FINAL BLOG IN A SERIES: The country, the culture and the people who are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution to the spiraling downfall in American education.
This is the final blog regarding the specific topic of What’s Really Wrong With American Education. I would encourage you to go back and read all previous blogs on the subject. Next week there will be no blogging as I travel to my home state of Nebraska to speak about my book. Oh, and if you missed the title: Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! (Amazon/Barnes and Noble).
Today’s topic: Is Everyone Welcomed? The country, the culture and the people who are a part of the problem and not a part of the solution to the spiraling downfall in American education.
THE COUNTRY: At the age of eight my dad took me to my first Nebraska football game. I didn’t even know much about football but almost everyone in Nebraska looked at Saturday game days as a social event. The band marched on the field, as we were asked to stand for the raised U.S. flag . A 170 member band boldly played the National Anthem. Something inside me welled up in my soul. Goose bumps sat up on my arms as the song continued. Tears formed in my eyes for no reason other than there was an emotional connection to my country’s flag and the Star Spangled Banner. From that moment on, at the age of eight, I knew I loved this country. And when I grew older, I loved it even with its faults.
When I turned 13, school prayer (and later the Bible) were removed from public schools. I was not aware of its impact at the time. In 1962, the Unites States Supreme Court didn’t ask God to leave our schools. They demanded it. Arguably, the court appeared to make the mention of God illegal in our public education. I know this to be true as a choral director. If the word “God” appeared in any music literature, many times a student or parent would demand I remove the song.
Before you click “end“on this blog because I am probably one of those Christian nuts. I am. Christian, hopefully not nuts! And before you use the favorite anti-Christian word “hypocrite”, let me assure you I was the victim of such hypocrisy. For it was my principal and colleague after my job who attended my church. The other colleague who constantly accused me of not being a team member, is the wife of a pastor. I get it! I am not proposing Christian prayer or Bible class. What I am proposing is that students and teachers of Christian faith have a voice in the public school system. Academic classes should hold a balance of thought. Margaret Mead, who said children should be taught how to think and not what to think , would like this model: When speaking of the Big Bang Theory, the lesson should be balanced with Creationism, with the teacher staying neutral in the presentation. Then children can weigh the lecture with the walk of life they journey. Today, one would be hard pressed to hear even the mention of creationism in the context of how our universe was formed. It is time to re-evaluate how biology, human reproduction, history, English literature and science are presented. By the way, the Supreme Court didn’t actually kick God out. But their decision made it easier for a few to cancel the Christian perspective in the public school setting. So the poster Everyone Is Welcome may not necessarily apply to the Christian community.
THE CULTURE: The definition of Secular Progressive, according to yourdicftionary.com is: a non-religious person or organization that promotes and supports liberal change and reform.
Interestingly, the so called culture wars date back to the 1920’s with the polarization of the rural communities and the “Roaring ‘20s” urbanites.
James Davison Hunter, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, introduced the expression again in his 1991 publication, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. Hunter described what he saw as a dramatic realignment and polarization that had transformed American politics and culture.
He argued that on an increasing number of “hot-button” defining issues—abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drug use, homosexuality, censorship—there existed two definable polarities. Furthermore, not only were there a number of divisive issues, but society had divided along essentially the same lines on these issues, so as to constitute two warring groups, defined primarily not by nominal religion, ethnicity, social class, or even political affiliation, but rather by ideological world-views.
My thoughts? Unfortunately the American public has allowed and even promoted those cultural conflicts as an integral part of the school system. Why are we addressing gender neutrality restrooms when our kids can’t read at grade level? Do we really need to spend part of a classroom period asking each child which pronoun he/she/they/them prefer? Why are debate subjects of pro-choice vs pro-life required when we are not addressing college preparation or life skills courses? Why is a theory about race taught to shame white children and victimize children of color when teen suicides skyrocket every year? And my favorite: why do schools insist on using smart phones, tablets and computers for an entire day when experts warn that too much screen time may have effects on brain development.
According to Dr. Lamont Moore, Director of Educational Leadership at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina: Studies have shown that students who spent more than two hours a day using screens scored lower on language and thinking tests (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development, 2018). It has also been said that students who spend more than seven hours a day may experience thinning of the brain’s cortex. The brain’s cortex is the part of the brain that is related to reasoning skills and critical thinking.
Again, my thoughts? Parents need to start parenting, especially when their children are in the public schools. If nothing else, Covid taught us that parents discovered an entirely different school environment as they watched their children attend online schooling.
