Discussion in 'General Education Discussions' started by Robert Heiny, Aug 5, 2013.
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The writer, Jon Vicks, of column in the "Prescott Daily Courier," August 12, 2013. gave permission to publish the following comment to my post:
"I read your blog. To paraphrase and summarize, you basically stated that, regardless of all the outside influences on a student, it is the contractual obligation of the teacher to deliver excellent instruction everyday and ensure that every single student emerge with the same high level of education, and that teachers should just get over it and do their jobs. This is a pie-in-the-sky, totally unrealistic expectation that very few K-12 public education teachers would say publicly and none would think privately. Furthermore, it is this widely-held sentiment that prevents the U.S. from making any significant strides in improving educational outcomes for children as a whole in this country.
"I do agree that it should be every teacher's solemn duty to strive to deliver excellent instruction in the classroom every day. Is this a contractual obligation to do so? I have never seen it in writing, pointed out by any administrator or anyone else. There is a reason for this. Though it is the goal, the myriad of challenges and demands on a teacher, many of them counter-active to one another, make it realistically impossible. You say no? Show me any teacher in the world that has a 100% success rate 100% of the time teaching content to a non-select group of children that is rigorous and that challenges all students within the classroom. If you can, he or she, no doubt, walks on water and rides a unicorn up and down rainbows.
"The public wants simplicity in understanding--in government, religion, economics, and so on. As a result, we tend to construct simplistic paradigms for how we see the world and want it to work. In America, we want to believe that everyone is equal and has an equal chance, and that schools are like factories and should be run like businesses. Raw material in, finished product out. If this does not happen, then, according to the paradigm, bad workers and bad managers are responsible. Ownership should fire them.
"In the case of public education, what ownership does not acknowledge is that workers and management do not get to select the raw material. Nor did they get to create the laws, procedures, and regulations dictating how production should take place, nor did they get to design the factory and, therefore, its efficiency and effectiveness. And yet ownership, who has the potential to choose and modify all of these factors, does not, all the while making greater and sterner demands on workers and managers to stop complaining and get it right.
"Of course, in reality, public education is not a business, schools are not a factories, and children are not homogeneous raw materials. Public education is a complex and often counter-productive cooperative between a dizzying array of local, state, and national communities, agencies, special interest groups, and governments grappling with a complex plethora of challenges and problems within our society as it pertains to educating youths. So, there is nothing wrong with making 100% success in this situation a goal for which to strive. But coming down on schools and teachers when this goal is not reached is grossly unfair.
"Having said all this, I believe the U.S. can make the strides necessary to be right up there with the Finlands, Germanies, Japans, and Hong Kongs of the world. There should be high expectations for teachers and schools. But we need your (the public's) help. We need you to restructure society so that it supports and rewards good parenting from embryo on, and withholds reward and imposes accountability for doing the opposite. We need you to restructure the reward system for children so that they are keenly interested in their own learning from preschool through college. And yes, though I know you hate to hear it, we need a higher funding level that makes possible the hiring of the brightest members of society into education and that provides schools with the technology and programs that are absolutely necessary for ultimately graduating the most highly educated human beings on the planet.
"Please, America. Instead of merely complaining about the problem, be a part of the solution. We need your help to overhaul the system."
Yes, Mr. Vick, you summarized my point clearly in a couple of sentences.
Yes, there are ways that more teachers can earn closer to those 1.0 ratings, at least 8 out of 10 students learning lessons taught.
The largest, most comprehensive controlled experiment in education with over 1M students and thousands of teachers documented how to accomplish this possibility in public schools. It in part lead to the "No Child Left Behind" legislation. This study should be at the core of all teacher preparation and professional development efforts. It's this possibility that makes the goal of 1.0 ratings realistic.
In general, teachers, their unions, professional development specialists, et al. have rejected the methods that yielded those results, mostly for personal, political and ideological reasons. They appear to accept leaving children behind as a cost for exercising their reasons instead of applying experimental empirical research data that will likely include more children. Enough of that for now.
Yes, businesses and government education agencies work in tandem, one profiting from the other, including educators profiting from writing, consulting, etc. their programs and products intended to make teaching more effective and efficient.
Yes, educators should exercise skepticism in such matters in order to find and use what they can make work. The "Open Source" movement in software, especially in education software competes with commercial efforts in public education.
Yes, social change is slow and seldom in a straight line, unlike learning as described by experimental empirical behavioral and social scientists over more than a century.
Yes, a New World Order seems attractive to some educators. At the same time, people appear to prefer competing social, cultural, and economic orders, not a single one.
Yes, you can ask for structural changes, but please clarify what you mean by that request to "overhaul the system". From a taxpayer's view, we take action to help teachers by hiring you as an "expert" certified to educate all of our children. In return, I ask, how much money will fix whatever problem in schools you see. In other words, what does it cost on average for a student to learn /A/?
And yes, thank you for returning to the classroom to teach again this Fall. Many of us appreciate your service.