WHAT’S WRONG WITH AMERICAN EDUCATION?

FIFTH IN A SERIES

(Please read the previous four blogs.)

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 shared 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 past weeks, I addressed issues where America fell short in preparing her young people for the real world. My previous blogs handed out a failing grade to:
America’s universities (teacher education)
Chronically complaining parents
Inept administrators
Teachers who chose the profession for the wrong reasons

How does our culture return to the era where teaching holds a revered place in society? School boards, superintendents and administrators must foster an environment where teachers do not feel afraid to come to work. Here is another reason our educational system is failing:

SCHOOL BOARDS

Do you know the philosophy of your local school board? Is it a politically correct statement in theory or does the school board implement what they advertise? Are teachers valued assets? Are teachers protected from frivolous complaints? If teachers are threatened with termination, is there due process? Do children with ALL learning abilities find quality instruction ?

Teachers cannot be effective in a hostile workplace environment. Parents, while an important input of valued appraisal, must never hold the power to dictate which teacher remains, subject delivery, or appropriate discipline. All children’s lives matter. However it appears America provides great educational resources to the very bright and the very challenged. The majority of students who fall in-between often slip through the cracks of misdirected philosophies of education.

Taxpayers must better vet candidates for school boards. Instead, most of these boards serve as a rubber stamp in supporting any action taken by the superintendent or school administrations. These same taxpayers also need to make their boards and superintendents accountable for the appropriate use of local tax monies.

SOLUTION

Community conversations must be initiated on the effectiveness of the local school board. Does the school board reflect the expectations of their constituents? Do taxes reflect a positive, meticulous use of funding or are they used to pay off high rates of insurance to protect boards against litigations brought forth by unfairly fired or demoted teachers? Does the board demonstrate an awareness of problems in the district? What does the relationship look like between the school board and superintendent? Does the board seem approachable? Does the school board actually hold power to affect change? Does the superintendent come across as approachable or does he play the role of politician? As one of my banker friends thoughtfully stated years ago: children are our highest ranked asset, whose rate of return grows over the lifetime of the parent. Shouldn’t school boards take an active role in children’s schooling in order to receive the highest rate of return?

School boards need to implement the following: principals’ performances reviewed every quarter; disallow state legislatures’ mandate for student testing; distribute a climate survey every semester to research teacher well-being; seek answers to issues from teachers in the district after said survey is published; reduce the budget by cutting the top heavy admin staff in buildings. Teachers do not enter the field believing in great wealth. Salaries are important but even more so the retention of successful educators. If board members demonstrate the same pre-election exuberance after elected, perhaps these members could affect positive change in their districts by solving the day to day issues facing American educators.

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

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