It was the usual political crap at the debates — We love teachers! Give them more money!
…but how are those teachers doing by your children..? Answer: poorly.
In other words — the money’s not doing a damned thing but going to the administrations and unions. There’s been almost no bump in grades, but if you’ll note, little collapse that we’ve been so warned about. So perhaps, like the child molester scares of today and the 1970s, the great educational meltdown is something of a hoax
That said: I’ve seen the shitty teachers here at Albuquerque Public School (Yeah — there are good teachers, but they’re the exception, so belt the #$%^ up.) and saw the lack of actual subject matter expertise (Pedagogy — the how you will teach – is great if you have an idea of what your are going to teach.), the lack of critical thinking in the teachers that directly transfers to the kids, and I saw the results teaching English at UNM and history and political science at the University of Phoenix here in town: most the kids can’t write, can barely reason, can’t do arithmetic, and know nothing of their history, their nation’s governance, or even basic concepts of civics.
To be fair, there’s a factor always left out in these debates: We always hear about the parents have to actively give a crap about their kids’ education and be directly involved — not simply schlep them off someplace for someone else to do their job (i.e. parent!) This is certainly true. But you also have to have kids that want to learn. You have to get them early and you have to keep them involved; one size does not fit all. Bored students, no matter how smart they are, do not excel. Kids that are lazy do not excel — and yes, there are children that are simply lazy. Half the “special needs” kids are not mentally challenged; they’re problem kids that need real discipline…at home and at school.
That’s another think I observed in public versus private schools when I was going for my licensure (made doubly hard by the idiotic “No Child Left Behind” nonsense.) Private schools immediately disciplined problem kids in a variety of ways. Public school kids ran roughshod over their teachers. When I was a kid you got scruffed by the teacher if you were being a brat, paddled at the office if you were truly awful. (I was. I know you’re shocked.) The one size fits all, risk aversive, cover my own ass to keep my cushy high-paying job mentality of the public school administration means there’s zero common sense to handling issues, brought on by litigious parents looking for a quick buck and to protect poor bratty Johnny ass from a good wailing and their leech lawyers, who haven’t found a single instance of human endeavor they don’t want to destroy with a lawsuit.
Money won’t fix this. What will: 1) less federal interference and school administrative organs, 2) more common sense and teachers that are subject matter experts and not education degree holders, 3) more choice in where parents can send their kids.
I personally like the idea of parents forming educational co-ops, where neighborhoods or like-minded parents can band together and directly contract teachers and a learning space. They can then tailor the program to the strengths and weaknesses of the students more readily, get more experimental with the methods of instruction, add or eliminate religious or ideological training as they see fit, and they could get rid of underperforming or abusive teachers immediately. It’s a return, in many ways to the one-room school house of the past.