Wednesday, March 9, 2011

(Good) Teachers Matter

Going back to my post from the other day, let's get back to teachers.

Right now a number of states are facing desperate measures to reduce their deficits. And naturally what gets cut? Education. We are messing around with our future leaders and employees, that can't be a good thing. Also what message does this send to the students?

Some states want to pay based on how the students do on standardized test. Self fulfilling prophecy? Good district, good grades and raises/bonuses for teachers. Bad district, bad grades nothing or get fired? Purely based on if the kids do well? You can't make kids do well. Some just can not take test and this system really is a bad idea and what teacher would approve of this measure?

Teachers unions should have been advocating for years for better pay and more advanced agendas on their curriculum. If you think something is above the kids, then it will always be above them. Push the envelope a bit please. Kids today are smarter than we were and really need to move faster sometimes.

In truth education in general has problems that no simple answer exists. Home schooling your kids is not easy and not for everyone. Individual learning is frowned upon because it does not allow for social interactions and group efforts in learning and social norms. I have news for you, your kids are more into social media than you are and want to use it. As a parent this is a problem for some people, either because of their own expectations or because they want their kids to grow up "healthy and normal".

What if your kids could get an individual education, via an authority of some sort, but could learn at their own pace and within a boundary of guidelines for homework, projects, tests? Would you do it? Should schools offer it? This may have been called enrichment, gifted or some other name through the years but now it seems to have hit a wall. What if your kids school will not help the kids who are that smart to move forward quicker? Doesn't this encourage the dumbing down of all classes to the lowest level in the classroom?

Great teachers are able to inspire you, challenge you, raise you to a new level. But for every teacher that does this, there are anywhere from 2-10 that do not. They may be good teachers, but just not great. Nothing bad here, in all professions some people rise to a different level, it does not mean the others are bad.

Should great teachers get paid better, or tenured or whatever benefits them? Yes, but how do you figure out who is that great? Often times it will not be obvious until years later or at least 1-2 semesters.

What about good teachers? How do you define their pay? I know some teachers that had bad years due to family/personal issues or some other things that caused problems. In some cases those problems did not become obvious until 1-3 years later and the ones with the problem are the kids who missed out and now may be behind in their grades.

I have written how I was surprised at my kids school lack of initiative when it comes to computer studies. Yes they are learning to type, which is great, and do some things which are important when first using a computer. But the problem is as they get older the curriculum is out of touch with reality. You have elementary school kids with iPhones and iPads, they are doing things the school thinks it needs to teach them in 5 years. Clearly the issue of education is not a teachers fault entirely.

So in 20 odd years while teachers salaries have barely moved by 25-50%, tuition at private schools has gone up 3-400% if not more. If the teachers are not getting that money, so we can entice more people to be teachers so they can live on their salary, where does the money go? Insurance and security costs are obviously much higher than years ago. We used to get buses to school, for a small fee, and lunch as part of our tuition, that's gone too.

When did school become a bloated corporation. How many administrators exist now at schools? When I was in school we had 2 principals, primary and assistant, some office staff like a secretary, finance person, development and maybe a few others. How many different levels of bureaucracy exist now in schools? How much of it is needed?

Ever see the States educational leaders taking pay cuts, and how many do so in private institutions? Few do. It's always the teachers getting less benefits and money. Teachers salaries are not enough for a family to live on and what do we do to encourage new people to enter the field if they don't see it as viable?

I believe there is no shortage of great teachers in the world, but perhaps at your school, so what do you suggest? How do you make teaching matter again? How do you encourage great teachers to join your low paying school? What can you as a parent, business person do to help the school or the kids?

Get involved, if they will let you, to enhance the education system. Encourage students to do more, try more, learn more and have more fun.