THE PEOPLE: In a simple word, activism has long played a role in education, both positively and negatively. According to Terri S. Wilson, School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder, there are three ways to deal with today’s issues in public education: opt out, dissent and activism. I concur.
Parents need to opt out of schools which have a political agenda (either conservative or liberal). Students need to opt out of classes designed to alienate one another or squash freedom of speech. Teachers need to opt out of working for a school district which is reactive and not proactive. Administrators need to opt out of adding any “push the envelope” 21st century class designed to polarize students.
We, as a community, need to dissent out loud when poor choices are made at the local schools. Here are examples I know of personally: rap music (clean lyrics but unwholesome messages) played on the school intercom before classes start; teachers who use profanity in the classroom; coaches who diminish players’ abilities with rants about failure; boys identifying as girls using girls’ restrooms and locker rooms; electives taught for their political agenda and administrators allowing bad behavior in the classroom.
We, as a community, need to get off our recliners to attend school board meetings, monitor how our children are taught and insure our children are being nurtured in a safe environment. Most importantly, throwing more money at our school systems has not worked in the past. We are fourth in the world in education expenditures but our literacy rate in the world is seventh, behind Switzerland and Sweden. Quite frankly, I do not believe those statistics. In doing extensive research, the U.S. education and achievement levels range from 1st to 27th. Oversight committees should wield power over the school districts to guarantee tax payers’ money is spent prudently, expeditiously and with integrity.
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!,
TUNE IN SEPTEMBER 27. Here’s a tease: Poetry with a punch!
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL. If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com.
The entitled students supported by the inalienable right to complain parents.
Today I heard a conversation regarding social media platforms and what they are doing to our children. It is nothing productive or positive. Yet parents feel the need to allow their children on such sites, usually without much investigation or monitoring. The end of today’s conversation went something like this: Where are parents today? Why do they permit their children participating on any platform which has the following potential: bullying, body shaming, hurtful rhetoric, immoral persuasion just to mention a few? I spent countless hours navigating these issues with my high school and college students. The final portion of the conversation? Parents need to parent. Make reasonable rules, follow through on consequences and be present daily (sometimes hourly) in your child’s life. The very same may be said about whining students and complaining parents. It’s time for parents to model support for their children’s teachers. We cannot continue to loose talented teachers who feel they are not only unappreciated but objects of condemnation from irrational, angry parents.
My mother was a teacher so she understood this dilemma teachers face daily: the child does not perceive complete truth, only his version of it. Never should the assumption be made that an evil teacher is persecuting an innocent child. The only times a parent has the right to challenge if a teacher is derelict in his job and should be dismissed are:
1. The student experiences a sudden downward spiral of grades and attitude
2. Actual school phobia has set in
3. An immoral/illegal act may have been consummated
If the student’s account does not fall under these three areas, the parent may certainly ask any question of an instructor but with the attitude of fact-finding and not hurtful discourse.
In 2017, four parents’ complaints of what student was given a solo, who should be in the talent show, who was given what grade and policies of attendance were used to force me out of a job I loved. Never underestimate the power of domineering parents on weak administrators.
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: The country, the culture and the people who are a part of the problem and seldom a part of the solution to the spiraling downfall of American education.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com.
School boards who act as a rubber stamp or don’t act at all are crippling our schools and a disservice to teachers and students.
Today’s headlines regarding school boards in disarray: Chaos at a local school board meeting leads to one person being escorted out by police (KKTV News); School board meetings heat up across country over mask mandates (CBS News); As School Board Meetings Get Hostile, Some Members Are Calling It Quits (NPR)
What’s Really Wrong with American Education? School boards, who are not proactive, cannot serve their district well in today’s secular progressive, rancorous environment.
EducationWeek speaks to truth regarding school board candidates running brilliant campaigns for election to the reality of newly elected members with poor leadership: Ineffective governance (of school boards) is often the byproduct of what has been called “school board dysfunction,” the situation in which board members lacking in organization, leadership, and an understanding of their role diminish a board’s capacity for good decision making and strong educational leadership. The inherent difference between managing a campaign for the school board and actually leading a school system is one of the key drivers of this dysfunction.
Board members spend considerable time campaigning for their posts. In a large district, this can mean fundraising for thousands of dollars, speaking to tens of thousands of constituents, completing dozens of interviews, and networking with countless other politicians. Campaigning, at its heart, is an entrepreneurial experience. The difference is, instead of pitching a product, candidates are selling their ideas, and often more importantly, marketing themselves. The problem lies when a board member moves from tinkering in the garage to elected office.
