Death by 1000 Compromises
Compromise is a good thing, or maybe not. Donald Trump has compromised the Office of the President by his immature and narcissistic behaviors. The teachers’ professional labor unions have compromised the education of the children for whose education they have been entrusted.
Years after No Child Left Behind was going to guarantee us all students would be on grade level by requiring repeated testing, our high school graduates are still entering college unprepared to do the work of higher education. They waste time and money taking zero credit courses teaching material that was supposed to be learned in high school. All the testing didn't do it.
Federal legislation was also supposed to bring us highly qualified teachers. That didn’t work out either and it is not unusual for principals to rate well over 90% of their teachers as excellent and almost no one as needing improvement. We are testing children in kindergarten to find out what they need in reading and math, but pay no attention to what they need in social skills and emotional health. Just what is kindergarten for? Illinois is looking for ways to cut the requirements to teach so that they can fill the teacher ranks with warm bodies, not so kids will be better taught.
We need to get back to our roots in education. Here is what I think that means. We pay teachers a decent salary but stop trying to bribe them with more money. Teaching has never been about money. Instead we show we respect their professionalism by allowing them to decide the pace of instruction and what the kids need. We reduce the paperwork so energy can go into instructional preparation and individualization instead of creating paper trails that do not help kids but do cover the behind of the school system. We hold teachers accountable for the emotional well-being of the children within the scope of what they can do. We let teachers develop relationships with kids so every child has another adult besides his/her parents who he or she can trust. And for those kids who can’t trust their parents, at least there is one responsible adult in their lives. Stop with all the testing. Any teacher worth her salt knows which students are keeping up, which ones are ahead of the pack and who are falling behind. A good teacher does not need a test to tell her that.
Can we stop compromising the education of children? Can so-called professional unions get their mojo back and start caring about the kids instead of their own well being?
In the 1960’s, during the Viet Nm war young people protested the draft by chanting “hell no, we won’t go”. Nancy Regan suggested we just say no to drug addiction. Perhaps it is time to return to the last century and stop all these compromises.