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Premise for education changes faulty

During the past decade or so, there has been a growing thought among politicians and government officials that anyone with a college degree in any field could teach.

During the past decade or so, there has been a growing thought among politicians and government officials that anyone with a college degree in any field could teach.

Further, anyone with management experience of any kind could be an administrator. The basis for these thoughts seems to be an often misconceived idea that is too often expressed: If teachers were doing their job all students, regardless of background, would achieve."

The second thought is anyone with management experience could be a school administrator, from principal to superintendent.

How could this be such a good idea?

The basis for this concept is management people in industry and other fields, know how to use data to make decisions for the company's overall profits.

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Unfortunately, this doesn't always work -- companies have failed and closed down because data was misread.

However, there is a belief that industry management is best since managers can tell what is going on throughout the company by looking at figures. Therefore, such managers would be best for education and the future of America. These concepts have led to still other ideas for education. For example, we no longer need teacher education.

Hmm, just exactly what does that mean?

The thought is that if teachers were doing their jobs, we would not have problems with low achievers and other issues. This concept does not take into consideration the student's family background, poverty levels, living conditions and many other factors.

When students are faced with family problems, including one or both parents being alcoholics, students are coming to school with many fears and worries about family and their future. Some students can be depressed and can hardly do any work at all, even if they are not acting up. Other students can react by acting up and striking out against other children as well as the school staff. Situations like these interfere with the learning process, both short-term and long-term.

Part of the thinking regarding education is that concepts of tenure, pay scale and other parts of the teachers' contracts should simply be eliminated; pay should be paid based on student achievement.

If the class is doing well, the teacher receives bonuses. If the class is doing poorly, there would be sanctions. And the administration should be able to hire and fire teachers at will when data shows students are doing poorly.

There is a problem with evaluating work of teaching staff based on test data.

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For one thing, the U.S. doesn't provide the same resources as other industrial nations, thus, the teaching and support staff do not always have appropriate resources for instruction in the classroom and additional tutoring assistance.

Second, family background and poverty levels play a major role in a student's desire to learn. I have known students who simply refused to try.

Back in the 1960s, there was a middle school student who was highly intelligent, but his parents were alcoholics. He would deliberately spell words wrong, and give the wrong answers on tests, homework (whatever amount he ever did), and skip doing any type of work in the classroom. When his teacher and counselor talked with him about his potential, his reply was: "I do not want you or any of the other teachers to have higher expectations of me than I want you to have."

He refused any type of help from any source. He had a younger brother who was depressed. This was how the children in that family handle the situation. If a teacher were evaluated and kept on staff based on data/test information alone; it would be practically impossible to keep anyone on staff in those situations.

We have still another problem with basing evaluations of teaching staff based on data alone. Our school systems throughout the country do not always have a comprehensive and step-by-step curriculum. So instead of trying to solve some of our education problems by developing such a curriculum (such as can be observed in many other industrialized nations), there seems to be a trend that the "best practice" must be found for instruction.

Believe it or not, the "best practice" concept is based on a factory production model. This is not admitted of course. But wait a second here, our students are not products; they are human beings with different learning systems and needs.

This is another reason why the instructional and support staffs need the "tool box" approach for providing the best possible instruction not only for the whole class, but for individual students.

Teaching and support staff also need appropriate support from administration. The administration must be able to hear what staff has to say about the needs of students, which can vary from school to school, and community to community.

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The idea the administration does not have to be in the classroom to observe or support staffs, but simply to review the data to determine who should be kept on staff and who should be dismissed. If this concept were to be put in place, we would lose more highly qualified staff and fewer people would even want to consider education as a career. Read more about this in the next article.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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