Wednesday, September 06, 2006

One More Reason Our Kids WILL NOT Go To Public School

I came across this today during my afternoon ritual of reading every article on the web because I have nothing to do at work. Yeah, I know. I should be so lucky as to be able to surf the internet all day. But, it's boring. Anyway, I was appalled by the obscenely low quality the teachers in the public school system country-wide exhibit. Not one state passed on all categories of teacher quality. Now, I know that there are great, AWESOME teachers out there. Several of them are in my family. However, according to this report, Missouri is one in four states that failed MISERABLY on all categories relating to teacher quality. By the end of last school year, all teachers in the Missouri schools were supposed to meet basic requirements set by the federal and state governments. According to the article:

"The law defines "highly qualified" teachers as those who have a bachelor's degree, a state license and proven competency in every subject they teach."

"Highly qualified" teachers in the eyes of the government are teachers who have a degree, license and basic competency? That's just ridiculous. That should be the minimum standard. There are educators out there teaching children who aren't licensed, knowledgeable and/or educated? What sickens me even more is that Missouri FAILED on meeting that requirement, along with many others. How can the future of this nation be gauged on students learning from teachers that are not qualified? You cannot get a job selling toilet paper for a major company without a bachelor's degree but, hey, you want to teach the children of this country, no degree required. It just doesn't make sense. Knowledge is power, and kids need to soak up as much of that education while they are young. What insight are they really getting if the person whose instilling it is improficient in subject areas they are teaching. Imagine a teacher who is state licensed and has a degree in English being thrown in to teach the Science class because the school needs a teacher and they don't want to hire someone else and pay two salaries. This is happening. The school systems are doing a GRAVE disservice to the students. That teacher is being forced to teach subject matter he/she does not know well enough.

The flip side of this is that not all teachers are bad. Working in the public school system is DIFFICULT. The pay is not great. A LOT of parents view the school as the primary care-giver for their children. The parents expect for the teachers to educate their child on everything from manners to algebra.

I've heard a boatload of stories from several different teachers in the public schools.
A few examples:

During a parent-teacher conference a parent made the comment that the teacher will do what he says because he pays her salary. "I'm your boss," were his words. No teacher should have to deal with that.

A third grade teacher told one of her students he could not use the bathroom because for the last few weeks this student would request to use the bathroom five to six times a day and be gone for seven to ten minutes at a time. They found the student several times lolly-gagging in the hallways and disrupting other classes. The student told his mom that the teacher refused to let him use the bathroom. The mom went right over the teacher and the principal straight to the superintendent and claimed her child (who is black) was not allowed to use the bathroom because the teacher (who is white) is a "slave-master" trying to keep the blacks down where the teacher thinks they should be. All the teacher was trying to do was educate the students. This particular child is not going to learn what he needs to know if he spends forty minutes to an hour each day "going to the bathroom." Plus, he was distracting other students from their education. The superintendent ruled that the teacher had to let the boy use the bathroom whenever he wanted. Way to have the back of your employees!

There are so many teachers that start out with great ambitions to impact the lives of their students. Then they are told no. You can't do that. The parents don't like that. This child complained. The school system is tying the hands of the teachers but expects for them to perform at a high level. Turn-over, especially in low-income, minority schools, is high. And why wouldn't it be. Those teachers make the least amount of money and have to deal with the most problems. No qualified teacher really wants to teach in those schools. Which is why Missouri has decided to put unqualified teachers in those schools. An uneducated teacher is better than no teacher at all, right? WRONG.

South Carolina had an AWESOME idea to encourage teachers.

"South Carolina, for example, was praised for paying incentives to teachers in high-need schools."

Because Missouri failed on all accounts, they must submit new plans and will be audited every month on their teacher quality. If Missouri does not improve their compliance, the state could lose federal aid for education.

Guess what that means. Higher tax dollars for Missouri residents. YEA!

Come on Missouri! Get on board. Get creative. Start acting like the "SHOW ME" state. Let's show the rest of the country what a great, educated state we can be.