Students suffer when politics becomes a priority. School boards become the target of voters not because of poor platforms, insufficient creativity, or lack of effort, but because of naiveté and unprofessional conduct. Our national conversation on education should include more discussion of effective school system leadership, and not just of increasing test scores and global competitiveness.
Solution: From Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!: A community conversation 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 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? (Such was not the case in my district. When a popular teacher was demoted and humiliated due to false charges, his students and colleagues appeared at numerous board meetings to address the inequity of this demotion. Their tearful letters, unabashed accusations of unfairness and pleading for justice were met by a board void of emotions. Watching the board’s faces throughout these proceedings was comparable to viewing wax figures at a museum.)
School boards need to set expectations for their principals. Mentoring by administrators insures teachers will be able to achieve the best teaching practices. Students’ test scores should reflect only a minuscule part of the total picture when assessing the teacher. Heavy reliance on those scores discouraged many educators from continuing in the field. School board members need to advocate against the use of such scores. If board members demonstrated the same pre-election exuberance after elected, perhaps these members could affect positive change in their districts. How do they avoid, inadvertently, becoming a rubber stamp for ineffectual or bullying administrators? In other words, the community needs to vet school board candidates meticulously.
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!,
TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: The entitled students supported by the inalienable right to complain parents.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . Make sure to sign up for my podcast (paulabaack.substack,com). If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com!
Children must be taught how to think, not what to think. -Margaret Mead
Today’s educational headlines: ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE PLUMMETS (Colorado Springs Gazette); THE LOOMING CRISIS OF KIDS AND COVID (U.S. News); MASK IT OR CASKET (USA Today); TEACHERS QUIT JOBS AT HIGHEST RATE ON RECORD (Wall Street Journal)
Today’s anti-democracy headlines: A CASE AGAINST DEMOCRACY (The New Yorker); THE RISE OF WESTERN ANTI-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENTS (harvard.edu); More Than 100 Scholars Issue Warning That American Democracy Is In Danger, Call For Federal Reforms (Forbes); DEMOCRACY IS TRULY IN CRISIS (New York Times)
What’s Really Wrong with American Education: Any political ideology with an agenda to change the fabric of a democracy or re-engineer its vulnerable children (either politically or physically), should not exist in elementary through high schools.
Why the two sets of headlines? American schools have fallen from sixth (1990) to 27th in the world according to Business Insider. Research shows Covid complete shutdowns or even hybrid learning set America’s children months behind (New York Times). Why don’t these statistics stop school boards, administrators and teachers dead in their tracks?
Yet, the public school curriculum, in many cities, reflects today’s secular progressive stance on “democracy bad, socialism good.” Or this philosophy “white children bad, children of color victims” expressed through critical race theory. And then there is the mind-boggling ideology that our children, born of a gender, can alter that gender by the very least changing pronouns to the constant change of identity though gender fluidity or the finality of gender reassignment. In my final years of teaching, I experienced all three in several of my students. Perhaps if those who implement these 21st century hot topics would step back and spend more time on why our children cannot read at grade level or do simple math, the American education system might have a chance in not plummeting to the abyss.
Solution: STOP re-writing or changing historical events to please those who hate this country. STOP putting down patriotism as racist. JUST STOP referring to everything as racist! STOP allowing a few with radical ideas to set the standards for the multitudes. STOP social engineering our children and START teaching them those necessary subjects which can really guarantee them success. I’ve seen students spend a year traversing pronouns, experimenting with their sexual identity and attempting to change their DNA through gender reassignment. Those students, in my experience, suffered from depression and did not move to the head of the class in academic achievement. Instead these children were bullied, slandered and targeted by constant pressure to be “normal.” To date, I do not know how to define that word! But I do know we must stop spending so much of our educational resources on re-engineering our children (both politically, physically) and utilize the education budgets afforded to our schools to teach survival in the new world: balancing checkbooks, understanding mortgages, reading contracts, writing resumes, and in particular, allowing the negative history of our country to remain in the text books so we can continue to learn from those events, never allowing them to repeat themselves.
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: The stagnation of America’s school boards.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Oh, and buy my book TODAY and help a retired teacher pursue her purpose!
‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The great teacher demonstrates. The superior teacher inspires.’ ― William Arthur WardWhich teacher are you? Which teacher is teaching your children?
