This past fall, I chose not to run for re-election to our local school board. My reasons were numerous. First, the local school boards have very little control over their District. Policies are written by companies and are dictated/mandated by state and federal laws. We had to pay companies to write policy to ensure that all laws were followed and that we were protected legally. The actual guidelines for education have also been essentially taken out of the hands of educators and are mandated by state and federal policy makers. As a school district it was our "privilege" to continually ask the taxpayers to increase their share of funding for education. Like many school districts, we had a large contingency of retirees as constituents. People frequently said no to having their taxes raised over and over again. It is one of the few areas that they can say no to taxes and they exercise that right. I can't say that I blame them. The government hands the schools all kinds of requirements but doesn't do anything to increase funding or help in a significant way.
It is sad to see some districts with state of the art buildings and programs, and others being held together with duct tape. There is a terrible inequity in the funding system. There is a terrible inequity in the educational system in that what works for or applies to an inner city school does not apply to a rural or suburban district. Rural districts do not need the inner city programs. Different areas have different levels of parent involvement which also changes the needs of the schools. All that being said, the schools are left to figure out how to get the job done and yes, a lot of the burden is placed on educators. I just read an article about teachers leaving early because they are overwhelmed with requirements and they cannot "teach".
Now comes the common sense or Mom-sense. We who are parents, need to parent our children. We should work hand in hand with the teachers when it comes to educating our children. We need to make sure they are achieving as much as the teachers should. We should not expect our teachers to feed our children, to clothe our children or to be their surrogate parents. We need to be parents, not friends and know what our children are doing socially and educationally. And, when it is necessary for a school to discipline and take action, we should be able to trust that they are doing the right thing and be supportive of the school. We entrust our children to them seven hours a day don't we?
On the other hand, teachers should teach. I have seen too many cases of teachers becoming involved inappropriately, and of not teaching. Part of the reason that some of these requirements exist is because of how many students were graduating and were not even able to read. Some were star athletes, and many times people forgot to care. Teachers need to be able to care about their students. The teachers who work with our children should work with the parents and the administration to help each child achieve.
The administrations and boards of education must start using common sense and start deciding what is best for their students. For starters, some states have already abandoned the "Core Curriculum". We need to focus on the students and learning not just tests and manufactured indicators and required levels of learning that are not based on individual needs. There are so many things that frustrate me about this topic. Statistics that compare the United States educational system to foreign countries are not legitimate. There is no other country that puts effort into educating EVERY child, even those with disabilities. Of course our scores will be lower. We are comparing apples to oranges. I am proud of our country's efforts to make sure every child has a decent shot at an education. Why aren't we asking what they do with disabled children in China? How many children outside of the U.S. with Down's Syndrome get to go to school?
Don't tell me that our system is failing. If it is, then you need to explain to me why there are so many foreign students seeking an education in our country. My son was in the minority as a white, middle class male in his medical school class. Seats in graduate schools, medical schools, etc. often go to foreign graduates first. If our education system is bad, why do they come here?
Is the Public Education system broken? I truly do not believe it is. I think it is misguided at this point and we need to get back to some basic concepts. There is no one group responsible for the state of education. Parents who don't parent, teachers who don't teach, governments that do not provide for the education of the children supported by taxpayers have all played a hand in making this mess. We have relinquished our own accountability for the educational success of our own children. Education and opportunities are there. You need to work at it, just like everything worth achieving. None of it is free, because it all takes blood, sweat and tears to finally reach any goal worth achieving.
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!