What’s Really Wrong With Education in the US?

photoThe question, What's Really Wrong with Education in the US?, posted by Arne DuncanUnited States Secretary of Education, was the basis for a recent New York Times article:

Are we falling behind as a country in education not just because we fail to recruit the smartest college students to become teachers or reform-resistant teachers’ unions, but because of our culture today: too many parents and too many kids just don’t take education seriously enough and don’t want to put in the work needed today to really excel?

As a teacher, I can attest to the blatant reality that this apathy in education is pervasive throughout all socio- economic groups; this mindset is seen in both the parents and the students. Of course, there are always exceptions. There are parents and their children that do indeed take education seriously and they do perform very well. Unfortunately, they are the minority. Students and parents with the integrity, work ethic, and desire to do well, are far and few between. You may ask, "Why?" The recent assault on the teaching profession, the new accountability procedures, and the over-kill of standardized testing all contribute to this catastrophic situation. The Common Core has not helped, as the controversy escalates and not only teachers are questioning the validity, the parents are too. The whole exemplary of standards is based on a model that every child should develop at the same pace and at the same level. We all know that ain’t gonna work! In this article, Why support for Common Core is sinking, Carol Burris states, "After last year’s testing debacle, teachers are frantically attempting to implement the standards using the modules provided by the state. Kids and parents are reeling from the effects of teaching the Common Core standards, at the fast pace needed to get through them in time for the tests." photo (4) The modules being handed down from the States are designed without any consideration to what drives education and/or teachers. These overly scripted curriculum kits are not realistic in how they are laid out. They do not take into consideration that the book(s) involved may not be appropriate for all children in the classroom. No consideration is given to the struggling or reluctant reader and resources are not readily available to assist in differentiating these scripted lessons. Inclusion students cannot realistically take part in whole class instruction or assignments. Special Education teachers are scrambling to find materials to supplement these lessons. And it is all for naught, the Common Core Modules are a disservice to our students. No one has said it better than Ken Sider, Modules are instruction manuals written by distant corporations, not local teachers, and they now dominate the school day. A module is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute, step-by-step direction manual that actually forces teachers to teach with a stopwatch. Topics of study and teaching methods are determined by the module, and teachers have no authority to change either the content or the procedures. Modules prevent a teacher from shaping the learning environment in ways that are responsive to children’s interests, passions, and, most importantly, their individual needs. These automated teaching methods eliminate the possibility for wonder, curiosity, and self-direction. What a sad reality that the United States can’t get what is most important, right – education!
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