Yes Public Education is Broken But Not Why You Think

The Media's Obssession with Scapegoating Teachers

Public Education is about the hottest subject in the news right now, even narrowly beating out the revolutions happening in Egypt and Libya. Most people agree something needs to be done but few people agree on exactly what. These are just a few of my suggestions on how to fix some of the problems with public education.

Leave The Politicians Out of It

At the risk of painting politicians with a very broad brush, I believe that most politicians fall into two categories when it comes to public education:

1) They could care less about students and are only concerned with the ways they could some how benefit from public education.


2) They do care but because they don't know how to help because they are not in the trenches with students everyday and they also have to fight against their more ignorant  and uncaring counterparts.

The ones that don't care and are greedy don't care about the well being of students or their future and the bills that they write and how they vote reflect this. For instance, how could it ever be good to begrudge teachers of their tenure. This then leaves the teacher vulnerable to the whims of the principal, who often times has to juggle pleasing parents, central office, and teachers, with teachers sometimes falling into last place of who most to please.

If teachers don't have job security then it is the students that suffer most. I've seen first hand the damage that is done when students have to deal with an ever revolving door of new inexperienced teachers. In a world where so few students have any sort of stability, is it really a good idea to create more instability for them?

I'm not saying we need to keep "bad" teachers but that does not mean that we should be able to fire any teacher for any reason. Yet, this is what many politicians want for our school systems. Taking away tenure will not help our children in any way and in fact will, in many cases, severely hurt them. Don't let anyone fool you otherwise.

Make Parents Accountable

There is much talk in the media about how teachers are responsible for how students perform and behave in public school. But they are just being used as a scapegoat because it is politically correct to do so. It is not politically correct to hold parents accountable for how their own children act and the deafening silence by the media on the lack of parental involvement speaks volumes. The involvement of the parent is at least twice as important as that of the teacher.

Many students come from broken and unstable homes. Students come to school hungry. Students come to school tired because they couldn't go to sleep because they might be afraid someone will molest them, or someone might break into their house or any number of terrible scenarios that children should never have to deal with.

Parents, we have got to start making safe homes for our children because we are ruining them. I work with students everyday and some of the stories I've heard from them or about them break my heart. When we make bad choices as parents, our children suffer the most from it. Don't we all realize that these are the future leaders of our country? Some of them have seen more in a 16 years then people should see in a lifetime.

We have got to wake up and stop acting like this does not affect their performance in school. Why would a child care about algebra if he hasn't eaten all weekend? Why would a student care about history if they have been sexual abused the night before? Why is this not talked about on Fox news or CNN?

Not only this but we need to teach our children ethics and how to respect others. Many children believe the world revolves around them because they are always given what they want. This creates self indulgent kids who don't want to listen to what their teachers tell them to do. Teachers have to spend too much time policiing and disciplining their students because they are not taught at home how to behave. If teachers could spend more time teaching and less time writing referrals, think of all they could learn.

Bottom line, children bring their issues from home into the school house and it shows. Until we can fix the home life of students then many of the problems with public education will continue, despite any laws that are passed.

Give Teachers More Authority in the Classroom

Wouldn't you think it was ridculous for a group of firemen to determine how doctors should practice medicine? Of course you would because it makes no sense. What do firemen know about medicine? However, for some reason, it makes sense for  politician, board members, directors of school and anyone else who is not a teacher to determine what teachers should teach their students even though many of these people don't know anything about what is going on in the classroom. 

If teachers could have more say over the curriculum they taught then that could improve education greatly. Instead of cramming as many facts as they can into one week, teachers might actually get to teach history in more depth so students can really understand and start to care about the people they are studying.

Instead of teaching foreign languages in high school for two years, they could start teaching it in kindergarten and make it a requirement until they graduate so they can actually learn how to speak the language they are studying and not just pay lip service to it.

Not only that, if the powers that be didn't make teaching come with so much paperwork, red tape, and numerous headaches maybe we would have more people willing to teach. Then you could have smaller class sizes which is always benefiicial to the students.

As you can tell, I am passionate about this subject and I feel that many teachers and students are getting shafted. The solutions to fixing public education are not hard to find if one is really interested. Unfortunately, too many of the ones with the power to change for the good, are not interested.