A Rant on Education

I was following a Facebook line of discussion on a friend’s wall. She posted up a rant by Ann Coulter about teachers. Now, I don’t really have a issue with her. She is quite frank about her opinions. She tries to be glib – throwing off comments that are intended to be funny and flippant, but are at times just irritating. However, at times, she has a way of being direct and quite correct.Where I paused for reflection is to consider what I hear a lot of these days. I’m tired of the constant attack on teachers and them having to bear so much of the blame for what ails us today. Is it correct to place blame for all that ills education next to the apple on the teacher’s desk?

I know:*For every weak teacher I had, I had dozens more who motivated and moved me to want to work harder. *For every unmotivated learner I’ve known, I’ve had dozens more who were eager & hungry to investigate new subjects further. *For every uncooperative & overcommitted parent I’ve witnessed, I’ve had dozens more who were thoughtful & supportive. Our problem stems from our refusal to have productive dialogue about education. What is a productive dialogue sound like?

Well, here is my first attempt to start it:

* There are those that will be encouraged not to teach.The old adage that “those that can’t, teach” must go away. If you don’t have the ability to do what you are supposed to be able to do, then you must not be allowed to not do that in my school district. This is a point in which Ann Coulter and I agree.

* Those who would be excellent at doing other things will have to be encouraged to forgo lucrative opportunities to enter a classroom & lead a new generation. Never will educating a child be as financially lucrative as those who run Fortune 500 companies. But, we should work to pay and encourage those that excel at it to remain at it. Maybe, some of those students who became Fortune 500 executives can help by encouraging their best employees to help schools & teachers find ways to cooperate to find, develop and pay new talent. All will benefit from that.

* Parents will have to set aside their own unenouraging, argumentative, destructive behaviors & wholly support their children and those who educate their child.
Show up, shut up, and roll up, and your child will grow up.

* Government will have to understand that money & standard testing don’t guarantee anything except fraud.
Money & testing must be strategically & equitably placed. And, we will all have to do more with less, since throwing money at things got us all into a big financial mess.

* Administrative structures will be demolished.
Over-burdened with administrations & structures, governments & school districts must work to reduce personnel expenditures on staff whose role it is to simply complete forms for the Dept. of Ed. Granted, it takes a village to run a school district but, again, more with less.

* Standardized tests must go away.
Teachers must creative & tailor learning to whose in the classroom – especially with the wonderfully diverse students who come from all corners of the planet and all levels of ability – and are the streamed into a single classroom. Right now, teachers are forced to spend months teaching test strategies rather than subject material. Let the individual districts and schools manage content. Test kids entering college and let individual results be sent back to the districts for them to modify material to develop better strategies. This isn’t pass or fail entrance exam but rather a skills evaluation.

* Property owners will have to pay significant school disrtict taxes to fund quality schools and support generations of students that those property owners will never know or see.
It’s expensive to educate & there are no outlet malls for educating young people. No cheap way out of it.

* Not all kids aren’t meant for college.
As the father of a son who is in trade school, college isn’t for all. And, there are jobs in the country in the trades industry right now that can’t be filled. Quit trying to push all to a four year degree.

* A place has to be made for the arts.
Arts aren’t fluff. Art shows how to critically solve a problem outside of the normal laws, rules, and limitations. Math & science are the tools in the tool chest. Arts are the diagrams used to put those tools into action.

* This will be very hard and unpopular.
We have to agree that it will be hard, feelings will get hurt, jobs will be gained and lost, and that making all comfortable with new things is impossible. But, we will have to do the hard work and critical thinking necessary to change things for the better. No whining allowed.

And, that is my one blog, glib response to education, Ann Coulter.

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