Summers off, paid vacations during the year, retirement benefits, need I go on? Those are all misnomers regarding the title of teacher. If you are a dedicated teacher, you spend your summers preparing for the oncoming year. And by the way, teachers have a 180 day contract spread over 12 months. There are NO paid vacations. My retirement benefits do not reflect the current inflation nor the cost of living. Need I go on?!
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, where I chronicled my failures, successes and teachable moments. Teaching was my calling, not because of social status, pay or ease but because of the incredible experiences of watching children grow. I believe the call to teach has been replaced by the “I don’t know what to do so I guess I’ll teach” syndrome. I am sad to admit I fell into that category in college and this lack-luster attitude followed me for the first five years of teaching. Continuing with What’s Really Wrong with American Education: Teachers who choose the vocation for all the wrong reasons.
You can spot these less than dedicated teachers: they dress, act and speak like their students; their mantra is it’s more important to be “cool” than to have credibility; they perform the bare minimum of instructing, grading and creativity; you can find them rushing in 10 minutes before their first class begins and leaving at the end of the day when the students depart; parents seldom criticize them, for these educators fly below the radar when it comes to student expectations. Let’s not forget that lowered expectations charm students into picking teachers who give the easy “A.” How do you know if you’re cut out to teach? Here are just three guidelines:
- Do children intrigue you, make you laugh and genuinely bring you joy?
- How do you feel about working for less pay than your peers in the business world?
- Do you possess tough skin, enough to sort through unreasonable requests and criticism?
Solution? The proactive position: If universities can invest time and money to recruit athletes, they need to do likewise encouraging high school juniors and seniors towards a teaching pathway. Like the prowess exhibited in athletes, perspective teachers would possess: integrity, a great work ethic, gifted in their subject area, high grades and already demonstrated a passion to teach. This could not happen overnight but with collaboration between high schools and neighboring institutions of higher learning, this could have a remarkable outcome. What’s the reactive approach? Make sure subpar teachers are not allowed to gain tenure. This is accomplished with a well stated job description along with measurable expectations, timeline of completion of those expectations and consistent consequences should the instructor fall short.
TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: Political ideology, designed to change the fabric of a democracy through the captured audiences of vulnerable children, must not be allowed to exist in kindergarten through high school.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Oh, and buy my book TODAY! Help a retired teacher survive the cost of gas! Better yet, invite me to speak. I do it for free!
Part 3: Administrators who can’t or won’t support their staff!
HEY everyone, happy Fri-Yay! Here I am, once again, standing up for my colleagues. Am I alone? Hopefully you all are standing with me. I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! Today’s focus: bad administrators. No sour grapes, just reality: one of those administrators did end my career quite profoundly. Continuing with What’s Really Wrong with American Education: Where have all the good admin gone?
I’ve worked with 21 principals/department chairs over my 46 year career. Only two literally stood up for me. Perhaps the good admin haven’t gone anywhere. They just don’t exist! However, a special salute to those who do protect their teachers. Since only two actually had my back, these examples will not take long:
The first time it happened was in 1973. Teachers, parents and admin were gathered to discuss the performing arts. The assistant principal made an off the cuff negative comment about my wanting to audition students for a special choir. The principal turned to him and said, “I’m going to tell you what the superintendent told me, as a principal, when I complained about the basketball coach’s selection of starters. Shut up.” I couldn’t believe my ears! My principal just told the vice principal to “shut up” on my account.
The second and last time it happened was in 1994. My principal appeared in my office at the end of the day and asked me to respond to a situation involving two hostile girls in my class. I explained what happened and how I handled it. He said “thank you” and left. A couple of days later, I asked him what that was all about. He said the parents of one of the girls accused me of favoring the other girl and acting unprofessionally. My principal sat down with the parents, listened to them and then said he doubted Mrs. Baack would behave in such a way and he already had spoken to me about it. The parents were placated since I was “brought in for questioning” and dropped the matter. Ironically that same principal, a few years later, told A ranting parent I had one flaw: I cared too much about my students. A back-handed compliment but one I wore with honor until I was forced out of my teaching position in 2017.
Is it possible to believe administrators could protect their staff from frivolous complaints? I always felt like I was standing on the narrow, bobbing branch while my principal robustly sawed away at the other end. Here are a couple of my fondest memories:
I brought in a highly successful university football player (first round draft pick), who loved to play piano by ear and talk to kids about having a good work ethic. The presentation was amazing. Afterwards my principal called me over. I was expecting a nice compliment. Instead he told me we must not interrupt the academic day ever again with this kind of dribble.
