Opinionated Question of the Week
There are many underlying problems with education today, just as there were when I was going through the LAUSD system.
Teachers are only partially to blame for the current state of affairs in our system. Today’s parents don’t seem to take the time they used to in order to assure that “Little Johnny” can not only read but understand the meaning behind what they read. When it is found that “Little Johnny” is failing a class, parents often blame the teacher instead of finding out if “Little Johnny” has been paying attention in class, doing his assignments, participating, asking questions, or even attending. Teachers on the other hand need to find ways to make material relevant to their students.
Poor teaching is one of those problems that have been around as long as there have been schools. It’s hard to get a student interested in the Industrial Revolution if they have nothing to correlate it to in today’s world. Teachers also need to stop teaching to the test, and instead present material that challenges the student. If a student works hard on something, no matter what the outcome is, there is a sense of accomplishment in getting the assignment done.
Value-added analysis is a useful tool in seeing how effective a teacher is in helping a student, but it is underused like most tools these days. It should be used to help both student and teacher and it should be reviewed yearly. Educators need to know now if they need to change something, five years from now is a bit late to change something that is wrong today. Teachers should also be evaluated as to how much they increase a students understanding of things outside the test. Can the student read better than they did, are they reading more, is the shy student more social? Parents need to get involved in the process as well. You cannot complain about a teacher if you don’t know what your child is learning in the classroom. My parents both knew what all three of their children were learning in school, as well as what we were reading. There was no playing or watching TV until after lessons were done.
Test scores and teacher evaluation scores should be accessible to parents and administrators only, and then only when a child is to be placed in that particular class. The effectiveness of teachers should be published or available to any tax payer though. If we pay into a system the system should have some form of accountability. If we can take the time to do it for a Doctor or First Responder or even the soldier who is protecting us overseas, it should be done for the person educating our youth.
Finally, there should be a method to remove ineffectual teachers. As with any job, not everyone is cut out for teaching. If a person cannot teach they do not belong in the classroom.