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.

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