There were two suicides at a neighboring school so I asked a few other staff members if they would like to set up an after school club to mentor kids. We did, lots of kids came and it was a great success. No, I am not a trained social worker. We never went into the dark recesses of these kids’ minds. They just wanted a place to feel safe, hang out and discuss the esoteric issues of the day. The school newspaper thought it a wonderful addition to our school so of course they did an article on it. When the principal read the story, he called in my colleagues and admonished them. They came to warn me and it’s a good thing. I didn’t get admonished. I almost got fired. He told me if I ever did anything like that again, he would fire me. For once in my life, I had a comeback that didn’t take two hours to formulate and I said this: If caring about kids can get me fired, perhaps teaching was not the field I thought it was.
Solution? It’s simple. Drawing on yesterday’s podcast, there are two groups who must be held accountable. The first group: We must challenge the central administration to fact find and provide due process for any teacher harassed by chronically complaining parents or needless trauma caused by a feckless principal. The second group: School boards must be proactive in protecting their teachers, which translates that they must be involved in the day to day operations of their schools. But here is something which could be corrected TODAY: when a teacher files a grievance, it should be answered within hours and the process should NEVER TAKE WEEKS OR IN SOME CASES, MONTHS! During my tenure as a college department chair, I discovered that the grievance process, created by my division chair, was designed to last 90-180 days. Who, after six months, has the time or the energy to follow up. I believe this also true in most school districts, where grievances are allowed to sit on an administrator’s desk for 60-90 days.
TUNE IN MONDAY. Here’s a tease: Teachers who choose the profession for all the wrong reasons.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Oh, please buy my book TODAY and help a retired teacher survive inflation!
Part 2: A short cut to eradicating teachers: parents and emails!
My fast exit from teaching, forced upon me by an administrator too weak-kneed to support me when a parent went rogue, motivated me to address our country’s educational issues. Continuing with What’s Really Wrong with American Education: those love/hate relationships teachers have with parents. Just a random fact: I mention the word “parents” 360 times in my book!
With total transparency, I am a parent and grandparent. When our son was traversing through the school system, my husband and I tried to advocate for him in a kind and non-confrontational way. Such is no longer the case. Adversarial parents have no place in today’s educational system but unfortunately administrators allow them residence.
Just so you know I speak truth, here are a three examples of blood-curdling craziness I faced with parents:
Example 1: My principal came running into my room, whispered in my ear that I must go home at once. A parent called the school and threatened to come to school and kill me. You can’t make this up. Did I quit immediately and look for a safer job? No, I actually taught an additional 32 years after that event! Oh by the way, the parent never came to school.
Example 2: At a restaurant fund-raising event, one of my parents became upset with the service. So she marched over to the owner’s wife and told her to F off. But this mother was not finished. During a shouting match with the owner, the parent hurled a remote pager system, hitting the assistant manager on the head. Here is some irony: my micromanager principal, who admitted she was trying to drive me out of education, didn’t even flinch when she heard about it.
Example 3: The one that did me in: the false claim, asserted by a parent I never met, accused me of misappropriating funds for a GoFundMe account. The parent complained I was grading his son on the amount of money he contributed to the GoFundMe project. The entire conversation would seem almost laughable-I would never do something like that nor would any teacher-but it wasn’t humorous at all. This father’s determination to ruin my reputation and ultimately end my career was successful.
The most egregious deed of today’s parents is best summed up with this premise: how dare any teacher question my child’s learning or behavior. Here is an example of the pattern:
1. My child is perfect.
2. The teacher asserts he is not perfect, which is a personal affront to me.
3. Where’s my computer? And 10 minutes later, a rant is signed and hitting“send” begins the nightmare for teachers who dared to question a child’s ability.
4. Most often, these diatribes leave the cloud and land on a teacher’s computer just before the first morning class begins.
5. The next seven hours, the teacher only has time for instruction and cannot reply or defend the accusations. But make no mistake, the day was ruined by a disgruntled parent who believed his child was perfect!
Solution? It’s simple. There is one person and two groups who must be held accountable. The first person: Principals need to do more than just acquaint themselves with their staff. Know your teachers, have their back and support them when they are under assault by parents who truly believe they have the innate right to disparage a teacher. Some parents will even go further, IF allowed, and demand the instructor fired. Such was my case. The first group: Central administration must fact find and provide due process for any teacher wearing a target. And finally, School boards must be proactive in protecting their teachers. No principal should ever be allowed to badger or demote any teacher without repercussion.
TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease: 21:2 . This is the ratio of all the principals/department chairs I served (21) to the ones who actually supported me (yes, only 2).
