the scope of the book to focus on the collective experiences of teachers and students in America. 

Execution: Baack’s own experiences offer credibility and immediacy to the sections that are more pointedly informational. While the focus of the book is more on how to rescue teachers than on how to save students, Baack’s ideas are inspired and potentially broadly beneficial. Her clearly-referenced religious overtones sometime interfere with the more actionable advice, but not significantly. She does not proselytize, but, rather, espouses values that many of us, religious or not, still hold.

Blurb: Baack makes an urgent plea to teachers, administrators, parents, and students to work collaboratively to improve the American education system to some of its former high standards. 

I am so pleased as a first time author. Thank you BookLife!

WHAT’S WRONG WITH AMERICAN EDUCATION?

Third In A Series

Thanks to @DanaPerino (Fox News) and the NYT, America received yet another warning regarding the decline of reading scores in half the states. Ms. Perino 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. My previous blogs handed America’s universities (teacher education) and chronically complaining parents a failing grade. Here is another reason our educational system is not able to keep up with other global systems:

ADMINISTRATORS: In 1971, I began my 46 year career. I’ve seen administrators of all types. Here is an excerpt from my book:

1.He hired the best, stood back and encouraged his staff at every turn.
2. She held onto rules (some unwritten) which must be obeyed. No gray area or compromise.
3. She encouraged her staff to meet her expectations. If some of the staff struggled, the administrator stood by their side and mentored them.
4. She sat by the front door and would not allow her staff to leave before 3:30 pm.
5. One principal’s philosophy was the Performing Arts existed as a fluff curriculum. Those teachers simply acted as a support staff for the school. Their out of classroom expectations would include lunchroom duty, cleaning up the lunchroom tables, crosswalk assignments and other non-teaching requirements. He believed those assignments justified a performing arts program.
6. She scolded staff for reaching out to troubled students. Her philosophy: only a licensed psychologist should offer support to students. Come to work, teach your subject, and then go home.
7. She could not deal with any parent who raised an issue. In a panic, she told the teacher to fix things with the complainant.
8. He organized face to face meetings when disagreements arose with his staff, parents or students.
9. She openly declared she did not like some teachers, and for no reason. If she couldn’t fire them legitimately, she encouraged her admin team to drive them out.
10.She stated if staff received a parent complaint and did not acquiesce to the complaint, she would not support the staff member.

If you are a part of a school administration, what kind of administrator are you? If you are a parent, which of these best supports your philosophy of administrating. Teacher? If you’ve been teaching for more than 10 years, you’ve encountered many of the negative examples.

SOLUTION:

1.School boards and superintendents must insist their school administrators support their teachers, no matter what the complaint. Administrators should never play the adversarial role with their staff.
2. Even the worst case scenario teacher deserves to be mentored.
3. When there is a problem with staff, due process must be the rule of the day. No more guilty until proven innocent allowed.
4. The teacher should never be threatened with innuendo of losing his job just because of a student accusation and a parent pushed “send” on a vitriol email.
5. Maintain this philosophy and the day to day operations of problem solving should be less complicated: Students are not perfect, parents are not always right and teachers are NOT monsters.

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

WHAT’S WRONG WITH AMERICAN EDUCATION?

Second In A Series

Thanks to @DanaPerino (Fox News) and the NYT, America received yet another warning regarding the decline of reading scores in half the states. Ms. Perino 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. My previous blog handed America’s universities a failing grade for teacher education. Here is another reason our educational system is not able to keep up with other global systems:

PARENTS: Receiving a profoundly faceted high school education is not a high priority for many American households. Parents in European and Asian cultures show their allegiance to education through: longer school days; longer school year; higher pay and better retirement benefits for teachers. Please do not mistake the American parent’s advocacy of education. “My kid deserves all A’s” is not akin to “My kid deserves the best education possible”. Parents want the grades, inflated if possible, to demonstrate their child’s prowess in school. However if their child does not do the work, many parents will insist on the highest grade possible. Learning outcomes be damned! The schools are glorified babysitters with parents sitting on the perimeter demanding their child deserves better treatment than others.

Which parent are you? The tough love parents allow their children to fail and support their children’s teachers, even when it is challenging. In absentia parents find it almost impossible to catch their children up as they progress. The helicopter parent, while always present, also contributes to the demise of American education. How? Their very physical presence fills their child’s classroom with pressure to succeed on both the educator and the child. There is a new syndrome of parental mayhem. The lawn mower parent: if they disagree with test results, disciplinary measures or how their child is treated, they just mow down anyone in their way.

How do these parents impede American education? Vitriol emails, open verbal harassment, and insisting to the administration their child deserves special treatment demonstrate just a few of the tactics parents use to harass their children’s teachers. Yes, teachers are leaving the profession in greater numbers than ever before, many due to lack of compensation for the overtime hours. The premise of my book states it best: Truth: Educators do not commit their passion to teach believing untold wealth awaits them. The purposely concealed story: national teacher shortage is due to a dominating hostile work environment, created by the very people educators serve.

SOLUTIONS:

  • Do not allow parents to communicate classroom issues with teachers via email or phone.
  • If there is a problem between child and teacher, the administrator will set up a meeting where everyone is in the room.
  • No longer would innuendo and meritless accusations be acceptable.
  • Parents should have input into the school’s sports, academics and activities through committees. But never should a handful of parents dictate curriculum, classroom management or an established teacher’s approach to delivering instruction.
  • Administrators owe it to their staff to insulate them from frivolous complaints. The lack of administration support of their teachers is another reason for the problems which face American education. I will address that issue next.

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