Education in America is in a fight for survival. Whether its Common Core, Technology, or Bullying, Education is at the forefront of many discussions. Visit your nearest water cooler, or turn on the 24 hour News channels, sit back and enjoy the experts discuss what is wrong, and what would be their solution. You just might hear, “Bill Gates built an enterprise like no other, we should listen to the group he has formed to help education.” “Common Core is a mess and asks students to show abilities that are above their developmental level.” “Digital technology is the best avenue for our student success”, and yet “it is also the worst.” “Our attack on Bullying is weakening this country by raising sissies.” Heard any of this?
One of the hottest topics is how American students have “fallen” behind our international competitors. You will hear some say they believe we led the world in education when they were growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Really? You will hear how our students are ranking in the range of 20-30 and how China now ranks #1 in the world! Sadly, the facts are all being taken out of context. Do you know that International Testing (PISA) was initiated in 1997 with the first test being given in 2000 and every 3 years after? Would it change your view to know that we have ranked around 20-30 every year? Even as more countries join the testing? Would it help to know that China only lets certain kids in Shanghai who prep for the test to take it, and first joined testing in 2009? Does it really matter?
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s make one thing perfectly clear, Education around the world is changing. Our mentality of being scared of change has opened a huge door for critics to attack our educational system. Unfortunately, it may lead to the false claims becoming true. The ones who have been able to keep our Educational System afloat are being attacked from the flanks and it is quickly weakening their positions. As a teacher of 15+ years experience, I have seen, first hand, the damage that these attacks are having on the profession. The negativity has relations from teachers to parents, students, and community strained and continues to force the very best of educators to leave the profession they truly love. More importantly, it is tearing down the structural integrity of the classroom and the control a teacher can have. History has shown that the most damaging of attacks take place silently without detection. We must be very conscious of the damage that the wave of adult negativity can cause in the structure of the educational system, especially in the classroom, as it eventually filters into the eyes of the students.
We are undermining every teacher’s effort in the classroom and thus weakening the educational system. The true power of our Educational system lies in the influence our teachers can have on our students. The so-called experts don’t understand this. Bill Gates and any other “non-experienced” expert can talk about studies and research, but there are instincts and factors to teaching that just can’t be measured. Yet, we listen to these experts tell us that our teachers are failing? In reality, it is THEY who are failing our teachers! Mr. Gates and his committee have produced the Common Core State Standards (they may be a great step forward), but did they train and equip the classrooms and teachers to perform to these new standards and way of learning? NO. Did he follow the same “business plan” with Microsoft by setting new standards of work for his employees, but never equipping them with proper training and material to do so? Did he tell his Secretary to produce documents in Microsoft Word by giving her a user’s guide, however keeping her on a typewriter? Of course not.
Education is changing around the world. The difference is that the rest of the world continues to show respect for their teachers. The best of the best are known to openly respect all teachers on the same level we respect doctors and lawyers. So while they also go through the shift with technology, their framework around the classroom is solid and supported by the surrounding community, parents, and students. We, the American community, must not continue to damage the structural integrity of our classroom, for a collapse will be on our teachers, leaving our students alone to fend for themselves. Be careful America, when we begin to listen to experts in the field of business on Education,you must ask, What is more important: My child’s education, or the Bottom Line?
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