By the way, if you are interested in a free seminar, you can reach me at email@example.com. Of course I want to sell books but I also want to share my experiences first person. And I speak for free! Just need my travel expenses covered.
PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com!
Part 1: University teaching programs
I loved my years at my university: the parties, sorority life, football and basketball games. Even then I was politically active, elected to the student senate and passionate to demonstrate against the Vietnam war. And oh those stimulating professors…not so much. I found nothing in my first two years of classes which related to my becoming an educator. In fact, I’m pretty sure I paid tuition to support random and sometimes obsolete required subjects taught by detached professors. By my junior year, more education pedagogy was included but I didn’t student teach until my senior year. Imagine my peers who discovered, too late, that teaching was not for them.
Fast forward to my 25 years of working with student teachers as a classroom supervisor. Initially the talent pool was remarkable and the passion for teaching discernible. But slowly, through the years, this all changed and not for the better. I was working with student teachers who did not have command of the English language, who possessed a poor work ethic and minimal skills in their major field. And then it got worse. One student teacher was a sexual predator and another really didn’t belong in a university teaching program. When I attempted to delete my stamp of approval for these student teachers, the university ignored my assessments and allowed them to graduate. So when year 26 arrived, I stopped working with student teachers. Do I believe my experience personifies what’s happening today in our colleges? No, I don’t. I think it’s worse.
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! My fast exit from teaching, provided by a principal who needed to trade me in for a younger model, motivated me to address America’s educational issues. I was thrilled to receive an invitation to provide a multi-day workshop, based on my book, at a prestigious university, school district and school board. For several weeks, I researched what was happening in the schools, school boards and university settings. As I prepared my lecture, I purchased hundreds of materials to support my presentation. And then, without much ado, I was canceled. My guess? I do not hide my conservative point of view in my book. To God be the glory for giving me an incredible career working with the very best children ever.
When I approached my alma mater and offered to do a free seminar for their student teachers, based on the vast knowledge of a 46 year career, I received a tepid response from the department chair and two professors. When I tried to set a date, the final aggrieved response was no response. Before the pandemic, I reached out to 15 colleges and universities offering the same free seminar. Not one institution even bothered to acknowledge receiving my email. Oh wait, one department chair wanted to meet me for coffee in a couple of months, when things “calmed down.” I guess that counts as a response.
Those actions do personify exactly what is wrong with America’s teacher colleges: proven ideas, solutions and real world knowledge is met with scorn. What do I, a retired teacher, know about pedagogy? Frankly, pedagogy be damned. If a teacher cannot maintain a positive learning environment, deliver fair and balanced discipline, communicate with transparency to both admin and parents and navigate the highly technical internet grading systems, knowledge of subject area is moot. Why? Because the classroom is in chaos, entitled children are dictating policies and battles rage between colleagues and admin. And we wonder why our children are struggling in school.
By the way, if you are interested in a free seminar, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I talk for free-just need my travel covered!
TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease What do the entitled parent, hostile email and spineless administrator have in common? They are the common denominator for teachers leaving the field in larger numbers than ever before!
If you like the spoken word on this subject, catch my podcasts on paulabaack.substack.com.
So why is America 27th in the world (according to Business Insider) when it comes to educating our children? As a 46 year veteran teacher, allow me to count the ways:
- America’s universities are NOT providing real world teacher training.
- Chronically complaining parents, who seldom are condemned by those in authority, pride themselves in driving out teachers.
- Inept administrators, who find it challenging to navigate today’s issues, are unable or unwilling to support their staff.
- Teachers, who choose the profession for the wrong reasons, are taking the places of those who genuinely became educators to serve our children.
- Any political organization, with an agenda to change the fabric of a democracy through its vulnerable children, should cease and desist.
- School boards who act as a rubber stamp or don’t act at all are stifling school districts across the nation.
- Students, who whine and complain, usually supported by entitled parents, have more voice in decision-making than their teachers.
- A culture, who accepts low pay and poor conditions for teachers as the norm, cannot expect positive results in learning.
- A country where education is not first and foremost will eventually succumb to mediocrity from the labor force all the way to the executives.
- A plethora of people who could care, but don’t, will continue to tout a great success in education when there really is none.
I am one of those crazy teachers who firmly believes she can change the world! But it will take all walks of life to transform our downward spiraling educational system. Translation: if you are reading this and do nothing, you are a part of the problem! I will define, address and give solutions to the above 10 components. Stay tuned.